Responsive Web Design: The Concept

Responsive design is not just a buzz word that web designers throw around to impress each other. Don’t get me wrong, it is something that talk about to impress each other–but it’s not just that. It’s a real thing. Like peanut butter. I like peanut butter, I like responsive design. They are not at all related. In this post, we’ll talk about what it is. And a little bit about why it matters. We won’t go into a ton of detail–that will come in later posts.



Responsive web design is a simple concept really. Instead of packing five changes of clothes in your car for the day (yeah, I know some of you do), you wear something that can adapt to the different things you’re participating in–or perhaps the different temperatures that you’ll experience. In New England it’s common knowledge that you should wear layers in the winter. It’s cold, then it’s hot, then it’s wicked cold, etc. So you have to respond (get that?) to the changes around you. In the context of web design–we’re primarily talking about two things: screen size, and screen resolution.

Screen size is tough to understand. It’s the size of your screen. Screen resolution is simpler, it’s the pixel density (plus some other jargon) of your screen. Computers all have fifty different screen sizes, phones have another size, tablets have ten other sizes, and a bunch of the new devices ship with a much higher pixel density. For now, just think higher pixel density = much sharper, more beautiful images (which means your images have to be bigger).

The old method of coping with all of these different devices was simple. We bring two+ outfits. You would create one website for phones, one website for computers, one for tablets, and if you were really ahead of the curve, one for TV’s and Leapfrog’s (shout out to my son). Problem is, it quadruples your work-load, and the task of keeping up with the number of devices, and all the new devices was pretty much impossible. The rate of change and innovation is simply to fast to keep pumping out new websites with new structure and design.

In walked responsive web design. Responsive design says, instead of creating all these different websites, why don’t we just make one really flexible one? Instead of bringing in one muscular guy, one nimble guy, and one smart guy–let’s just bring in one jacked ninja? Smart people, I know. So this new website essentially fills all of the roles that the old websites filled–looks good on all devices and responds well to change. If you want to see it in action–resize your browser right now. It’s magic.



Lol, great question. It’s one thing to care about dying puppies–quite another to care about a design concept. But a lot of people care. Some people directly (like business owners and web designers), but most people indirectly. How often do you look at websites through facebook or twitter links? Probably pretty often. By the end of the year, there will be more smartphones on the Earth than people. And there’s a crap load of people. Seriously. I’d like to talk about the rate of reproduction, but I won’t. But how often? Seventy five percent of people bring their phone to the bathroom–eh, guilty. What will they be looking at? Could be your website. And you don’t want them to have to use both hands to zoom in and scroll. That’s a health violation. On the real. ( All that to say, it matters. It matters a heck of a lot.


You don’t need ten body guards who only know one style of fighting.

You need a ninja.


If you’re interested in us building your ninja, contact us. We only build ninjas.

Nate Smith

Lead Developer and CEO

I am a web developer and designer, as well as a husband and father. I grew up in the Boston, MA area and will forever be a Bostonian. I'm passionate about building sites that look great, are easy to navigate, and that work really well on all devices. The languages I work with most are PHP and MySQL, Javascript, HTML5, and CSS--but I also have experience with Ruby, Linux and ASP. The applications I use on a regular basis are Adobe CC, Sublime Text, and PHPStorm.

2 thoughts on “Responsive Web Design: The Concept

  1. […] layout for higher resolutions and a fluid layout below 800px. Don’t know what responsive is? Check out our post about it (or resize your […]

  2. […] set up a responsive website for the church. It is formatted and optimized to look good and work well on every size device. This […]


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