Responsive Web Design + Networking meeting
Event date: March 11 2013
Posted by: Nelly Yusupova

On March 11, Webgrrls met again for an educational night of discussion and networking! Amelie Walker, president of the web design and development company Castle Builder Design, gave a presentation on responsive web design. She explained what responsive design is, what problems it solves and the challenges it presents, along with giving tips on how to approach it.

After a short introduction, Amelie started by defining responsive design, a hot topic right now in anything web-related. With mobile browsing overtaking desktop browsing and users with a multitude of different screen sizes, it doesn't really make sense to create different versions of a website for every possible device. responsive web design is the answer to this problem.

What is responsive web design? It is a set of techniques that allows website designers to create a single version of a website that will seamlessly adapt to phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

In responsive design, consider your content first. Whether you are using the "mobile first" method or paring down a website's desktop design, let the most important content guide your design. The non-vital content is what should drop to the bottom or disappear completely as the screen size is reduced.

Amelie showed some examples of responsively designed sites, then went through the main components--fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries--for the more technically minded of the group. She also gave some pros and cons of responsive design. It is more time-consuming and therefore expensive to create, for example, but it saves business owners time (and money) in the long run if they've been maintaining two different versions of a website.

A Q&A session followed the presentation, and a lot of good questions were raised. One of the Webgrrls asked, "Since responsive design is so new and even many web designers are not that experienced with it, is it smarter to wait to use it on my website?"

"If you are designing a new website or a complete redesign, it is the way to go," Amelie answered. "If you are considering redesigning just for this purpose, it depends. Look at your audience, specifically at your mobile traffic, using a tool like Google Analytics." 

She also said, "If you cannot make it responsive, at least make sure it works on mobile!" The web is becoming increasingly mobile, and a website that doesn't work well on mobile is a detriment to your business.

Chapter Leader Nelly, also an experienced web developer, added that if you are targeting young people, who are increasingly interacting with websites mostly on mobile devices, you almost have to use responsive design.

For a list of responsive design resources including tools, templates, and examples, please visit: www.castlebuilder.com/blog/responsive-design

Once again, Webgrrls has offered an easy-to-follow explanation of an otherwise confusing aspect of technology.
Candy Korman
Writer, SweetCopy

Great overview of an immense topic. Lots of useful takeaways.
Bill Snyder
Content Strategist, Bank of America

NYC Webgrrls' next networking meeting will be on April 23 with new steering committee member Paulina Podbiello and DragonSearch's Josepf Haslam leading a discussion on writing pay-per-click ad copy.