A Short History of Responsive Web Design
On April 21st 2015, Google introduced a new ranking algorithm to their search engine that will take into account a website’s “mobile friendliness” when displaying results to a user.
From this date onward, your website’s ranking may change for anyone using google from a smart phone or tablet.
So why have Google decided to make this significant change now?
Mobile responsive web design is, by the internet’s standards, old news.
With many websites having been adapted years ago, there is no shortage of mobile friendly content.
Developers first started thinking about websites that could look good on many different screen sizes in the early ‘00s, and terms such as “flexible” and “fluid” started to pop up to describe these ideas.
The First Smart Phones
By the late ’00s, smart phones were starting to catch on, and more and more people were struggling to browse websites on their shiny new toys.
Websites at the time were designed to be displayed on a desktop or laptop so users would have to zoom in on a small screen to make text readable, then had to scroll around endlessly to see the whole page.
This all changed in 2010 when the term “Responsive Web Design” was coined by Ethan Marcotte in his paper “A List Apart”.
Ethan recognised the desire for people to have a seamless browsing experience on a mobile device.
His idea paved the way for websites with a single URL, that would automatically recognise whether the user was on a phone, tablet or desktop, and re-orientate the page to display it in the best way possible.
A new standard in Responsive Web Design
By 2012, responsive web design was trending in the web development industry, and many companies were starting to see the value of enabling the fast growing mobile internet user base to access their websites easily.
RWD also saved time and money as it was easier to design and administer one website rather than trying to design multiple layouts for many possible devices and screen sizes.
With the number of mobile internet users still growing every year, Google have said that with this change “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimised for their devices”.
This is great for smart phone and tablet users as they will run into fewer websites that aren’t adapted for mobile use, and it will also push website owners to make the change if they haven’t already.