Responsive Web Design, if you haven’t heard of it yet, is a style of web design and development created by Ethan Marcotte. The core principle of Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a simple one. Accessibility.

If this is your first time hearing about Responsive Design, I’ll cover it very briefly, but I highly recommend reading about it in more depth. There are many, many, good articles already written that will provide an excellent launching point.

What Is Responsive Design?

Responsive Design quickly gets more complicated when you look past it’s driving principle. One way to describe it is:

Creating websites and designs in a way that is easily accessible to as many unique devices as possible, from a single interface.

In most cases this means creating a single website or application that can be scaled up or down depending on the users device. If our user is on a desktop, they would see a much wider design. If our user is on their iPhone they’ll see a narrower design that fits their screen without forcing zoom.

When we successfully implement RWD we no longer need to worry about multiple themes or template sets as we’re just concerned with a single website that scales. Obviously while we now no longer have the overhead of maintaining multiple themes, our single theme/website will be increasingly complex.

Why is Responsive Design Necessary?

Because the days of putting a “This website is best viewed in {Browser Name}” disclaimer on a website are behind us. As the web matures, we developers and designers need to as well.

There are approximately 1.2 billion mobile users with global mobile traffic accounting for 15% of all Internet traffic. These numbers will only increase and if we don’t create interactive, usable, interfaces for our users, we will lose them.

Luke Wroblewski is an advocate of Mobile First, focusing on designing for mobile devices at the start, and working our way up to desktop computers. This is one very good approach in a post-desktop world.

I would venture to say that we all have more than one web-accessible device. If we’re honest, we probably have too many.

Between my wife and I, we have at least 7 totally unique devices (phones, tablets, computers, game platforms etc.) that each have access to the internet. Our computers are probably our least used overall and I know that my family isn’t the only one.

As web use and interaction moves farther away from the traditional desktop setting and into a much more varied, wide range of devices, we need to begin looking past our immediate arsenal of web development tools and continue (or start) experimenting with new, advanced methods of web development. Static sites simply won’t cut it anymore.

Let’s all make the necessary steps to look forward, move forward and evolve with our users. If we don’t, we’ll be left behind.