Responsive web design (RWD) is getting a lot of buzz these days. RWD is an approach that sophisticated web and mobile app designers use to create an optimal user experience across multiple platforms and devices. It focuses on simplicity of design to configure across multiple screen sizes and devices. So what about web applications?
RWA, short for Responsive Web Applications, is the next level of evolution in the responsive design movement. Web applications run the gamut from webmail, online auctions, wikis and apps such as Google calendar. RWA is focused on optimizing the design for the user experience.
Web apps are typically HTML-5 based foundation. The challenge is optimizing them across the screens of various devices from Androids to iOS, tablets to smartphones, as well as functionality for your traditional desktop. For example, on a tablet you would design appropriately with multiple toolbars, drop downs and other widgets. When switching to a smartphone device, you want to app to automatically adapt to the size of the screen, maximizing the space. A laptop or desktop would need to have standard functionalities with keyboard and mouse usage. When switching from landscape to portrait view, you want the application layout to change accordingly so that all functionality exists in a view that is user friendly.
Examples of great responsive designs include such name brands as Disney and Time Magazine. Disney streamlined its responsive design to be able to entertain kids from all devices their parents might be carrying with them. Time magazine consolidated a large volume of content into a sleek, minimalistic but functional design that allows users to easily access news from a tablet, smartphone or desktop browser.
The more complex the application, the more likelihood is that you will have to have multiple layouts for data and controls. Responsive web applications are a constant balancing act between performance and responsive content. An experienced mobile app and web designer can assist you; to ensure you design is responsive on all devices and meets the behavior of each platform as well as the user, creating a more commanding experience that will lead to greater engagement of your company and brand.