As web designers we have learned to embrace the fact that that the web is a constantly evolving place, and that we need to evolve right alng with it. Nowadays, the majority of websites out there is still based on fixed page layouts. This approach has rapidly become obsolete. Due to the explosion of smartphones and tablets over the past few years, the content of web pages is now consumed by a wider array of screen sizes, screen resolutions, and browser types than ever before.
The old school method of fixed page layout design, often leads to a lot of annoying scrolling and zooming, especially for small screen devices. This approach has therefor made room for a new methodology: responsive design.
Responsive design is more than a buzz phrase of the moment. It's the answer to particularly vexing problems in the world of web design, as web designers are, struggling with the ever-growing number of Internet capable screens of varied widths and heights, many able to swap dimensions with the flip of a wrist.
The great advantage of responsive designs is that it allows designers to control how users experience content, based on the device or screen size. This makes it possible to create unique experiences for every device type or screen size used. Content can be reorganized or even eliminated, based on its context. The same website can now serve both small screen and large screen users. Mobile users no longer need to be redirected to mobile-specific pages because they can experience a site that's tailored for the mobile experience, while desktop users can interact with a site designed around a wide screen context. For any particular device, the responsive design shifts the page layout around, so that it makes sense for the people who are looking at it, thus offering a different experience to people using different device types.
On smartphones, the design can change layout based on smaller size, hide some elements, and even take advantage of smartphone features like geolocation and messaging.
On a tablet, the design can change layout and functionality based on the device type or the orientation of the device.
On desktop computers, the design can be enhanced for the larger screen, with increased graphics size and layouts that target wider aspect ratios.