What is Responsive Design for Mobile Applications?

Suppose you’re out with friends and you have the only functioning smartphone. On the spur of the moment, you and your friends decide to go to a new restaurant that is supposed to have the best Thai food in town. You remember the restaurant’s name, so you look up the menu online using your smartphone. The restaurant’s website comes up easy enough. However, you have trouble finding the menu. After several minutes, you finally find it. But every time you pinch or spread your fingers, the menu disappears. After several more minutes you give up, and you and your friends decide to go to a different restaurant. Does this situation sound familiar at all? If that Thai restaurant had employed responsive design when designing their website, the smartphone guy would have no problem seeing the menu. Chances are, the group of friends would have enjoyed their Thai food that evening. Instead, the Thai restaurant lost a potential customer. The unfortunate yet simple truth is that this loss of potential customers has probably happened over and over! The principle of responsive design states that a website should extend the web experience to any device a visitor uses at a given time.

Mobile Apps Must Use Responsive Design Principles or Risk Losing Customers

Responsive design for mobile applications applies the principle specifically to a mobile app. In the example above, the Thai restaurant should have designed an app specifically for them. It’s part of the customer experience like when you have to wait and they give you a restaurant pager. These days most restaurants have apps because of the pandemic, as apps make it easier to order take out and have it delivered. Designing mobile apps using responsive design makes sense given that U.S. consumers spend around 90% of the time on their mobile phones inside mobile apps. The pertinent question should be, does that same app work on a standard laptop or desktop computer? The answer is sometimes but rarely.

From Smartphone to Tablet, from iOS to Android

Ultimately, responsive design for mobile applications applies to all mobile devices, which includes tablets. Of course, tablet screen sizes can be significant these days, so responsive design can be challenging. At Web Rocket Media, our digital advertising experts employ responsive design when designing websites. This is crucial for social media advertising because most people use their smartphones for internet searches. Most mainstream mobile apps have both an iOS and Android version to work on both platforms. But an Android app does not work on an iOS device and vice versa. Those who design apps must think about mobile app responsive design across both platforms in a separate but equal fashion.

In Closing

Most people use their smartphones almost exclusively within a growing collection of mobile applications. From a social media site to ordering take-out, there’s an app for that. Those who create mobile apps must use responsive design for mobile application principles. Most notably, because screen size varies depending on the mobile device as some tablet screens are quite large, meaning mobile app designers must find a way to reconcile different screen sizes.     

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