There’s been all this talk about what a “Responsive” design is these days. We get asked if so-and-so design is responsive all the time, but most people don’t even know what they’re asking. Today I’m wanting to clarify and educate on what a responsive design really is. I call this the ProPhoto edition because we’re only talking about Responsive design in terms of what ProPhoto can do.
Responsive design is a website in which a user can have the best possible viewing experience no matter which size screen they’re viewing it on. So if you’re on a desktop the website might scale down depending on what size your monitor and resolution is set to. If you’re on a mobile device the site will serve you a mobile version for displaying it on the go. Responsive usually means the design itself is simple, to the point and has the least amount of work involved to get the person viewing it where they need to go the fastest.
What a good example of a “responsive” website is. VSCO film. You can view that site on any screen size (including a massive 27″ imac screen in full screen mode) and all the important bits will scale up or down to view. The actual CONTENT space never changes, only the elements that need expanding (like headers, footers, and grids) The design and content is easily readable for any viewing experience and the mobile view looks awesome.
ProPhoto is and isn’t a “Responsive” WordPress theme.
What ProPhoto has is a great mobile viewing experience. You can view any ProPhoto design on an iPad or mobile device and you’ll always be able to see the site in a simple, easy, way.
What ProPhoto can’t do is change the content size or elements of the design depending on what screen size you’re viewing it on. There’s no scaling involved except in certain circumstances. The new browser spanning menus and the footer spanning option are both responsive, in that when activated they’ll change size depending on what screen size you’re viewing the site on. Those are the only two options that currently are responsive in ProPhoto.
So why all the fuss about responsive design?
We’ve had several people ask us if Mitty and Redwood are responsive, and even some clients ask if other competitor’s designs are as well. When we created “Mitty” and “Redwood” they were intentionally made to LOOK responsive, but aren’t. The backgrounds are meant to show more space on the sides depending on how large your screen size is. This isn’t responsive because basically it just cuts those images off at the sides on smaller screens. It doesn’t re-size. We created those designs to be intentionally like that, we liked the idea of doing something different with ProPhoto, which eventually caught on and now every designer is doing it. All new designs in the store with large spanning headers “cheat” based on the same method we used. I feel I need to explain this because some users are confused at the difference and some just don’t know what a responsive design is, period.
Unfortunately, a lot of the newer designs in the ProPhoto store are using the same method we created but they’re expanding the actual content size (the place where your posts and pages go). What photographers don’t understand when buying those designs, is they aren’t FULLY responsive and that when viewers on say 13″ laptops and some tablets view a site that’s 1600px wide or more, their clients have to annoyingly scroll horizontally to see the entire site on a smaller screens.
We love the idea of creating huge designs that span entire screens, we plan on creating 10x the amount of designs we do now when ProPhoto does finally go fully responsive, but until then we won’t be making our designs like the current trend is setting in the store. We’re still going to be going by the old design standard for a 12″ screen or less, all of our current designs go by that standard, including Redwood and Mitty. We don’t believe in leaving ANYONE out in the cold, and neither should photographers clients.
On a side note. We really truly do Love ProPhoto. It is the best photography theme, it’s why we don’t switch or design on anything else (yet). ProPhoto is doing things right, because they’re taking baby steps. Mobile was the first hurdle to a fully responsive ProPhoto theme, and now that mobile is a done deal you can only guess what could come next! Also, proofing should be launching very soon, and ProPhoto will truly be a one stop shop!
If you have questions about responsive design or just want to talk about it leave it in the comments below!