Reactive web design is a relatively new concept which takes the idea of responsive web design and updates it to be even more flexible and powerful.

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Responsive websites were common for a long time – responsive web design means a website design where the layout will resize to the screen size that the browser is using. Reactive websites, on the other hand, are websites that are rendered in a specific way for the type of device that the website is being viewed using.

Responsive Design isn’t Always Enough

Responsive layouts are handy in that they are versatile and they should cover most use cases, but there are times when things don’t work out quite the way you want. With a reactive website, the website will look completely different depending on whether you are browsing on a desktop, a mobile phone or a tablet. Responsive websites may have a layout that moves around or that stacks, shrinks or adjusts itself to fit the most important elements on the screen. Reactive websites can completely hide elements or have a vastly different layout depending on what device it detects is visiting the site.

Adaptive Layouts

Adaptive/reactive layouts are useful for websites that have a lot of interactive elements, or for instances where you want to have different calls to action depending on what device the user is viewing the site on. In addition, you might want to serve up different elements depending on whether the user is likely to be on a static connection or using mobile bandwidth. You can even serve up different images to a desktop, a retina display tablet, or a low resolution mobile.

SEO Improvements from Reactive Design

You may find that SEO improves when you use a reactive web design, since you have a more sophisticated layout which covers local SEO for mobile searches, and that has more information on the desktop version.

Reactive web design requires detecting what the searcher is using, and then displaying different layouts to different devices. This is approved by Google and is considered to be mobile friendly. It is not the same as serving up different sites – including different content – to different users. The content should be broadly the same and you should not be redirecting users to different pages depending on what device they are using. Just use a reactive framework that will serve up different styles for different platforms.

Testing Design

Test your layout on as many different devices as possible to see how well it works, and try different browsers as well. Remember that Google is placing increasing importance on the idea of a website being mobile friendly, and if you do not cater to a mobile users then you will significantly lose out in the SERPs. It doesn’t take much these days to put together a layout that is mobile friendly with a good HTML 5 framework – or to use a theme for your CMS that already has reactive features. Invest in the future of your website today and make it reactive.

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