Responsive website design is a type of design whereby the information displayed on a screen adjusts to fit the type of monitor being used. The monitor size can range from large screen external monitors, to notebook screens, to iPad and tablet screens, to mobile phone screens.
With responsive law firm website design, the content in the code is typically arranged in “blocks” of content. When the content is displayed on a smaller screen (such as when the law firm site is displayed on a mobile phone or tablet), the blocks of content are stacked on top of each other. In a larger screen, the blocks of content are then unstacked.
As an example, an attorney profile that is displayed on a desktop computer may show an image of the attorney on the left-hand side of the screen, it may have a biography section about the lawyer in the middle of the screen, and the right-hand side of the screen may have content about the attorney’s admissions and education. When this content is displayed on a mobile phone, instead of having a very tiny version of this same layout, the attorney profile page might show the attorney picture at the top, followed by the bio section, then the section for the attorney’s admissions, followed by the attorney’s education.
If this page is displayed on a desktop or large screen monitor, and then the page is made narrower, a user can see exactly how the content is stacked and unstacked.
Additionally, in law firm responsive website coding, other changes are made as the screen size is reduced. For example, the navigation menu may change in the manner in which it is displayed. When viewed in a desktop or large screen monitor, the navigation may extend across most of the width of the screen. As the screen is made narrower, the navigation tabs will be closer together, until the navigation changes to what is known as a “hamburger” menu.
A hamburger menu is a menu that consists of three small horizontal lines, and takes its name from the resemblance that it has to a hamburger. When a hamburger menu is clicked, the navigation links are then shown (usually in a vertical manner, instead of of horizontally).
In many cases, a responsive design may be preferable to a “non-responsive” design, but this should be determined in consultation with an experienced law firm website developer. A responsive design should be taken into account at the outset of development, so that if a responsive design is desired, aspects that may not work well in a responsive environment can be avoided in favor of other aspects.
The cost for law firm responsive website development is difficult to separate from the over-all development cost because of several factors.
First, the responsive aspects are usually incorporated into the way in which the website is developed. In years past, developing a responsive website was much more difficult, as the design and coding had to be very carefully crafted. Today, most designers and developers use an open source tool kit called Bootstrap to design and develop the responsive aspects of a website (other prototyping software can also be used). These software systems provide website designers and developers with the ability to design and see how the website will look on different types of monitors during the design stage. Because designers and developers now typically use Bootstrap and other prototyping software, the responsive element now is usually not considered an extra cost for the basic functionality.
Second, in addition to using such software, there are also differences in the design that may be desired depending upon the type of monitor in which the website is viewed. For a responsive law firm website, it may be desirable to have buttons on the home page of the mobile site to “call the firm,” “get directions to the firm,” or to “send email” to the firm. Such buttons would only be displayed when the website is shown on a mobile phone (and not when the website is shown on a desktop).
Also, the “desktop” version of the home page of the website may have content that is not desired to be displayed when the firm’s website is opened on a mobile phone. Instead, the firm may wish to show a shorted version of the home page (perhaps by not showing news and events or similar content), which may enhance the experience for mobile users.
When additional content is added to a law firm’s mobile site, or when when some content will not be shown on the mobile site, extra coding is required. Normally, adding additional content for a mobile site, or not showing content, will usually only require a few hours or so of coding, so the cost should not be significant.
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