Responsive Web Design & Development: The Costs vs The Gains

When developing a website, we all want our energy and the money that we put into it to be deployed in the most effective way possible. But everyone who is either a casual or regular web surfer will have comes across a few websites that simply look awful, rendering them awkward and irritating to read and utilize.

This is something that is definitely to be avoided when building your own website, but what’s the best way in going about it? Well, one popular technology that is aimed at creating intuitive and attractive web content is responsive web design.

Background to Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design has been specifically developed in order to craft websites which provide an optimal viewing experience. This can include, but is not limited to, easy reading and navigation, effective resizing of windows, along with smooth panning and scrolling. And critically in the highly diverse computing marketplace that we’re used to today, it aims to achieve this across multiple platforms, from mobile phones through tablet computers to desktop computer monitors.

The general consensus regarding Responsive Web Design is that it delivers the slickest results of any web development technology available today. But sometimes the best solutions are also the most expensive, so what are the costs associated with Responsive Web Design?


Why do I need Responsive Web Design?

This is a natural question to ask before we go any further, as many potential website builders may simply wonder why they would bother with this technology in the first place if the cost is potentially prohibitive.

This is a valid question, but in order to answer it one merely needs to view any number of websites with a modern smartphone. Even the top of the range mobile devices such as an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy can struggle to run many websites in a remotely acceptable fashion, which tells you that something is going fundamentally wrong with the way that they’re built. Responsive Web Design ensures that your website can be used satisfactorily regardless of the method used to access it.

How Much will Responsive Web Design Cost?

The cost – and for that matter the investment of time required – of a site built with Responsive Web Design will be dependent upon some key factors, some of which are as follows:


This is a bit of a complicated technical point, which nevertheless can be simplified to a comprehensible level. Breakpoints are essentially the points at which your website differs its display parameters. What this means in practical terms is that if you want to utilize a lot of differing stylistics within a website built with Responsive Web Design it takes longer and more effort to produce, and consequently costs more.

So if you want to minimize development costs associated with Responsive Web Design the first step is to ensure that the content is an uniform as possible without sacrificing the physical attractiveness of the site.

Content and Features Required

This is the really the key factor in any Responsive Web Design site. The size of a site, along with the amount, type and complexity of language used on a site can all impact upon both cost and development time. Of course, it is also incredibly rare for a site to consist of merely text nowadays; even non-commercial sites generally wish to employ images and video. For example, the website of a higher education establishment may wish to show a multitude of images from its campus and the interiors of its buildings. All of which can contribute to the build costs associated with Responsive Web Design.



There are a range of basic templates actually available for Responsive Web Design, and a developer can produce a site pretty cheaply based on a little input from you by using one of these templates. To use the example cited previously, if you were building a largely informational website on an educational establishment that required minimal input and interaction then this could be an option. Alternatively, if you have more complex functions and specific requirement, a custom build will be necessary, which invariably costs more money.


Again, a very basic website which is merely intended to serve an informational purpose may be relatively cheap to build with Responsive Web Design. But anything requiring more complex functionality, for example an online shop or trade website, will inevitably take longer to build and render and cost more money. There really isn’t too much you can do about this one, except to say that it isn’t wise to include features that aren’t necessary for the purpose of the website as they will inevitably end up costing you!


Stuart Gonsal is the co-founder and managing director of Lava Digital Agency, a boutique web design and development agency in Melbourne. Stuart believes in collaboration and that people and ideas are at the heart of every successful project. Lava is specialized in building Magento ecommerce solutions. Follow Stuart on Linkedin, Google+ or visit at