When I was a little kid, I remember how perplexing it was when I was told that “history always repeats itself”. I often wondered why people don’t learn from their mistakes, but now that I am a little older it makes a lot more sense. I think that there are just repeating patterns that surface as new “things” are introduced into cultures. It is not necessarily always a “mistake”, but a naturally occurring iteration of growth. The same principles get applied to technological improvements that ultimately make them smarter, faster, smaller, etc.

So this brings me to a simple observation about the craze that has taken over the mobile landscape. How many times have you heard, “there is an app for that”. It is pretty amazing when you look at the growth of the app stores, but as a developer it reminds me of the mid 1990′s when I was going off to college with my new computer.  I was surfing the web with netscape navigator and installing apps left and right.  Then internet browsers made some great improvements and people realized that it was a lot easier and more efficient to create web apps.  Instead of installing your app on computers around the world you could run everything from a central server and allow users to connect with their browser.

Mobile devises are following the same trend.  Companies have rushed out to develop apps for their products and services.  In some cases it makes sense to develop a native app if you need to take advantage of the hardware that has not been exposed to the web browser.  However, most of the time it probably makes sense to create a mobile optimized web application.  Enter “responsive web design”.

Responsive Web Design allows developers to dynamically change the way that a web page is displayed depending on the screen layout.  With some upfront thinking, a website can be designed so that it will look good on both a desktop monitor as well as a smartphone’s screen.  If you simply want to make sure your site is going to perform on a mobile device, this is the best bang for your buck especially if you are starting a new project.  There is quite a bit of overhead developing apps for each of the app stores.  There are definitely some tools out there like phone gap that make this process a little less painful.  A project may warrant more than just a Responsive Web Design, but more often than not it is a great solution