Responsive Web Design: Which CMS is Best?

August 30, 2013

Recently our team has been asked this question while presenting webinars and conference sessions, so we thought it was time to share our thoughts on the topic here.

The fact is, any CMS that allows you to fully configure HTML/CSS will be able to display a responsive website design. The code that enables the website display to respond – that is to say, change its appearance based on the device – is called the media query. This coding lives within the HTML/CSS layer and therefore is independent from the CMS that holds the content and provides the administration functionality.

A Basic Responsive Website Design

There are degrees of responsive interactions. A site can be made to respond in a basic fashion quite easily.

In this example, you see that the columns A, B, C move from sitting next to each other on desktop to stacking vertically on top of one another in mobile. This site is technically a responsive design: the layout of the page has “responded” to the device.

Optimized Responsive Website Design

However, most brand managers and digital marketing directors are not going to be satisfied with this lack of optimization in their website. What we’ve discovery is that most brand managers don’t want to just shuffle the content containers around: they want to optimize their content for devices. For example, some content may need to be hidden – such as large photography, tables, sidebars – or the position of calls to action may need to be relocated. At this point, brand managers are using the CMS to control the responsive design experience. Now picking the best CMS does matter.

The Best CMS for Optimized Responsive Design

We’ve effectively used the open-source CMS platform Drupal to allow for the fine-tuning and control of the content presentation in all devices. Through the Drupal CMS, we are able to give content controllers the power to select the content elements appear in specific devices. Is that hero image too big on mobile (even after device-specific resizing)? No problem, you can drop it from the mobile display – just check it off in the CMS. In short, we can show different content – not just different layouts – based on device and we give this power to content managers.

So, while the basic HTML/CSS that produces a responsive website can be handled by a wide range of web CMS platforms, only a few CMS platforms – such as Drupal – give content creators the power to optimize their mobile, desktop and tablet displays.

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