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A responsive website is technique that allows a website to change and adapt automatically to the size of the screen that it is being viewed on.
With the large number of different size screens and the rise in the use of tablets, it is no longer possible to use the old school method of a separate site for mobiles, usually with cut down content and functionality. As soon as the site looks good on an 4" screen of an iPhone, it looks terrible on a large 5.5" screen of a Samsung Note. And then you have the issues of how the site looks when viewed in the differing sizes of landscape and portrait orientations of a tablet. Responsive web design overcomes these issues by being flexible depending on the size of the device it is being viewed on, this may include shrinking images, or cutting off less important parts of an image, tucking away a large menu until it is needed, and rearranging columns.
Responsive web design is vital to capture visitors and conversions, and proves to be the most cost effective way of optimising your site across all devices, no matter what screen size.