These days your site visitors have wide range of options to choose from when it comes to screen size:
- desktop computer monitors with huge screen sizes
- laptop with their usually middle-sized monitors
- pads of different sizes
- mobile phones with tiny to almost pad-sized big displays
And to be sure all these different users have great experience visiting and using your website you need to make your website pages look equally good on different screen sizes.
This is where Responsive Web Design comes into the game! Keep reading to get an idea what is Responsive Design, why do you need to care about it at all and how to make your site look great on most popular screen sizes.
What Is Responsive Web Design?
Kayla Knight gave a good definition for Responsive web design in his article Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It:
Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. As the user switches from their laptop to iPad, the website should automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.
If put simply, website is responsive when it dynamically adopts to visitor’s screen width. It looks equally well for wide and narrow displays.
Why Is Responsive Web Design Important?
Mobile phones aren’t only for calls today. Modern mobile phones are true computers. They have access to the Internet and they can display websites and applications.
Websites development is progressing. While developing websites, we may hear the expression Responsive web design very often.
So the reason number one you need to make your site Responsive: provide equally good experience to all your website visitors, regardless of their device screen size. This will increase your users happiness and decrease pages bounce rate 😉
Even more Benefits of Responsive Web Design
Surely, there are many more reasons to go with a responsive web design. Let’s briefly overview a few more bonuses of responsive web design.
In 2013, the number of global web users accessing the Internet from mobile devices started to surpass the number of desktop users. So, if you want to ensure your app outreach, you must go with a mobile version.
Fast mobile development
Building responsive design for your app is much faster than creating a mobile version of your app from scratch.
Cost-efficient mobile development
See the previous benefit. Just like with development speed, creating a responsive design is much less costly than building a mobile app from scratch.
Websites with responsive design are notable for strong backlinks and great bounce rates. And you don’t have to duplicate your content for different app versions, which is good for your platform’s SEO ranking.
Components of Responsive Web Design
Without diving too deep into the technical side, let’s discuss the three most important responsive design components.
So, components of responsive web design include media queries, web browsers, and website interfaces.
Now, it’s time for a complex notion.
If we try to explain media queries in simple words, we may present it as a web development technique.
This technique is all about developing different layouts depending on the size of the viewport.
It is also about detecting other crucial features of the app’s interface, such as the environment in which the site will run.
So, basically, a media query is all about preparing a web platform for different devices and media.
A web browser is a tool that helps the user access your web app.
And it should interact with a responsive platform in the right way.
It goes about automatically resizing the pictures and other interface parts.
The procedure is rather simple and straightforward, but failure to adapt responsive design to a particular web browser may lead to very unpleasant design lags.
Here it goes about design solutions.
A designer should adequately distribute interactive elements within the interface while bearing in mind both mobile and web users.
Seeing many interactive elements on the screen is normal when you access a web platform from a PC.
However, this may cause major inconvenience to a mobile user.
5 Great Examples of Responsive Web Design
Now, let’s take a look at a few interesting responsive design examples.
One of the world’s most popular file hosting services is well-known for its stylish design.
What is really important is that Dropbox provides a convenient user experience for various devices.
Regardless of the size and shape of your screen, you will get an excellent user experience with Dropbox. Moreover, some parts of the app’s graphic interface adapt to your device and its screen.
One of the world’s biggest information services for developers just couldn’t fail to provide its users with an excellent user experience.
That’s why GitHub’s responsive design conforms to the needs of mobile users.
In particular, it proves to be more minimalist and more intuitive on mobile devices.
This multinational e-commerce website is also notable for its high adaptivity to various devices.
For example, it can change the layout of various interface components in order to provide the most convenient experience to users of various devices.
Besides, Shopify is all about excellent visual design quality on both desktop and mobile platforms.
This workforce communication and management platform is all about simplicity.
With Slack’s responsive design, you will enjoy a great user experience on both mobile platforms and desktops.
Although the app deals with great loads of text, it provides an excellent experience to its mobile users.
This Swiss procurement platform provides an excellent user experience to its mobile users due to its convenient layout and interface composition.
And we are proud to be the ones who have facilitated it.
Our team helped Gryps.ch optimize its responsive design so that its customers can enjoy their platform with mobile devices.
We also expanded the web platform with a few new pages that also provide an excellent experience on different devices.
How to Implement Responsive Web Design?
There are a few different approaches, but so call method mobile first becomes most popular these days.
Mobile first method means that the original layout of the site is designed for small screens. Because the visible region is small, it is necessary to focus on the main parts of the layout, place them in a visible area of the screen. And forget about everything else.
Next step is to design layout for larger screens, adding other bells and whistles for larger (desktop) screens only. It is implemented with so called media queries.
So if you’re just starting out with your new website from the scratch, best option is to consider responsive layout from the very beginning. Implement mobile layout first, then improve it and complicate for larger screens.
Responsive Web Design Example Code
Diving to deep into samples of responsive web design code would make this article too technically complex. Hence, instead, we will tell you about numerous basics on creating a responsive web design code.
- Setting the viewport. It goes about adding a code component that will tell the browser how to control page scaling and dimensions.
- Setting CSS image width property. If a developer uses 100% of this property, the browser will adjust images to viewpoint requirements.
- Setting maximum image width. A developer should set this property to avoid situations in which a browser presents a too big images.
- Customizing image selection. There’s a code feature enabling the developers to define different images for different browser window sizes.
- Using responsive text size. A developer can use code element that makes text size adaptive to different browser window sizes.
- Applying media queries. Media queries allow a developer to define different styles for different browser sizes.
Responsive Web Design Best Practices for an Old Theme
What to do with old sites with layout that is not designed to be adopted for mobile smaller screens?
The ideal approach would be to update the design, but if not possible, still using media queries can help a lot.
A few starting points when optimizing existing layouts:
Remove fixed width. Make page stretched the entire width of the screen.
Remove columns. Show column with content first.
Increase touched elements.
Make other changes to improve usability: up
These changes are very dependent on the structure of the layout, its flexibility and consistency of html elements. Sometimes you’ll also have to update HTML code a lot.
- Responsive Web Design: What It Is and How To Use It – Detailed Responsive Design Guidelines
- 7 Responsive Design Tips to Revamp Your Workflow – 7 things to consider while working on Responsive Design for your website
- Notes to an Agency Starting Their First Responsive Web Project – if you want to do Responsive Design by yourself, this article will help you to start
- Mobile First Book – more in depth reading on topic
We hope this short article will help you check if your current website is Responsive for your key visitors and define the next steps to fix any related issues.