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Techcure - Houston's Expert Web Development: Unveiling the Essentials of Responsive Website Design

Essentials of Responsive Website Design

Crafting Seamless User Experiences Across Devices with Responsive Design Principles

In the digital era, exclusive desktop design is outdated. Technology’s rise and mobile device prevalence push web designers to reconsider presentation across screens. Reflect on daily browsing: mobile reliance over desktop is a noticeable trend. This shift emphasizes Responsive Website Design’s pivotal role, adapting seamlessly across devices. As users navigate smartphones and desktops, a design adjusting effortlessly—Responsive Website Design—becomes paramount. It ensures a consistent user experience, acknowledging diverse ways users interact with content in today’s dynamic tech landscape.

What is responsive design?

Simply put, responsive web design (RWD) is an approach that allows design and code to respond to the size of a device’s screen. Meaning it gives you the optimal viewing experience whether you’re looking at a 4 inch android mobile, your iPad mini or a 40-inch cinema display.

Top-notch responsive websites leverage fluid grids, adaptable images, and CSS styling to dynamically adjust the site’s layout based on the browser’s width. Designers should aspire to seamlessly customize the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of a website across diverse devices and platforms.

Why is responsive design so important?

If we designed and developed countless versions of a website that worked for every known device out there, the process just wouldn’t be practical time-wise and would be extremely costly! It would also render sites ineffective to future technology changes and make them nearly impossible to maintain. Responsive design is an effective solution to future-proof your website.

A major key to responsive web design is knowing your audience and what device they’re using to view your website. How much of your current traffic is desktop vs. tablet vs. mobile? Approximately 56 percent of traffic in US websites is now from mobile devices. Today there are around 2.6 billion smartphone users and by 2020 that’s tipped to reach over 6 billion. Mobile design has never been more important.

It’s critical to design your website for varying devices, but it get’s more complicated when designing across varying web browsers. Each major web browser has it’s own mobile version and renders sites differently. Where it gets even trickier is that there are many versions of browsers that need to be catered for—you can’t expect everybody to be on the latest version. So it’s important that the design works and responds to a variety of browser versions.

Freaking out about designing for the web? Don’t worry, it’s a constant battle for everyone in the industry to adapt design for all browser versions as well as hardware devices. The best answer is to simply test your site on as many devices new and old as possible. (And hire a super guru developer!)

What website dimensions should I design for?

There is no “standard website size.” There are hundreds of devices out there, and model sizes and screen resolutions change all the time. And each individual website attracts users on different devices. For example, you’re more likely to look at a recipe on your mobile device (when you’re in the kitchen cooking), and more likely to search for a Photoshop tutorial on your desktop (you know, when you’re trying to figure out how to do something in Photoshop).

You can find out what browsers and web page sizes are most popular for your site by looking at Google Analytics. So with endless combinations of browser sizes and devices, how on earth do you design responsively without losing your mind?

Try designing at least 3 layouts

A responsive website design should have at least 3 layouts for different browser widths. The specific numbers we cite are what we currently use at 99designs but are not hard-and-fast rules.

  • Small: under 600px. This is how content will look on most phones.
  • Medium: 600px – 900px. This is how content will look on most tablets, some large phones, and small netbook-type computers.
  • Large: over 900px. This is how content will look on most personal computers.

Each of these layouts should include the same text and graphical elements, but each should be designed to best display that content based on the user’s device. Scaling down the page to fit on smaller screen sizes will make the content unreadable, but if you apply Responsive Website Design principles, scaling the content relative to one another and switching to 1 column makes it much more readable.

Tools and resources

  • Your web browser might seem like an obvious tool to use, but it’s the most effective resource to preview your designs on the web. Install a few different browsers to get a good range of feedback. Then start resizing the browser windows.
  • Your mobile device is another obvious tool to use but helpful to preview your designs because it shows you exactly what your website will look like under those specific conditions.
  • Fluid grids are based on designing a website layout on percentage values instead of set pixels. For instance, the width of content on a desktop screen could be 930px, but you want to target the design down to 320px on mobile. To convert this into a scalable figure, the result works out to be 320/930 = 34.4%. When you apply this to the mobile screen size the elements in the design layout will resize in relation to one another. We like the One% CSS Grid.
  • Google’s resizer is a good resource to quickly preview your site on multiple devices.
  • Media queries are a type of code that will get implemented into your site when it get’s built. It’s important to have in your code because it sets the conditions for the design to magically adapt to the size of the screen. Eg. “when the screen size is equal to 480px or less, change to tablet design layout”. Try it out now by simply dragging your browser window smaller (if you’re on a desktop). You’ll see the content automatically resize to the varying design breakpoints of the screen.
  • Other resources to get you started:

I’m sure by now you know everything about responsive design right?!

Don’t worry, it’s a universal design challenge for everyone in the web industry. The best thing you can do is to keep updated with the latest UI/UX best practices, design around your content, keep your images flexible, always consider your navigation, and remember user experience is key.