With the introduction of cell phones, there was never a guarantee that you would access a given webpage on your phone. It may be impossible to read the text on the website, or it may redirect you to a mobile-specific site without the feature you were looking for. Now, full access to any site on your phone is usually not even a question; you take it for granted. How did this happen? Through responsive web design.
New techniques in Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and no-code programs have made it possible to easily design sites that reflow and adjust themselves across all devices to be seamlessly legible and usable. The designer should plan for cross-device functionality throughout their process rather than addressing it as an afterthought. Your website’s success will be determined by its responsive design in today’s multi-device world.
The Responsive Web Design Method: What Is It?
A Responsive Web Design adapts content on your website to different screen sizes and window sizes of various devices.
On desktop screens, for example, your content might be organized into columns due to the width. Having multiple content columns on a mobile device makes it difficult for users to read and interact.
You can deliver multiple, separate layouts of your content and design based on the size of the screen using responsive design.
Which are the 3 elements of responsive web design?
To ensure that your design “responds” to the various devices with an optimized viewing experience, the following three components are important:
A media query is a filter applied to CSS that determines a website’s presentation based on the device, screen, browser, and even orientation. With a media query, you can use the same content blocks in multiple layouts optimized for the device’s size or features. Various factors such as resolution, browser, and orientation will be considered part of a media query.
The UI elements of a responsive web design are normalized based on the size and resolution of the screen. The “liquid” layout is used for this, where each component is given a percentage of width – so a content block, an image, and the padding between and around blocks will make up 100% of the width.
Layout elements should be designed with a base unit of 4 effective pixels (epx) to ensure the design scales to a whole number when the fluid grid is applied. Drawing the layout in effective pixels (epx) is an excellent way to demonstrate the layout dimensions, spacing, etc.
Designing a responsive website versus designing an adaptive website
Responsive Web Design adapts the rendering of a single-page version, whereas adaptive design keeps the same. Adaptive design, however, provides multiple versions of the same page with no adaptation. Both are crucial web design trends that allow webmasters to maintain the look and feel of their website across all screens, but the approach varies.
The same basic file will be accessible through the browser regardless of the device used, but CSS code will decide how it is rendered based on the size of the screen. As part of adaptive design, a script determines which device to access based on its resolution.
Designing responsive websites: the essential elements
Several key elements are crucial to creating a responsive web design in terms of aesthetics and functionality. First, you must understand the variety of ways your site is accessed – both in terms of devices and users’ unique needs and habits. You can then customize the content and structure to cater to those varied circumstances.
Design for a variety of devices
We recommend that your website be configured to fit multiple screen sizes – desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile (there are so many different sizes of mobile devices). Since modern devices are available in various sizes and proportions, this can be considered a fluid spectrum rather than separate categories. Additionally, a mobile device’s view may switch between portrait and landscape, which you should also consider.
Future devices could come in various sizes and proportions, so this is an important consideration. It would help if you built flexibility and fluidity into your website from the start, so you do not have to restart it with every technological update or invention.
Ultimately, the device should determine the content flow, not the other way around.
Relative length units
A responsive web design is dependent on how you set the length of your site. Your design will not adjust to different devices or accommodate accessibility needs if your design is based on absolute units (like pixels).
Use font-relative units like em or rem or viewport-relative units like vh or vw for responsive designs. Your site will remain functional regardless of how your layout flexes with device size and typography size changes.
To keep your site’s appearance and legibility across all devices, the overall layout of your site is important. Observe columns, grids, negative space, and how the eye moves down the page. Your layout should become more vertical as the viewport narrows.
Multiple columns can be readable and attractive on a laptop, but on a mobile device, they can make the content look too crowded and the text too small for easy reading. Fluid grids are a solution to this problem. Depending on the minor breakpoints, the number of columns can decrease accordingly.
Users will interact with navigation differently across devices, not only in terms of how it looks but also in how it functions. If you have a trackpad on your laptop, a navigation bar along the top or side is seamless. The same may be valid for tablets. Users will demand one-handed functionality when the device gets small enough to be held one-handed. When you reach a mobile breakpoint, you can have the navbar at the bottom of the screen to allow thumb navigation. A size of 48dp is recommended for thumbs.
A long navbar makes the navigation options easier to discover on larger screens. You may want to streamline navigation into something like a hamburger menu as the screen shrinks, and visible real estate becomes more valuable. It also means that the buttons can be larger, meaning they can be more easily used with the fingers.
Avoid slow loading times with overly large files by using responsive images to ensure images scale with the resolution of your site.
As visual elements, images must also scale with the layout. Look at the relationship between the images and your other content. Do they add value or are they merely decorative? Will your images have to scale differently based on that function? If half of the infographic is cut off or too small to read, even a background image might not be very helpful.
An effective, responsive web design relies heavily on text. In contrast to oddly arranged images, the poorly formatted text will completely destabilize your site. If you want your text to be easily readable, size it in either em or rem units and make sure it’s not so small that readers have to strain their eyes, neither too large that only a few words can fit on the screen at once.
Make sure it doesn’t overflow the viewport as you move through breakpoints. Keep a balance between headlines, body paragraphs, and functional text, such as buttons, as they scale, and ensure that they all relate to one another. Your text will scale responsively when using relative units like em or rem.
Web designs that are responsive support accessibility. By designing a site that responds to the user’s needs rather than their device, the internet can be accessed by a broader population of people. Some people may experience difficulty navigating a website due to disabilities, low/no vision, linguistic challenges, or motor-function limitations. Make it as easy as possible for them to use your website.
Think about assistive devices, such as screen readers, when designing. Certain elements such as tables that are fixed pose a problem to screen readers. Additionally, images cannot be read, so it will be helpful if all text is encapsulated in paragraphs or has alt text. Alt-text is a great way to make your website’s visual elements more accessible to users with limited vision, and it can also be a part of search engine optimization (SEO).
Your site will be more accessible if you use relative units for text. Users with low vision who might need larger text will be able to read it more quickly if they can resize it without breaking the flow of the page. Users with trouble seeing small buttons or motor function impairments may require larger buttons on their mobile devices. Think about the unique needs of the audiences you serve with your website.
Example of a responsive web design
In 2001, Audi.com launched the first responsive website. Over the past few years, more and more organizations have embraced responsive web design, including:
Users can create responsive eCommerce sites with Shopify, an eCommerce platform designed to be responsive. Shopify offers a wide variety of responsive themes. Most traffic and orders come from mobile devices on Shopify stores, as over 80% of them do.
It adapts its design to a single column by choosing images that crop instead of zooming and removing some of the extra elements. The hamburger menu appears on mobile and tablet websites as well.
More than 70 percent of YouTube’s users are mobile, and the service has over 2 billion users. You can watch YouTube on the web or as a responsive progressive web app (PWA), adjusted to a smaller grid size (fewer columns) for watching single videos on very small screens.
The fact that Google Maps is the most popular navigation app on mobile devices should come as no surprise.
In today’s marketplace, businesses of all sizes must design for mobile devices to succeed. It could be time to consider responsive web design if you have not previously designed your website to be mobile-friendly or realized that it is expensive to maintain a website that is not flexible enough to handle a wide enough range of devices and screen sizes.
A good website not only needs to be responsive, but it must have that “X-factor” of irresistible design and user experience. iTechnolabs has experienced UX and UI designers team creates fluid, intuitive, and engaging websites.