A responsive web design is an adjustment made to the current web design so that the website can appear exactly the same, whatsoever be the screen size. It is purposely done to have a website that can cater to all sorts of user preferences – like desktops, laptops, tablets, or Smartphones. Such websites work on the basis of media queries that execute when different resolutions or devices are used to access a website.
Once the type of device is determined, grids, typeface & images get fitted as per the screen size. With the increasing use of Smartphones & tablets compared to laptops & desktops, Responsive Web Design is gradually gaining popularity. So what things should you know related to Responsive Web Design?
It’s a trend setter
With the sizes of computers & mobile phones expanding and shrinking day by day, developers have felt the need to create a responsive design in order to develop a website for all display sizes. Every website should possibly work on all devices, in order to create a consistent experience for all kinds of users.
Responsive design techniques can be time consuming as they need proper planning. But it definitely benefits developers for a long duration. Due to a responsive design there is no need for too many redirects or different websites. This helps in easy development of updates as only one update will be needed. Also, visuals remain the same regardless of the size. This helps in building brand credibility & identity.
Not the Same as Mobile Design
Responsive design is basically a form of web design on the whole. It should not be confused with a mobile design. Responsive sites can definitely be viewed on a mobile with resolutions of 1920×1080, 800×600 and 1024×768 pixels. However, mobiles should not be the only place to refer while going for a responsive design.
It is always better to start with a mobile & then plan the responsive site for other sizes. A majority of developers & designers feel that shrinking visuals seems more of a challenge than expanding visuals.
Flexibility Matters the Most
Flexibility is the key to good responsive design. Unless photos, typeface, or the grid is flexible enough, your site design might not be entirely appropriate. Easier ways are either to hide content & images for a mobile website or alternatively go for the simplest layout so as to maintain a uniform look for all devices.
A Grid should be the Starting Point
Best responsive designs are grid based. Every website is divided proportionately on scale with each number known as a grid stop. Most feasible grids are found in three different widths of the browser such as 320×480 pixels, 480×768 pixels, 760 pixels or more. Additional browser widths could be included which can support more than 1000 pixels monitor sizes.
Most commonly found fluid grid will cover the screen space which is left over. Another popular option is making use of fluid breakpoints which do not make use of predetermined stops, but are dictated by the overall design.
Focus on the Quality & Size of the Image
Whatsoever be the size, a poor image will always remain an image of low quality. Quality is very important to deal with & even loading time for that matter. It is particularly important for mobile users having a limited speed of the internet. A balance should be reached between the two by optimizing the pictures, full size image loading avoidance, using scaling properties related to height & width in CSS.
Images should be cropped before actually uploading them & at the same time reduce the image size to the smallest possible extent maintaining visual quality in parallel. In case of a responsive layout, image number should be reduced, mobile frameworks should be used, multiple file sizes & versions should be made available and mobile environment should allow hiding of the images.
Responsive Typeface is Important
24-point Helvetica could be a viable option on the desktop for a beautiful viewing but it is not the case with a mobile. The key here is the length of the line. Readability is critical as the user’s eyes are unable to handle so many letters as well as gaps with ease. The typeface should be optimized for different screen sizes, such as 50-75 characters are ideal for desktops & 35-50 for mobiles.
The point size should be such that multiple blocks of words could be easily be read vertically when a user scrolls down. Line spacing also plays a vital role here. Typically, the websites use a line spacing that is 140% of the text blocks point size. Extra space always needs to be added in case of smaller screens. Various letter forms, dramatic style of lettering, & novel typefaces, look pretty amazing on large screens but are difficult to read in case of mobiles.
A responsive design for the website always helps in elevating search engine optimization. This is done to make a website visible & also enhance the brand as well as sales. Because a responsive design is common with a unique URL as opposed to different mobile formats, link building remains quite simple. Redirects & advertising campaigns all point to a common location. A single website having standard keywords, metadata, & language is important. You need not track redirects & URL. Analytics is also easy with a single responsive website.
Website Navigation should be Flexible
The days are gone when dropdown menu was being used. Responsive websites guarantee a simple navigation. Moreover, dropdown menus don’t go well with touch. Navigational elements should be large enough for a user convenience. A minimum size of 44×44 pixels or more for each navigational element is good enough for the tapping purpose.
Navigational elements should be useful for the smallest to the largest sizes. Navigation in the form of swing style which is hidden is gaining a high amount of popularity nowadays. Also, navigational elements in a sub menu should open out when large menus at the top are clicked.
Ongoing Evolution of RWD!
You may sense responsive website design to be a perfect solution at this moment, which by the way it nearly is. But still RWD is in an evolution phase with habits as well as technology changes giving rise to new devices & sizes. Even today the number of devices is so huge that it is very hard to create a perfect responsive design that satisfies all users.
Responsive design could be expected to develop with a steady pace so that finally one day it can live up to all devices, platforms, & sizes. Even though not being a perfect solution at the moment, implementing RWD can position your site to all kinds of users, as reports say that user base on mobiles & similar devices is growing everyday & it won’t be surprising if it surpasses desktops, laptops, & tablets one day when it comes to accessing the web.
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About the Author
Alan Smith is an avid tech blogger with vast experience in various IT domains, currently associated with SPINX Inc., which offers web development, internet marketing and Web Design Services in California. Follow Alan on Google + and Twitter.