Responsive web design is when developers create websites that can adapt effectively to the size of users’ screen, be it a phone, desktop, or a tablet. The main objective of responsive web design is to allow content to render varyingly depending on the size of the screen or device so that users can best experience regardless of how they access the website.
The primary advantage of designing a website responsively is so that it can load faster without any distortions, and eliminating the need for resizing the page to view content properly. The layout must adapt depending on the screen dimensions.
The process of responsive web design testing can be challenging sometimes but it is worth the hassle, especially keeping in mind the short window businesses have of capturing the attention of online visitors.
The concept of responsive web design has been around for decades, but it was until the mobile usage upsurge that developers began to recognize its importance.
Today, many people access websites with mobile phones more than laptops or traditional desktops, meaning that the field of responsive web design is not slowing down any time soon.
The first ever website to be designed responsively was Audi.com, in 2001. Its design caught the attention of many, and terms such as “liquid,” “elastic,” “flexible,” and “fluid” were bandied everywhere in the world of web design. Until Ethan Marcotte, the mind behind the website coined the term “responsive website design” in his 2010 essay. The developer even wrote a book titled “Responsive Web Design” in 2011.
The Principles of Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design follows certain values. These values determine. These values determine how successful a website will be as far as responsiveness is concerned. Let’s find out what these principles are.
Fluid Grids are the type of grid systems that adjust based on the screen dimensions as opposed to another type of grid systems such as fixed-width layout, which usually appears the same regardless of the screen size. With fluid grids, all the elements resize relative to one another. Sometimes, developers use the term ‘liquid layouts’ to refer to the fluid grids.
To estimate the right proportions, take the width of each element and divide them with the total page width. Taking dimensions from a high fidelity replica in a pixel-based photo editor can help get the correct measurements of the width elements as well as the page width. A word of caution: avoid rounding of values as this may lead to inaccurate proportions display.
When it comes to responsive design, fluid grids are not enough. So far, it is not just about different types of screen, but also how browsers are getting narrower. Majority of the contemporary browsers only support CSS3 media queries. The CSS3 enables websites to collect information about individual visitors and in principle, apply the CSS styles. The CSS3 media queries enable developers to implement particular CSS styles once the browser window resizes below specified width.
Resizing images to fit different screen dimensions is arguably the greatest challenge to designers. Nevertheless, the use of CSS’s max-width property can prove an easier option, as it ensures images load in their former size unless the user device is narrower than the width of the image.
Images will tend to resize in relation to the width of the browser or screen if the maximum width is set to 100 percent of the viewing area. Instead of declaring the dimensions of the images within the code, designers should just enable the browser to resize images automatically as directed by the CSS. It is worth noting that some older Windows browsers may have difficulties rendering effectively when images are resized.
Top 5 Advantages of Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design benefits users, businesses, developers, and designers in the following ways:
More Mobile Traffic
Today, the internet has penetrated to the remote areas of the globe and many people have consistent access from wherever they are, be it in the comfort of their home, or at the queue of the bank. This trend has been helped by a wide range of mobile device currently in the market. With a responsive design, web contents become flexible enough to adapt to all screen sizes and browsers.
Excellent User Experience
Online business has a short window to catch the attention of visitors, nine seconds to be precise. When visitors bump into an impressive design, they will feel satisfied with the usability and they may just come back again. If the website is not responsive enough, what you will get is increased bounce rates and this will lead to your website climbing down the search engine rank.
Responsive web design is part and parcel of SEO. Search engines, especially Google, like websites that are responsive. This is because responsive design websites have a single URL as well as the same HTML regardless of the screen size, enabling Google to easily index your website. Another reason why responsive design is good for SEO is that it allows users to share the content easily since it is located on one URL. Lastly, a responsive website eliminates the need for multiple versions for desktop and mobile.
Responsive web design is not just about how pleasant it looks, but it saves time and costs. Before, businesses would create different web versions for desktop and mobile, but that is not necessary now with responsive design. It also helps avoid content duplication, thus a positive impact on search engine rankings.
Easy to Maintain
This point still comes down to running just a single version of your website. Having separate versions means more efforts in maintaining them, two separate SEO strategies and so on. But with responsive web design, you only need to channel your attention to one website. Managing a single website will take less time and also cost less.
This list is not exhaustive of all the benefits of responsive web design. The trend of responsive web design has just started. Building a responsive web design website is not that difficult, especially with numerous responsive web design testing tools, with most of them being free. If you need any professional assistance, shoot us a message and our team of highly experienced developers will be glad to help you.