Responsive web design or RWD is what website designers use to deliver the best user experience. A responsive design allows your website to adapt to the screens of all devices whether that be a desktop, laptop or smart phone.
How Does it Work?
Responsive web design works by providing the same HTML to each device and using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to determine the appearance of the page. CSS uses a variety of settings for different style properties.
So, depending on the user’s screen size, orientation, resolution and colour capability, CSS will style the website in a manner best suited for the user’s device. For example, CSS may shrink the viewport of the website to fit the narrow screen of a smart phone.
Why is it Important?
People are expanding the ways in which they access the internet with the seemingly endless choice of devices on the market. So, to accommodate this, web designs must be multifunctional and user-friendly to laptops, desktops, androids, iPhones, iPads and everything in between.
Responsive web design means that every device out there doesn’t need its own specific website. This just wouldn’t be feasible for web designers and developers to create.
Here are the advantages of implementing a responsive design into your website:
- Optimal design: With responsive web design all HTML elements, such as text font and images, will be scaled appropriately to the screen size of the user’s device.
- No redirects: Without responsive design the website would need redirects to send the user to the appropriate version of a web page for the device they use. By cutting out redirects you can ensure the user can access your website as efficiently as possible.
- Budget: Responsive web design is also beneficial for budget as there’s no need to manage multiple sites or make the same alterations to each page. Responsive design allows you to simply manage and maintain just the single website.
Is Your Website Responsive?
You can test to see if your website is responsive in your web browser with the following steps:
- Open Google Chrome.
- Go to your website Press Ctrl + Shift + I to open Chrome DevTools.
- Press Ctrl + Shift + M to toggle the device toolbar.
- View your page from a mobile, tablet, or desktop perspective.
There are also free tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, that allows you to see if aspects of your website are mobile-friendly. A mobile friendly website is one of the great advantages of responsive web design.
Three Key Features
The three main aspects required to build a responsive website design are:
- Fluid Grid Systems.
- Fluid Image Use.
- Media Queries.
- Fluid Grid System
A fluid grid system is a type of dynamic website design that adapts to each device used to view the website. The grid system will adjust to the different screen widths of devices and present the website accordingly.
Screen sizes differ greatly between devices, so responsive websites use elements defined as percentages of the screen’s width rather than a static number of pixels. This ensures the responsive design accurately adapts to every screen used to view the website.
- Fluid Images
Responsive design uses CSS to ensure images have a maximum size and no minimum size. This means that the images won’t ever appear stretched or pixelated and can shrink to fit smaller devices. CSS also automatically maintains the aspect ratio of the images to avoid pixelation.
- Media queries
Media queries are a feature of CSS that enables the website content to render and adapt to different conditions. For example, if the content area width of the browser is set to less than 500 pixels the CSS will present the website in one long column. But if the content area is set to more than 500 pixels then the CSS will create multiple columns.
This is very important because all fluid grid systems have breakpoints where they don’t look good. Media queries enable the website to redefine itself when it reaches those points so that the page continues to be functional and well designed.
Responsive web design can be tricky to get right. The above key features are a great place to start when you’re first designing your responsive website.
For further advice on how to implement a responsive design into your website, contact us at Floodmaker here.