The Role of Responsive Design in Modern Web Development

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Have you ever had that frustrating experience of clicking on a website, eager to find out what it’s all about, only to realize you have to pinch, zoom, and scroll horizontally to see anything? Today, people are often turned off of a website because it’s not adapted to mobile devices. A website might be great on your desktop, but when you look it up on your phone, it’s the same view as your desktop–only it doesn’t fit on your screen.

Fortunately, not all websites are this way, which means there is a solution. If you don’t want your website to cause frustration on mobile devices or screens of varying sizes, then we have an answer for you. It’s time to problem-solve with responsive web design!

 

What is Responsive Web Design and Why is It Important?

Responsive web design has been taking the internet by storm in the past few years. If you’re looking to design a web page that’s flexible for many devices, responsive web design is a great option. Its ability to keep your website uniform, usable, and visually appealing across all sorts of different device screen sizes makes it the best way to optimize for mobile screens. So what is it?

Responsive web design is a method that allows designers and business owners to create a website that can flex to fix any screen size and respond to users’ behavior. It does this through a system of flexible grids and layouts that use CSS media queries and even has a technique for creating flexible images. This technology is known as a CSS grid layout.

But all of this sounds technical. So let’s break it down so business owners of all types can build a website that’s friendly to all sorts of screen sizes.

You need your website to fit on the screen of devices with extremely varying sizes. While one user might project your website onto their TV, another might scroll through on their Apple Watch! How do you get your website to be consistent between all of these sizes?

This is where responsive web design comes into play. Because it breaks your website down into different layouts that can flex with screen size, you’ll find that no matter what size screen you’re working with, these fluid layouts let your website flex to meet the demands of modern web development. After all, who wants to design completely individual websites for each size of device? Tomorrow, there’ll probably be a new one! And if these benefits aren’t enough, we’ll explore some others and explain more about how this responsive design adapts across the world of technology.

 

How Does Responsive Web Design Enhance User Experience?

Like we said at the beginning, most people have opened a web page and been met with a horizontal scroll bar, tiny print, and images that won’t load. Responsive web design is your solution to keep your website from being so frustrating. Responsive design’s impact on user experience is so good, we’re going to give it significant attention right now.

One of the biggest benefits of responsive web design for users is that it is set up to respond instantly to a user’s preferences. This includes the user’s viewport, a technical term that means the size of their screen and what size website it can display. What this means is that responsive web design allows a website to adapt to any screen width or size as soon as the webpage is opened. With over 50% of internet use happening on mobile devices, it’s no surprise that responsive design targets a flexible design. It lets your website have both a desktop version, a mobile version, and everything in between without needing to create a different page each time.

So, users who visit your page will find that they can read your website and interact with it just as well on their tablet, mobile device, computer, TV, or anything else. Your web page will be uniform and easy to use across all devices and platforms.

 

Can Responsive Web Design Improve Your Site’s SEO?

Even better, having a website with a responsive web design can improve your SEO. Search engines like Google and Bing give websites that are built for mobile devices a higher ranking in searches. These responsive sites also only have one version of the website. Sometimes duplicate website versions can push down a site’s SEO ranking. Fortunately, responsive design eliminates these concerns.

How Can You Implement Responsive Web Design on Web Pages?

If there are so many benefits to having a responsive web design, then let’s talk through a basic understanding of how to get your page going with responsive designs.

The best way to begin is to build your responsive page off of flexible layouts that act like building blocks. This is the flexible grid that allows your website to automatically adjust to any screen size. From there, it’s a matter of making smart design choices and implementing CSS media queries so that the content itself is flexible. A media query is a code that tells your website to learn each device’s width and adapt its content presentation accordingly. So, these media queries are the tools that let your flexible grid go to work. With these simple steps, you can have a responsive website up and running quickly.

 

Tools to Help With Responsive Web Design

However, if you’re hoping to build a responsive site, you’ll probably want some tools to help you achieve it. Let’s talk through a few tools that can help you put together a responsive page.

  • The CSS max-width property. This is a tool for sizing images properly. Images are an important aspect of websites, but you never want your image size so large that it holds up the loading speed of the whole page. Of course, each image size is not typically optimized for every device width. This means you’ll want flexible images, and this can be achieved through the CSS max-width property. Through this, you’ll list your image’s size in terms of a percent of the page space, not in a literal size. Now your browser size determines the size of the image!
  • Media queries with CSS. With this tool, it’s easy to make changes to optimize your webpage for mobile devices. Most mobile devices have both a portrait and landscape orientation. While the portrait is the one most used, some people turn their phones on their sides to better see the web content. This is called landscape orientation, and it causes another tricky problem for web development. Fortunately, media queries let you use multiple CSS styles to achieve a rotating, mobile-friendly design.
  • Flexbox. Once again, the popular CSS framework offers a solution for web developers. Flexbox, part of the CSS family, is a way to create responsive web designs without breaking your brain on difficult codes. It also makes it simple to create complex web pages features, like multiple columns or split screens.

These three tools can help simplify and accelerate your journey with responsive web design. Now you can have responsive images and design that looks professional and isn’t stressful to create.

 

How Does Responsive Web Design Impact the Performance of Web Pages?

As you might have already guessed, responsive design has a huge impact on web page performance. Design elements that can load quickly and be displayed on different devices are valuable precisely because of their great performance. One of the biggest ways this happens is through increased site speed. Images won’t make your website take hours to load, and excess content best left for a desktop version is eliminated. All of this combines for an improved experience on mobile devices but also other screen widths.

 

Why Does Loading Speed Matter in Responsive Web Design?

As you might imagine, loading speed is very important in user experience. A website that has been optimized for the best experience will also load faster. Visitors often get frustrated if a site won’t load in a matter of seconds. Getting people to stay on your website and enjoy it involves pleasing them with a fast loading speed, and one way to achieve this is through responsive web design.

 

How Does Responsive Web Design Influence Bounce Rate?

One of the easiest ways to have a high bounce rate is to have a website that refuses to load. As we’ve seen, responsive web design takes care of this issue, already reducing your bounce rate. But having web pages render their content well across all devices is a great way to bring your bounce rate down. A website full of design elements that work with each device size and bring up the website’s potential is one of the best ways to increase user engagement and satisfaction. Bringing this statistic up will lower your bounce rate!

What are the Best Practices for Responsive Web Design?

So, if responsive design is such an integral part of having a fluid web page and a highly functional browser window, what are the best ways to achieve this? Besides the basic steps of launching your website with responsive web design, how can you go deeper into the process and master this area of screen real estate? We’re glad you asked because we have a few answers for you!

 

The Mobile-First Design

If one thing is for certain in responsive design, it’s that you should start designing your web pages not for desktops or TVS or even tablets, but for mobile devices. This may seem strange. After all, why would you start with the smallest screen size? The reason is that the mobile designs are the most difficult to design. With a minimum width, you’ll be able to fit very little content onto the screen compared to a desktop design. If you started with the desktop version, you’d suddenly be redesigning your website to fit into the small screen of a mobile phone. But, if you take a mobile-first approach, you’ll be enhancing your website come time to design for wide screens, not squishing as much as possible onto a device with a smaller viewport width. This is why we recommend taking a mobile-first approach.

 

Responsive Typography

This might sound like a big term, but it’s very simple. Responsive typography refers to your font size and style. You may ask, what’s so important about font size? It just needs to be legible, right? But that’s just the point. Imagine picking a size 25 font for your desktop layout. When you convert to mobile, suddenly all you can see is the font, and the words don’t even fit on one line! What a disaster! No one wants to deal with something so frustrating.

On the other hand, picture beginning with your mobile-first approach. You pick font size 10. But when you flip over to the desktop version, you’re squinting to read the simplest headline. Here’s the point: your font sizes need to work on all device widths. Browser width shouldn’t impact the readability of your web pages. This is why we recommend using a size 16 font. This medium font size adapts well to mobile phones and devices of many other sizes. In addition, you should aim to make your headings 1.5 times larger than the body text. This lets them stand out without becoming too big for mobile phones.

 

Mobile Ergonomics and Icons

Once again, this seemingly big term is two things: simple and all about optimizing for mobile phones. Mobile ergonomics refers to adapting your website and its layout elements for thumbs. That’s right, mobile ergonomics is all about making it easy for people to navigate your website with their thumb! This means making your buttons on mobile phones larger than you’d originally expect–they need to be easy to click. It also means putting the main aspects of your website within the reach of a thumb. Responsive designs like these make it faster and simpler for people to navigate your website via mobile devices.

Another way to make your website mobile optimized is to include more icons and less text. For example, clicking your logo to go to the homepage is a basic web function that will reduce text but make it easy to navigate your web page.

 

Responsive Images

We’ve already gone over this one a few times, but it’s important to remember that images are an important part of any website. However, they’re also one of the more complex parts of creating responsive websites. Remember to crop images to keep them within the relative units of your web pages and give each image a different resolution depending on the device. These simple techniques will keep images from bogging down your loading speed but also let every device width display the same web design. Fluid images are key to any responsive design.

 

Testing

Finally, before launching your website and each of its versions, you should test your versions on each device. Any good design responsive website will be tested before it’s launched. This means getting other users involved who can give outside opinions on your site’s navigability and how well it does on different devices. It also means being willing to take criticism and change things about your web design even when you thought you had it perfected. Responsive web design is a complex field, and factors like viewport width and screen size are constantly complicating it. Nevertheless, testing is one of the best ways to ensure that your responsive design is on point and functioning to the best of its ability.

 

Ready to Boost Your Site’s Performance With Responsive Web Design?

Are you ready to create a website with a brilliant responsive design? If you are, don’t be daunted by the process–it’s worth every step. We’re here to help you walk through it, all the way from the drawing table to the final tests. We’ll help you perfect your responsive design and make your website embrace both form and function on any device width. So, if you’re ready to launch your responsive design journey, we’re here to help you achieve your performance goals with responsive design!

 

References:

  1. https://www.uxpin.com/studio/blog/responsive-vs-adaptive-design-whats-best-choice-designers/
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/responsive-design-future-web-development-ui-designz
  3. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/responsive-design-best-practices
  4. https://webflow.com/blog/responsive-web-design-tricks-and-tips
  5. https://web.dev/responsive-web-design-basics/?hl=en

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