The design and development of responsive websites have arisen from the needs of the modern consumer. Nowadays, screens in varying sizes, from mobile phones to tablets, means that consumers are looking for a smooth user experience – regardless of the device they’re using to browse.
In this article, we’ll look in detail at responsive web designs and how they can impact the bottom line of your business.
What is a Responsive Web Design?
Which is better: Mobile App or Responsive Web Design?
Responsive Web Design has a special design format using CSS media queries and HTML to resize, shrink, enlarge, or move the content to make it suitable for any screen size.
Responsive web design (RWD) is a term coined by Ethan Marcotte – defined to mean a web design that can automatically adapt, or ‘respond’, to any viewport width. Prior to Ethan Marcotte’s defining term, words such as: flexible, fluid and liquid were used in its place. The words are contextually apt, as the content should flow like water and respond to the shape of any medium.
RWD became popular when businesses realised they were losing potential customers to their competitors due to poor mobile compatibility. It’s true – how often have you left a website that doesn’t render correctly on your phone? We want the smoothest browsing experience possible.
The Three Cores
Every web designer, modern framework and content management system (CMS) must abide by the following: fluid grids, media queries and responsive images and media. Adhering to these three key elements, or ‘The Three Cores’ is what makes RWD functional and possible.
Fluid grids allow you to align the elements on your page in any way that you prefer – usually based on a vertical hierarchy. Fluid grids will scale and ‘respond’ to the size of the user’s screen and make sure that all page elements follow suit. Responsive CSS frameworks all base their code on a fluid grid.
Nowadays, browser support gives designers more possibilities to explore without having to rely on frameworks. These native grids have come to CSS in the form of ‘CSS grid layout module’.
Alongside fluid grids, media queries represent a foundation technology behind RWD. Their prevalence can’t be understated and W3C – the international standards organisation for the World Wide Web – recommended media queries as the global standard in 2012.
A website uses media queries to gather data, which is then used to determine the size of the screen a website visitor is using. Once the information is gathered, the appropriate CSS styles are conditionally loaded to seamlessly fit that particular screen size.
Responsive Images and Media
Designing a text-based responsive website is quite simple but dated. Things start to get complicated when images and media content are added – as is common on the vast majority of websites nowadays.
The best way to do this is to utilise the max-width property as opposed to the image or media file dimensions. Add this to your CSS code and afterwards all image and media files will scale with your browser, not extending past their container.
Here is a complete list of defining RWD characteristics:
- The webpage should fit all screen sizes (mobile device & desktop computer)
- Flexible grid
- Mobile-first approach to design and content creation
- Language that is appropriate for touch and non-touch devices
- Use modular design patterns
- Utilising progressive enhancement as opposed to graceful degradation.
- Html and CSS
What are the Benefits?
Flexible: can be displayed in all browser types and screen sizes
RWD uses a fluid grid – which means the dimensions are flexible and can flow seamlessly across any device width. The result will be a naturally optimized webpage, across a range of both large and small screens.
Doesn’t require download or installation
An optimized webpage doesn’t need to be downloaded or installed by the user – they simply visit the website on whichever device they’re using and the page will easily fit. According to Statista, 48.71% of website traffic was served to mobile phones in the first quarter of 2019.
Easy to maintain, update and fix bugs
Editing your website once will apply the update across ALL device types. This easy procedure will save time, money and labour costs.
Fast and cost-effective development
Creating one responsive web design takes considerably less time compared to creating a stand-alone website AND mobile app. Only one development process is required – saving time AND money. This single process will allow your website to be viewed across all browser types and size.
Development team won’t need to adhere to any OS guidelines
Your development team will have creative freedom when creating an RWD, as they aren’t publishing through a dedicated app store.
Responsive websites are the present and the future of web design. They’re so common now that we simply can’t imagine visiting a website and it not automatically adapting to our screens. If that was the case – we as users would simply leave and find a website that does. It’s important to the user experience and important to your business.