Nowadays the size of screens/displays is changing frequently. This change in dimension had a great impact on the web industry. Websites have to keep up with their pace and should be flexible enough to adapt themselves to almost all screen sizes. This approach to designing a website is called responsive design. A responsive website is a website that looks good on every device by adapting itself to any screen resolution, platform, and orientation. The website should respond to user behavior by automatically switching to accommodate for resolution.
All features of a website must adapt to various screen sizes and resolutions providing the customer a seamless user experience irrespective of the device used by them that leads to higher conversions and business growth. The combination of HTML and CSS two languages forms the base of responsive design where HTML oversees the content and structure of a webpage and CSS governs the design and display of HTML elements.
Responsive web designing makes the life of all team members included in the design of a website easier by developing only one website and optimizing it for most screen sizes. It has also saved a lot of money and time for businesses which they have to invest in designing multiple websites for multiple devices.
In the web industry, responsive design is the new standard now as users expect a seamless experience across all platforms and screen sizes which is provided only by responsive websites. Studies have shown that 78.5 % of internet users leave non-responsive websites. If you have a non-responsive website for your business, it will eventually incur a huge loss in your business by losing more than half of web traffic. So let’s discuss the practices to follow while designing a responsive website:
1. Adaptable layouts-use of relative sizes instead of absolute size
Earlier the layout of webpages and the size of every element in it was based on pixels. A static value was set for each element of the layout. Nowadays, designers use flexible grids where dynamic values are used for each element, and the size of these changes as per the size of the screen that is the grid. These dynamic values can be achieved by using either fluid layouts where the value relies on the percentage of the viewport width or flexbox layouts where items can be expanded to fill available free space or shrunk to prevent overflow.
Web layouts are divided into columns, and heights and widths are scaled. They automatically rearrange themselves to fit the size of the screen or browser window. It keeps your site consistent across multiple screen sizes.
In the case of mobile, designers must also make considerations for landscape orientation. Your website must be able to align itself in landscape mode without causing any distortions to its elements and content.
2. Responsive breakpoints- put 2-3 in the design
To provide the best possible user experience, designers make use of breakpoints that help the content and elements of the website to adapt as per the screen resolution. A breakpoint is the width of the screen where developers use a media query to implement new CSS styles.
With the help of these breakpoints, content and other elements like images will not be distorted or cut out while accessing the website on different devices with different screen sizes and resolutions.
These points are defined in the code and the website responds to these points and adjusts itself to a layout perfect for the screen of the device. Developers must also define landscape break points for the website so that when the website is accessed on mobile, it will adjust itself in both orientations that is landscapes well as portraits without causing any distortions to the content and other elements.
3. Responsive typography- don’t ignore it.
People visit websites for information, content that is not necessarily conveyed by images all the time. Therefore, the content of a website is very crucial and must convey the vision of your business properly. This makes typography, the basis of design. Developers must choose typography that works well and presents the content of the website in an eye-pleasing manner on all screens and device resolutions.
Nowadays, designers of devices use what is called retina technology or hDPI technology where they are reducing the pixel sizes to a greater extent. Therefore, UX designers must replace pixel (px) with some appropriate unit because one point doesn’t necessarily equal a pixel anymore. Also, pixels have a fixed dimension standard. Designers must use Em or Rem to size the font of the content. These units are based on percentage and are scalable.
While using these units’ font size, the content changes concerning parent container width. In this way, the typography adjusts to screen size and is easily readable on multiple devices.
4. Design for Mobile first
The developer should design a website for the mobile-first because it becomes easy to scale it up for tablets and desktops than scaling down.
The primary focus should be on mobile design as it is more practical and efficient and helps to evaluate the necessary functions. Here, developers design the minimized version of every element and scale it up for the desktop
Also, some visual effects take some time to load, therefore only those that should be taken included in the design are more important and fulfills the primary objective of having a website. Later, other visuals might be added to the desktop or tablet version. In the mobile version, the friction should be eliminated by focusing only on the primary objectives and adding the secondary and tertiary objectives later on in the scaled-up versions.
Also, while designing the mobile version of a website the native hardware of mobiles must be taken into consideration and developers should take advantage of it by photo-sharing on social media, because the media is already on your device, two-factor authentication, quickly checking stocks/analytics, credit/top-up card scanning as forms are often tricky on mobile, performing web search with voice and many more.
5. Media queries
The instructions used to modify the layout of a website as per certain conditions like screen width, type of browser, etc is called a media query. These instructions check certain conditions like the width of the screen or resolution and accordingly executes a particular and appropriate code. It is an essential part of CSS3 that lets all the elements of a website adapt themselves as per the device on which the website is accessed.
Developers design a website, test them, and see where breakpoints occur. These breakpoints are then planned accordingly with the help of media queries. Some developers may also predict the breakpoint depending on the device resolution rather than testing the website out on various devices. Media queries will help the designers to implement various styles in your website as per the requirements of your business as well as your customers. These will alter parts of the layout or the whole layout of the website to best suit it to various devices and provide a wonderful user experience to the user. Designers use numerous media queries while developing a website based on the unique needs of your design.
6. Design for touchscreens as well.
Not all users access the website using their laptops or desktops, a majority of the website traffic comes from mobile phones that make use of touch screens for access. Nowadays, laptops and desktops come with touch screens as well. Therefore, your website must be responsive to both touchscreens as well as cursors.
Developers have to design an alternative of appropriate size for each element like buttons to press, drop-down menu, and many more for the touchscreens so that all assets of the website are displayed properly on all screens of different devices. Additionally, on touchscreens, things are accessed using fingertips, particularly thumbs. Developers must keep this point in their minds and design a website for thumbs. Therefore, they must increase the size of interactive elements and must introduce more whitespace between interactive options so they are visible and can be accessed by the user without any difficulties.
7. Showing Or Hiding Content
To achieve the best possible user experience, developers need not include every element of the website on every device. They must not copy and paste the website from one device to another. They have to leave some things out for small screens. Website must contain the elements and content that perfectly reflect your business ideas, your way of doing business, and your business values that is essential content they are looking for while using a mobile device. The content must be prioritized and the one that delivers the maximum value to the users should be included in the website. The highest-priority content should be at the top and the content having low priority should be placed at the bottom. To simplify these things multi-device layout patterns include mostly fluid patterns, Column drop patterns, Layout shifter patterns, and Off-canvas patterns.
8. Flexible and responsive Images and videos
Websites are accessed on different devices depending on the availability and convenience of users. Now, either you have to hire developers who will design your website for different devices or make your website responsive and work on all devices. The first method is not effective and efficient and will cost you lots of money. Business owners go for 2nd method as it is very efficient and effective.
In a responsive website, your media like images and video along with your content must be able to adapt as per the screen size of your device. Making images and videos responsive is one of the difficult challenges in the design of a responsive website.
In responsive design, each element of a website is put in a flexible container that can resize itself as the user changes the browser window or switches to another device. The same is the case with videos and images where they are loaded in their original size unless the viewing area becomes narrower than the image’s original width. Either developer writes a code to resize the height and width of the image or they let the browser resize the images as per the need.
Also, developers use SVG(Scalable Vector Graphics) files to resize non-photographic images. These files have a smaller size and can be scaled to any resolution without quality loss.
9. Test Responsiveness
Access your website on different devices and see if it’s responsive enough. First of all, test whether your site is mobile-friendly with Google’s mobile-friendly test. Then, test your site on multiple screen sizes with a tool like Chrome Developer tools. BrowserStack offers numerous latest real devices on which you can check how a website looks, and if it is responsive enough.
These tests will verify what the design will look like exactly to end-users. Also, they will confirm the functionality of your website in real user conditions. If the website doesn’t do well enough in the tests, the developers can tweak the code and try to make it more responsive.