Responsive design is becoming more essential every day for any business with a digital presence. Handheld devices with smaller screens than desktops including tablets and smartphones are becoming more popular. Also, most people access the internet on these devices.
Responsive website design in a method that enables designers to create websites that respond to visitors’ behaviour based on platform, screen size, and orientation.
In the past, web developers had to build different websites for different screen sizes. Currently, there are so many device types with a variety of screen sizes that this is no longer efficient.
Having a mobile responsive website is no longer just another option, but a requirement.
What does Responsive Web Design Consist?
Responsive design consists of various flexible layouts and grids, images as well as use of a variety of media queries.
With these, as a user accesses a website on a device other than desktop, the site switches to accommodate resolution, size of image, and scripting abilities.
Methods by Which to offer a Mobile-friendly Website
There are two methods by which developers offer a mobile-friendly website:
i) Dynamic Serving
Dynamic Serving uses the same URL but different CSS code and HTML. Pages recognize the device a user is viewing them on, and serve the relevant code.
ii) Separate Mobile Site
In this method, there is a completely different mobile site. When a user visits a website of a mobile device, they are directed to a different URL specifically for mobile devices.
Provided a developer takes correct steps to optimise for mobile users, the best method depends on the underlying situation. Study your situation to know which will work best for your online presence, before choosing it.
Building a Responsive Design
You need to know several things when creating a responsive layout. But generally, the process involves hierarchy of content across various devices and a design system.
There are three main elements of a responsive web design:
– A fluid grid
– Flexible Images and Text
– Media Queries
1. A Fluid Grid
Grids have been used to build websites for many years now. But, unlike past grids, present grids lend themselves to support a fluid layout.
When a fluid grid is used for responsive websites, it has a flexible and scalable design. Its elements will have consistent proportion, spacing, and automatically to specific screen-width based on percentages.
2. Flexible Images and Text
As much as the way text is displayed depends on the device your site is being viewed on, you have to make sure it is always readable. Mobile responsive websites give designers the opportunity to increase line height and font size for legibility.
Flexible images and text adjust within a layout width, as commanded by the content hierarchy set with the CSS. No matter the end user’s device, text can now be legible. If you have a flexible container (within the grid), this feature allows text to wrap resulting in an increase in font size on smaller screens.
Flexible images may be challenging because smaller device browsers tend to load slowly. Although, these images can crop, scale, or disappear depending on the type of content that’s essential to the mobile experience.
3. Media Queries
This is code that determines how flexible a responsive website’s layout is. Media queries choose a CSS to apply depending on a device’s breakpoint, for example, iPad landscape orientation.
When a developer uses a media queries, there will be multiple layouts of a design, as long as they use the same HTML-coded page.
Other areas that can help Refine and Define Mobile Responsive Design
i. Test how Users Interact with your Website
By testing how users interact with your responsive websites, you can gather valuable information to help you create optimal experience for them.
There are several ways you can conduct user testing so you can get invaluable feedback.
There are many sites that provide user testing for free or for a small fee. Also, you can use unconventional methods including card sorting and in-the-wild testing to discover hidden pain points.
ii. Device and Browser Testing for Responsive Design
There are many browsers for mobile devices and you need to make sure your layout is compatible with all of them. This will retain the integrity of your user experience and design.
Dragging the browser in and out to test a responsive web design for mobile is highly discouraged. Try viewing your site on as many physical devices as possible.
iii. Get Inspiration from Responsive Websites
Designers always get ideas from the work of other designers. Find other responsive websites that successfully execute responsive design so you can get inspiration.
You can easily identify the best responsive websites by figuring out:
* Which apps of websites you frequently use on your portable devices
* Why you prefer specific sites over others that provide related/similar services
* Whether you prefer their mobile experience or desktop experience
By figuring all these out, you might find important points that you may have skipped during your usual browsing.
13 Responsive Web Design Tips and Tricks
These tips for responsive website design will help you make sure your site is both mobile-friendly and responsive too. Here are 13 best tips for website design.
1. Have a Good Plan for Your Design
Make sure to plan your layout before you design your website. Successful web designers usually start by creating a wireframe, then the visual design, and eventually onto coding.
These will help you to create the exact feel and look you want. As well, it will make it easier for your designer to customise the template and integrate it well with your brand.
It is recommended that you create many prototypes of your websites and test them on as many screen sizes as possible to know if their end design will be responsive.
The following tools can be helpful in creating responsive prototypes:
* Adobe Edge Reflow
2. Know How Your Site Visitors Use Mobile Devices
The way people use websites on mobile devices slightly differs from the way they use it on desktop computers.
Use analytics to know how and why they access your website from their mobile devices. Also, know which elements and pages they access the most.
By collecting this information, you will understand pages and other elements of your website to make readily available on smaller screens.
3. Optimise Images
Images are important elements in website design. They can help website owners to make an emotional connection with visitors and give enable them visualise the products they want to buy. This makes it important to optimise your images for the web.
You must save images in the correct format. Scenic or photographic images should be JPG format. Logos and icons that require a transparent background should be PGN-8 format.
Reduce the size of images using software. Also, consider using images that are optimised for various mobile breakpoints to reduce bandwidth and scaling issues.
4. Make Sure Navigation is Excellent
Navigation is a critical element of every website. Good navigation allows visitors to easily access other pages on your website.
The desktop version of a website usually has visible links to all the important pages. However, when viewed on mobile devices, it is ideal to use a hamburger icon and conceal the links behind it.
In some instances, this approach might not be ideal as some visitors may not know that they need to click the icon to reveal the menu and abandon your site as they can’t find a way to get to other pages.
It would be better off to leave important menu items visible on small screens and use the hamburger menu for the other links. Also, consider including links to the other pages in your homepage’s text as this will facilitate navigation.
5. Make Buttons Clickable on Smaller Screens
Buttons are very important elements of any website. When adapting your website to smaller screens, you may make buttons smaller so they can fit on the screen. Note that making them smaller also makes them harder to click.
Make your buttons more recognisable by:
* Using shapes such as circles or rectangles to represent the buttons.
* Using colour to make distinguish them from other elements on the page.
Also, you can use padding on your buttons to make their clickable area bigger.
6. Use a Mobile First Approach
One of the best approaches to responsive design is designing a mobile version of your website first.
This gives you an opportunity to see how elements such as logos, text, and images will look on smaller screens.
It they display properly on small screens then you should not have any issues adapting your design to large screens.
7. Make Proper Use of Media Queries
Browsers added official support for media queries in 2012. Their main role is allowing developers to optimise the layout of websites to a variety of screen widths.
Media queries enable content to respond to different conditions on specific devices. In summary, a media query checks the width, orientation, and resolution of the device and displays the appropriate CSS rules.
8. Include keyboard Triggers in Forms
The forms on your website should be adapted to the size and width of the screen. For the best results, make sure the input field triggers the right keyboard. Simply do this by including input element in your form fields.
If a field requires input such as address, name, and email, it should trigger a textual keyboard. If a field requires a number, it should trigger the numerical keyboard. By doing this, you will make your website more mobile-friendly and improve user experience.
9. Use Microinteractions
Use of microinteractions is one of the latest trends in web design.
Previously, having interactive functionality and animations on business websites wasn’t considered a necessity. But currently, designers pay more attention to user experience and consider animations a necessity.
10. Optimise Typography
Text is another very important element of your website. Make sure it is legible on smaller screens.
The best size for the body copy is 1em or 16px, and the size of headings should be adjusted as necessary. Also, you may have to adjust your text’s line-height to 1.5em so paragraph lines can have enough “breathing room.”
When designing a mobile website, always use a legible font. Script or decorative fonts in menu items of for body copy may make them unreadable on smaller screens.
11. Make a Minimalistic Design
Over the last few years, designers have stuck to minimalistic design because it has many benefits.
It eliminates clutter, ensures visitors focus on your content which improves conversion rates, and speeds up a website because it includes fewer elements.
Minimalistic design also goes well with responsive web design as it helps the designer highlight important website areas, and makes calls-to-action more appealing.
12. Adopt Frameworks
Adding a responsive framework to your workflow can save a lot of time when creating a responsive website.
If you are creating a simple, static website, consider using a HTML framework such as bootstrap in a HTML template. It will be a great starting point.
If are creating a complex website of incorporating a blog into your marketing campaign, consider using premade responsive WordPress themes.
If you are an amateur coder who wants to do everything yourself, these frameworks will be very helpful.
13. Ensure Content isn’t blocked by Share Buttons
Embedding social media share buttons on a website can help increase visibility and attract more visitors. But in some cases, the buttons can block content, giving viewers hard time reading it on smaller screens.
Always make sure share buttons scale properly on smaller screens by thoroughly testing them on handheld devices. You may need to disable them on screens smaller than 768px.
How to Check Your Website’s Mobile Responsiveness
After implementing the tips for responsive website design, you will need to check your site’s mobile responsiveness. The best way to test is using the available online tools to test the responsiveness of your website.
Testing Mobile Responsiveness by Google
Google’s mobile-friendly test is one of the best tools for testing. Other than being very reliable, it is also straightforward.
* You need to enter your website’s URL, click analyse, and wait for results.
* If the website in question is mobile-friendly, they will display a green confirmation message.
* It it’s not, they will show reasons for the negative answer and suggest resources to help fix the issues.
5 Benefits of Having a Responsive Website
The main benefit of a responsive website is guaranteeing that no matter the devices users access your website on, they get the best experience possible. The experience is also consistent on all the devices.
Website responsiveness gives you the opportunity to refine the content on your website. It ensures people using a handheld device first see the most essential information.
With Google’s recent update to their algorithm, creating a responsive website increases its visibility – as it is more mobile-friendly. This means when a website has an effective mobile experience, it will show up in search results above those without.
1. Gives Users excellent User Experience
Creating a good first impression is very important. By making a responsive site, a first-time visitor will easily browse and spend more time on it.
Responsive design provides a consistent user experience. This makes visitors satisfied with the usability of your site and become regular visitors. Consistent experience can increase lead generation, conversions, and sales.
If you fail at this, you will get a higher bounce rate and in the long-run lose many potential clients.
2. Makes your Site Easy to Maintain
If you run two separate mobile and desktop versions of your website, you will implement separate SEO strategies for each of them.
With responsive design, you only have one website to update, which is simpler. Obviously, managing a single resource will require less resources and time. Also, you can easily make changes to your website through multiple devices.
It enables tracking, analytics, and reporting to be in one place
3. Improves Search Engine Optimisation
Google likes responsive design, and a responsive website will rank higher on its search results. These are the reasons:
* Responsive design websites use one URL and the same HTML. This makes it easier for Google to index a website.
* Users find it easier to share content located in one URL.
* A single responsive website eliminates the need for separate mobile and desktop versions. This helps avoid duplicate content and has positive impact on a website’s search rankings.
4. Gets your Site more Visitors
With internet-enabled mobile devices, people can now access internet on the go. The most popular handheld so far is the smartphones – that has millions of users and getting more each day.
By making it easier for them to access your website from their devices, you will get more traffic. This eventually leads to more customers.
It also enables you to stay ahead of competition (studies show 44 percent of Fortune 500 companies aren’t mobile ready yet).
5. Cuts Web Design Costs
Since you don’t have to create two separate websites for desktop and mobile, it saves on time and costs.
With a responsive design, you only build one web source, optimise for all the available devices and achieve great savings.