Responsive Web Design – A Complete Guide for Beginners

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How does a website fit tens of different screens just about perfectly?

They use a responsive web design!

A “responsive web design” is a web development technique used to scale web pages for different screen sizes. Such websites can easily adapt to different screens like desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

Today, we’ll be discussing everything there is to know about responsive web designs.

What is a Responsive Web Design?

Responsive design is a hot topic among web developers and UI/UX designers even today. It’s the approach that helps you scale your website according to screen size. The developers and designers ensure that the design should respond to the user’s behavior, screen size, and the OS platform it’s being used on.

After the responsive design element is integrated, the website displays properly on every device that accesses it. The introduction of this trend has triggered a new generation of frameworks, tools, and features.

What triggered the invention of responsive websites?

In the late 2000s, smartphones picked up the pace, becoming one of the most used devices out there. In 2007, companies sold 122.32 million smartphones, and by 2017 the sales had increased to 1536.54 million, which means the number of smartphone users increased drastically.

The increase in smartphone users challenged developers and designers to think of a solution that could make a difference – they were tired of the inconsistencies in the design and functionality. To respond to this issue, the open-source community of developers and designers came together to find a long-term solution, and thus “responsive web design” was formed.

Ethan Marcotte, a PR Spokesman, coined the term “Responsive Web Design” in 2010. He had a significant part in creating the right practices for it.

The basic concept behind the feature is that the design layout should change automatically if a user switches from desktop to laptop to smartphone to tablet/iPad—a responsive website technology that responds to different devices equally.

What happens in a responsive website design?

To put it simply, the elements of a responsive page design shuffle, readjust, and automatically resize as per the screen size. Before implementing this feature, developers had to build multiple versions of a single website; but now, the technology has evolved and user experience has improved.

How Does Responsive Design Work?

Using responsive design technology, you can optimize your web pages on desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, Apple devices, and smartphones. In doing so, you can offer your users a similar experience on different devices

So, how do you implement responsive technology to your website?

There are three main aspects of responsive web development:

  1. Fluid Grids
  2. Flexible Media
  3. Media Queries

Fluid Grids

Fluid grids are the aspect responsible for assisting the adaptation of your website on multiple devices. It ensures that the layout adjusts depending on the screen a user selects.

Flexible Media

The second important aspect of creating a functional responsive web design is flexible media. Every brand uses images, videos, and animations to make their website more attractive because it helps engage users. But, have you considered making them flexible? Some of those media elements have to be resized to fit the smallest screens of smartphones.

Leverage some of the following resources to create flexible media:

  • CSS Box Model – The CSS boxes can be placed around any HTML element of a webpage.
  • Fluid Images – It will help create images that automatically resize according to screen size.
  • W3Cs CSS Units – To be used as a reference for understanding units.
  • CSS Units from Mozilla – A resource by Mozilla Foundation to understand the units that help create flexible media.
  • Viewpoint Meta Tag – The viewpoint meta tag is useful for optimizing displays on various screens.
  • Responsive Typography – It helps control the typography and makes configuration easier.

Media Queries

Media Queries is an aspect that assists Fluid Grids and Flexible Media. Without this assistance, there could be some problems like:

  • A crowded interface for smaller screens.
  • A stretched-out interface for larger screens.

Media Queries help resize and adapt the elements of a webpage according to screen size and resolution. It enables a developer to use a single HTML document for multiple layouts.

The Right Tools For Creating A Responsive Web Design

For developing a responsive layout, you need the right kind of tools. Essentially, it would help if you had a framework and testing tools. Here are a few examples of both tools:

The Frameworks

Bootstrap –The framework helps you build highly responsive websites with ease. It has structural components that make website development a breeze. All you need is a command on CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. It also comes equipped with numerous templates and themes to choose from when you build a front-end.

Montage–The framework offers a wide variety of scalable and adaptable UI elements that can transform your website design. It works across multiple screens without compromising on the quality and functionality. It supports single-page applications, which makes it easy for front-end developers to use.

Skeleton–A free and open-source framework that offers developers the ease of creating responsive designs in a limited timeframe. Skeleton can be used for any web project, whether big or small. It offers a file structure to make the development process smooth and organized.

Pure CSS–Pure CSS is several CSS modules combined to complete a single website project. It adheres to the mobile-first protocol, which most front-end developers prefer, and emphasizes on a simplistic design.

Simple Grid–Front-end developers prefer another open-source framework because of the clean design templates it offers. It has 1140px layouts that are designed to adapt to numerous screens. Simple Grid reduces the burden of writing extensive code lines for developers, and the file size can be reduced to as low as 6KB.

You might get confused when choosing the right framework; however, the decision is not as complicated. To choose a framework, keep your project requirements in mind because that is what makes the difference. The right framework that fits your website will ensure a smooth, responsive website.

Testing Tools

The second principle step of building a responsive web design is the testing phase. You can’t launch a website without testing it. Here are some testing tools to run your responsive web design on:

Screenfly–It’s a free testing tool designed to test a website on different screens and devices. Screenfly is an old tool that is popular for being very versatile and easy to use. The platform offers an extensive menu to test your website. Just enter the URL and start testing.

Google Resizer–Google Resizer is an exceptional tool that lets you test your design and advise how to make it better. It also offers a demo that guides you on how to use the tool.

Responsive Design Checker–It’s another online testing tool you can use to preview you on readymade and custom resolutions. All you do is add your URL to start testing your website.

Ghostlab–Ghostlab is a paid testing tool for website layout testing. It offers a premium mirror testing feature. You add your URL on browser or device, and the actions are duplicated for all other platforms, screen sizes, etc.

Responsinator–Responsinator is unique because of how simple it is. The free, browser-based testing tool allows you to check your responsive web design on the most popular smartphone screens within minutes.

The Benefits of Responsive Websites

Responsive web designs offer the ease of less development time to developers and UI/UX designers. It eliminates the need to create separate, device-specific websites. Apart from that, how are responsive websites beneficial?

Provides You With Inherent Mobile Friendliness

The number of mobile users has significantly increased in the recent past, and if you don’t reach them, you’re losing business and precious conversions! Instead of two different website versions, you can leverage responsive web designs to develop and handle only one version.

Having a single website ensures you reach customers who prefer browsing from their smartphones and simultaneously increases user engagement.

Supports Your SEO Efforts

Did you know? Google recommends investing in a responsive website because,in addition to improving website traffic, it also aids your ranking. If the website you offer is user-centric with top-quality, SEO content, then you’re motivating your user to stay longer.

A good user experience makes your SEO efforts worthwhile.

A Cost-Effective Solution

Maintaining, updating, and revamping two versions of the same website is time-consuming and expensive. That’s because you’ll need two developers to do the job for you. Now you do the math.

If you invest in making your website responsive right off the bat, then you’ll need one front-end developer who does it all. Additionally, you’ll also be saving money by only having to focus on one version of your website.

Anyone Can Make Changes

Responsive designs are extremely flexible and easy to change. The “flexibility” feature is a great advantage because it means anyone can alter the website. Even if you’re a content writer, you can make a few tweaks here and there, and it only has to be done once!

Check If Your Website Is Responsive

In addition to testing your website’s responsive design, there is another way to do it. Follow these steps for a quick check:

  • Launch Google Chrome on your desktop PC.
  • Open your website
  • Now, press Ctrl + Shift + 1 to open the Chrome DevTools (a sidebar should open).
  • Next, press Ctrl + Shift + M, and this will activate the device toolbar.
  • Now you can switch between devices to check every version of your website and make any amendments.

Tips For Creating A Responsive Website

Hopefully, you get the gist and importance of responsive design implementation for your website. The final thing to do is implementing it. Use some of these tips to create a responsive website:

Fluid Grids

Fluid grids help proportion all the elements of your web pages. You can easily size all the content, images, and videos so that they respond to screen size based on the grid.

A responsive grid is divided into columns, rows, and different heights for the elements to be scaled accordingly. Developers can specify rules for the grid with the CSS of the website.

Create A Design For Touchscreens

Why is it essential for responsive designs to be compatible with touchscreens? It’s because even laptops have touchscreens, which means the website layout needs to be touch-friendly. Being a developer, it’s a good practice to design the website layout keeping a touchscreen of every size in your mind.

For example, a drop-down menu should be resized for the touchscreen so that it’s easy to use for touchscreen users. And the same goes for CTAs, interactive images, buttons, etc.

Consider Pre-Designed Templates

A pre-designed template comes with pre-defined grids, elements, and a website design. If you’re someone who lacks the knowledge of coding, then these are made for you!

Pick up a pre-designed theme or template to create responsive websites. What do you need for the template? You only need content, images, videos, and elements that are specific to your brand. You’ll add all the elements according to the design and only have to worry about changing colors, font size, and type, etc. See how easy that is to do?

Outsource Your Website

The last tip for the day is outsourcing your website project if it’s too complicated for you to do it yourself. It’s okay to admit defeat; it can be challenging to transform your website into a responsive one; that’s where development companies play a role.

Talk to different firms that can help you build a responsive website. They can build a website from scratch, which will highlight everything you expect it to look like.

The Bottom Line

The tech world is heading into a new age of innovative website designs because the trends evolve every day. There are numerous screens to look out for when developing a website, which can pose a challenge, and we’re not far from the day when people will entirely depend on websites.

But don’t get anxious! Strive to be a part of the progressing era and get future-ready.

Shameen Kalim

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Shameen Kalim is a content specialist at Cydomedia. She has over five years of experience in content writing and has the expertise to develop content for articles, guest posts, on-site blogs, webpages, marketing campaigns, email marketing, etc. Her content expertise is relevant to technical writing for software houses, e-commerce websites, and everything fashion!

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