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Responsive Web Design – Adapt To Different Screen For Greater Customer Base

by Anne Carton Tweet - in Website Design - 9 min read

Web Design

Last updated on February 23rd, 2018

According to a study, ‘60% of internet access is occurring on mobile devices.’ 34% of smartphone users go online mostly using their phones. Businesses understand that many of their potential customers use mobile devices to search and shop products or services. So, they want to make their desktop websites compatible to the small screens of smartphones, tablets, and other devices. This has compelled businesses to create web design that automatically scales down the content according to the small screen sizes of mobile devices.

Responsive web design has become essential to do business online. This is because more and more people are using mobile devices to search and shop. A responsive web design is all about making information accessible in a clean and clear way on small screens of mobile phones, tablets, and other handheld devices.

Four out of five smartphone users get retail content on their devices monthly. Google also has started rewarding the websites that respond to the mobile devices. Such statistics should force you to make your desktop website responsive to the small screens of mobile devices.

01. What Is Responsive Website Design?

A purpose of responsive website design is to create a user-friendly website for those who use mobile devices. Smartphones, tablets etc mobile devices have smaller screens. This means that images and text incorporated into the desktop websites with large screens cannot be seen in the same way on the tiny screens.

Therefore, the site has to be redesigned especially in a way that it responds to the scaling requirements of the small screens of mobile devices. The design and development of a website must respond to the user’s environment and behavior based on the screen size, orientation, and platform.

Responsive Website Design

[Source: Designhill’s Gallery]

A responsive web designer will use a mix of layouts and flexible grids, use of CSS media queries and images. When a user switches from a larger screen to smaller ones of a mobile phone or iPad, the responsive website will automatically accommodate for resolution, scripting abilities, and image size. Thus, the website designer uses the technology that automatically responds to the preferences of the user’s device.

This means that there is no need to design and develop a new responsive website for each new gadget that is introduced in a market. Clearly, responsive website design adapts to different screens to help build greater customer base.

02. New Devices

More devices with varying screen resolutions, orientations and definitions are being developed every day. Each of these devices responds to content and functionalities differently.

New Devices

[Source: Designhill’s Gallery]

Some of these devices have screens in landscape sizes. Others are in portrait and even completely square shapes. A responsive website design is a crucial design as it will respond to all theses screen shapes and sizes just when the user switches to the new device.

03. Responsive, Adaptive And Mobile

First, understand the meaning of terms responsive, adaptive and mobile. These are frequently used terms when talking about responsive web design. So, what exactly they mean?

Adaptive and responsive web design have almost the same meaning. We use the term responsive when it means to react instantly to any change. Adaptive means the website should be easily modified for a new situation or purpose. A responsive design website changes continually based on the user’s viewport width and other factors. An adaptive website is specially built to preset factors.

On the other hand, the term mobile generally implies that the graphic designer builds a separate website on a new domain. This website is built solely for mobile users. Mobile websites are generally extremely light. They are created on a new code base and browse sniffing. But these factors are usually a barrier for the users and developers.

At present, responsive website design technique is the most popular. This is because this technique enables websites to dynamically adapt to different device viewpoints and browsers. This allows for changing content and layout along the way. So, we can say that such a situation has the advantages of responsive, adaptive, and mobile websites.

Responsive Website Design

[Source: Designhill’s Gallery]

Responsive web design is fast picking up as a trend that fulfills a basic necessity for the web surfers and business owners. This type of design is referred as Adaptive Web Design or Fluid Web Design. The design is all about making a website user-friendly for different screen sizes of devices such as smartphones and tablets.

A website specially designed for larger desktop screens has a greater amount of text and pictures. The users can easily have a grand view of the website. But the same design of desktop websites does not appear properly and in full scale on a small screen of smartphones and tablets. This is because most of the parts of the sites are not seen due to a small area of the screens. The text also appears in different form and shape. Therefore, you need to create the responsive web design that adjusts itself to the smaller screen area of smartphones and tablet etc devices.

In the field of Web design and development, we’re quickly getting to the point of being unable to keep up with the endless new resolutions and devices. For many websites, creating a website version for each resolution and new device would be impossible, or at least impractical. Should we just suffer the consequences of losing visitors from one device, for the benefit of gaining visitors from another? Or is there another option?

04. How Does A Designer Create Responsive Websites?

Responsive website design uses a script that finds out the screen size of a device that a user is having to search web pages. The script can detect each device such as laptop, smartphone, and tablet to find the screen size.

Then, the script uses a CSS to display the site in an appropriate format as per the screen size of the device. The responsive web design is responsible for changing a site to the drop down system from the horizontal one. The text will also appear larger on the small screen.

Responsive Websites

[Source: Designhill’s Gallery]

When a website adapts the responsive web design, the site is viewed using fluid, flexible images, and proportion-based grids and also CSS3 media queries. The flexible images are scaled according to the screen size of a device. Almost all websites are now shifting towards responsive web development to avoid disappointment for the users.

05. Three Main Design Principles Followed

Responsive website designers follow three major design principles. These are flexible layouts, media queries, and flexible media.

(a) Flexible Layouts

Responsive website designers use flexible layouts to create websites that can be dynamically resized to any width. The designers use flexible grids to build desirable length units. These length units can be used to set common grid property values such as margin, padding, and width. These flexible layouts are essentials when you intend to create mobile app designs.

In fact, a flexible layout based on a flexible grid is the cornerstone of responsive website designs. The grid uses the technique of relative sizing so that the content can be fit to the requirements of the device’s screen size. However, the term ‘grid’ here does not imply that the designer is using the available grid frameworks. On the contrary, the designers use CSS to position the content. So, instead of the traditional pixel-based design techniques and principles, responsive web designers use the technique of percentages to position the content.

Flexible layouts

[Source: Designhill’s Gallery]

A reason behind not adopting the pixel-based approach is that pixels can multiply on different devices. For example, one pixel in a device can become eight pixels on another device. But the percentage approach can surely adjust the width, size, and margins of content, a fixed size automatically turns into the relative size on another device screen and space.

(b) Media Queries

Known also as breakpoints, media queries are useful for applying different styles when creating a responsive web design. This technique is applied so that the website can detect the type of a device a user is using. It is also used to detect the size of a user’s web browser to display the page appropriately.

Media queries

So, when you stretch your window of a web browser to different sizes, the page will automatically adjust. You can use the features to control height, width, device-height, aspect ratio, orientation, etc.

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(c) Flexible Media

A responsive web designer has to use flexible media techniques. This enables in adapting images and other media to load as per the demands of different devices. The image loading takes place by using the CSS overflow property or scaling.

Flexible media

[Source: Designhill’s Gallery]

In CSS, scaling is a straightforward technique, which is one of the basic web design techniques for responsive websites. The designer sets the media element’s maximum width at 100 percent. This enables the web browser to make the image expand and shrink as per the requirements of the device and content. But the designers also have the option of cropping an image with CSS as an alternative to scaling media. The images can be cropped dramatically to fit into their containers.

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Conclusion

Responsive web design is essential to create websites that can display images and text content effectively on small screens of different mobile devices. The designer uses different techniques such as flexible layouts, flexible grids, media queries etc to create responsive web pages.

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Anne Carton is a small business consultant, designer and an enthusiast blogger working with Designhill, one of the fastest-growing custom design marketplace. She has authored several blogs, articles and editorials on various topics related to interactive content, concerning design, social media strategies, growth hack strategies, digital marketing and e-commerce.

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