Responsive Web Design – 8 Essential Things To Know in 2017

Sam Cyrus March 20, 2017

Search trends have significantly changed over the last couple of years. There are more people using mobile devices to browse the internet rather than using laptops and desktop PCs. Now clients want their websites to be either mobile friendly or responsive. This makes it rather difficult to keep up with the vast number of different devices and screen sizes. As far as web owners and developers are concerned, having to create a website which would fit each individual resolution is not only unreasonable but impossible in the practical sense. This is where responsive design comes into play.

Responsive Web Design

Here is 8 Essential Things To Know in Responsive Web Design in 2017.

1. What is responsive design?

Responsive design is a term which describes techniques and practices used in the development of websites which respond to the environment they’re being viewed on. By using flexible grids, layouts, images, and CSS media queries, websites respond and adjust their appearance in order to fit any resolution, no matter the platform, orientation or screen size. Most people use more than one device and regularly switch between a laptop or a desktop computer and their mobile phone. It’s only reasonable for the websites they visit to be able to make the switch with them.

2. Addressing the resolution issue

There are countless devices with varying screen sizes, resolutions, orientations, and definitions. Even more devices with various new screen sizes are being produced each day, some in portrait, some in landscape and some are completely square. Not only that, but almost all of them come with the ability to instantaneously switch from landscape to portrait, which creates additional challenges for web developers. And we haven’t even touched the subject of users who don’t maximize their browser, adding, even more, variety to a myriad of different resolutions. Once we know the scope of the problem, we can work on finding the adequate solution for it.

3. The solution? Flexible everything

A couple of years ago, the flexible design was considered to be a luxury when it comes to web design. The only things which were really flexible were the structural elements, or layout columns and text. In other words, flexible websites weren’t exactly flexible. Fortunately, responsive web design has really come a long way since then and has now become a beautiful mixture of fluid grids, images, and smart mark-ups. This allows buttons, divs, fonts and other elements to shrink or grow depending on the screen size and overall layout.

4. Fluid grids

The first key concept behind responsive web design is the use of fluid grids. The traditional website layout consists of fixed layout width, which is based on a fixed number of individual pixels. Fluid grids, on the other hand, are not designed in the terms of pixels. They use relative measures and percentages, which means that no matter how much the layout gets squeezed or stretched, all the elements will respond by resizing their widths, in relations to each other.

5. Media queries

The second key concept behind the responsive design is the use of CSS media queries. They allow users to collect data about the visitor and use that data to apply appropriate CSS styles. This is predominantly used to apply a certain CSS style once the browser resolution drops below a specified width. The most common widths used for targeting are:

  • 320px
  • 480px
  • 600px
  • 768px
  • 900px
  • 1200px

These are the most common screen widths used in both mobile devices and desktop computers. A responsive website can response to any resolution, sure, but it’s only practical in the terms of design time and overall budget to design based on resolutions used by the majority of people.

6. Flexible images

One of the major issues which need to be resolved with responsive design is resizing the images. Although here are many techniques you can use, the most popular one is to use a img { max-width: 100%; } CSS query. This sets the width on an image to always be 100% of the browser width. As the browser gets resized, so does the image. This allows to always deliver the maximum available image size, no matter what device is being used to view it.

7. Hiding or Showing content

Responsive design allows you to shrink, stretch or hide elements proportionally and rearrange them as necessary in order to make everything fit. Although this is a rather useful feature, but making every single element you see on a large screen available on smaller screen sizes and mobile devices is simply impractical. The best course of action when it comes to mobile environments is to use simple navigation, focused content and lists and rows to replace multiple columns. This is achieved by using display: none; CSS query, which can be used to hide content on both small and large screened devices.

8. Cursors vs touchscreens

The popularity of touchscreens has been on the rise as of late. It’s easy to assume that touchscreen functionality is more likely to be featured on a smaller device, bur an increasing number of tablets, laptops, and desktops currently available have built-in touchscreen capabilities. Touchscreens don’t have the capability to properly display numerous CSS hovers, as there’s no cursor to hover over them. This means that you should avoid using CSS hovers for things like link definition. It’s better to consider using them only as an additional feature for devices which use cursors.

Final Words

Responsive design is more than just fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS media queries. It is an entire way of thinking during the design process. Instead of quarantining your content into device-specific layouts, you can use media queries to enhance the content by using different viewing contexts. This does not mean that separate sites for each device don’t have a practical use, it’s just that having a single website with a single content copy available on various different devices is simply more practical.

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