In an age where mobile devices are commonplace, what a website looks like on a smartphone screen is extremely important from a user’s perspective. This is called responsive web design, and this week’s tech term will provide an overview of what it is and why it’s helpful.
What is Responsive Web Design?
The primary goal of responsive web design is to make sure that a website stays functional on any kind of device or screen size. Web designers make this happen by using special elements to display the content in different ways based on the device viewing it. Basically, the website “responds” to the device and displays its content in the way that best suits that device. This means that instead of displaying information in the way it’s meant to be viewed on a computer monitor, you’ll instead see it in a much more manageable format on your mobile device. This can often mean an increased text size and a more compact design.
Responsive web design is made possible through three basic web design processes: fluid grids, responsive media, and media queries.
Fluid design grids arrange your site elements in various ways to make them appear as organized as possible. Fluid grids are a bit different from your standard design grids as they are adjusted based on the size of the screen using relative measures rather than set pixel amounts. Think about it like this; instead of assigning a value of 300 pixels to a site element, you’re making it 30% of the overall width, or something along those lines.
Just like the rest of the elements on the page, media files (videos or images) will need to be able to adjust to the size of your screen. This usually requires having fixed dimensions, but since the fluid grids don’t use fixed measurements, you’ll need to assign the max-width property to 100%.
Media queries are basically the web design equivalent of crowdsourcing. A website collects data to determine the size of the screen it needs to adjust to. This happens thanks to Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, which are loaded according to which device is being used.
Why Responsive Web Design Is Important
You should aim to have some sort of responsive website for a variety of reasons. All of them have to do with providing your visitors with a pleasant experience. A responsive website can help you attract and retain visitors, as well as help with search engine optimization rankings. Fast-loading mobile-friendly sites help you gain visitors, as well as retain those who could turn into buyers or clients.