Mobile devices generate 54.8% of all web traffic. Moreover, Google plans to set mobile-first indexing as the default for all websites, meaning that search engine crawlers will only rank mobile-friendly websites, whereas desktop versions will be ignored.
In other words, a website that’s optimized for mobile devices is now a must rather than a nice-to-have.
To do this, web designers have three options: they can either opt for a responsive, adaptive, or mobile-first design.
The former seems to be a popular choice among designers. That’s because responsive web design is easier to implement, cost-effective and offers a consistent user experience across all devices.
Furthermore, experts from a web design company in NY recommend the responsive approach for its ease of maintenance. For example, in contrast to the adaptive approach, any changes on responsive layouts will automatically port over to other viewports.
That said, let’s see what responsive design is and look at a few websites that implement this approach correctly.
What Is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is a design approach that allows websites to render well on all types of devices by automatically adapting to different screen sizes.
To manage this, responsive websites need to have the following features: media queries, fluid grids and flexible visuals.
1. Media Queries
Media queries are a CSS3 feature that allows web developers to alter a website’s appearance based on specific conditions, like screen size.
In contrast to defining breakpoints, media queries allow designers to create a more tailored user experience.
2. Fluid Grids
Fluid grids divide the width of a web page into multiple equally spaced and sized columns, which will automatically rearrange themselves to fit various screen sizes.
Consequently, fluid grids allow websites to maintain a consistent look across all types of devices.
3. Flexible Images
Flexible images work much like fluid grids, as they adjust to different screen resolutions and viewports to maintain the images’ quality and make them look natural on other devices.
Examples of Responsive Design
Dribbble’s website is a perfect example of how responsive design should be implemented.
The fluid grid system condenses from four columns on desktop to one on mobile devices.
What’s more, the search bar is removed and the navigation menu is hidden behind a hamburger icon to make the website feel less cluttered on mobile devices.
Also, given that mobile users are more likely to scroll down the website, the website’s header is sticky. This allows for easier access to the navigation menu.
Although Klientboost’s website managed to maintain the same look and feel across mobile and desktop, it still offers a tailored user experience to each specific device.
Again, they freed up the website’s header by hiding the navigation buttons behind a hamburger icon. However, Klientboost kept the call-to-action button on the upper part of the website, both on desktops and mobiles.
Wired’s mobile website is substantially simplified compared to the desktop version. That’s because they put content as a top priority across all platforms, and Wired wants to ensure that users find the information they want quickly.
For instance, the “Most Recent” section is removed on mobiles to leave room for “Today’s Picks.”
Furthermore, using the hamburger icon helps draw attention to the call-to-action button.
Slack’s simplicity in design goes along well with the responsive approach.
Aside from using the hamburger icon and the flexible grid that presents seven columns of customer logos on desktops and two on handheld, not much has changed.
Consequently, Slack’s website is easy to use and maintains a consistent users experience on both platforms.
BeITService is another excellent example of responsive design. Their desktop version looks great, well-balanced, and their message is straight to the point.
The same thing goes for the mobile version. Although the lack of screen real estate may make it hard to fully display the image, their message is still the centerpiece of the web page.
To get some breathing space, the mobile version of this website removes part of the content that otherwise appears on the desktop. However, they still focus on the main message, revealing the type of service they offer.
7. 1987 Masters
Responsive websites don’t always have to sacrifice content.
Although 1987 Masters’s desktop website mainly focuses on the tagline, the handheld version uses vertical space to give visitors the option to learn more about the business straight away.
This is also the case for BeCosmetics. The mobile version takes vertical space to display its message and invite visitors to view its products via a call-to-action button.
In other words, the smaller screen space offered by handheld devices doesn’t always mean that there will be less content.
Responsive Design Tips
1. Design At Least Three Layouts
Although responsive websites automatically adapt to the users’ viewport, they won’t always adjust correctly. Consequently, your website might look off on specific types of devices.
That said, make sure to design at least three layouts based on different screen widths, more specifically: below 600 pixels for smartphones; 600 to 900 pixels for tablets and above 900 pixels for desktops.
Each layout should contain the same graphical elements and text to ensure a consistent user experience. So keep in mind to optimize your content for each layout and screen size.
2. Keep It Simple
Desktop screens offer plenty of room for creativity, and it might be tempting to add various extra design elements.
But, as your website scales down to mobile devices, these additional features will make your layout look cluttered and hinder the user experience.
Smaller layouts should be minimalistic, so be sure to use media queries to trim down any unnecessary elements.
3. Don’t Forget About Buttons
Buttons are a crucial part of responsive design. Sure, they might not require much attention on desktops, as the mouse makes them easy to click.
That’s no longer the case for mobile devices, though. Small buttons can ruin the browsing experience. That’s because users will have trouble clicking on them or accidentally press on the wrong one.
That said, make sure that the buttons for mobile devices are larger and neatly spaced.
Overall, the responsive approach is an essential part of modern web design.
Although its limitations might make it challenging to create a functional yet visually appealing website, the examples and tips we listed above will hopefully make your job easier.