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What Is Responsive Web Design?

Published Wed Feb 16

Have you ever thought about it? How can a single website stay the same on different screens? This is probably due to responsive web design.

Responsive web design is the approach of web development to change dynamically the appearance of a website on different screen sizes and orientations. It is one of the approaches to solve the problem of making separate websites depending upon the screen sizes.

Generally, responsive web design uses the principle of “mobile-first,” which means the design is first experienced in smartphone platforms followed by tablet and desktop. This approach is driven by the understanding that nowadays people access the website on their smartphones more as compared to large screens. Moreover, smartphones have more capabilities compared to laptops and desktops; for instance: GPS, touchscreens, accelerometers, and much more.

Responsive web design is beneficial for creating separate websites depending upon the type of devices the customer used. Because of this, the development process becomes faster in comparison to the development process of 3 to 4 separate websites. It also reduces the cost and time of maintenance because just a single codebase and content needs to be updated or upgraded with time instead of 3 to 4 codebases. Responsive web design is future-proof in the sense that it can support new breakpoints at any time. For example, if a 7-inch device or 14-inch device launches in the market, the responsive web design code can also support these new devices. It doesn’t bound the design to a specific screen size.

To determine how the layout of the website will appear on screen, responsive web design uses breakpoints. That is how one content or image appears above the breakpoint and the other content or image appears below the breakpoint. Commonly, breakpoints are based on the browser’s width. Another element of responsive web design is the page elements reshuffling with respect to the viewport. For example, a three-column web design for the desktop reshuffle to two-column and one-column web design for tablet and smartphone, respectively. Depending upon the proportion-based grids responsive web design reshuffle design elements and content.

The responsive web design approach emerged to provide information equally accessible on all devices. But it is possible to remove certain elements like background images or secondary content on small size screens. The decision of removing these elements on a smaller screen depends on the users’ needs and knowledge.

How Do Responsive Websites Work?

Responsive websites work through the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Based on the screen size, resolution, orientation, color capabilities, and other properties of the device, various settings are applied to serve different styles in a multitude of screens.

Mainly, there are three major components involved in the process of responsive web design.

  1. Fluid grid – It is the essential component of responsive web design. It ensures that the design is scalable and flexible enough that it can be adjusted to any screen size.
  2. Media queries – It is the pieces of code that control the CSS to work accordingly with screen layout and dimension. Through this, a design can be displayed in multiple ways with the use of a single HTML code.
  3. Fluid images and content – With these fluid images and content, the quality and readability remain consistent in all screen sizes. CSS codes describe how the content and images resize, hide or set to scale in any device.

Why Is Responsive Web Design Important?

Responsive web design makes the life of designers, developers and owners easier. Here are some of the reasons why it is important:

  • Helps your audience to discover your website – Most people access the website from their mobile phones. If your website is not responsive, the audience will not discover you easily.
  • The audience stays longer – Statistics says there is a 70% longer stay of the audience if the web page loads within 5 seconds or less. A responsive web design meets the expectations of mobile users, who want high quality and quick response website experience.
  • Build brand recognition – Online customers are delighted by the responsive web design which encourages them to recommend your website to others and also visit back to shop again. According to survey data, 57% of online customers don’t recommend it if the website is poorly designed.
  • One site for multiple devices – Responsive web design eases designers, UI designers, and developers for making a single website for different devices. Earlier they worked day and night developing websites for every single device.

Responsive design permits you to cater to a broader audience and engage them wherever they are using to browse. It is important that a website should be responsive in order to prevent it from alienating customers due to poor responsive design.

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