In the early days of web design, pages were created for a specific screen size. If the user had a larger or smaller screen, this resulted in:
- unwanted scrollbars,
- misuse of space,
- chains too wide.
The concept of responsive web design (RWD) emerged when multiple screen sizes became available. The whole idea of design has changed. And the idea of how we can provide web design for multiple different devices.
Below are the basic RWD techniques and how to master them.
What is Responsive Web Design
What is responsiveness? It is the ability to adapt to certain technical conditions. In the case of a website, this would refer to the user’s screen. A responsive site looks the same on:
- a desk
- a laptop,
- a tablet,
- a smartphone.
Neither the screen measurements (e.g. 5″) nor the positioning affect the responsive page.
The responsive webpage adapts to the screen and orientation of the device. Even more so if the user rotates the screen, the responsive page remains the same.
Responsive Web Design aims for usability. Moreover, it ensures that the conversion rate is not device dependent.
The evolution of responsive design
Before RWD, you had two options when designing a website:
- Create a fluid site that stretches to fit the browser window;
- Create a site with a fixed width (i.e. a fixed size in pixels).
As a result, the design of this website looked fine on a single screen size. Rather, on the developer screen. Smaller screens made a fluid site look crushed. Larger screens in turn displayed long unreadable lines. The fixed-width site didn’t look any better. Smaller screens had unfriendly horizontal scrollbars. Larger screens in turn showed a lot of white space around the edges.
The first smartphones made the mobile web more accessible. Some companies have started looking into the emerging mobile market. To do this, they mainly created ad hoc mobile versions of their sites. With a different URL for the mobile version. To follow, they had to:
- and maintain two separate versions of the site.
Mobile websites look stripped down compared to desktop sites. Over a period of time, mobile gadgets have increased in terms of power and functionality. Now they could display entire websites. However, mobile users were annoyed. They were only able to access the mobile version of the site. The fully functional version of the website was not available to them. To solve this problem, the RWD is applied.
Why You Need Responsive Web Design
The volume of mobile traffic is increasing every day. More than 50% of mobile traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. These numbers are likely to grow. Mobile technologies allow everyone to surf the Internet from anywhere:
- When you’re lying on a sofa,
- When you walk down the street,
- When using public transport to name.
The mobile audience continues to grow. It cannot be ignored. Businesses are the reason to adapt websites to portable devices.
Responsive Web Design was deemed unnecessary. But this was valid when the share of mobile traffic was relatively low. Those days are history. If you need mobile traffic, you have to adapt. Any web studio pronounces RWD as a key point in their client brief. Moreover, they do this at the very beginning of the communication with the client.
Responsive Web Design and mobile version of the website – differences
A website with a mobile version is not a site with a responsive web design. And vice versa.
Currently, responsive web design is an integral part of the site itself. This means that regardless of the device, the source remains intact. An RWD site consists of several types of design elements and therefore can be more complex to implement. Site administration, however, becomes easier. If you need, for example, to change the prices in an online store, you do it in an administration panel. But the corrected price is displayed correctly on all devices.
The mobile version of the website is, in fact, a separate site. It is created specifically for mobile devices. And therefore optimized. However, the administration of such a website is much more complicated. Keep in mind that you need to make changes to two sites instead of one. This requires additional resources.
Differences Between RWD and Mobile Site Development
Normally, responsive site development is more expensive than regular non-responsive development. The higher price comes from greater development complexity.
- Responsive web design requires you to create multiple layout options for different screen sizes. Each screen version requires additional engineering. Web developers spend more time creating such sites. Development terms and costs are increasing.
- Responsive web design is more difficult. Its implementation requires more effort. There are several ways to do this. It’s up to the developer to decide which one works best.
- The volume of quality assurance is also increasing. Carefully test the project before deployment. A responsive website requires separate testing on any screen (desktop, smartphone, and tablet).
Responsive app design techniques and patterns
Responsive web design techniques are evolving rapidly. Still, many proven options work well.
Most responsive web page layouts fall into one of five template categories:
- rather fluid,
- column fall,
- Layout shifter
- Small edits,
- Off canvas.
Some pages may use a combination of templates (eg Column Drop and Off Canvas). These templates are a solid starting point for any responsive page. Both models were originally defined by Luke Wroblewski,
The Mostly Fluid model consists of a rubber grid. It remains the same on large or medium screens. On large screens, the margins are adjusted.
The fluid grid rearranges the main content on small screens. The columns are stacked one under the other. This main pro model is that it only needs one breakpoint between small screens and large screens.
Column Drop is a template with multiple columns that span the full width of the screen. It just places the columns vertically one by one. This works if the window becomes too small to display all the content.
Over time, all the columns will be located vertically, one below the other. The choice of breakpoints for this layout pattern depends on the content. You need to determine this separately for each design option.
The Layout Shifter pattern is the most responsive as it provides multiple breakpoints for different screen widths.
The main difference of Layout Shifter is that the content is constantly shifted. The website does not recalculate the render tree and places the columns under each other. Due to the significant differences between major breakpoints, maintaining this layout is more difficult. You may need to modify not only the general layout, but also its individual elements.
The Tiny Tweaks template just makes small changes to the layout;
- adjust the font size,
- resize images,
- moves the content.
It works well on single-column layouts (i.e. one-page linear websites and text-heavy articles).
As you can tell from the model name, minor changes are made to this example when the screen is resized. As the screen width increases, the font size and margins also increase.
Rather than stacking content items vertically on top of each other, the template places seldom-used content, such as navigation or application menu items, off-screen. These bits are only displayed when the screen size allows it. On smaller screens, this content is accessible with a click.
The design evolves rapidly and adapts to customer needs. The more devices supporting your web application, the more work it requires. Even more, in case of MVP Development. You need to make sure everything is displayed correctly. Sensitive creation of websites stimulates the work of developers and designers, as well as the user experience and convenience. Implementing this technology is not easy. It is best to entrust this work to a specialized company. On the one hand, Bamboo Agile is a company with a wealth of experience in designing responsive websites. Yet, you can always opt for freelance website development with responsive web design is also possible, as there are a large number of different resources available on the internet.