Responsive Web Design: Basics of Responsive Design Testing

CSS3 media queries were almost ready for prime time in late 2008/early 2009. Ethan Marcotte coined the term responsive web design—and defined it to mean fluid grid / flexible images / media queries—in a May 2010 article in A List Apart. He described the theory and practice of responsive web design in his brief 2011 book titled Responsive Web Design.

  • In adaptive design, the server determines which version of the website is served to each type of device.
  • We have edited our responsive grid example above to also include responsive type using the method outlined.
  • Dropbox’s web page is the perfect example of how responsive UX design can dramatically alter user behavior when used on different screen sizes.
  • The font then gradually increases as you increase the size of the viewport.
  • If I define the width of a block of text as 640px, it’s not going to be completely visible on a mobile phone with a width of 320px without scrolling and/or zooming.
  • Designers could craft several versions of a design optimized for different devices and make each have fixed dimensions .

In this chapter, you’ll learn the basics of what it means for a website to be responsive. After that, we’ll go through a little of the history of web design, so you can understand where the idea of responsive design came from and how it compares to the old way of doing things. Designers can use high-fidelity prototypes to improve usability testing and design better customer experiences. By using code components, engineers have less coding to develop the final website, thus reducing errors and time-to-market. Reducing content creates less clutter making it easier for users to read and digest.

Why Responsive Design Matters

Users could zoom in and pan around the website to view the bits they were interested in, but it looked bad. Responsive Images, using the element and the srcset and sizes attributes enables serving images targeted to the user’s viewport and the device’s resolution. For example, you can include a square image for mobile, but show the same scene as a landscape image on desktop. By using a flexible grid, you can change a feature or add in a breakpoint and change the design at the point where the content starts to look bad.

Viewport units vw can also be used to enable responsive typography, without the need for setting breakpoints with media queries. 1vw is equal to one percent of the viewport width, meaning that if you set your font size using vw, it will always relate to the size of the viewport. Responsive web design isn’t a separate technology — it is an approach. It is a term used to describe a set of best practices used to create a layout that can respond to any device being used to view the content. Responsive layouts automatically adjust and adapt to any device screen size, whether it is a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile phone. The above code in this media query applies only to screen and browser widths between 800 and 1200 pixels.

What Is a Responsive Web Design

Designers must create a consistent experience across different devices and viewports. Their menu gets progressively smaller across devices—desktop and laptop computers feature a four-item menu, tablets feature a two-item menu and hamburger icon, and mobile phones offer a one-item responsive web design menu and icon. A single responsive site means that you no longer have to track user journeys, conversion paths, funnels and redirections between your sites. Site analytics tools like Google Analytics are now optimised to handle multiple devices and responsive reporting.

What is Responsive Web Design?

You might also consider investing in a retina ready logo and site design. You will also learn about some of the key features that make a responsive website. The latest articles about interface usability, website design, and UX research from the Nielsen Norman Group. In this section, we’ll cover the underlying foundation for responsive website design and its different building blocks. This guide will give you everything you need to know about responsive website design, including definitions, a step-by-step walkthrough, examples, and more.

What Is a Responsive Web Design

The typography elements disappear and the CTA has shortened to “Hire us”, reducing clutter in the user experience and leaving room for only the most critical functions. The featured hero image also reduces its container size to better fit a smartphone screen. In retail, for example, a buyer may begin their journey on mobile and continue on a desktop or laptop device. A responsive web design offers users a consistent experience at every touch point.

Aside from the up-front cost savings, this also has long-term cost savings each time there’s an update, an A/B test, or new screen sizes emerge. With responsive web design, your site will adjust to any screen size, which is extremely important for your users. This means that a user on a desktop computer, laptop or tablet will see the same thing as someone using a phone or even their smartwatch. With responsive web design, it is easy for everyone to access and enjoy your website no matter what device they’re browsing from. Their flexible grid easily adapts to viewports of all sizes and shapes. For example, while customer logos are presented in a three-column layout on desktop and laptop computers, they’re shown in a single-column layout on handheld devices.

”, the benefits of responsive web design, and insights on how to build a responsive website to meet the demands of 2023 – and beyond. Every project is a new design, and every design brings a new challenge and a new coordinated team effort. This has the same benefit for images as well, although it can have some unforeseen side effects.

For example, creating square versions of landscape images for mobile devices. You may not think of your phone as a computer, but it’s close to one and it’s getting more like one all the time. In fact, a recent poll shows around 3/4 of adults want websites that are mobile-friendly when they use them. This means that you need to make sure your site works on any device—from small phones to large tablets and even desktop computers—and looks great no matter what size screen people are using. Like other companies, WillowTree includes a full menu on desktop devices and a condensed menu on handheld devices. But unlike others, they’ve introduced a static navigation bar at the top of the page, which creates a more delightful experience for users with handheld devices.

Layout #

Placing a media query for both the horizontal and vertical orientations of the iPad in the same style sheet file would be far more efficient. A few years ago, when flexible layouts were almost a “luxury” for websites, the only things that were flexible in a design were the layout columns and the text. Images could easily break layouts, and even flexible structural elements broke a layout’s form when pushed enough. Flexible designs weren’t really that flexible; they could give or take a few hundred pixels, but they often couldn’t adjust from a large computer screen to a netbook.

Although using a content management system or templating system may make the work easier, there is more code and content to maintain, and more things that can potentially break. With responsive design, you only have one web page, so you’ll never get the “wrong version.” The site will be displayed correctly no matter what device it’s being viewed on. Using a different URL for your separate mobile site (i.e., an m-dot site) is easier to implement, but it relies on the user to get to the correct version of the site. With links being passed back and forth between users via social media or email, getting to the correct version of a page will often add an extra burden on the users—or sometimes they won’t have the option at all. That way, each page on the site will only have one URL, although there are actually two separate versions with different HTML. However, this process is not 100% accurate, and sometimes the incorrect version of the page will be sent.

What Is a Responsive Web Design

At the design’s smallest version, the navigation simplifies to just a drop-down menu, perfect for saving space without sacrificing critical navigation links. On desktop computers, you can change the size of a browser window, so the window is not always the maximum width of the screen. The media query looks at the space inside the browser window, so your viewport will change if you change the size of the browser window.

Responsive design is an approach to web design that makes your web content adapt to the different screen and window sizes of a variety of devices. With responsive web design, you can make sure your website looks its best on cell phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop screens. With an internet increasingly accessed from mobile devices, it’s no longer enough to have a static website design that only looks good on a computer screen. In responsive design, you can define rules for how the content flows and how the layout changes based on the size range of the screen.

In this article, we’ll help you understand some techniques that can be used to master it. Responsive web design became more important as users of mobile devices came to account for the majority of website visitors. In 2015, for instance, Google announced Mobilegeddon and started to boost the page ranking of mobile-friendly sites when searching from a mobile device. To attempt to provide the best experience, mobile browsers render the page at a desktop screen width , and then try to make the content look better by increasing font sizes and scaling the content to fit the screen. This means that font sizes may appear inconsistent to users, who may have to double-tap or pinch-to-zoom in order to see and interact with the content.

The viewports should adjust logically on tablets, phones, and desktops of any resolution. Consider learning about typographic scales to harmonize body copy and headlines. As some users rely on screen readers, make all your text “real” instead of text within images. The only piece in the layout that changes with the browser width is the blog post’s date, which moves above the post’s title or to the side, depending on how much horizontal space is available. Beyond this, the only thing that changes is the width of the content area and the margin space on the left and right.

The Building Blocks of Responsive Web Design

This feature is helpful if you do not wish to create separate files for different screen sizes. When wondering how to make a website responsive, think of touchscreens. Some laptops are also catching up, offering touchscreen along with the keyboard functions. In responsive design, a breakpoint is the “point” at which a website’s content and design will adapt in a certain way in order to provide the best possible user experience. Add social media icons to your site so people visiting from mobile devices can share your content with friends.

What Is a Responsive Web Design

The pros and cons of each approach will vary based on your business, your prospects and the specific features of your website. At New Breed, we stick primarily to a desktop-first approach because most of our audiences consume content via a laptop. For a large number of responsive pages, manual testing might not be enough. To catch inconsistencies that your manual testers can miss, automate your responsive testing across real browsers and devices using WebDriverIO with BrowserStack Automate. Responsive templates allow non-designers to modify existing templates with custom styles. When your table contains too many columns to fit smaller viewports, users are forced to scroll horizontally.

Pay Attention to Breakpoints

A responsive web design will automatically adjust for different screen sizes and viewports. Online tech magazine Wired’s website is a brilliant example of how fluid grids can automatically adjust the column layout based on device parameters like screen width. We can see the fluid grid in action as the tablet and desktop versions expand to include a full navigation bar. The mobile version uses the hamburger menu to display vertical navigation when tapped. Responsive web design moves beyond the outdated mobile-friendly approach, delivering a website layout that dynamically changes and adjusts based on a user’s specific device parameters.

In this article

There have been many ways of validating and testing RWD designs, ranging from mobile site validators and mobile emulators to simultaneous testing tools like Adobe Edge Inspect. The Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers and developer tools have offered responsive design viewport resizing tools, as do third parties. Mobile-first design and progressive enhancement are related concepts that predate RWD.

During the quality assurance process, you should test the design on different devices, screen sizes and browsers to ensure the site is breaking down correctly and consistently. Of course, testing on every possible device would be cumbersome for any development team, so there are tools you can use to streamline this process. At New Breed, we use BrowserStack to test our websites on as many different platforms and devices as possible. Responsive Web Design comprises two words i.e., responsive and web design. Therefore, responsive web design generally means website that respond to or resize or adjust itself depending upon screen size it is being seen through. It automatically adjusts to fit user’s screen whether it’s desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet, etc.

If your landing pages aren’t optimized for mobile and easy to use, you won’t be able to maximize the ROI of your marketing efforts. If you’re new to web design, development, or blogging, you might wonder why responsive design matters in the first place. So slapping your content into a single column and calling it quits isn’t going to cut it. Not to mention, you also have to consider tablets, 2-in-1 laptops, and different smartphone models with different screen dimensions when coming up with a design. The problem with doing the above is that the user loses the ability to zoom any text set using the vw unit, as that text is always related to the size of the viewport. Media queries allow us to run a series of tests (e.g. whether the user’s screen is greater than a certain width, or a certain resolution) and apply CSS selectively to style the page appropriately for the user’s needs.

This way, multiple requests don’t have to be made for multiple style sheets. Above are a few examples of how media queries, both from CSS 2.1 and CSS3 could work. Let’s now look at some specific how-to’s for using CSS3 media queries to create responsive Web designs. Many of these uses are relevant today, and all will definitely be usable in the near future. The data-fullsrc is a custom HTML5 attribute, defined in the files linked to above.

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