In this rapidly evolving world of the internet, having responsive web design is crucial for every organization. Not long ago, web designs were only created for desktops. But technology has come a long way in the past few years, making mobiles the first choice of users to access a website. This expansion has pushed web designers to re-think how their site looks across various devices.
Mobile device usage to surf the web is growing continuously at an astronomical pace. These devices vary in display size and require a different approach to layout the content on the screen. For instance, if you consider the tablets, 2-in-1 laptops, and different smartphone models, you’ll realize how many screen dimensions there are.
In this guide, we will discuss how you can create a responsive layout for mobile, web, and desktop versions with practical tips and strategies.
What is a Responsive Layout?
A responsive layout is a part of responsive web design that makes your content adapt to different screen sizes and window sizes across multiple devices. In simple words, a responsive web design is an approach that lets design and code respond according to screen sizes. This means it gives you the most pleasing viewing experience on every screen, whether at a 4-inch android mobile, iPad mini, or a 40-inch cinema display.
A perfect responsive layout essentially utilizes fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS styling to modify the site’s design and render it accordingly. The ultimate goal for web designers is to tailor the UI and UX design of a website across different devices and platforms.
Why Having a Responsive Website is Crucial?
The world is moving at a fast pace with technology. People are now dependent on their smartphones for everyday life, from having access to everything on a small screen to learning every tiny detail. This makes it of higher importance for businesses to develop a highly responsive web design compatible across all devices.
According to a survey, mobile web traffic has overtaken desktops and makes up more than 51% of web traffic. When more than half of your potential clients are using a mobile device to browse the internet, you surely don’t want to upset them by providing a page designed for desktop.
Besides, if you design and develop multiple versions of a site for every known device used by users, it will be impractical to manage each of these versions. Also, it would cost you a huge fortune to maintain these versions based on future technologies and changes. Thus, having a responsive design is an effective solution to save your online business from all the trouble.
Steps to Create a Responsive Layout for Sites
Our expert web designers have created some useful steps to create a responsive layout for the web. These steps will help you understand how you can design a responsive layout for every site you work on.
Understand the Basics of Responsive Web Design
Before developing a responsive layout, it’s crucial to understand the basics of a responsive design. This is one of the most vital steps in determining the successful implementation of your responsive layout on your site. Once you gain a solid understanding of the responsive design, it will be easier to follow and execute other steps in the process. Below are a few essential factors to understand responsive web design:
- A responsive design can adapt to any screen size on any device
- It keeps a constant HTML code for the page no matter the device
- The visual layout and content source doesn’t change and has a constant URL
- It’s critical to develop a solid wireframe before moving to the adaptive design process
With this understanding, you can move on to create your first responsive layout for your business site.
Create Different Layouts for the Site
In general, a website doesn’t have a specific layout. But, when it comes to developing a responsive web design, it should have different layouts for multiple browser widths. For instance, the three different layouts could be small, medium, or large for varying browsers’ widths.
The content and graphical element on each layout should be similar; they must display the content based on the user’s device. If you scale down the page to fit on smaller screen sizes, it will make the content unreadable. Thus, scaling the content and matching it with columns will make it more readable.
To better understand the concept of different layouts, you can check some of the best web designs available out there. Though it might require some extensive research, you will have a clear understanding of responsive layouts.
CSS and HTML
A web page is entirely created on HTML and CSS, which provides it direction, flow, style, and a way to communicate with users. These two languages entirely control the content and layout of a page in any browser. For example, HTML controls the structure, elements, and content of a webpage, whereas CSS allows you to edit the layout and design of the web components included in the webpage.
While designing a responsive website, make sure you’re utilizing HTML and CSS adequately. With both these languages, you can control the primary attributes like height and width of web layout, edit the width of images, and control the design beyond height, width, and color.
Learn and Understand Media Queries
Responsive design is entirely based on the ability to shift and format content depending on the screen size, which is also the backbone of a responsive layout. In technical terms, this is known as media query, which is a fundamental part of CSS3. Media queries allow you to render content to adapt to different factors like screen size or resolution.
Media queries work in a similar fashion as the media type. However, it detects the size of a screen rather than detecting the type of physical media. Based on that, the website decides to render a specific style sheet for that particular screen size. With media queries, you can apply various parts of the CSS to the website specific to devices’ screen sizes.
Create Responsive Content for the Layout
Content is the ruler when it comes to market your business online or develop a responsive site because it has a lot to do with the website design. When a user or a potential client visits your site, they look for compelling content that is engaging and useful. Thus, you need to ensure that the content you represent on your site is easy to find, even on a smaller screen.
You can set the HTML responsive text size for every screen size using the viewport tool. This manipulation of content helps the text to adapt to any screen size of any browser. Also, you need to ensure that the header of the content is visible across all mobile devices without scrolling the page.
Develop a Flexible Approach with Fluid Grids
As a designer, you might be familiar with set widths and fluid grids. Both these grids are used to calculate the widths of elements on websites. However, fluid grids are widely preferred by designers when it comes to developing a responsive site. A fluid grid calculates the sizes of elements by percentages.
One of the main components of building a responsive layout is to ensure that the images don’t exceed the container’s width and stay in line with the fluid grid. Most websites often have a horizontal scroll bar on their web pages, proving the images exceed the container width. To make your pictures stable for every screen size, you need to add codes that keep the pages in the screen size.
Optimize your Web Content Regularly
No matter how many times you update or modify the web elements, web content like images, videos, PDFs, etc., are never fully optimized for all screen sizes. Having high-quality photos or videos that take longer to load is one of the main reasons that visitors leave your site.
With multiple add-ons and technological capabilities, it is now easier for designers to build and integrate a part to their site. For instance, if you want to add a 3D model to your web layout, you can easily download it from the internet and insert it directly into the web layout. Also, make sure your site loads faster, even if it has multiple graphics or images. Often, when a site takes more than 3 seconds to load, users move to another site and never visit that site again.
Focus on the Site Navigation
Navigation plays a vital role in the responsive design of a site. But most responsive websites often overlook this factor on varied screen sizes. For example, some websites have a simple and useful navigation style for their desktop version but forget to implement it for the mobile version. This leads to making users confused while searching for something specific on your site.
As a web designer, you must ensure that users don’t face any issues while scrolling through the site and finding the content they need. Thus, it would help if you created a navigation style that is as intuitive as possible no matter the screen size. For instance, you can hide the navigation menu with the Hamburger Icon across small screens like mobiles and tablets. With the hamburger icon, visitors automatically get an understanding that this icon contains the navigation menu.
Use a Mobile-First Approach and Test Continuously
While designing a responsive layout for your site, give more preference to mobiles rather than other devices. As mentioned above, more than 50% of web traffic comes from smartphones; it’s crucial to develop a mobile-friendly web app. This way, if users visit your site from a device that doesn’t support media queries, they’ll see the site’s mobile version, which is compatible with their screens.
Apart from that, it is crucial to test your responsive layout continuously. Web browsers keep updating their rendering engine and other elements to improve user experience, which could affect your site’s responsiveness. Thus, you need to execute continuous tests on your responsive layout to ensure it matches the browsers’ requirement.
However, testing a responsive site continuously with manual methods is time-consuming and costly. Thus, you should invest in reliable and cost-efficient automation testing tools like LT Browser to save time and test your designs efficiently.
LT browser is a desktop-based application that helps users to perform responsive testing with ease. Users can perform mobile view debugging on 50+ screen sizes and they can even create a custom device as per their requirement.
Developing a responsive layout isn’t a big task anymore; skilled web designers can quickly create a responsive site. However, ensuring that it is responsive across all the devices and browsers used by visitors to access your site is a complicated task. Thus, you need to test your site for responsiveness whenever there is a new update in the browsers or devices. This will ensure whether your site requires changes or not to meet the responsive criteria of browsers. In this article, we deliberated how you could design a responsive layout for your site that is compatible across all screen sizes.