Think about the last time you were on the internet. What device were you using? A laptop, iPhone, iPad or another tablet? In today’s society, many people access website on a device other than a desktop computer or laptop. Now, websites are expected to be designed for all different interfaces. That’s where responsive design comes in. According to a post by webfx.com, they define responsive design as, “a web design approach that allows websites and pages to render (or display) on all devices and screen sizes by automatically adapting to the screen, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone” (Berry, 2020).

How Responsive Design Works

Responsive design uses Cascading Style Sheets (aka CSS) to be able to adjust settings according to the different properties. Some of which include the user’s screen orientation, screen size and resolution. Many Content Management Systems such as WordPress have responsive design built into them, so you don’t have to worry about what your site might look like on different devices. But, you also have the opportunity to further customize CSS within those systems. For example, take a look at ESPN.com on a desktop vs. an iPhone.

Notice how the media size changes to be proportionate to the screen size. Also, the menu is now pushed to be hidden unless tapped, leaving more room for the main content to be viewed.

Why Use Responsive Design?

As the world heads for a smartphone-driven society, it is becoming more and more important to have a flexible site suited for any interface. Responsive design allows for a single site for all devices. This makes the coder’s job a lot easier, plus it allows for a seamless design. Now, no matter where a user views your website, they can recognize it as one brand. Also, this takes away the need to redirect user’s from the main homepage to the mobile site.

What Does Successful Responsive Look Like?

There are some key elements that should always be included in a responsive webpage.

Flexible Grid

In this case, using a flexible grid means that you define your own constraints with columns, spacing and containers. These can be measured in percentages so that they can easily be adjusted when they are displayed on different size screens.

Flexible Images

Large images can take a long time to load on mobile servers and take up too much space. With responsive design, it allows images to be scaled down on smaller screens. If the images are unnecessary, there is an option to hide all images.

Media Queries

Media queries help build a flexible layout for your site. This allows for the design of the site to seamlessly transfer from the desktop to a mobile app. In this example from w3schools.com, you can see how they can be helpful to a designer.

Overall, responsive design is an important concept that should be built into your website. Make sure that when you are coding your site to take into consideration these elements.

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