What is Responsive Web Design?
So, what is a responsive website? What does it look and feel like?
According to Wikipedia, responsive web design is an approach that ensures all the pages of the website look, work and feel perfectly on any device. Whether it is a tiny old cell phone with a screen width of 320px, a modern phablet with 7 inches screen, a big iPad, or a TV with a massive diagonal line, all the main aspects such as content, design, and especially functionality should perform consistently to provide users with an excellent user experience.
In technical terms, responsive web design implies a set of instructions that help web pages change their layout and appearance to meet different screen widths and resolutions.
The concept of a responsive website appeared due to non-effective and ill-suited ways of handling screen sizes. Originally, pages were built to target a particular device. This approach implied creating a range of designs for each responsive tier resulting in different versions of the same page. However, with the mobile web becoming a reality and more and more devices with non-standard resolutions appeared, this approach has quickly become irrelevant since it could not handle this variety efficiently.
In the early 2010s, largely thanks to a gifted Ethan Marcotte, developers started to switch from popular adaptive design (an approach that implied creating several versions of one design) to responsive design (an approach that suggested only one yet flexible version of a website that stretched or shrunk to fit the screen). Although that technique was pretty new and untested, nevertheless its benefits were hard to ignore. Even now, those advantages prove to everyone that a responsive website is the only way out. Let us consider them.
Benefits of Responsive Web Design
The main benefits of using a responsive website are
- consistent visual experience;
- better user experience;
- no need for redirects;
- lower bounce rates;
- lower maintenance needs;
- high web page loading speed;
- no extra fees for creating and maintaining different versions;
- easy analytics reporting.
Even though responsive design is not flawless, it has its cons, for example,
- It is not fully optimized;
- It can slow performance;
- It may suffer from web browser incompatibility;
- It makes it challenging to run advertising campaigns;
- It makes it challenging to offer different things to different users depending on the device used;
Nevertheless, it had and has significant advantages over other solutions. Therefore, nowadays, responsive web design is a standard for websites.
If you still doubt responsive web design, let us find out why it is important.
Why is Responsive Web Design Important?
The rise of responsive design has to do much with the rise of mobile devices, tablets, and smart devices like Kindle, game consoles, etc. The modern-day user expects to be able to access any website with a vast range of devices. Your website should be ready to handle any scenario. You cannot ignore these demands because numbers do not lie: according to recent studies,
- more than 80% of users surf through the internet using mobile devices in 2019;
- more than 60% of Google’s visits are done via a mobile device;
- mobile devices accounted for more than 50% of website traffic worldwide.
Your brand cannot neglect this tendency. If you cannot meet these expectations and growing demands by quickly adapting to the new reality, then you are doomed to failure, and your brand is doomed to extinction.
Let us consider some good reasons why responsive web design is important:
- Google gives priority to websites that display well on smartphones and other mobile devices. Since 2015, a responsive design with mobile-friendly behavior is a must-have for those who care about ranks in search engines.
- Consistent user experience across all devices reinforces engagement, amplifies lead generation, and boosts sales and conversions. According to studies, one in two people has gone to a competitor’s website after a poor mobile experience.
- Without a good responsive website, you may lose out on new leads and sales from the mobile web.
- It lets you reach customers and deliver messages on all types of devices (tablets, phablets, smartphones), thereby widening your target audience.
- It builds positive brand recognition and trust with consumers. According to stats, people are more likely to recommend a business with a well-designed mobile website.
- It keeps prospects on your website longer by providing a consistent experience and bringing them value on the spot.
- It is cost-effective. Responsive design offers a lower cost than creating various versions of the same website to meet multiple screen sizes. In addition, it is easier to maintain. You do not need to hire a whole agency to handle your multi-version platform.
- Last but not least, you can get a chance to stay ahead of your competition since almost 50% of companies all around the World still ignore mobile behavior and responsive layout.
Although initially responsive web design was chosen as a recommended solution due to lack of proper alternative, it has proved to everyone that it is a reliable approach with lots of benefits for the brand over the past years. It can cope with various situations and scenarios, providing a solid foundation for developers to build on and entrepreneurs to run their marketing campaigns to generate revenue and help businesses stay afloat.
Core Principles of Responsive Web Design
To understand better responsive design, it is important to familiarize yourself with its essentials and core principles.
So, first things first – let’s find out how does responsive web design works.
How Does Responsive Web Design Work?
The idea behind responsive web design lies in building a flexible website whose content and design behave like water that fills the container, aka a device that customers use to visit the website. All elements of the website undergo changes to feel comfortable inside the screen. If it is necessary, they shrink to perfectly fit into smaller spaces or, on the contrary, stretch to occupy every inch of space. Everything scales up or down automatically to match the device.
A responsive website’s key point is to understand that its primary task is to provide a comfortable user experience for anyone. This requires ensuring good readability, proper visual experience, a certain level of accessibility, as well as maintaining consistent functionality from device to device.
Key Features of Responsive Web Design
Coined by Ethan Marcotte in 2010, responsive design implied three key features that are still considered the main pillars of this concept. They are:
- Flexible layout;
- Flexible images;
- Media Queries.
We will add one more key feature: responsive typography since the content is a king that requires its dose of attention.
If you think you can do without one or another feature, then you are wrong. It may work for some scenarios; however, you could not manage to provide universal access regardless of the situation without this quartet. That is the whole point of creating a responsive web design.
Remember, not only do you need to accommodate various screen sizes, but you should also take into account device orientation since people adore switching from portrait orientation to landscape in an instant. It is here where the flexibility of all details comes in handy. Each one plays its essential role in properly serving information.
Therefore, these four features are necessary to ensure you have a fully responsive website design.
Let us consider them closely to understand better their roles, why they are so crucial, and how to bring them to life.