Web Development

Best Practices for Responsive Web Design


Responsive site designs are now the standard since mobile devices have taken over as the primary way that people access the internet. The good news is that creating a responsive website no longer requires a profound knowledge of HTML, CSS, or other complex coding languages. As long as you are utilizing a smart visual web development platform, you are good to go. 

These guidelines according to the eminent web development companies in India can help you in building a website that performs seamlessly across various screen sizes and devices, whether you're working on a responsive redesign project or starting from scratch. Before we proceed, let's explore how a responsive website operates.

What is a responsive website?

When there is a seamless experience from desktop to mobile, we consider a website design to be responsive.  Irrespective of the device and screen size used for viewing, a responsive website will adjust its visual design and interactive elements accordingly. Responsive web design (RWD), a modern design approach that adapts web pages to fit the user's screen size, lies at the core of these websites.

Responsive web design (RWD) utilizes CSS to incorporate a range of style elements, including typefaces, images, and menus, based on the device, screen size, orientation, colors, and other attributes of the viewing device.

 Moreover, CSS facilitates the use of media queries and viewport optimization, allowing web pages to adapt based on the width of the viewport and the layout of the website. A viewport refers to the visible area of a device's screen.

A Mobile-first Approach to Responsive Web Design

Prioritizing mobile users in web design involves beginning with the mobile version of the site and gradually expanding from there. This approach proves successful for several reasons.

  •  It is both practical and more effective to focus primarily on mobile design since mobile websites often face usability challenges, mainly due to the limited screen space available.
  • Due to the limited space on mobile websites, scaling up the mobile version is simpler than scaling down the desktop version.
  • Mobile-first web design facilitates the reevaluation of visual and functional requirements.

Since designing a responsive mobile-first website involves working with limited screen space, it becomes essential to address several key questions:

The following questions need to be asked:

  • Is this feature or function truly required?
  • What strategies can we employ to initially create a simple design for mobile devices that can later scale up effectively for desktops?
  • Is the load time for this visual effect on mobile devices worth it?
  • What is the primary objective, and how do graphical components assist users in accomplishing it?

In a moment, we'll look at some instances of responsive websites according to the best website development company in Kerala. Let's focus on modern devices, screen sizes, and web browsers for the time being.

What Screen Resolutions Matter for Responsive Web Design?

These are the most commonly used screen resolutions among mobile, tablet, and desktop users worldwide. As observed, a diverse range of resolutions is prevalent, indicating that none of the devices mobile, tablet, or desktop—currently hold a dominant market share. This informs us that while thinking about flexible web design, designers should take into account all of them.

  • 360x640 (small mobile): 22.64%
  • 1366x768 (average laptop): 11.98%
  • 1920x1080 (large desktop): 7.35%
  • 375x667 (average mobile): 5%
  • 1440x900 (average desktop): 3.17%
  • 720x1280 (large mobile): 2.74%

We should split the data by geography to match the user demographics (or projected user demographics) of our target audience, much as we did with device breakdown. Because some screen sizes are currently uncommon but could become so in the future, it is also important to support resolutions that are becoming more widespread. This will assist responsive designers in creating UX that is future-proof and functional despite changes in market share. For instance, 360x640 resolutions, which primarily appear on Samsung Android handsets, have increased by 5.43% over the past 12 months. Before beginning a website design, designers can use useful information like these to select important responsive breakpoints.

Responsive design involves more than simply "making everything fit"; it also involves adjusting to the hardware and browser capabilities of the device as well as the device's resolution. This can be seen, for instance, in the fact that only Google Chrome supports the CSS property over scroll-behavior: (which specifies what occurs when a user scrolls too far toward the viewport's edge)

Responsive Design Best Practices

Eliminate Friction

As mentioned before, adopting a mobile-first approach in responsive web design helps designers identify the essential elements necessary for users to achieve their main objectives. As we progress towards developing the tablet version (and later the desktop version), we should also consider secondary goals, micro-interactions, user flows, and calls to action (CTAs) that enable those user goals. However, the primary goals of the user should always take precedence, and any unnecessary obstacles that do not serve either the primary or secondary goals should be eliminated.

A product purchase could be the primary goal while subscribing to a newsletter (which can encourage a purchase later) could be the secondary goal.  Here's a great illustration of removing friction: It would be advisable to switch to a one-page checkout for mobile eCommerce businesses and only enable multi-step checkout for desktop Mobile user interfaces in eCommerce stores are often more challenging to use.

Also, read The importance of website content in web design.

Design for Thumbs

Adaptive design UX is challenging since consumers will click on links on desktop websites but tap and swipe on mobile versions. Additionally, there are physical variations. Mobile users hold their devices in their hands, whereas desktop users often place their PCs on a surface. These variations significantly impact the way mobile UI designers create tap targets and other essential UI components that users engage with.

Let's look at a few instances:

  • The primary desktop navigation is normally found at the top; however, on mobile devices, it should be found at the bottom. Reaching the top area is uncomfortable for thumbs.
  • Additionally, other interactive components must be accessible. Since thumbs have a harder time reaching the sides and corners of device screens, this implies keeping them in the middle of the screen.
  • To ensure easy tapping, it is recommended that important links and CTAs have a minimum height of 44px. Smaller tap targets have a negative impact on usability.

Utilize the native hardware of mobile devices

As mentioned earlier, mobile hardware features like the device camera or GPS services are not limited to native apps alone, and responsive web design is not solely about "fitting everything in." 

 As long as websites are utilizing the available native hardware, some micro-interactions, like data entry, are actually simpler on smaller screens when it comes to mobile web design because mobile devices include simple-to-use cameras.

Here are some examples to consider:

  • Credit/top-up card scanning (since mobile forms are frequently difficult to fill out)
  • Sharing pictures on social media because you already have the files on your device
  • Due to the fact that you are already using a mobile device, two-factor authentication
  • Checking stocks/analytics quickly (since mobile apps make information simpler)
  • using voice search to conduct web searches (since doing so is more convenient than typing)

Create fluid/adaptive layouts by default

Every user's desktop browser won't be maximized. Accordingly, designers must take into account both the responsive breakpoints of the devices that users are now using and what occurs in between those breakpoints.

Layouts should be fluid (i.e., they naturally adapt/stretch as the browser resizes) to accommodate all sizes in between, but responsive breakpoints should be utilized to "reflow" the layout and content to a new device.

Consider the following advice while creating fluid/adaptive layouts:

  • Elements will be flexible thanks to percentage units.
  • You can control the "but don't go smaller/bigger than this" scenario by setting minimum and maximum widths.
  • SVG image formats are resolution-independent (as opposed to JPG and PNG, which are not) and may be scaled up and down without losing quality.

Learn about How long does it take to redesign a website.

Landscape Orientation Must Not Be Ignored

We have already addressed specific responsive breakpoints, but it is also crucial to consider the potential landscape mode display for those mobile viewports. While employing a fluid style can make the content technically adaptable, sacrificing a substantial portion of the portrait viewport may pose usability and accessibility challenges.

Since users often navigate in landscape mode with two thumbs, navigations are typically secure (and occasionally even better), but scrolling becomes noticeably more difficult, which is less than ideal since the user must scroll more in the landscape. Landscape breakpoints should also be taken into account when designing; for example, tiled items that stack vertically on mobile could be shown as a slider with left and right navigation buttons, saving the user from having to scroll.

Remember that typography can also adapt responsively.

One point no longer always equals a pixel on the web since different devices have varied resolutions, even though UX designers frequently use pixels to construct websites. The iPhone X, for instance, has 458 PPI (Pixels Per Inch), demonstrating how, as pixel sizes shrink, we can produce sharper images in the same physical space (Apple refers to this technology as "Retina" technology, whereas Android refers to it as "hDPI").

Depending on the resolution of a device, a font size of 16 pixels can appear either larger or smaller. Web developers frequently use em units, which are responsive units where 1em is equivalent to 1 point, to establish font sizes.

Designers and developers can work together on tasks that are both of their responsibilities with the aid of design handoff technologies like Zeplin, Sympli, Marvel, and InVision. The process of creating a product is a team effort that necessitates effective communication while designers and developers carry out the design and coding, respectively.

Tips and Best Practises for Responsive Design Performance Optimisation

In addition to how it appears, responsive web design also considers how it behaves and feels. It is equally crucial to modify websites so that they load more quickly on the target device.

Lazy Load Non-vital Images and Videos

The majority of a website's download size is made up of images and videos, but you don't have to load them all at once. The rendering of media may be postponed in one of two situations: When a user scrolls below the fold, below-the-fold material can be loaded, and render-blocking media ought to only be available to download once the layout and content have been downloaded. Lazy loading is a technique used to enhance page performance by delaying the loading of large, unimportant items.

Conditional Loading

Some website components aren't meant for mobile users, or at the very least, they're not worthwhile with the added cognitive burden. It makes sense to hide components in some situations since we want our mobile web pages to be as simple as possible. It is best practice to only include these items under specific circumstances in order to avoid wasting browser resources and bandwidth by loading them even while they are hidden. Again, a developer can accomplish this using code, but designers can enhance page performance by outlining the circumstances under which specific items should and shouldn't be present.

Recommend reading: What is custom website development.

Responsive Images

As was already noted, some devices have higher pixel density, which might cause images to become distorted if they are exported at the incorrect resolution. Some devices will require photos at double (@2x), triple (@3x), and even quadruple (@4x) sizes depending on the resolution of the device. The <picture> element, which selects the appropriate image resolution based on the device, is now supported by web browsers.

Recommend reading: A complete guide on website development.

By making sure to export at all the resolutions utilized on modern devices, designers creating responsive websites may adjust photos to the appropriate device (if you're unclear, contact your developer—communication is crucial when it comes to flexible web design).

The web has been significantly enhanced by responsive design.

The generous space allocated for desktop designs often led to unnecessary visuals and content that diverted attention away from a website's primary objective. The widespread use of tablets and mobile devices has revolutionized the way we create and interact with websites. Ultimately, the device we utilize to access a website influences both its design and our interaction with it. Responsive design allows us to eliminate unnecessary elements, enabling everyone to find what they need more efficiently. Designing a website only requires a tutorial and some inspiration; it doesn't have to be complex, and coding knowledge is not even necessary. Once you've overcome the learning curve, it won't take you long to create a tonne of gorgeous websites. Or you can simply hire web developers in India to get done things in a breeze.