Responsive Web Design Best Practices

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Responsive Web Design Best Practices

Responsive web design (RWD) is a method of designing websites that attempts to provide an optimal viewing experience for the user regardless of the display device. RWD designers must be particularly careful to ensure that webpages can be easily viewed by mobile devices, which typically have much smaller viewing areas than traditional monitors. This is especially important considering the upcoming changes Google will be implementing into their search algorithms. Soon, mobile-friendly sites will be ranked higher in search results than those sites that are not optimized for mobile devices.

The following best practices in RWD will help ensure that a website has the necessary flexibility to work well for a large number of users.

RWD Approach

An RWD approach to web design requires the designer to adapt the layout of the webpage to the display device with fluid grids, flexible images and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) media queries. A fluid grid means that the designer must specify the size of page elements in relative units such as em, rem and percentages, instead of absolute units such as pixels. The requirement for flexible images means the image size must be able to change with the containing element. A CSS3 media query allows the display device to determine the CSS style rules that will be used to display the page, which are primarily used to determine the width of the browser page.

Provide Mobile Users with the Same Quality of Experience

Today’s website users may have a range of devices, including a smart phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. The need to provide an optimal viewing experience for users with a range of display devices means that a webpage’s appearance needs to change without creating content or incurring function losses, regardless of the display size. This requirement means that the content for a page won’t change even as the page layout changes, allowing users to access the same content differently, across varying device sizes.

Design the Site with RWD Principles

Designing a site using RWD principles requires the designer to understand how to efficiently convert a wire frame into a real design. First, RWD demands that the focus is first placed on designing the site for mobile devices (known as “Mobile-first Design”). Once the site is designed for viewing on a mobile device, the design should move into layering different layouts to accommodate responsiveness as the screen sizes change. Generally, mobile layouts and accompanying HTML code should be as simple as possible. Mechanisms such as menu options and navigation should be easy to implement by using HTML doctypes. Compressing page resources will reduce the number of actual bytes that the user must download to view the website, which is especially helpful for mobile users on Wi-Fi networks with limited bandwidth.

Use Multiple Resolutions

An RWD website should accommodate a range of resolutions, depending on the display device. For example, resolutions of less than 320 pixels are primarily used for older, low-resolution mobile phones. Resolutions between 320 and 480 pixels are used by smaller smart phones. Resolutions between 480 and 768 pixels are commonly used by large smart phones and small tablets. Large tablets and small desktop monitors typically have resolutions in the range of 768 to 1024 pixels. Resolutions greater than 1024 pixels in width are used by large desktop monitors with wide screens. Pixel density is important to consider as well, given the high-resolution of today’s mobile screens.

Building RWD Skills

It’s important for web developers to continually build their coding skills through study and practice. Our course catalog offers RWD options in JavaScript, Bootstrap, HTML5, and CSS training. Whether you’re looking for courses in one of these languages, or a combination of more than one, we’ve got RWD learning covered.

If your team’s Responsive Web Design skills are in need of a tune-up, or complete overhaul, contact our consultants today, at (877) 629-5631 or via email, to discuss how we can help you build a customized learning program that will accomplish your RWD goals.