The variety of devices, screen sizes, and forms of visual content makes the world difficult for any UX designer. Unlike other creative works, web design doesn’t have any constraints in physical space and should adapt to any device. Here is where the responsive design comes to fix this UX issue and give users the best experience. So, let’s discover what responsive web design is and how it frees users from the annoying need to zoom everything with their fingertips when they visit a website’s mobile version.
Responsive design is a concept that helps to provide the optimal viewing experience for any user regardless of the device they use to access a website. The concept is not new, but it remains one of the best approaches to providing an enhanced user experience on a mobile device. What’s great about it is that with the application of HTML and CSS, responsive web design allows us to adapt and resize the webpage with all the visual content for any device.
For higher website responsiveness, designers use fluid grids, and thus everything is optimized to the proportion of each screen. Therefore, it saves a great amount of time and labor when it comes to creating the website’s mobile version. The back-end team will also say thanks as they will only need to update a single version of a website. Therefore, this is what makes best responsive websites so appealing: instead of tailoring the designs to each device, designers perceive them as the same experience which makes the design both flexible and adaptive.
Another way to deal with different screen sizes is by using an adaptive design which can be perceived as an alternative to the responsive method. As described above, responsive design adapts to the size of any screen of any device. It is usually described as “fluid” and uses CSS media queries like display type, height, width to adapt styles based on the target device.
On the contrary, adaptive design applies different layouts for multiple screen sizes and uses static layouts that are based on breakpoints. Basically, adaptive design detects the screen size of the device user opens the website on and adapts it to that scale.
If to compare both, responsive web design is of course more flexible and untie designer hands when it comes to creating a mobile version. At the same time, adaptive design can only offer the layout to a few different sizes. Even the best responsive websites can have occasional glitches but in general, it is a better choice when it comes to the wider target audience with a great variety of devices they use. However, when it comes to specific niche users, adaptive design can grant more consistency and can be more optimal.
So, now when we’ve settled on what responsive design is, let’s break down how it works. There are some basic principles that are indispensable for the functioning responsive web design. Here are some of them:
Responsive design also has some distinctive features that make everything work smoothly on your website and make it suitable for any device. They are:
Modern users tend to use their mobile devices more and more. But at the same time, their desktop screens become wider. For this reason, it’s impossible to focus the design only on smartphone screens or PC ones – it must look flawless at any resolution. Regardless of what device screen the user has, the flexible grid elements will adapt to the user’s environment. The trick is that it uses CSS and percentage. The percentage-based calculations are what make everything work and there’s no need to give up complexity for flexibility.
Of course, your website design consists not solely of textual content but also of visuals. And to make the website adaptation to the screen size complete, the visuals also must be fluid. For this reason, certain constraints have to be applied to the image. And other visual content to make it aware of its flexible environment. This is needed to prevent visuals from exceeding their container and to resize them proportionally. In this case, the responsive design applies scaling and CSS overflow to make images adjust and load appropriately to the screen size.
A media query allows the website to determine the user’s device and to fit the page proportionally to the screen. Moreover, the media queries are able not only to detect certain device types but also to actually target the physical characteristics of the device. The query essentially consists of two elements: a media type and the actual query enclosed within parentheses with the specific media feature. In this way, the website design can assure a better and smoother user experience based on the specifics of their devices.
Responsive design as an approach to web design can contribute considerably. Not only to the overall look of the website but to the whole user experience with it regardless of the device, they’re using. It is focused on the user’s environment such as screen size, platform, orientation, etc. And allows designers and developers to adjust the design appropriately. It gives them more control but at the same time allows flexibility, leaving users happy with their experience on any device.
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