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There was once a time when responsive web design was little more than a fad; current trends, however, suggest that a drastic shift has occurred in the general approach and acceptance of responsive web design. With the concept becoming less of a choice and more of standard practice, the success of a website in availing an impressive web expeience is fast becoming synonymous with the application of responsive web designs.
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That being said the creation of responsive designs is far from simple and can seem somewhat confusing not only for beginners, but even professional designers, what with the drastic shift in thinking that is required.
Yet the necessity of responsive designs, now commonly compared to the shift from table layouts to CSS, is such that understanding the concepts is essential to achieving a positive outcome from one’s designs.
What is responsive web design?
Mention responsive design and the name Ethan Marcotte, the gentleman responsible for its creation isn’t far behind; rather than a single technology, responsive design is a collection of tools and techniques developed to adapt web design to the ever changing landscape of internet connected hardware.
Where the desktop once led the pack as the primary tool through which web pages could be browsed, the proliferation of smart phones has transformed the concept of internet access; the idea of browsing the internet from devices of all types might seem fairly beneficial, but without the presence of responsive technology, it attracts all manner of complications for web designers.
Differently sized screens with varying resolutions will avail different output capabilities, and once upon a time, to compensate for differences in output technology, it was necessary to design different versions of the same website to be browsed from different devices.
In other words, after designing your company website for the desktop, it was then necessary to redesign the site just for smart phone access to ensure quality pages that could take advantage of the phone’s capabilities; basically wasting a lot of time and money in perpetrating this redundancy.
Hence the need for responsive designs and their ability to avail web pages capable of adapting to the display capabilities of different devices.
Creating responsive web designs
Responsive designs are no cakewalk, even for experienced web developers; while different designers will approach the responsive design problem from different angles, utilizing widely varying techniques to meet unique needs specific to different situations, four primary elements stand out, always present within any responsive web design guide and crucial to achieving comprehensive and effective responsive designs:
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1. Setting the Meta Viewport element
In trying to optimize a website for different devices, a meta viewport is essential for responsive webpage designs and it should be included in the head of each document in order to avail the browser the instructions it needs to make the necessary dimensions and scaling changes.
Mobile internet users, can attest to the inconsistencies that used to occur with font sizes, arising from mobile browsers displaying web pages at typical desktop widths and then attempting to improve quality by adjusting font properties across the page.
The meta viewport element purposes to instruct the web page in question to adapt its dimensions to a given screen’s width, no matter the device, making for consistent quality content.
2. Sizing content to the viewport
When developing mobile websites it is common for designers to create web content with a width that is much wider than the viewport, necessitating the user to scroll horizontally (which some mobile device users are not comfortable with) or zoom in and out to view hidden content.
Responsive designs aim to make certain that the content fits perfectly within the viewport so that horizontal scrolling is made unnecessary; this involving making sure that reliance upon a particular viewport width for proper rendering of content is avoided.
3. Effective use of CSS media queries for responsiveness
Media queries are tools that ease the process of changing the style of content, be it height, display type or orientation, based upon the attributes of the rendering device. They act as filters that are applicable to CSS styles based on device characteristics.
They are crucial to creating the much sought after responsive experience, allowing content styles to change with the display screen in question; while media queries are typically utilized in relation to the device browsers, it is possible to create queries with device attributes such as the width in mind, though this is never advisable.
4. Choosing breakpoints
Breakpoints should be chosen based upon the content, the idea always being to begin design with the smallest devices in mind and then move up from there. While possible, defining breakpoints basing upon devices and operating systems will cause trouble down the line, especially regarding maintenance.
It is the content that should determine how adjustments occur; the question of choosing which content to hide should be based upon what you think the user will require rather than what simply cannot fit within the boundaries of the screen.
ABOUT VOCSO WEB STUDIO
VOCSO WEB STUDIO is a global website design and development agency in India, catering to small to medium businesses across the globe. Our motto is to help people focus on their core business and leave their web design and development concerns to us, because that’s what we do the best. We understand how important your business is for you and that is why we listen to your requirements carefully and ensure we understand even unsaid bits and create the best at an affordable price.
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