Understanding responsive website design

In these days of multi-device browsing, responsive web design has become crucial to ensure that your website looks good on all screens. The same information and page elements appear on screen with responsive design, no matter what device you’re on. However, the way these elements are sized and organised differs based on your screen size.

A responsive website adapts to the smaller screen size of smartphones and tablets to ensure an intuitive experience, regardless of your device. With an adaptive design and flexible layout, your website provides a better user experience for visitors. It also helps to score important SEO brownie points from the Google algorithm.

Mobile-first

The last few years have shown that mobile browsing now surpasses desktop, necessitating the prioritisation of the mobile experience. Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to create a separate mobile website to make the most of your small-screen browsers, thanks to responsive design.

A responsive website also makes tracking your analytics all in one place so much easier.

If creating a responsive website sounds daunting, you could use a responsive website template or contact a web designer that specialises in responsive design.

Main elements of responsive design

These are the primary considerations for web designers who create responsive websites.

Flexible grids

Designers use grids to build websites, and for responsive websites, they need to ensure the grid is flexible to load differently based on the screen size.

Breakpoints

Breakpoints are the spots on the page where it can be cut off, and the information on the side is moved downward. To cater for the three main device types people use – desktop, tablet, smartphone – every responsive website should have at least three breakpoints.

Flexible images and responsive media

It’s relatively easy to move text around based on screen size. However, images and other media elements can be trickier. Designers can employ several measures to ensure these elements are optimised for the right size for the screen without negatively affecting load times or the appearance of the media.

Visual hierarchy

An essential part of responsive website design is deciding which parts of a page are the highest priority. A visual hierarchy is good web design practice in general. Still, it is particularly important in responsive design, as visitors on smaller devices will see less of the page at a time.

Touchscreen and mouse elements

Another critical consideration in responsive design is ensuring everything on the page is as usable on a touchscreen as it is with a mouse.

Benefits of responsive websites

  • With responsive design, you only need one set of content for your site. With no need to create a separate mobile website, you save both time and money to get your site live.
  • With a single website, traffic and SEO won’t be diluted across multiple URLs.
  • With responsive design, your website will be flexible enough to suit all platforms, even when new devices are released onto the market.
  • The Google algorithm favours websites that are responsive across devices, giving your SEO efforts a significant boost.

Drawbacks of responsive websites

  • Not all website elements will necessarily display well across devices.
  • Responsive design sites take users on the same user journey even though they tend to behave differently on different devices. For example, research indicates that people are more likely to use their smartphones for research and do the actual buying on a desktop.
  • A responsively designed website may still load slower than a mobile-only website where the content is stripped down for mobile-only use.
  • Some browsers still support CSS2 instead of the newer CSS3 that supports media queries used in responsive design.
  • Responsive design still has some bugs to iron out, and it might take longer than expected to launch while you work out the kinks.

Contact Hosting24 today

Whether you’re building a new website or redesigning an existing website, consider opting for a responsive web design. In the end, the pros far outweigh the cons. To find out more about hosting your responsive website, get in touch with Hosting24 to discuss your options.

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