Responsive web design (RWD) is, in essence, about creating sites that are simple and easy to use on different devices, while also being pleasing on the eye. A site being responsive improves the site visitor’s user experience, and makes it possible to create a good user journey whatever the type of content being presented.
The importance of RWD concepts has been driven by the popularity of smaller screen browsing devices, with tablets and mobile devices now the most common way people experience the web. This has made responsive web designs more important than ever, and absolutely vital in some niche.
RWD emphasizes the need to de-clutter or trim down some of the unnecessary graphics and contents that often take up the space on desktop screens and can detract from the site’s core message or slow down the site page’s loading speed for visitors on the move.
But RWD isn’t just about creating a consistent mobile experience. It means designing for multiple devices. It requires an obsessive focus on details, innovative layout styles and clear information architecture. It has changed the way we design for all screens, and shifted attention to creating simpler layouts and more streamlined experiences.
Whether you’re redesigning your site to make it more responsive or you’re starting from scratch, here are important tips and tricks to help you achieve your purpose.
1. Plan for both small and big screens
Responsive web design has generally improved user experiences because it makes browsing on mobile devices simpler, easier and a more enjoyable.
But while it is important to think mobile when using RWD, the concept must not be viewed as only a small screen solution. The idea of a responsive web design is inbuilt for benefits for all screen sizes, including very large displays.
2. Focus on navigation
One of the core goals of RWD is to significantly improve site navigation.
Since RWD is largely focused on designing for smaller screens, the web design should be done within these limitations.
One trick is to use simple and unhidden navigation choices and chose icons that are paired with texts, collapsible menus, just few in-page links and dropdowns to allow users get to where they want to go quickly and without stress.
3. Keep it fluid
Importantly, keep your design fluid between breaking points, and not fixed. Because it’s easier to understand and code, the temptation to want to use fixed layouts is strong, but that style is too fragile for RWD.
Even for your media queries, it’s better to apply proportional units such as %, em and rem, rather than pixels.
4. Leave out words you don’t need
Desktop provides a large working space to accommodate texts, but that isn’t always a good thing for modern, responsive designs. You must always think mobile first and design upwards. That means using texts more economically and eliminating every redundant words and phrases.
Even on desktops, you should trim down the volume of words and make it more scan-able with techniques such as bullet points, shorter sentences and paragraphs.
5. Choice of typography is very important, especially on smaller screens
Typography plays a major role in defining the responsiveness level of the page. When designing for multiple devices, you should make sure to scale your selected font size, line-height and width to what best fits varying screen sizes.
Tiny font types don’t work well with RWD concepts. One of the core principles of this design style is improving readability, which means using larger font sizes in the range of 16px for the body copy, then adjusting further down or up depending on the font’s design.
Don’t forget also to use only fonts that are very legible, especially for important parts of the message such as navigation labels.
A related factor to using the right typography is ensuring that the spacing between lines is of the appropriate amount. Too much gap will make the texts appear like they’re floating, and too little space will make them looked cramped and unprofessional.
6. Explore the power of negative space
Creating responsive web design is mostly about adopting a minimalist approach without necessarily shedding vital element that make the page interesting and attractive to the eye.
One way to strike that balance is the ingenious use of negative space such as whitespaces. It tricks the eye into seeing visual breaks in your design and directs it to important messages on the page that you don’t want the site visitor to miss.
7. Use responsive images that improve site loading speed
A principal feature of a responsive web designed-site is its fast loading time across multiple devices.
Images are a major culprit for slow websites. Although images typically scale down on smaller devices, they can still drag the loading times if the size is still about 3MB.
So, use codes that automatically make the images responsive. It might be a laborious and tasking part of the job, but it’s an effective and powerful technique to improve site loading time and user experience.
8. Make sure you use the best hosting solution to deliver the files your descriptive domain name points to
Choosing a descriptive domain name that communciates what your business is about at a glance is easy. Not all companies offer all extensions though. You,may need to got to a regional site to get your desired country TLD. For example, if you want a New Zealand domain name you may have to go to a site like www.freeparking.co.nz/domain-names/nz. The jury is out about whether a country TLD is better for targeting a region than a generic TLD like .net, .com or .org. Many people still think it better to get a regional domain as it is a signal for the search engines that increases rankings in your target region search.
A responsive website will mean you aren’t throwing away visitors. Stack the deck in your favour and follow best practice with every area of your website.