A responsive website is optimized for all devices and screen sizes, from desktop computers with giant monitors to smartphones that fit in the palm of your hand. The concept is not new—many websites have been responsive since the advent of smartphones—but it's now more critical than ever.
The responsiveness of your website is a vital search ranking factor for Google’s algorithms. With more than half of all web traffic coming from tablets and smartphones (62%), you need a website that looks great regardless of screen size or resolution.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Having a responsive website means you must also work on providing an impeccable UI/UX to your visitors.
There are many simple ways to make your site more responsive (and even improve its ranking on Google). In this guide, we'll explore what exactly responsiveness means in the first place and also share some tips for improving your site's responsiveness.
A responsive design is a way of creating websites that adapts to the size of the device used to view them. While you may be familiar with this concept, it requires a different approach than designing for desktop or laptop computers.
Ethan Marcotte coined this term for the first time in 2010. He mentioned three key elements in a responsive design:
These are filters you can apply to the CSS that respond to the type of device, screen type, browser, or device orientation. For example, a media query allows different layouts using the same content blocks, each optimized for the viewer’s device.
Fluid grids, also known as flexible grids, allow you to add a breakpoint and change the website design where it starts to disorient from its original design.
Images must be added in “effective pixels” (px) to specify layout dimensions and spacing. Elements should be designed with a base unit of 4 px to ensure the design always scales to a whole number when applying the fluid grid.
Visuals also adjust according to the screen size. What you see on the right of your desktop may be shown in the middle of your smartphone screen.
Although responsive web design has been in talks since then, it wasn’t until 21st April 2015 that Google officially rolled out an update to penalize rankings of websites that were not responsive.[TA1]
Web developers and SEO experts also resonated that day with the term “Armageddon”, coined by Chuck Price in a post written for Search Engine Watch on March 9, 2015.
Since then, there has been a strong demand for website developers to make responsive designs. Wix, WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and other website platforms had to adjust to Google’s massive update. All of a sudden, responsive websites were the talk of the town.
It can allow you to improve your user experience and also make it easier for search engines to find your site, but it has its challenges.
Responsive design uses fluid grids and flexible images, which means that as the browser window changes size on different devices, so does your website and its content.
This process works well on smaller screens like phones and tablets because fewer elements compete for space. But, on larger monitors like desktops or laptops, some parts might be hard to read if they're too small or too far apart from each other on the screen.
A responsive web design adjusts with any screen size and dimensions. However, adaptive web design is built specifically for mobile devices with entirely different content layouts. There was a time when you were often redirected to the mobile version of the website on a smartphone.
Both have different approaches to making sites responsive to mobile phones.
Responsive web design has numerous benefits for your business:
Responsive web design is also a great way to make your site accessible to people with disabilities. By ensuring your content can get read by screen readers, you're helping many folks who may not otherwise be able to use the internet!
All this is to say that responsive design is a great idea. It's not without its drawbacks, though. For example, some users may have difficulty reading the text on your site because it’s too small or their screen resolution isn't high enough (the latter can get fixed by adjusting the display settings on their device).
You might also run into issues with older browsers like Internet Explorer 8 and below. These browsers don’t support responsive design at all!
Responsive design is a web design approach that uses CSS3 media queries to render a website well across many devices. In other words, responsive websites are designed to adjust the layout of their content and images depending on the screen size of your device. This means your browser window will resize as you switch from desktop mode to mobile mode or vice versa.
It is more than making a site look good on mobile devices; it's about creating an experience that adapts to how people browse through their favorite sites and services to deliver content.
This includes optimizing those experiences for tablets, laptops, and desktop PCs (especially if they happen to be browsing with two fingers).
Consider it the most effective way of delivering content across multiple devices, and it's one of the most critical elements of mobile web design.
Responsive websites help to adjust their layout based on the screen size of your device. So if you're viewing a responsive website on your smartphone, for example, then certain elements will expand or contract to accommodate the smaller screen size.
Responsive web design is a complex topic. But it's also an important one that every website owner and designer should be aware of.
As more people use mobile devices and tablets to access the internet, the need for websites that adapt and perform great on these screens is more than ever before. Responsive web design is one way to meet this growing demand while maintaining your current site's functionality (or even improving it).