Responsive Design: 4 Key Best Practices

Responsive Design: 4 Key Best Practices

The days of designing a website for a single desktop screen are truly behind us; advances in technology are becoming so frequent, it’s vital to consider how your web design is going to be displayed across multiple devices.

In 2016, the amount of people using mobile devices reached around 4.6 billion and by 2019, this figure is predicted to surpass five million. Millions of people now use tablet computers, with more than half of the UK population regularly using them in 2015. This is up from a third of the population in 2013, and is predicted to rise to 59.8% of the population and 73.6% of internet users in the next three years.

But with all these different devices, how can you ensure your website is designed well for each and every one?

Responsive design tackles this problem, allowing design and code to respond to the size of a device’s screen. This gives your consumers the optimal viewing experience whether they are visiting your site on a 17-inch desktop, 10-inch tablet or a 4-inch smartphone.

Using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images and CSS styling, you can alter the layout and design of your website according to the size, or width, of the browser. This is hugely beneficial to businesses because designing a different version of your website for every different device would take up a lot of time and be extremely costly.

However, with so much to think about when designing your own webpage, how can you create a responsive web design that is effective?

Read on to find out the four key best practices to a responsive design.

Consider your content

All too often, people think that a responsive web design is about fitting your site to different screens, when actually you should consider the context of your content.

Consider what features are most important to your website, and then decide which elements you no longer need. Start with a small screen and consider which bits of content you want to be displayed here, then as you move up to bigger devices, you can add elements that you initially dropped. This system will help you think pragmatically about which pieces of content are the highest priority.

User friendly navigation

When designing a responsive website, navigation is one of the most difficult aspects due to how different screen sizes can be. A menu that works perfectly well on one screen may not work at all on another, which is why being consistent is important in your design.

Ensuring the color, size and characteristics of your menu bars, buttons, links and labels are the same on every device is pretty simple, but where it becomes a bit more challenging is trying to work out where they will be placed when viewing via different devices. When you do design these elements, ensure to prioritize and design them based on their importance to the user and how easy it will be to use them.

Re-evaluate your images

The use of images is extremely important in your website design. However, large images lead to slower download speeds on smaller devices with lower bandwidth capabilities. Therefore, if there are any images that you could do without, remove them.

Reconsider using elements that require the use of large images, such as homepage carousels, which also require JavaScript to run. Instead, you can adopt alternatives such as the grid approach, which uses static boxes to give power back to the visitor, allowing them to scan the site more efficiently and find relevant content faster.

Don’t rely on theory

One of the best ways to know you have designed an effective responsive design is by testing it. Ensure you have a number of different devices to test your design on, and even introduce your website to other users to see if they enjoy using it on the different devices.

This way you can generate feedback, which can help you improve your design and confirm you are on the right track.

Creating a responsive design is a challenge for everyone because they are constantly evolving and growing. The best thing to do is keep up to date with the latest developments and start from the smaller devices before making your way to the biggest ones. Above all, keep the user in the front of your mind when creating your responsive design; user experience is key to a fantastic website that can be accessed anywhere.

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