Responsive design: how to tailor content for different screens
The internet can be accessed by an enormous number of electronic devices which all have different screen sizes. For web designers, this creates a challenge because they must take into account how their design is displayed across each of these screens.
/ Yifei Chen
It is not only about adjusting a website to either desktop or mobile devices, as there is already a huge variety of different screen sizes for these too. So, what to do? The answer lies in responsive web design, which became essential over the last couple of years.
What is responsive design?
Responsive web design is an approach to ensure websites adjust to different windows and screen sizes on a variety of different devices. The purpose of responsive web design is to give the end user an optimal viewing experience on any device. We do this by using fluid grids or flexible images, in order to render the design to the browser, and have a seamless transition across devices. The main reason for using responsive design is that it is not practical to design countless versions of a website for every individual device. It would be very costly and take too much time, besides being impossible to maintain and update.
So, responsive design is indispensable, but what are the things you need to take into account when implementing it?
In addition to the variety of different devices and screen sizes, a responsive web designer must also consider that the users are accessing the website through different browsers. The major browsers have their own mobile and desktops version which render websites differently. There are also various updates for the browsers throughout the year which must be taken into account by the designer.
There are too many devices available today to be able to take a standard one size fits all approach. Take a look at your analytics data and check which devices and browsers your audience is using. This helps you to decide which layout to use. In general, you should have at least three design sizes which you’ll eventually need to add to, update or remove depending on your audience.
The three key sizes should include the following:
- Phone size with less than 600 pixels
- Large phone, tablets size with 600-900 pixels
- Personal computer size with more than 900 pixels
These layouts should include the same content. However, it should be adjusted to be displayed in the best way possible for the individual layout. In some cases, it makes sense to consider fluid scaling, to provide a better experience, if your audience uses a variety of devices.
A few considerations:
- Focus on the user experience. Think about how the users will interact with the page and how they will interact differently with the website depending on the device or browser.
- When designing a website, don’t use the latest devices as reference points, as you want to target the devices where you’ll find the majority of your key audience. Also, think about your content, especially how it will look on the website and across other screens to ensure your content works on them all.
- Think about user experience and how users will interact with your website, in terms of functions and buttons. Think about how it will be displayed differently on mobile vs. desktop ensuring you place buttons and other functions that you want your users to interact with somewhere obvious.
- Ensuring your images are flexible is a must-have for a responsive website. Images must adjust to the different screens, so consider scaling and how the images will be displayed to the user. Make sure everything is visible and readable on for every screen size.
- Navigation is especially important on mobile devices. Think about the menu and type of content you use, and which type of navigation bar is the best. There is a variety of styles for the menus and you need to find the best one for your site.
- Think about touchscreens and how users interact with websites differently via a touchscreen. Users like to use their hands to interact with content. Think about the size of a finger and which buttons are too small to be used. How would the user interact with your website differently via a touchscreen? Consider these factors when creating the size of a button or another feature that aims to get interaction from a user.
Responsive web design is a challenge
Creating a responsive website nowadays is a challenge for everyone in web design. Always try to design your website around your content and consider the experience that the individual user will have across each device. In the end, it is all about delivering great user experiences. Also, keep testing your website with various devices to find issues upfront, so you can quickly fix them and ensure you get the best results.
Overall, responsive web design will deliver a great experience to your customers, a strong first impression and easy engaging access to your content. So why would you want to use anything else?
Take a look at how we implemented responsive design with our clients Scentropy and VSL#3 in the latest projects.
Find the case with Scentropy here.
Find the case with VSL#3 here.