What Is Responsive Web Design and How to Use It in 2020

Sarah Miles
01/06/2020 0 Comment

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to website design where a page that adapts to the browser viewport width due to the high volume of internet traffic using mobile devices. This concept of developing a website, in a manner that helps the layout gets changed according to the user’s computer screen resolution. More precisely, the concept allows for an advanced 4 column layout 1292 pixels wide, on a 1025-pixel width screen, that auto-simplifies into 2 columns. Also, it suitably adapts to the smartphone and tablet screen.

Ready to Get Out of The Past and Into the Future of Web Design

You can make a website render automatically in a quick and smooth transition on a variety of devices and windows or screen sizes. Content, design, and performance are necessary across all devices to ensure usability and satisfaction.  Continuously supporting each new browser agent with its own bespoke experience at some point this starts to feel like a zero-sum game, we can adapt to the RWD concept to become future proof with non-fixed layouts for all browser agents. Although no design, fixed or fluid, scales beyond the context for which it was originally intended. CSS 2.1 to CSS 3 Style sheets have some measure of device awareness through media types. It should be noted that media queries have robust support among modern browsers, desktop browsers such as Safari 3+, Chrome, Firefox 3.5+, and Opera 7+ all natively parse media queries, as do more recent mobile browsers such as Opera Mobile and mobile WebKit. Of course, older versions of those desktop browsers do not support media queries.

How to Set the Viewport

Optimizing pages for a variety of devices must include a meta viewport tag in the header of the web page. A meta viewport tag gives the browser instructions on how to control the page’s dimensions and scaling. To provide the best experience, mobile browsers render the page at a desktop screen width (usually about 980-pixels, though varies across devices), and then try to make the content look satisfying by increasing font sizes and scaling content to fit the screen. This means that font sizes may appear inconsistent to users, who may have to double-tap or pinch-to-zoom in order to see and interact with content on the page.

 

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

Using the meta viewport value width=device-width instructs the page to match the screen’s width in device-independent pixels. This allows the page to reflow content to match different screen sizes, whether rendered on a small mobile phone or a large desktop monitor. Some browsers keep the page’s width constant when rotating to landscape mode and zoom rather than reflow to fill the screen. Adding the attribute initial-scale=1 instructs browsers to establish a 1:1 relationship between CSS pixels and device-independent pixels regardless of device orientation and allows the page to take advantage of the full landscape width.

How to Size Content to the Viewport

On both desktop and mobile devices, users are used to scrolling websites vertically but not horizontally; forcing the user to scroll horizontally or to zoom out in order to see the whole page results in poor user experience. When developing a mobile site with a meta viewport tag, it’s easy to accidentally create page content that doesn’t quite fit within the specified viewport. For example, an image that is displayed at a width wider than the viewport can cause the viewport to scroll horizontally. You should adjust this content to fit within the width of the viewport so that the user does not need to scroll horizontally. Since screen dimensions and width in CSS pixels vary widely between devices (for example, between phones and tablets, and even between different phones), content should not rely on a viewport width to render well. Setting large absolute CSS widths for page elements (such as the example below), cause the div to be too wide for the viewport on a narrower device (for example, a device with a width of 320 CSS pixels, such as an iPhone). Instead, consider using relative width values, such as width: 100%. Similarly, beware of using large absolute positioning values that may cause the element to fall outside the viewport on small screens.

Using CSS media queries for responsiveness

Media queries are simple filters that can be applied to CSS styles. They make it easy to change styles based on the characteristics of the device rendering the content, including the display type, width, height, orientation, and even resolution. In addition to using the media attribute in the style sheet link, there are two other ways to apply media queries that can be embedded in a CSS file: @media and @import. For performance reasons, either of the first two methods is recommended over the @import syntax. The logic that applies to media queries is not mutually exclusive, and for any filter meeting that criteria the resulting CSS block is applied using the standard rules of precedence in CSS.  Media queries enable us to create a responsive experience where specific styles are applied to small screens, large screens, and anywhere in between. The media query syntax allows for the creation of rules that can be applied depending on device characteristics. While there are several different items we can query on, the ones used most often for responsive web design are min-width, max-width, min-height, and max-height.

Responsive Web Design at Your Fingertips

Fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries are the three technical ingredients for responsive web design, but it also requires a different way of thinking. Instead of subjecting content into device-specific experiences, we can use media queries to progressively enhance our work within different viewing contexts. However, there might be a business side to separate sites geared toward specific devices; for example, if the functionality for your mobile site is to be more limited in scope than its desktop equivalent, then serving different content to each might be the best approach. Now more than ever that kind of design thinking doesn’t need to be our default. We’re designing work meant to be viewed along a gradient of different experiences. Responsive web design offers us a way forward, finally allowing web designers to “design for the future and flow of things”.

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