Most people access the web via their smartphones, tablets, etc. Gone are the days when all of us used only our desktops or laptops to surf the web. As a result, websites must be able to accommodate a majority of devices if they want to rank in the search engines, especially Google.
As the main search engine in the world, Google regularly decides what elements create the best sites and cater to site users. If you have a website or a blog, you’ll need to be aware that Google has determined that all sites need to use responsive web design that work across all devices. In fact, Google can make a determination on where your site ranks in the online world. We’ll get to that later.
Just be aware that responsive design is what your site needs in order to rank well in the search engines and receive a good number of visitors.
What is Responsive Design?
Responsive web design is a type of web development that allows content to be rendered on the device on which it’s being viewed. In other words, responsive design means that a site will make the content fit your screen size, whatever that happens to be. If you’re viewing the site on your phone and your laptop at the same time, it should look almost the same, though the site’s elements (images, columns, etc.) will adjust and the layout will shrink to accommodate both of your screens.
For example, text should be readable (without the need to zoom), and you shouldn’t have to scroll horizontally, etc.
In the past, web designers built more than one site—one site might be static, and the other(s) would be designed with mobile devices in mind. However, with responsive design, now it’s only necessary to create up to three sites that works for all screen sizes.
Why is Responsive Design Important?
For one thing, you don’t have to create more than three site these days. Responsive design takes away the need to configure extra websites that can accommodate all devices and screen sizes. It would be impossible to do this, in fact!
With responsive design, you can develop a site especially for your target audience. This means it’s possible to figure out which device is most popular with your audience, and then design the site according to these specs. You’ll gain more traffic if your site works well with your audience’s preferred device(s).
And don’t forget that your website will rank higher in the search engines if it has a responsive design. If you want more traffic, then great content and responsive design will keep you at the top of the search results.
How to Decide Which Screens to Design For?
That’s a tough question which has literally thousands of answers. Consider the number of mobile devices and screens people use these days. Let that number sink and you’ll see the problem—it’s impossible to choose just one.
The solution is to design at least 3 different layouts to fit different screen/browser widths. The most common screen dimensions include these:
- Large: over 900 pixels for desktops and laptops.
- Medium: 600 pixels to 900 pixels for tablets, large smartphones and netbook computers.
- Small: under 600 pixels to accommodate most phones.
Be sure to keep the same text and graphic elements and make sure they work on these three screen sizes. Again, content should be readable even on small screens (without zooming in).
Keep These Things in Mind
When designing a responsive site, be sure to keep these things in mind:
1). Design at least 3 versions: as we discussed above, make sure to design at least three versions of your site. This way your content will display correctly and comfortably on most devices.
2). Navigation: keep navigation simple for mobile devices. Most people are used to the “hamburger” menu, for instance, or drop-down menus, etc. Just keep it clean and easy to use, otherwise site visitors will quickly become frustrated and leave for the next website.
3). Engagement: another important aspect of responsive design is layout hierarchy. Keep in mind that using a mobile device is more focused than on a larger device. You’ll also have to deal with limited space. Make sure the layout is appropriate for your site’s content and keep navigation simple and logical.
4). Remember user experience: don’t forget to keep your user’s experience in mind—from the type of device they prefer, etc. Make sure that information is easy to find, even when using a mobile device.
5). Avoid designing for the latest gadgets: we’ve already discussed the fact that it’s impossible to create versions of your site for every device in existence. This also applies to the latest gadgets. Remember to keep your user in mind when designing your site. Make it easy for them to access the content on their preferred device(s).
6). Flexible images: images are important content on your site. You’ll need to consider how the image will scale when viewed on large or small devices. The coding will help images to scale by a certain percentage to the width of the browser. Be sure to test how images look across each screen size you design for.
Helpful Tools for Responsive Design
When it comes to tools for responsive design, here’s what you’ll need:
Your devices: this is obvious, but if you’re like most people, you probably have more than one device, such as a laptop, smartphone and/or a tablet. Use these to preview and check your site across screen sizes. . This way, you’ll be able to view your site as a user and check their experience when interacting with your site. Be sure to watch for problems or inconsistencies.
Your web browser: is another obvious tool to use. In fact, you might be able to install several web browsers and compare how your site looks and acts in each one. Another excellent way to gauge site visitors’ experience with your website.
Fluid grids: this is a design element that uses percentage values, rather than pixels. Using fluid grids allows the design elements of your site to resize in relation to one another. A good one to check out is One% CSS Grid.
Google’s resizer: this is a free tool that quick and easy to use to preview your site across multiple devices. You can use this in addition to your own browsers. It’s a great way to see how the site looks on more than the devices you own.
Media queries: is a type of code that allows the design to adapt to screens of all sizes. Content is automatically resized on smaller screens.
While it may seem complicated and difficult to design for so many different devices, with these tips, you should have no trouble. Just keep your site users’ device preference in mind, do a lot of testing to make sure the site renders correctly on different devices. And keep your site clean and easy to navigate. The search engines will be happy and rank the website higher, and you’ll receive more traffic, too.