What is responsive web design? Basic things you must know

Programming

a year ago

Everyone may find a comprehensive definition of Responsive Web Design on Wikipedia. However, we want to put this concept in a nutshell avoiding multi-clauses sentences.

What does responsive web design mean?

The responsive web design is the form of a CSS/HTML technique to make up a website visual part which is shown compatible with all devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, gadgets, and even TV-screens. This approach makes navigation and multimedia on a site convenient and good-looking for devices with all possible screens resolutions.

The responsive web design becomes increasingly important because much online traffic falls to mobile browsing, and we see the tendency has been dramatically strengthening for many years.

How does it work?

There are some key elements letting the responsive design represent high-quality interaction and usability of sites. It uses:

  • fluid grids;
  • flexible images;
  • CSS3 language;
  • CSS3 media queries.

1. A flexible, grid-based template is the basis on which a page “extends” or “shrinks”. The fluid grid is a flexible network which uses percentages throughout the markup as units, unlike ordinary layouts that have pixels or points as units.

2. Flexible images are sized in relative units rather than in absolute ones like the mentioned pixels and points. It keeps the images within its containing elements.

3. CSS3 or Cascading Style Sheets 3 is a digital language with the use of a markup language describing that part of a web page which is visible for users.

4. Media queries represent a CSS3 module which lets content adapt to a screen resolution. With the help of the media queries a page uses various CSS rules complied to the characteristics of a browser.

It is web design basics for a responsive website.

What are the benefits of a responsive website?

The site with a flexible layout isn’t a rare thing on the Internet these days; however, a lot of web resources are still static.

What is a responsive site and which advantages does it actually have? Understanding of the concept is very important with regard to SEO, as Google (and other search engines) rates responsive sites higher in search results.

The major advantages of responsive design are:

  • high usability for both desktop and mobile devices;
  • mobile friendly parameters improve search engine ratings;
  • responsive design doesn’t require elaborate changes in design, navigation, etc.
  • the minimum scrolling compulsion.

What is a responsive website in terms of the developers’ experience?

Likewise ordinary web design, the “rubber” one utilizes the combination of HTML/CSS. The major difference is tags and attributes applied to manipulate contents, e.g. to resize, move, hide, enlarge, or shrink it. Nevertheless, there is a specialized method in the CSS framework to produce the responsive web design, and it has an appropriate designation – a responsive stylesheet. An example of it is W3.CSS.

In fact, W3.CSS is similar to CSS, yet it has built-in responsiveness. It allows to create responsive web pages swiftly digesting the rules of the framework. This markup language subtype opens for use three classes of itself:

  • the W3-half class uses half of the screen field;
  • the W3-third uses 33.33%;
  • and W3-quarter makes it with a quarter of the field.

Besides, the framework changes contents to display them correctly on mobile devices with small, medium, or large screens using a twelve column fluid grid.

A web developer has to design a changeable layout which, for instance, will render contents within one column on a desktop computer, but in two columns on a tablet. There are a lot of tags and attributes applied for this purpose. And it would take much practice for a beginner to efficiently attain all the techniques.

Yet, if it’s so cool, why aren’t all sites with the responsive web design?

First of all, a “rubber” site costs more than its static analogue, as it requires a higher level of the developers’ qualification, and a longer development course.

In some cases, stakeholders decide to build both a desktop and a mobile version, which implies a relatively big number of differences between these two, as a mobile version requires more saving approach to the content management.

There is also one more significant reason to defy the responsive web design. Mobile applications provide a higher level of usability for certain types of platforms, as they simplify online purchases and happen to be faster. If the major objective of going mobile is to sell, probably, a mobile app is a choice.

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