4 min read

Beginners Guide to Responsive Web Design in 2022

With a whole new array of devices, keeping up with the endless new resolutions and creating new versions of your website for every device is extremely impractical. Which is where responsive design comes in. Responsive Web Design is an approach that says that the design and development of a website should respond to user behaviour based on where they are using the website and based on screen size, platform and orientation. 

The implementation of responsive web design is by using a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and a smart use of CSS media queries. So for example when the user switches from their laptop to their iPad, the website should automatically switch to factor in for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. In other words, the website should have the ability to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. This would cut down on the time required for the design and development of each device available on the market. 

But responsive web design is more than just adjustable screen resolutions and automatically resizable images. It’s a whole new way of thinking.

Let’s look at easy ways in which you as a designer can create responsive design. 

1. Adjusting screen resolution & having flexible layouts

Flexible layouts
Flexible layouts

With the variety of screen sizes, resolutions and orientations available in the market, designing for the hundreds of different screen is essential. Designers should design for both landscape and portrait and also enable those orientations to switch in an instant depending on how the user is holding their device. 

Creating custom solutions for each kind of device is not the solution. Rather designers need to focus on creating flexible layouts with images that can be automatically adjusted and create workarounds so that layouts don’t break. While its not a perfect solution, its gives designers far more options. It’s perfect for devices that switch from the portrait orientation to landscape instantly or for when users switch from a large computer screen to an iPad.

For responsive web design to be truly effective, it isn’t just about plugging in a few features. There needs to also be a shift in thinking.

2. Flexible images

Flexible image
Flexible image

A major problem that needs to be solved with responsive Web design is working with images. There are many techniques to properly resize images and most of them are not too hard to implement. While resizing images for mobile devices is fairly easy, if the original image size is meant for large devices, it can significantly slow down download times and take up a lot of unnecessary space that could hamper with load times. 

3. Custom layout structures

Layout structure
Layout structure

For more drastic size changes, you may have to change the layout altogether. This can either be done through a separate style sheet or more efficiently through a CSS media query.

This doesn’t need to be too problematic either. Most styles can remain the same, while style sheets that are specific can move elements around with floats, widths, heights and so on.

4. Choosing what content to show or hide

Content
Content

Sometimes it is possible to shrink things proportionally and rearrange elements to make everything fit. But sometimes this may not always be the answer. For mobile devices, its always better to have simpler navigation, more focused content and lists or row instead of multiple columns.

Responsive web design isn’t just about creating flexible layouts on a wide range of platforms and screen sizes, its also about allowing the user to pick and choose content. Fortunately CSS allows designers to show and hide content with ease. With the ability to easily show and hide content, rearrange layout elements and automatically resize images, form elements and more, a design can be transformed to fit a huge variety of screen sizes and device types.

5. Touchscreens vs. Cursors

Touch screens

Touchscreens are becoming increasingly possible. Not just mobile devices, larger screens too have touchscreen functionality. Touchscreens come with different design guidelines compared to purely cursor based interaction and the both of them have different capabilities as well. But it is fairly simple to create a design that works for both. Most touchscreen based interactions will not impair cursor based usability. Therefore designers can implement responsive design principles for touch screen capable devices that won’t have any impact on devices that are not touch screen responsive.

Conclusion

There are an endless number of options available today for Web design and development. Therefore designers need to be prepared and start designing for the future right now. With a few simple principles designers can learn how to make a design responsive for the user, and save themselves the stress and hassle for learning how to design and code for every single design available. 

Custom solutions can be made possible with responsive Web design that can create custom solutions for a wider range of users, on a wider range of devices. 

But designers will also need to constantly work with new devices, resolution and technologies to continuously improve user experience. 

Published by Ravina Malik

Sr. Visual Designer

Ravina

Ravina Malik Sr. Visual Designer