Everywhere you go; there is talk of responsive web design (RWD). This technique has revolutionized the way we design websites. The focus of today’s designers is on creating fluid layouts that render effectively on devices of all screen sizes and resolutions. With the increasing popularity and rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, users have started accessing the World Wide Web through their mobile devices. As a result, the nature of the web itself has changed. All websites now need to be accessible through these devices, and they must display the same visual consistency and functionality across all devices. This is only possible by using responsive web design.
Even newbies have to hit the ground running with these designing techniques, because clients are naturally going to expect their website designs to be responsive, owing to its many benefits. Newbies cannot hide behind the fact that they have just started designing websites and therefore can be forgiven for their lack of knowledge of responsive web design.
This article is aimed at freshos and takes a look at 5 fundamentals of RWD that must be kept in mind at all costs. This will help them create cutting edge responsive websites that meet precise client requirements.
1. Focus on Content Organization
One of the most important aspects of designing responsive layouts is prioritizing content for different screen sizes. This is because what a user considers important as far as content is concerned depends on the context and situation. For instance, if a user is opening your website on mobile, he might find location based information important, but this information won’t be so important when he opens your website on a desktop. You need to prioritize your content because the screen of devices limits the amount of content you can display to the user. So, make sure you have important information covered and ignore the non-essentials.
2.Get Some Hands-On Experience of HTML5, CSS3 and Media Queries
There are three primary elements of RWD:
Media queries and media query listeners
A flexible grid based layout
Flexible images and media
Before you actually take up client work, you must get some practical experience under your belt as far as the use of HTML5, and CSS3 and Media Queries are concerned. That’s because primarily it is these technologies that will allow you to put all these elements in place while designing your responsive layout.
You will need a clear idea of how to go about structuring HTML5 for responsive websites and ensuring that flexibility is the top priority of the design. Something else that you need to be proficient in is writing CSS that begins with defining shared styles and moves on to building up styles for larger screens (this is in case you use the mobile-first approach for responsive web design).
As can be imagined, don’t take the risk of breaking your RWD teeth on client projects; practice on mock projects first, earn expertise and only then get to work on client projects.
3. Screen Resolution As Important As Screen Size
In the quest to design flexible layout that fits into different screen sizes, it’s important not to lose sight of the screen resolution. Manufacturers keep increasing the amount of pixels per inch for the screen resolution of each new device that enters the market. The pixel wars, if we can call them that, have just started and the one-upmanship characterized by improving screen resolutions is not going to end anytime soon. So, newbies mustn’t forget designing for different screen resolutions, and while this can be a daunting task, it can be simplified with the use of scalable vector graphics.
4. Take Expert Help Whenever Possible
Can this be categorized as an RWD fundamental? I say yes, but you might have a different opinion on it. The reason why I have made this a part of the listed fundamentals is that, RWD is not easy. Mistakes are common and it’s only experienced designers and people who know conventional web design inside out that will help you come out of the mess that you might find yourself in. Don’t stop yourself from taking one-on-one guidance from expert developers. You can even take the help of various discussion forums on the web, if you have doubts about certain aspects of responsive designing.
5. Identify and Use RWD Tools
On occasions, you might not have the time to build your RWD from scratch. In such a scenario, RWD tools are of great help. Knowledge of such tools is necessary because they help you create efficient design in quick time. One of the errors that newbies make is that they are so consumed by the need to learn more and more about a process that they forget to see that there are options available that simplify the use of that process. As an RWD newbie, you mustn’t make this mistake. Learn all you can about RWD, but don’t shy away from using some of the better tools available on the market that will make your job a whole lot simpler. Tools like a Bootstrap, Gridset, Adaptive Images, and Responsive Design Testing make for great picks.
The idea behind this post was not to take you noobs through technical fundamentals, but rather expose you to a cross section of fundamentals that you’d otherwise ignore. Hope these help you tackle RWD with confidence and come up with some amazing designs!