User experience can either make or break a website. Just take your own online experiences, for example. Would you bother exploring or revisiting a website that’s slow to load or flat out refuses to work on your mobile device?
You won’t, right?
This is just one of the reasons why your business needs to adopt a responsive web design – if you haven’t yet, that is.
What is Responsive Design and Why Does It Matter?
Responsive design is one of, if not the most, popular web design trends these days, and for good reason. A design approach that’s centred on user experience, responsive web design aims to provide users with the same high-quality website experience across different devices and platforms.
Essentially, it’s a way of putting together a website so that its contents and elements automatically adapt to the screen from which it is viewed, regardless of whether they’re accessing the page from a desktop computer or a smartphone.
With mobile traffic accounting for more than 56% of all online searches, it’s in your business’s best interests to invest in a responsive website. You can’t just serve your mobile visitors’ website pages designed for desktop, can you?
The best thing about responsive web design, though, is that it eliminates the need to develop countless versions of a website to suit different devices. A responsive website scales up or down to match the device’s screen size and deliver the optimal viewing experience.
7 Responsive Design Techniques and Best Practices
There’s more to responsive web design than just scaling websites to fit various screens. It’s about delivering one website in countless ways while ensuring an optimal user experience.
And while it takes an expert web developer to build a proper responsive website, these 7 responsive web design best practices will give you an idea of what needs to be done:
1. Device Adaptability
There’s a clear distinction between mobile-friendly websites and responsive websites. A mobile-friendly website functions well on mobile devices but appears and functions the same way regardless of the device.
A truly responsive website, however, adapts every on-site element (page width, headlines, images, icons, etc.) to the size of the screen. Every aspect of the website’s markup is context-aware and matches the scale of the user’s device.
2. Simpler Navigation
Navigation is another vital aspect of website design. Websites that are difficult to navigate tend to have high abandonment rates.
Website navigation should change based on the device for a frictionless experience. Hover menus, for example, work well on desktops but aren’t a feasible option for touchscreen devices.
Ideally, your visitors should be able to figure out where to click next the moment they land on your website. Keep your primary navigation menus simple and your links clear. Hamburger menus, dropdown selections, and expandable/collapsible fields work best for mobile devices.
3. Easy-to-Find CTAs
The ultimate goal of every business website is to convert visitors. This is where call-to-actions come in.
One aspect of website design that’s often overlooked is CTA placement, especially on mobile devices where space is an issue. CTAs must be clear, compelling, and easy to find to drive people to take action. Rather than making buttons and clickable texts smaller on mobile, make them larger and more obvious. Visitors shouldn’t have to scroll or navigate to find your main CTA.
4. Scalable Vector Graphics
Scalable Vector Graphics, more commonly known as SVGs, are a must-have for websites that utilize icons and illustrations.
One major advantage of SVGs over JPG and PNG files is that they are resolution-independent. SVGs retain the same quality regardless of the size or resolution of the screen. Computer-generated graphics in SVG format will remain ultra-sharp across devices, so pixelation is going to be the least of your worries.
5. Clean Typography
You should pay close attention to the legibility of your website, especially when designing for mobile. Remember that effective web design is 95% typography. If users have to squint to read the stuff written on your website, they’re most likely not going to stick around.
Balance is key when selecting typefaces and font sizes for your website. Also, avoid chunky blocks of content and keep your font selection to a minimum for an optimal reading experience. Using more than two different fonts will make the page look noisy and crowded.
6. Strategic Use of Whitespaces
White spaces allow you content to breathe and makes your web pages look more organized.
The strategic use of white space can have a huge impact on small screens. Simple things like adjusting the margin, line spacing, and padding of your text can help minimize clutter, improve the readability of your content, and elevate your website’s aesthetics.
7. Design for Thumbs
When designing a responsive website, you have to bear in mind that desktop users will likely interact with your content via clicks, while mobile users tap and swipe. This difference alone changes the way you design the experience.
On desktops, menus are typically placed on top, where they’re easier to see. On mobile devices, however, menus and interactive website elements should be at the bottom or near the centre of the screen where they’re easier to reach.
Responsive Web Design is Here To Stay
Responsive design isn’t some fleeting trend, but rather a long-term strategy that’s necessary for the growth of your brand and the satisfaction of your consumers. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to future-proof your website.
Devices and screens will continue to evolve, and your website has to evolve with them.