What Does A Responsive Website Mean and Why Does It Matter?

A responsive website refers to a web design practice that aims to create websites and pages display their content correctly on all devices and screen sizes. This approach consists of many aspects, including flexible grids and layouts, correct use of images, and appropriate CSS attributes. When a website has a responsive design, a user who switches from laptop to tablet mode should see their website experience switch automatically to accommodate the resolution, size, and scripting abilities of the mode they are using.

A seamless user experience depends on how responsive your website is. For example, if you build your website on a desktop, but fail to optimize the experience for mobile users, people who find your website while on a smartphone will have difficulty seeing and navigating your site. Maybe you have a photo gallery with three columns that display nicely on a PC but don’t meet the size capabilities for an iPhone. Instead, mobile users should see content in single rows while tablets and PCs may display content in multiple rows. 

Your website is your first impression for many people. The more enjoyable and simple a user’s experience is on your website, the more likely they are to stay on your website, read your content, and consider making a purchase or contacting you for a service. Consider your personal experiences with websites, for example. Wouldn’t you rather spend time on a website that loads quickly, displays correctly on your phone, and just works well overall? Of course, you would – and your potential customers do, too.

It’s important to know how to create a responsive website not only to fit the needs of your website visitors but also to relieve developers and designers from having to create multiple websites for each different type of device. Instead, a responsive design makes everyone’s lives easier. Not only that, but Google actually considers whether or not a website is mobile-friendly when collecting information for its algorithm, so having a non-responsive website can actually hurt your SEO and marketing efforts as a whole. 

If you’re looking to impress potential customers, save time on web design, and improve your search rankings, it is in your best interest to create a responsive design.

How To Create A Responsive Website

Now that you know why having a responsive design is vital for any business owner’s website, it’s time to learn what makes a website responsive.

Use a Fluid Grid Layout

One of the easiest ways to create a responsive website is to use a fluid grid layout. These grid-based layouts better adapt to different types of screens and devices, so minimal adjustments are needed on your part to make your website responsive. Rather than having to make adjustments yourself, the proportions of the content on your website will depend on how large or how small the user’s screen is.

Responsive grids are usually divided into several columns where the heights and widths are automatically scaled depending on the type of device being used. Fluid grids use percentages to determine the widths of columns, so this eliminates the need for a painfully long scroll-bar. Instead, columns will become smaller or larger, or stacked on top of one another, depending on the viewing device.

Take our digital marketing services page, for example. When viewed on a desktop, the services are layed out in three columns.

When viewed on mobile, however, the columns automatically adjust to the size of the screen and shift to single-column format.

While we often think of mobile responsiveness when talking about responsive design, it’s important to note that not only are mobile devices getting smaller, but desktops are getting wider, so you must accommodate both large and small screen sizes. One advantage of fluid grids is that by adjusting the max-width element, your website proportions will flow naturally whether it is being viewed on a smaller or larger screen. The rules for fluid grid layouts can be customized by modifying your website’s CSS framework.

Optimize Your Website For Small Screens

Your website is going to look different on a smartphone than it does on a desktop. This is because responsive website design isn’t about replicating your website on different devices – it is about providing the best possible user experience. Sometimes, this means certain aspects of your website may need to be left out when someone views your site on a small screen.

Take our navigation menu, for instance. When viewed on a desktop or laptop, our navigation bar appears across the top of the screen.

However, when displayed on a small screen, there isn’t enough room to have a full-width navigation bar without forcing the user to scroll endlessly on their phone. Instead, many developers will condense their menu items into a smaller button that expands when a user is ready to use the navigation bar. This way, the menu doesn’t take up too much space and your website is more mobile-friendly. 

When viewing our website on an iPhone, the menu can be viewed by clicking the three lines at the top right corner. In turn, this opens up the menu so users can navigate the site.

Make it Touchscreen Friendly

Touchscreens aren’t limited to just iPhones and Androids anymore. In fact, most modern laptops and even desktops are equipped with touchscreen capabilities. As a result, it is crucial to create your website with both mouse and touchscreen website visitors in mind. Here are a few basic rules to keep in mind for a touchscreen-friendly interface:

  • Place clickable items far enough apart. Whether it is a list of links or a drop-down menu, if buttons are too close together, people will struggle to tap on the right one. Instead, consider styling these forms with larger text or buttons, or add more space in between them. For example, you may want to consider increasing the padding between navigation items or links by 5-10px or more.
  • Be able to accommodate different types of interactions. When using a touchscreen, there is no mouse. So, your website needs to know the difference between a tap and a gesture. A tap means someone is clicking on a button, whereas a gesture means they may be scrolling down the page. If your website thinks a person is clicking every time they try to scroll down the page, you have a problem.
  • Keep links and clickable areas to the left of the browser. The majority of people are right-handed and scroll on the right side of the screen. It can be annoying to accidentally click a link while scrolling on a page, so move your links to the left side of the page to further convenience your users.

Use Appropriate Image Sizing

Images have fixed dimensions and, if an image is larger than the given viewport (a tag that instructs browsers on how to control the dimensions and scaling of a page), it won’t display the image correctly. Instead, the browser will display part of the image and a scrollbar, requiring users to scroll in order to view the rest of the image. This is tedious and disrupts the user experience.

Image sizing is one of the most difficult aspects to focus on when trying to create a responsive website design. In order to make images the appropriate size, you will have to set rules in your CSS to determine how images are displayed on different screens. For example, a common way to fix this is to give all images a max-width of 100%. In doing so, images will shrink or stretch to fill the space they have available without displaying incorrectly.

Consider a Premade Theme

If you’re like most people and aren’t a designer by nature, you may need a little help in making your website responsive. Fortunately, there are thousands and thousands of pre-made themes and layouts you can choose from that are already designed to be responsive. The only thing you will have to worry about is customizing the colors, content, and images to accurately reflect your website.

WordPress, for example, as numerous free and paid pre-designed themes that you can choose from. However, if you’re looking for a custom-built website that is mobile friendly and uniquely represents your brand, you may want to leave the web design to the experts.

Why You Should Leave Responsive Web Design to the Experts

If you have little to no experience using WordPress or any other website platform, you may find it particularly difficult to accomplish these tasks. Or, you may want a custom-built website that better reflects your business. Rather than risking doing the job wrong or cutting corners, you can benefit from hiring an expert to handle your responsive design.

Having a website that is responsive is critical for long-term success. As time passes, screens will continue to evolve and new devices will come out in the market. When you hire an expert, you can be sure that no matter what new technology comes along, your site will respond flawlessly to the dimensions and resolution of the device.

Let Stodzy Create a Responsive Website on Your Behalf

When you hire Stodzy for your website design company, we will create your website to be responsive from the get-go. We’ll save you time and money so you won’t have to worry about redesigning your website to be mobile or tablet friendly. Our team of expert web developers pride themselves on building or redesigning the perfect website for your business – handling every aspect of your website from start to finish.

If you’re interested in making your website responsive, reach out to one of our experts at Stodzy today for a free site audit and no-obligation quote.

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    Tim Stoddart

    Tim Stoddart is the CEO of Stodzy Internet Marketing. He lives in Nashville with his wife and hit adorable pitbull, Alice. Tim loves to write about digital marketing and personal growth. You can learn more at TimStodz.com

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