Responsive websites are a hot topic these days, with the increase in smart phone usage and the popularity of tablets and other mobile devices. Responsive web design is a technique to website design which makes certain web pages render correctly on various screen sizes and browser or web page platforms. In a way this makes the site responsive to the actual user’s view of the page, rather than just assuming they will see it in whatever size browser they happen to be using at that moment. More recent work also takes the viewer’s proximity into account as part of the viewing context. This basically means that if the user is on the road traveling from point A to point B, the web page is being downloaded and viewed in its proper context on a retina screen in that exact resolution.
The need for responsive websites became especially pressing after Apple released their iPhone 4, with everything available instantly on the phone’s screen. This meant that the site had to be built and designed to match the specific needs of this new device, as well as taking into account the different layouts that would look good on this new medium of communication. There were certain fundamental issues which came up with a responsive web design, which had been ignored at their peril. These issues have now been addressed with modern responsive websites. This article briefly covers some of these issues, giving an idea of how they can help us make the web more mobile and attractive.
When it was first developed, responsive web design was quite well suited to desktop computers with simpler browsing environments. However, the arrival of smart phones with cameras and other wireless devices has changed the landscape drastically. Now smart phones have the ability to access a wide range of media content, which can include anything from images to video to creative designs. For this reason, responsive websites must also take into account the layout of the site across these various devices, in order to best serve the user’s needs.
To address this issue, developers started to implement media queries into their responsive websites. Media queries are a way of telling the website designer what kinds of media content the device can handle, and what kind of layout the site should use. For instance, if a user is viewing a website with a lot of white space, then there may be a problem with downloading and viewing the graphics, because not all devices can display them well. Media queries let you specify what kinds of elements should be rendered, so that the graphics and other content can fit exactly into the available space, without having to create separate layout elements for every device.
Although media queries are very helpful in providing a fluid browsing experience, they have one major flaw. They only work for a particular layout of a site, not across the entire responsive website. So if you created a responsive website using fluid layout but used media queries to enforce certain elements only, then when the user tries to view the website on an iPhone, she will see the regular layout and won’t be able to access your responsive website at all. In fact, this could be a very annoying experience for your user – she would simply be annoyed because she couldn’t fully explore your site, and you wouldn’t be able to provide a great browsing experience to her.
To solve this issue, developers began to use flexible text. With flexible text, you can set the size and width of the text without changing the layout of the web page. For instance, if a user is viewing your site using an iPhone, then she doesn’t want to see a wide open space where she can scroll through your website. She doesn’t want to see white spaces, either, because it might distract her from your content. With flexible text, you can set a size for the text and have it fill the available space where you want it to.
Flexible text also offers another big advantage over media queries. Whenever a device has a low DPI, then having a lot of white space may cause your site to look boring and unappealing to the eyes. With responsive websites, you can easily control how big or small you want the white space to be and still achieve a great viewing experience on your responsive websites. However, media queries aren’t supported on all devices, which means that you need to test each website on multiple DPI display monitors so that you can ensure that your media queries work the way they should on each different device.
When it comes to designing responsive websites, the most important thing to remember is that you need to think about the user experience before anything else. First, focus on improving the overall user experience of your responsive website design. Second, focus on making your website accessible across as many device types as possible. Finally, focus on making your website as accessible as possible to a broad range of users, including those with disabilities and those who use mobile search. As long as you take the time to focus on these three things, you’ll be able to create amazing responsive websites that will delight both your regular customers and your more specialized visitors. Happy responsive website designing!