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Responsive web design allows the appearance of a website, web shop or web application to change in a dynamic way.
What is responsive web design?
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach used when developing a web environment. Responsive design ensures that the appearance of a website, web shop or web application changes in a dynamic way. This does depend entirely on the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it. For example, a PC screen will display a responsive design completely differently than a responsive design on a smartphone. Responsive web design is an approach that answers the problem of some designs. Responsive web design does this by adapting to the different devices available at the time. So this can range from small smartphones to large desktop monitors.
How does responsive web design work?
Responsive design uses what are called breakpoints. These help determine the layout of the Web environment based on the screen size on which it is displayed. Above a breakpoint, one specific design is used and below that breakpoint another design is placed. The breakpoints base themselves primarily on the width at which the browser can display. The layout of these designs does remain completely the same on all different devices. It is only the layout that is modified to change the appearance of the Web environment.
So with responsive design, page elements are actually just rearranged so that it is conveniently viewed on the desired device. For example, images may appear in a different place within your web environment. Or if you have multiple columns of text, this is reduced. Here, responsive design relies on proportions indicated by a grid. Within this, you can arrange content and other design elements.
What is important when using responsive web design?
It is good to keep in mind that responsive design also allows you to display certain items on smaller screens with it. So it is not just a good way to provide equal access to information. They are often items, such as background images, secondary content or additional navigation. The decision to hide this content and other items or change the appearance of a page should all be based on knowledge about your users and their wants and needs.
Because the design is not tied to a particular device with responsive web design, the design actually just resizes. Elements are thus displayed larger or smaller. In addition, they are also placed in a random order. This makes it better to implement responsive design on a website that focuses on content rather than functionality. Complex data or interactions can be difficult to implement while maintaining clarity and functionality.
How do you create a usable experience with responsive Web design?
Because responsive design relies on moving elements around on a page, it requires design and development to work closely together to ensure a usable experience across devices. Responsive design, then, often turns into solving a puzzle. This is because you have to completely reorganize elements on larger pages so that the elements fit on thinner and longer pages. Making sure elements fit within a given page is insufficient for successful responsive design. For responsive design to succeed, the design must be fully usable on all screen resolutions and all screen sizes.
As elements move across the page, so does the user experience. The user experience may differ in terms of different views. Therefore, it is very important that design and development teams work together to determine the arrangement of content. In addition, it is also important to see what the end result looks like with the moving elements. This way, they can also have an idea about how this can affect the user experience.
This is why many teams also look at popular responsive design frameworks, an example of which is Bootstrap, which can help in creating designs. In doing so, such frameworks can also be a great help in getting development going. This does require careful consideration of how the framework will respond to the content and functionality of your website, not just how the website works in general.
To get an indication about the user experience, we recommend running usability tests on the responsive designs. In addition, it is also good to test the responsive designs on different platforms. It can sometimes be hard enough to design a website that is usable on a desktop. So it can then be even more difficult to design a website that is usable on the different screen sizes. The same design element that may work on a desktop may work terribly on a smartphone, or vice versa.
Why is content important in responsive web design?
Content is an important aspect to keep in mind when applying responsive design properly. After all, on a large desktop monitor, a lot more content is now visible without having to scroll compared to the small screen of a smartphone. Therefore, it is slightly easier for users of a desktop monitor to look around the page to discover what they are looking for. On a smartphone, users often have to scroll endlessly to discover the interesting content they wanted. So it is important to prioritize content. Because by doing so, you will help your users find what they are looking for.
Why is responsive web design important?
Responsive design can also affect the performance of your website. Not every device can handle the same heavy architecture. Therefore, there is a big difference between a large-screen desktop and a small-screen smartphone. In addition, you should also think about the Internet connection. When you are testing out responsive design, you are probably in the office with an excellent network connection. However, this is not true in all situations. So think of alternatives and make sure your responsive design does not reduce the performance of your website. It is not nice when downloading a file from your website takes ten times longer for a smartphone user compared to a desktop user. So test this in all possible situations and be prepared!
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