How to Make Your Website Responsive
The term “responsive web design” describes web sites that automatically adjust to fit any screen size, allowing the user to browse the site comfortably on any device.
Since the proliferation of mobile computing in the 2010s, designers and developers have focused on creating responsive web designs.
The need for responsive web design became apparent as audiences flocked to watch video content on the small screens of their mobile devices. In particular, TikTok, YouTube, and other platforms popularized short-form videos in a way that maximized their reach to mobile users.
With the rise of TikTok and other platforms that feature quick-loading, autoplay videos, designers sought a way to make their websites look good on small screens while still keeping content manageable.
Since then, mobile users have come to expect good performance and pleasant interfaces wherever they might be. Today, the need for responsive designs is more vital than ever.
New Technologies and Platforms
Over the past decade, the use of new technologies and platforms has enabled web designers to create more dynamic websites, easily adjusting to look good on all devices. These tools make it simpler for designers to create appealing, user-friendly interfaces regardless of the size of the screen.
For example, the Wix platform (wix.com) makes it simple to create a web store, featuring products that can be purchased online. Once the store is ready, it can be accessed from any device, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer.
Similarly, Square (square.com) recently launched a dedicated CMS (Content Management System) for creating websites. The company claims that Square CMS is the first truly mobile-first content management system. It allows for fast and easy editing of websites from any device.
These systems make it easy to create websites that look good on all screens, regardless of whether the user is on a small smartphone or tablet, or a large computer display.
The Benefits Of A Responsive Website
Apart from looking good on all devices, creating a responsive website offers several advantages.
For starters, users can access a website from any device, be it a smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer. This makes it much easier for potential customers to learn about your business and find the information they’re looking for.
Additionally, a responsive website automatically adapts to fit any screen size, ensuring that the user can always browse the site comfortably.
A well-executed mobile-first responsive website will appear almost exactly the same on any device. However, some elements may be slightly hidden, such as the navbar, which only appears when the screen is tapped or when it’s collapsed. Therefore, when a user encounters an unresponsive website while browsing on a mobile device, they may quickly become frustrated and leave the site in search of an alternative.
To avoid this, make sure that all the pages of your website load quickly and are of high quality. Avoid low-quality images and videos that may cause the web pages to load slowly. Another important factor to consider is mobile data. When users are on the go and trying to access data-heavy websites, they’ll want to avoid overage charges. Therefore, make sure that your website is mobile-friendly and doesn’t require a lot of data to load.
Where Do I Start?
If you’re looking to create a new website or you’re in the midst of redesigning an existing site, where do you start?
Designing a mobile-first responsive website is similar to designing any other type of website, except that you need to pay extra attention to the small screens of your mobile devices. Once you’ve settled on a content-heavy, blog-like format for your site, take a few days to design and test the layout on different devices, particularly the smaller ones. This will help ensure that the blog’s content looks good and that any navigation menus, sidebar, or other elements appear in the correct place.
As mentioned, making a website responsive involves ensuring that all the pages of your site load quickly and are of high quality. To do this, you must consider the following:
In addition to the content, you need to design the site to look good on all devices. Although it’s not always necessary to create separate mobile-specific websites for each user, it’s a good idea to do so. This ensures that, even when viewed on a small device, the web pages still appear to have enough room to accommodate the content.
When creating separate websites for different devices, it’s important to keep the type of content and the arrangement of the content similar between the devices. For example, if you have a blog post about fashion trends, you don’t want to separate the articles and have one appear on a mobile device and another on a laptop.
Depending on your expertise, you may want to consider using a dedicated developer to help you with the coding behind your website. If you’re not sure where to start, take a few days to study the code of existing, well-designed websites.
This will help you identify the various elements that make up a website. For example, the following code snippet makes up a basic navigation bar:
When viewing this code on a small screen, it’s easy to see that there’s a lot of white space surrounding the navigation bar. Additionally, the links in the bar are easily recognizable as they’re all sitting in a row. Therefore, this makes it look like a normal bar, the kind you might find at a traditional restaurant or bar.
As a beginner, it may be difficult to identify the various components of a website. To make it easier to follow, add a little bit of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to the code snippet. This is a type of ‘style sheet’ commonly used in web design to dictate the formatting of a website or app. Using CSS allows for easy customization of the formatting and appearance of a website. For example, I could make all the text in the blog post smaller and more closely spaced.
Before applying any CSS, take a few minutes to format the code so it looks like an actual website, featuring a blog post, product reviews, and shopping guide. Once you’ve done that, take a few more minutes to add some basic styling with the style sheet, such as background colors, fonts, and other appearance-related properties.
To ensure that the content looks good on all devices and that the layout adapts correctly, it’s important to test it out. While testing, it’s important to keep in mind that users will be accessing the site from different places and on different devices. Also, make sure to test the site on different browsers and devices.
As a beginner, it may be difficult to know where to start when it comes to testing a new website. To make it easier, I would recommend using a tool called ‘responsive web design mode’. This is a built-in feature of most web browsers that makes it easier for users to test out a site, particularly on mobile devices.
With this mode, all the pages of the site will display a series of four squares, as opposed to the normal three dots that you get when using a standard browser.
In the top left corner of the browser window, there will be a small picture of an eye, indicating that you’re in ‘responsive mode’. To exit the mode, click on the eye or press the escape key on your keyboard. This will reset the browser to its standard appearance.
Make It Mobile-friendly
As mentioned, mobile devices are used to access the internet and web browsers are built into these devices. Since mobile users are more likely to encounter unresponsive sites, it’s important that all the pages of your site load quickly and are of high quality.
To achieve this, create a separate mobile website featuring the same content as the standard website, but with the addition of media queries, which are instructions for specific devices. For example, you may want to hide the navigation bar on mobile phones so that only the content and a few essential elements appear. Additionally, you can use the viewport meta tag to make sure that the content fits the screen size of a particular device.