Responsive Web Design – The What and the How

by Thanh Pham | Aug 07, 2020 Responsive Web Design – The What and the How

The world is becoming increasingly reliant on the internet. Additionally, there is increased diversity among users regarding the devices and platforms they use to access the internet. Every year, new upgrades on devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktops, are launched. This transformation and continued innovation only increased the need for web design to adapt and function in different devices.

Responsive web design: What is it?

Put simply, responsive web design is a front-end web development process that entails molding the design and user experience to conform to the uniqueness of a user’s device. Essentially, the layout of your website should change based on the device size and capabilities. For instance, if a user accesses the web via a desktop, the content is shown in landscape layout. If accessed by mobile, the content is displayed in a column view; or two columns if it’s a tablet.

Why it matters

It is all about convenience for all and making your presence online visible to everyone. For web designers, it helps save time and energy of having to create websites for the different types of devices available today. For the website owner, it also saves costs by reducing web development to just one project.

Some of the benefits of responsive web design include:

  • Increased online presence: Regardless of whether a user accesses a site via their mobile phone, laptop or a full desktop screen, the website will be configured optimally to their specification. This creates unique convenience while improving the user experience. It also reduces the need for redirects that will send the user to friendlier versions of a site.
  • Reduced development time: Instead of creating multiple websites or stand-alone applications, you can save time and money by creating one responsive site that is accessible across all devices.
  • Faster and more responsive pages = more conversions: A responsive web page is faster and optimized for every device. This allows you to hold the attention of the users, thus increasing your conversion rates. Further, the better bounce rates and more reliable backlinks translate to higher ranking in the search engines and improved visibility.
  • Easier analytics reporting: It is easier to monitor and analyze user interactions with your site if you are focusing on one platform. Condensing and tracking your website data from a single source makes it easier to monitor your performance.

The key concepts of responsive web design

The design of your website should respond to the needs of your users. It is all about being adaptable. Here are some of the key foundational principles/concepts that form the core of responsive web design.

Screen Resolution

The first principle to focus on is ensuring the screen resolution adjusts automatically to unique device specifications. If the user is using a device with a wide screen, the site should change to landscape mode. If it is a narrow screen like that of a mobile device, it should automatically adjust to portrait mode.

The bottom line is, there are hundreds of devices with different screen sizes, resolutions, orientation and resolutions. Responsive web design makes your site viable regardless of the uniqueness of a user’s device. This means you should adopt fluid images, grids and layouts when mapping and putting your site together.

Resizing images

It is inevitable to have visuals (images, videos, charts) on your website. These visual elements should automatically adjust based on the screen resolution of a user’s device. One way to achieve this is by using high-quality images and setting them at maximum size. This way, the image will not get distorted when being scaled up or down as the website adjusts to the different screen orientations.

However, you should be careful not to use “heavy” images that will slow your site by increasing loading time. The whole concept of making your website responsive is improving its performance. Every added element or adjustment should feed to this primary objective. It is, therefore, essential to keep in mind that while the images used are meant for screens with large resolutions, the overall speed and responsiveness of your website will be affected when accessed via mobile devices.

Media Queries

These are perhaps the most exciting elements of responsive web design. They allow a web designer to build websites with multiple layouts but with the same HTML and CSS codes. Developers select a serving stylesheet based on browsing window size, screen resolution, color rendering, etc.

Practically, a designer can specify a width, which, when exceeded, the design of the site adjusts to conform to the new specifications.

The right website builder

Developers need to be equipped with the right tools and skills for creating a responsive website. The environment you choose and the tools at your disposal determine the extent to which you can modify a site and make it responsive. It would be best if you used a website builder that gives you maximum room for customization.

Realizing the fruits of a responsive web design

1.  Make “extreme” viewport sizes a priority

It is practically impossible to know the specific device specifications every unique user uses to access your size. To ensure your capture everyone, consider the smallest to the largest devices and ensure all your website is effectively responsive to all devices in that range. Luckily, most front-end frameworks perform automatic viewport resizing.

2.  Make everything flexible

The whole idea of responsive web design is making every element of your website flexible enough and easy to confirm with unique device specifications.

3.  Embrace feedback

The behaviors and preferences of users change rapidly, especially in today’s world where they have multiple alternatives. This only means that the web development process does not end, even if you feel like you have a decent and responsive website.

Always aim to better your design by getting feedback from users and other designers. Incorporate user preferences into the overall design of your website. Make them feel like you care. Create the best experience for them.


With the number of new devices growing daily, the future demands that all websites adopt a responsive design. With the emergence of technologies such as Augment Reality and Virtual Reality, the limits to the benefits of responsive web design are yet to be discovered. It only makes sense that as the revolution happens, you and your business/brand are not left behind.

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