Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design and Fluid Development has opened up an ever evolving digital space that allows devices of all resolutions, screen sizes and orientations to display the same web page, whilst maintaining it’s design styles.

In this ever-evolving world, technological changes are happening every day — this is why there is an even greater need for responsive web design.

Our modern devices like tablets, phones, and smartwatches are now adapting to the lives we lead and the accessibility we prefer.

Responsive Web Design Graphic

Explicitly focusing on this gradual shift towards virtual shopping, social interaction, and other kinds of online activities such as virtual reality.

Data shows that 76% of all adults in the US shop online, at least once a month. Which is also the reason behind a rise in adaptive websites and e-stores that can be used on any platform.

“If your site is not mobile-friendly, there is a 40% chance your users will switch to a competitor website.”

Consumers are expecting to easily access anything, and everything right from their fingertips via their laptops, PC, smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets.

Not only this, but they’re operating from multiple devices meaning more browser window sizes, a large portion of shoppers uses more than 1 device to complete a transaction.

51.3% of internet users worldwide operate mobile and tablets, whilst only 48.7% use desktops.“

This is why businesses who want a website are now looking for mobile versions. Adaptive web design makes all kinds of websites fit the kind of device you view it on using CSS.

Mobile Internet Usage Graph

Having a website for each device, screen resolution and make and model is nearly impossible, not to mention completely unrealistic.

A responsive web design fits better to the user experience and maximises the practical use of the interface without needing multiple sites or variations of. It’s important to design responsive experiences whether doing a mobile game, website or application.

As of July 1, 2019, Google announced a rollout they called “Mobile-First Indexing“ which changes the industry completely. As of right now, your mobile site is what Google ranks you based on. If you’re not yet mobile, your chances are slim, to none.

What is Responsive Design

Each device runs seamlessly, allowing it to be smoother and more efficient. It is in benefit to businesses to generate higher levels of traffic on their website as well, especially if their website has a version available for mobile website design and tablet designs.

The practice of creating and adjusting a website according to different platforms is known as responsive web design or CSS media queries.

What is responsive web design?

Responsive web design allows one design to be adaptive and respond to the device, and screen resolution seamlessly by using fluid containers that contract and expand allowing items, and elements to self-position on a page “responsively“ using CSS queries and HTML.

This allows designers to design one site, that works across all products. Making for better continuity and making a developers life a heck of a lot easier.

Your business website shouldn’t be held back by who can use it depending on their supportive brand of mobile or tablet. Opening the market for potential new clients and better converting traffic.

Mobile Conversion Graph

Considering the exponential growth of portable devices becoming more available, cheaper and more reliable than conventional laptops or computers, the trend isn’t stopping here.

Companies like Google and Twitter have invested large amounts of money to help forward the way the internet is used, how data is collected and help develop frameworks such as the AMP Project, and Twitter Bootstrap. HTML has also come a long way supporting more mobile friendly elements with HTML 5.

The Concept behind Responsive web design

Responsive web design layouts are an all-new way of thinking about how to design websites and alter them according to the user.

However, the site is not supposed to be coded and changed to fit the experience of each device and platform.

The new idea is that these websites should automatically adjust to the different platforms , this includes fluid images and resizable layouts.

Using things like media queries and scripts your developer can adjust the HTML and CSS so that it can transform WebPages from one platform to another without any coding or hassle.

How CSS Queries Work

For example, here at sitecentre we ONLY code adaptive and fluid websites that work across all platforms from mobile to desktop and tablet, even on your TV or smartwatch.

Using tools like the Google Mobile Friendly Test, or the Think with Google testing tool you’ll get a better understanding of whether or not your site is responsive or not.

If it’s not, Don’t waste time. Call us right now. If it is, fantastic!

Adjust Screen Resolution

One of the main jobs that come along with designing a mobile-friendly website is taking into account the various resolutions.

The web designer needs to take into account the screen size, layout, design and characteristics of the website. Noting small screens, large screens, portrait and landscape devices.

Most web designers can make intelligent use of CSS media queries to create a website that is flexible to all kinds of platforms.

For the most part, A developer can take an approach of using a framework like bootstrap, foundation or skeleton that can streamline the development process, and help build out the fundamentals of the core CSS.

There is a tonne of varieties of how screen sizes defer.

Our devices are ever-evolving, and brands come out with larger and smaller screens depending on the kind of model and whatever is on-trend, not only this but products are coming out with high-resolution screens which in some cases double and quadruple the pixels.

Screen Resolution Comparison Chart

Having a flexible Layout

Flexible design can help with providing that extra satisfaction to your user.

This includes flexible images and videos that loads to the perfect size, flexible structural elements, and designs.

So, whether it’s a large screen or a smaller device or swapping between, your images and videos should be scalable.

A shift in orientation can stretch, pixelate, and dismember your content.

Resolution Adjustment Line

Such fluid images also help with platforms that have a switch in orientation for example phones and other mobile devices that can switch from portrait to landscape based on how you hold them this can be done using JavaScript or CSS.

Steve Jobs may have had it wrong in 2010 when he famously stated:

“You can’t get your hands around it. No one’s going to buy that“

Referring to large format phones, and tablets that have a larger browser width. Yet, phones keep getting larger which means responsive design is forever-growing.

The code below illustrates how layouts can vary and may need to change entirely depending on devices.

This can also happen in the case if the screen sizes rapidly change, and there are changes in font size, flexible images, headers and more.

See the Pen 3 Column Responsive Layout by Graham Clark (@Cheesetoast) on CodePen.

Such designs are made up of fluid grids. Let’s find out a little bit more about fluid images and how they are created?

Flexible and Fluid images

Taking advantage of flexible, or fluid images can make or break your website’s performance whether from speed, or conversion standpoint.

Previously only being used by large businesses and top developers, this technology has become easy-to-understand, and even easier to implement into your own site to improve your visitor’s experience.

Web designers can create fluid grids or commonly known as columns for responsive web design and images with these methods:

  • Hiding and/or revealing the image portion (background and foreground images)
  • Creating side composite images
  • Foreground images that scale with layout, where height values are not necessary. Image scaling can be scaled with JavaScript.

The aim is to create elastic layouts, creators can make use of simple techniques that can resize images, most modern browsers resize the images automatically.

Grid Layout Example

Most designers use CSS to guide the relative size, but utilising HTML5 and JS you can also get similar results.

It is important to size them perfectly using columns system. If made too small, then the image can be of low quality when opened on different platforms. It should be visible on the desktop and smaller screens.

There is a tonne of ways to implement responsive images, CSS-Tricks have a fantastic article on doing this.

Media Queries

CSS3 can support many media types, It can also have many kinds of media features, which include:

  • Correcting the orientation
  • Altering colours
  • Changes according to the width of devices
  • Setting the maximum width

Older devices do not support CSS3; however, it is a great way to target the newer devices that, like iPads and other kinds of Android devices, can support such media features that can come in handy when web designing.

CSS3 Media Queries and breakpoints offer multiple stylesheets and how web designers can make use of multiple media queries and display them on a single style sheet!

Media Queries Explained

This method is super convenient for a responsive web design principle.

However, this does not limit web designers to use single style sheets. They can also make use of separate stylesheets for separate queries depending on the type of device, although, this can impact performance.

One of the great features CSS3 offers is the minimum width and maximum width. This is how web pages can adjust from different kinds of browser width and screen width.

This makes the process much easier for the user and adjusts the websites accordingly.

If you were to create separate stylesheets, then the website would have to call each stylesheet file every time the user switched orientations!

Tools to test out responsive web design

No matter what your website whether a local dentist, international blog or small eCommerce store. It is important to test out whether or not your site is device friendly.

There are many tools available online where you can simply just add your URL to find out whether your layout is mobile-friendly or compatible with a specific device or resolution.

A mobile-friendly test offers a similar service. All you need your website URL to find out how well it responds to mobile devices and other kinds of smartphones.

Mobile Friendly Test Tool Screenshot

Think with Google is a platform that allows website designers and creators to test out the speed of how fast your web page loads and adjust to a specific kind of device. It can measure the mobile speed and how responsive your website is!

In addition to that, the responsive tool also allows you to test out the web design for multiple platforms.

This can include tablets, specific smartphones, smart TV’s laptops, and more. Testing responsive web design is crucial to the retention of traffic.

In addition to this, if your site is not adaptive to various devices- it can take a toll on visitors and how quickly they might click away from the web page.


A framework opens up a library that allows easier web designing making use of cascading style sheets language. Out of these frameworks, two of the most popular used are bootstrap and foundation.

Bootstrap vs Foundation Graphic

Here we give a little insight into some of the most used responsive web design frameworks that can help users create exceptional websites using columns to control with media queries and breakpoints.

They offer responsive web design templates, as well.

A Bootstrap responsive website has a proper layout for each device and comes complete with all your needs to get started for free. There are a lot more customisation and fluid layouts that designers can experiment with and plenty of resources online.

There are features of bootstrap responsive layout designs, which include:

  • Navigation
  • Call-To-Actions
  • Dashboard, and Fluid Layouts
  • Contents section
  • Icon Sets
  • Adaptive Images, iFrames, and Videos
  • Image Galleries

Bootstrap offers unrivalled features, one of which is it’s founders being twitter and navigation element and offer helpful features.

It also acts as a startup documentations that many new web designers can refer to when starting a responsive web development job.

The good thing about bootstrap is that it can also be easily viewed on different kinds of a mobile devices.

Similarly, another framework is Foundation. This is an exceptional front-end framework.

It has continuous design options, layout applications for both desktop and mobile templates as well.

It offers many layouts that include navigation, media, and more! Developers can choose accordingly and experiment with the framework according to the needs of the client.

Both offer a fantastic range of features and comparable in structure. Templatetoaster has a great article comparing them.

Useful Media Feature

If you’re wanting to make any website responsive layout, use breakpoints or media queries to break up browsers into more manageable resolutions.

There are many useful CSS Media Query features that can help with multiple web features.

Aspect Ratio

It can help with the width and height ratio of the viewport which differs from landscape to portrait. The table below illustrates how:

/* Exact aspect ratio */
@media (aspect-ratio: 2/1){}

/* Minimum aspect ratio */
@media (min-aspect-ratio: 16/9) {}

/* Maximum aspect ratio */
@media (max-aspect-ratio: 8/5) {}


The most useful media query feature is how it helps with orientation.

The landscape orientation has a width greater than the height. While the portrait orientation has a height greater than or equal to the width.

/* landscape styles */
@media (orientation: landscape) {}

/* portrait styles */
@media (orientation: portrait) {}

It helps web designers create a more responsive and adaptive web design. To give the end-user the most satisfying experience.

Display mode

This feature can help out in testing responsive design. The display mode feature helps with testing the display mode of a particular page or application.

The feature query can apply whether or not a web app manifest is present.

Width and Height

These features are essential to creating a responsive code. It is important screen resolutions help the designer set min-width, maximum height, and other features that create an adaptive experience.

/* Exact width */
@media (width: 360px) {}

/* Maximum width */
@media (max width: 768px) {}

/* Minimum width */
@media (min-width: 992px) {}

/* Exact height */
@media (height: 360px) {}

/* Minimum height */
@media (min-height: 640px) {}

/* Maximum height */
@media (max-height: 768px) {}

Prefer colour scheme

Many newer devices can shift the colour scheme to dark mode; use media queries to make this job easier.

It can help detect whether or not the user wants a dark scheme or a light scheme.

It can be added on if the API is not available.

CSS3 & HTML5 Responsive

CSS and HTML5 is the mark up language that helps decide your page layout and how the content is displayed.

These are the core elements towards creating a website that is device friendly and suited to all types of orientations using HTML and CSS.

There are many templates available online for responsive HTML 5 layouts.

There are many agencies that offer templates the are compatible via Bootstrap.

Although here at sitecentre we don’t use templates, we custom develop each, and every website, we do see templates as a great entry-level foundation for small businesses.

Mobile-First Indexing

Mobile-first indexing means that Google uses the mobile versions of websites and platforms for their rankings.

As our generation gets tech-savvy, there is a large influx of people who make use of mobile devices to access the internet.

This is why using mobile phone users in data collection is more accurate.

Google prefers mobile websites to curate results and rankings.

Mobile First Indexing Graphic

Desktop versions have outdated data, traffic and do not help with the optimisation of content given the larger demographic now resinates on portable devices and their browser window.

Indexing allows Googlebot to do scram through index pages with the help of the smartphone agent - the later rankings are created according to best practices with HTML and CSS for your responsive web design project.

For example, if your website has mobile phone optimised content, or has the same content as your desktop website and the same structure that fulfils the criteria of ’best practices’.

These practices are designed in a way that helps websites seek higher rankings in generating more traffic on your website.

Mobile Speed Performance

Having a fluid design is great, however, having a well-optimised website that loads quickly on devices using cellular or mobile data is important to any responsive web design.

This can depend on how well your images are optimised and whether or not they adjust properly to different devices as well as how assets like CSS and JS are loaded.

Mobile Load Time Data

Speed of how fast pages download on smaller devices as compared to desktops.

In addition to this, other factors like caching, minification and clean coding can contribute to faster mobile performance speed.

There are also tools online that can help you identify whether or not you’re mobile loading speed is within a certain limit that you would prefer it to be.

You could also opt for a hosting site that offers quality services, which can really help with managing data traffic and how fast the web page loads.

Otherwise, you might have people click off within the first 10 seconds of the screen not loading as fast.

Designing for Responsive web design

For any web designer, creating content and structure is extremely important.

Especially if the content is to inevitably create an adaptive and responsive website. The major goal, after all, is to create a device-friendly web page.

Responsive Design Infographic

The information architecture has been defined, which includes the layout and the structure of the page. The next step is to add design elements that can make the website look responsive across all kinds of devices.

It is also important to create a structure based on the content rather than go in reverse!

This methodology works for most people whether it’s a narrow or a wide viewport.

Start your design

It’s the 1st order of business to identify the content you need and then to have an estimate and to figure out the information architecture.

Whether for a narrow or a wide viewport, it is better to create a skeleton view of a page.

After creating a road map of pages, then it is good to add the content to adjust positions and sections.

From now on outward the site can be built around the content.

Features like the headline can be added to make the interface even better. Another website features components like forms that collect the visitor’s information. Known as a user form- with name, email, addresses, Phone numbers, all kinds of information.

Foundation PSD Screenshot

Starting out with a PSD template can make your job a heck of a lot easier, having the grid, guidelines, padding and all added for you so your design elements fit within the containers restraints.


The world is changing, devices are getting bigger, changing shape and ever-evolving.

As an industry-leading company, we stay at the forefront, set the foundation for those to follow. We need to stay on top of each and every new language, design principles as well as ensure our customers and their websites are compatible with the largest set of devices.

Mobiles are addictive, take a look at the image below, what people would give up instead of losing their phones.

Mobile Consumer Stats

Responsive design isn’t going anywhere, it too is evolving and becoming more powerful.

If you’re yet to dive into some kind of fluid, or adaptive design now is not too late.

If you’re not mobile-friendly, your business will suffer, your traffic will fall and you will fall behind your competition.

There are so many levels of entry, from low to high, there is no reason you should be mobile compatible.

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