Best Practices for Responsive Web Design

Given the ever growing rate of mobile traffic, optimising your website for smartphones and tablets with different display sizes is a must. Online visitors expect an equally seamless experience no matter whether they access your site from their desktop computer or smartphone. By offering content that is not optimised for their device, you risk losing the customer.

Responsive web design ensures that your website is readable across all screen sizes. To get the most out of the adaptable design, you need to consider how best to move around and tailor content based on available screen space. Here are a few tips that will help you do so.

Customise CSS Layouts

The general rule here is to customise the layout and allow your content to naturally degrade. For instance, if your site has a sidebar and content area, set their widths as percentages so that they will automatically resize depending on the screen size. Make sure you set the min-width as it will rearrange the way the content is displayed, showing the sidebar above the content, which is convenient for small resolutions. Keep in mind that you will inevitably run into display sizes that are too small for your design to render. That’s when you need custom CSS most. Use it to reformat the content for better readability.

Remove the Default Zoom

Remember how websites scale out when you access them on your smartphone? This enhances the user experience on mobile devices, but can mess up your layout if you don’t take the appropriate measures. Because of auto zoom, some images and navigation elements may appear too large or too small. To avoid this, you can use a special meta tag that will ensure everything on your website scales as intended.

Add this tag, known as the viewport meta tag, into the document header:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width; initial-scale=1.0; maximum-scale=1.0; user-scalable=0;" />

Filter Out Non-essential Content

Small screens mean limited space. Use it wisely. Prioritise the information and fields most important to your customers. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the main purpose of people visiting your site?
  • What information is it essential for them to get?
  • What is the user journey you want them to take?

Answering these questions, you’ll be able to redesign all non-essential content and craft a mobile experience that generates leads, converts and retains customers.

Test, Test and Test Again

  • Always test the smallest and the largest end of the range to ensure that everything aligns well.
  • Test on real mobile devices. Based on the results of your web traffic analysis, choose the core devices and browsers used by your target audience and test your design either manually or through test automation.
  • Never rely solely on functional testing - you need to confirm the website appears as intended on all browsers and devices with visual tests.
  • Test under real user conditions: speed of connection, location, programs launched in background, ads and popups blocking the screen: you should take into account all these factors as they may affect user experience.

We hope that these responsive design tips and practices will encourage you towards creating outstanding websites that appeal to your audience. If you feel that you lack the experience necessary to utilise these techniques yourself or don’t have resources for maintaining an in-house development team, you can rely on Magora’s developers to advise you on best web design strategies and help you build a site that looks awesome across all devices. 

 

June 14, 2017
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