Responsive Design

5 tips to help you prepare for your responsive design site

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Responsive web design has gained incredible traction among designers, developers, and potential site owners. A responsive site’s efficient ability to adjust layouts on the fly for desktops, tablets, mobile and other devices with varying screen sizes makes it incredibly valuable. If you’re just delving into responsive design, it can seem like a daunting task. To help get you started, I’ve compiled a list of useful tips to prepare for your responsive web design.

 

  1. Know your platforms and browsers.
    Are you developing for a mobile site or a desktop? And for which browsers? Knowing this ahead of time helps you assess what your limits are, if any, like knowing you may want to steer away from CSS3 on IE while embracing it on mobile because CSS3 on mobile is awesome.
  2. Know the min and max sizes.
    No site can be infinitely responsive. Once you know the answers to #1, it may help in deciding the minimum and maximum resolution. This way you know what you’re aiming for when re-sizing elements on your site. Images and page elements can only get so large or small before they start to look strange or break the UI.
  3. Percentages in CSS.
    Percentages should be used for just about everything, mainly padding, margin and/or the widths of elements. What I like to do is find out what these numbers are with pixels and then use my browser inspector to get the closest I can with percentage. Also, instead of trying to be a math whiz, I’ll let Google find me a calculator and just get my percentages that way. Decimals are okay in percentages as well: http://www.percentagecalculator.net/
  4. Fonts should steer away from percentages.
    While percentages are fantastic for CSS, re-sizing fonts with percentages can be tricky. It can be done but there is a risk that re-sizing font with percentages may render your type completely unreadable, at some point. That’s certainly something we want to avoid, so instead, it’s best to either leave the original desktop sizes alone or bring them down a point or two, so long as it’s still readable. Keep to using pixels with font sizes and line heights so that you can have more control.
  5. Sometimes bigger is the way to go on a smaller platform.
    I used to think that responsive meant taking a desktop site and just shrinking everything down to proportion. That’s not necessarily the case, and to adjust to smaller screen sizes like tablets and phones, it’s better practice to shift elements and/or make elements larger. Simplify the design to give the user a legible version of the site with everything that’s necessary. Clicking an element with a mouse versus your fingertips is an entirely different experience.

What other useful tips do you have for responsive web design? Share with us in comments.

5 useful CSS tips for responsive design

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In the past few years, responsive web design, or RWD, has been steadily gaining steam in the development world. With the explosion of mobile devices, tablets, notebooks, e-readers, and more, responsive design becomes ever more relevant.

In today’s post, we bring 5 useful CSS tips to consider for responsive design.

 

  1. Media Queries. Media Queries are your friend. Use as many of these in your css as you need to. I used to think that I should have some sort of limit to using these, but I realized depending on site design, if you need 10 different Media Queries to make your site shift smoothly – then by all means, use 10.
  2. Auto. Whenever I’m using a percentage width on an element, usually an image, but I don’t want to distort the image, I’ll make sure to put the height at auto. This keeps the image in proportion with its percentage width. And if you ever want to keep the image from getting too large or small with height or width, this is where max-width/height comes in handy.
    .my-img { width: 100%; height: auto; }
  3. Min-height/max-height, min-width/max-width. Once you know you’re minimum and maximum sizes, depending on what platforms/browsers your site is for, you’ll be using these a lot to keep elements from getting too large or too small.Some elements work great at being at 100% width, like a banner, but at some point, this can get heavy as you would need a pretty large image to ensure that this would resize smoothly on all screen resolutions – which is why restricting sizes are handy. It would also help to make your max and min sizes a class for easy application site-wide.
    <div class=“container”>
    <img src=“images/my_img_a.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    <img src=“images/my_img_b.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    <img src=“images/my_img_c.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    <img src=“images/my_img_d.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    </div>
    .container { width: 600px; }
    .container img { width: 25%; height: auto; }
    .max-min { max-width: 150px; min-width: 75px; }
  4. Box-sizing. When I discovered this, my mind was blown. Using box-sizing on anything with a percentage width will take padding into account rather than having to adjust the width due to padding. Of course, this only works best on mobile or any browser that supports CSS3.
  5. Overflow: hidden. I don’t just use this for responsive design, but it’s such a handy trick to have. Instead of using clearing divs, I can clear containers by just applying an overflow of hidden on them. I like to make this a class for easy application as well, and it’s so much cleaner than inserting an extra div for clearing.
    <div class=“container overflow-hidden”>
    <img src=“images/my_img_a.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    <img src=“images/my_img_b.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    <img src=“images/my_img_c.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    <img src=“images/my_img_d.jpg” class=“max-min” />
    </div>
    .overflow-hidden { overflow: hidden; }
    .container img { float: left; }

What are your favorite CSS tips for responsive design? Share them below.

 

Top 12 Reasons Your Website Needs to be Responsive to grow Your Business

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Have you been outside lately? You know how you are seeing more people using tablets and smartphones? Well, it’s not a trend as much as the norm any more. Walking around, we are plugged in to our mobile device. At some restaurants, the waiter or waitress takes our order. Mobile is ubiquitous. So why, why, why are there still so many businesses that have not yet adapted? I don’t know, and the good news is that you have a way to take advantage of the new reality.

As smartphones and tablets are ever more capable of performing tasks that used to be only capable on desktop, one thing is crystal clear: Internet surfing, connecting on social media, checking emails and online shopping is being taken over by mobile.

Naturally, because mobile Internet usage is steadily increasing, you can see that it’s extremely important that your website is mobile friendly. In the past, you had a website designed for desktop users and another site specifically developed for mobile users. But, now we need a website optimized for desktop, tablet and, mobile. Are you really gonna build multiple unique sites to accommodate the various screen sizes?

There actually is a method to satisfy many types of users. It’s called responsive web design. According to a report by Morgan Stanley, Mobile Devices will overtake Desktop usage this year. 2013 may have been hailed as “The Year of Responsive Design”, but RWD is far from last year’s news. Put simply, having responsive design means a website adjusts depending on which device they are being displayed on, ensuring that whether the content is viewed on a phone, tablet, or desktop computer, the website will remain user-friendly, which is ultimately the most important feature of any website or blog. So as though you really needed them, here are the Top 12 Reasons to convert to Responsive Web Design.

responsive-design-infographic

1. Recommended By Google

Since Google is the primary search engine to impress with your website, it is smart to follow what Google loves. Google not only recommends Responsive Web Design (RWD) as the best way to target mobile and tablet users, and also favors mobile-optimized sites when presenting results for searches made on a mobile device. This is especially true when mobile users search for local services. It’s important to note more searches are originated on mobile devices.

Of course there is still debate whether a separate mobile website or a single, responsive site is the best route to take. From an SEO perspective, a single site is the better option (More on this later). Separate mobile websites have their own URL and different code, whereas responsive sites use one URL and one set of pages and files, making it simpler for Google more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and organize content and avoids issues of duplicate content.

With 67 percent search market share, when Google speaks, search marketing professionals listen. Google now states that responsive web design is theindustry best practice.

When you think about it, it’s also easier and less confusing for users to share, interact with, and link to than content on a stripped down mobile site.

For instance, a mobile user who shares content from a mobile site with a friend on the Facebook app who then accesses that content using a desktop, which results in that user viewing a stripped down mobile site on their desktop. This creates a less than optimal user-experience, and because of the large emphasis Google is now placing on user-experience as a ranking factor, this is essential to take into account with regards to SEO.

search-on-mobile-devices

2. One Website, Multiple Devices

Providing a great user-experience across multiple devices and screen sizes is the most appealing and most critical aspects of responsive web design for today’s uber mobile world. Take the following example. I search for a birthday gift on my smartphone during a break at work. I then continue researching this product on the same site on my MAC when I get home.

Because the site is responsive, won’t be frustrated with the extra steps to locate the desktop version of the site, and find the product all over again.

3. Easier to Manage

Having a separate desktop and mobile site requires having separate Google Adwords campaigns, SEO campaigns and separate Google Analytics reports. Managing one site is of course, far easier than managing two sites.

There can be an argument made for multiple sites though, such as having a mobile-specific Adwards and SEO strategy, such as optimizing for keywords that are more likely to be searched when someone is on their smartphone.

4. Positive User Experience Is Key

If a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, according to Google’s Think Insights on Mobile, there’s a 61% chance they will leave and go to a different website. Data shows a positive experience with your responsive website a user is 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service.

5. Blogging and Social Activities Bring Mobile Visitors

If you’re like most smart Inbound Marketers and incorporate blogging and social media in your strategy, you have most likely been seeing increased mobile traffic. A recent study by ComScore cites that 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device. SHOCKER!

6. Responsive Design is Preferred for SEO

Typically, Responsive Websites perform better and are easier to maintain. One thing not mentioned above is that a challenge of having a separate mobile site is that you will need to build the authority of this site from scratch, and who wants to go to that extra trouble?

7. Responsive Helps Combat a High Bounce Rate

Even if your regular website is sitting pretty in search results, if it looks and performs like crap on my tablet or smartphone, bounce rate will be a big problem. Non responsive websites will suffer from a high bounce rate if the content is too stripped down, or just plain clunky and too challenging to work with compared to the content offered on the main/desktop site. Google will naturally interpret this high bounce rate as a sign that a website irrelevant, which will lead to your drop in rankings, which is why we don’t see mobile versions of sites ranked high.

RWD means that there is no more compromising on the content you choose to display!

8. A Speedy Responsive Website is Key

The content per page on a mobile or tablet device should load in under 1 – 2 seconds according to the Google PageSpeed Developers standards. I’m not sure how possible that is when loading a desktop website on a mobile device. I haven’t timed it, and I can tell you that I don’t wait long before I close the window.

9. Responsive Adapts to Future Devices

As alluded to earlier, the benefit of responsive design is that the size of the template is designed based on screen size not device. Obviously, regardless of what size screen someone is viewing your website it will display properly for that screen size.  Unless, there will be a worldwide movement to standardize on one screen size, responsive design is here to stay. Having a mobile website is no longer just a nice feature or after thought. Fully functional websites for all screen sizes are mission critical for the growth of your business. What’s the ROI? check out is this “Full Value of Mobile” calculator by Google. Input your different business and marketing variables to learn how your metrics can be increased with proper responsive mobile design.

10. Responsive Design allows you to keep track of who visits your site

The great thing about online assets is that you can see who visits them, which allows you to increasingly improve your targeting. It should go without saying that with multiple versions of your site, it is more challenging to track analytics. This is the same logic against multiple business listings on various directories like Yelp, Manta, Merchant Circle, Kudzu, etc. because traffic is diluted between the various versions of your site. As a user, it can be extremely frustrating when searching for a site and then needing to find the most current and accurate site listed on the SERPs. Just sayin.

11. Responsive Design saves you money.

Have you ever heard the saying: You get what you pay for? There is a reason that saying still lives today and applies to Responsive design. Sure, a complicated, well crafted, responsive design could be expensive to develop or implement (Unless you select one of the 1000 options available for WordPress websites), but once published, you can maintain it quite easily. This is much more economical to maintain one site rather than multiple sites, wouldn’t you agree?

12. Responsive Design has Pay-Per-Click benefits.

Google AdWords has now converted the web to “enhanced campaigns”. What this means for you is the targeting of various devices is the treated the same. The benefit for you is that a website using Responsive Design makes it a whole lot easier to manage your PPC. Businesses have much more flexibility and control in how they reach consumers which are, you guessed it, using more mobile devices. “Google’s enhanced campaigns represent the biggest single change in the past 10 years to the basic structure of AdWords campaigns,” says Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream.

There you have it: The top 12 reasons to become responsive with your customers.

9 basic principles of responsive web design

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Responsive web design is a great solution to our multi-screen problem, but getting into it from the print perspective is difficult. No fixed page size, no millimetres or inches, no physical constraints to fight against. Designing in pixels for Desktop and Mobile only is also the past, as more and more gadgets can open up a website. Therefore, let’s clarify some basic principles of responsive web design here to embrace the fluid web, instead of fighting it. To keep it simple we’ll focus on layouts (yes, responsive goes way deeper than that).

Responsive vs Adaptive web design

It might seem the same but it isn’t. Both approaches complement each other, so there is no right or wrong way to do it. Let the content decide.

The flow

As screen sizes become smaller, content starts to take up more vertical space and anything below will be pushed down, it’s called the flow. That might be tricky to grasp if you are used to design with pixels and points, but makes total sense when you get used to it.
What is responsive and adaptive web design

Relative units

The canvas can be a desktop, mobile screen or anything in between. Pixel density can also vary, so we need units that are flexible and work everywhere. That’s where relative units like percents come in handy. So making something 50% wide means it will always take half of the screen (or viewport, which is the size of the opened browser window).
Relative units in CSS

Breakpoints

Breakpoints allow the layout to change at predefined points, i.e. having 3 columns on a desktop, but only 1 column on a mobile device. Most CSS properties can be changed from one breakpoint to another. Usually where you put one depends on the content. If a sentence breaks, you might need to add a breakpoint. But use them with caution – it can get messy quickly when it’s difficult to understand what is influencing what.
Breakpoints in the responsive web design

Max and Min values

Sometimes it’s great that content takes up the whole width of a screen, like on a mobile device, but having the same content stretching to the whole width of your TV screen often makes less sense. This is why Min/Max values help. For example having width of 100% and Max width of 1000px would mean that content will fill the screen, but don’t go over 1000px.
Min and max widths in CSS

Nested objects

Remember the relative position? Having a lot of elements depending on each other would be difficult to control, therefore wrapping elements in a container keeps it way more understandable, clean and tidy. This is where static units like pixels can help. They are useful for content that you don’t want to scale, like logos and buttons.
Nested objects

Mobile or Desktop first

Technically there isn’t much of a difference if a project is started from a smaller screen to a bigger (mobile first) or vice versa (desktop first). Yet it adds extra limitations and helps you make decisions if you start with mobile first. Often people start from both ends at once, so really, go and see what works better for you.
Mobile or desktop first

Webfonts vs System fonts

Wanna have a cool looking Futura or Didot on your website? Use webfonts! Although they will look stunning, remember that each will be downloaded and the more you’ll have, the longer it will take to load the page. System fonts on the other hand are lightning fast, except when the user doesn’t have it locally, it will fall back to a default font.
Webfonts vs System fonts

Bitmap images vs Vectors

Does your icon have lot of details and some fancy effects applied? If yes, use a bitmap. If not, consider using a vector image. For bitmaps use a jpg, png or a gif, for vectors the best choice would be a SVG or an icon font. Each has some benefits and some drawbacks. However keep in mind the size — no pictures should go online without optimization. Vectors on the other hand often are tiny, but some older browsers won’t support it. Also, if it has lots of curves, it might be heavier than a bitmap, so choose wisely.
Bitmap images vs vectors

Feel that we left out something important? Let us know in the comments!