Responsive web design (RWD) is a method of designing websites that attempts to provide an optimal viewing experience for the user regardless of the display device. This design approach generally involves minimizing navigation actions such as panning, resizing and scrolling. RWD designers must be particularly careful to ensure that webpages can be easily viewed by mobile devices, which typically have much smaller viewing areas than traditional monitors. The following best practices in RWD will help ensure that a website has the necessary flexibility to work well for a large number of users.



Creating responsive web design requires the designer to adapt the layout of the webpage to the display device with fluid grids, flexible images and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) media queries. A fluid grid means that the designer must specify the size of page elements in relative units such as percentages instead of absolute units such as pixels. The requirement for flexible images means that their size must also be specified with relative units to ensure they aren't larger than their containing element. A CSS3 media query allows the display device to determine the CSS style rules that will be used to display the page, which are primarily used to determine the width of the browser page.




Provide Mobile Users with the Same Quality of Experience

Today's website users may have a range of devices, including a smart phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. The need to provide an optimal viewing experience for users with a range of display devices means that a webpage's appearance needs to change without creating content or incurring function losses, regardless of the display size. This requirement means that all page elements such as images and grids must be completely fluid so that they can be automatically reconfigured for each display device.


Design the Site with RWD Principles

RWD design requires the designer to understand the best site layouts to use when converting a wire frame into a real design. This requirement generally means that the layout and accompanying HTML code should be as simple as possible. Mechanisms such as menu options and navigation should be easy to implement by using HTML doctypes. Compressing page resources with an application such as GZIP will reduce the number of actual bytes that the user must download to view the website, which is especially helpful for mobile users on Wi-Fi networks with limited bandwidth.


Use Multiple Resolutions

An RWD website should accommodate a range of resolutions, depending on the display device. For example, resolutions of less than 320 pixels are primarily used for older, low-resolution mobile phones. Resolutions between 320 and 480 pixels are used by smaller smart phones. Resolutions between 480 and 768 pixels are commonly used by large smart phones and small tablets. Large tablets and small desktop monitors typically have resolutions in the range of 768 to 1024 pixels. Resolutions greater than 1024 pixels are used by large desktop monitors with wide screens.


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