Responsive web design isn’t just a feature anymore—it’s a necessity. In contrast to just a decade ago, nearly everyone has at least one mobile device these days. People are accessing the internet via smartphones and tablets more than ever, and more than one in ten American adults use mobile phones as their only means of going online.
With internet-ready mobile devices here to stay, it’s essential that today’s designers and developers continue to innovate. In order to keep websites running optimally, implementing new techniques and refining your ongoing approach is a must. What’s ideal today may change tomorrow, so make sure you’re always taking steps to keep up.
Let’s take a look at five responsive design techniques you can apply today:
- Scalable Vector Images
Scalable vector images allow images to be resized without affecting their quality. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of zooming happening on mobile devices, so maintaining quality regardless of size is essential. While the SVG specification isn’t new by any means, it still has current tools and browser support that keep it relevant, and this old dog has plenty of new tricks.
For scalability, remove the height and width attributes that are included automatically on images. However, if you want your small logos and icons to be progressively enhanced, we recommend leaving the height and width attributes in place. This allows you to size them to the closest logical touch size, and then you can use CSS to edit them further.
- CSS Sprites
One of the most effective ways to reduce a page’s loading time is to reduce its requests, and CSS sprites can do just that. Combine your small and common images into one single file, and then use that for your CSS sprites, allowing you to serve one site across multiple platforms.
Keep in mind that CSS sprites don’t scale without some outside assistance, so you may want to use the recent CSS 3 background-size property for compatible browsers that support CSS 3.
- Think “Mobile First”
This “technique” is actually more of a philosophy and overall approach than a specific method.
Instead of scaling from the desktop down to the mobile device, mobile first strategies scale from the mobile device up to the desktop. While these techniques aren’t always fast or easy, the results tend to be well worth the effort.
Designing your website specifically for the mobile experience can be a massive advantage, especially if you’re able to create a site that remains responsive on desktop and laptop computers.
While mobile first web design is still gaining ground, now is the time to start adopting the most forward-looking design practices. There’s no telling exactly what tomorrow’s digital landscape will look like, but we can be sure it will be influenced by mobile usage.
- The Grid
Using a grid system keeps your work clear and consistent. It facilitates a smooth workflow, allowing you to balance the elements of your design and work proportionally. It also gives your website an unchanging structure from one page to the next. However, you should make sure to keep your grid system flexible so you can adapt it to your immediate needs when you need to create a page with a different layout.
Try working with restrictions and constraints. For example, consider designing with 6 columns of text instead of 16 to promote readability. Working with clearly defined limits can help you to narrow your focus and reduce distractions, helping you to emphasize your content’s most important attributes while improving your site’s usability.
- Graceful Degradation
Not everyone is going to be using the latest browsers, and it’s important that you take steps to provide an enjoyable (or at least usable) browsing experience for as many users as possible.
Designing your website with graceful degradation/progressive enhancement ensures that mobile users don’t have to immediately upgrade to the latest browser update in order to access your website. After all, plenty of web users would sooner leave the website than upgrade. Ultimately, graceful degradation allows you to cast a wide net and keep everyone happy.
Exceptional Web Design
At Coalition Technologies, we work hard to stay ahead of the curve. If your company needs cutting-edge ecommerce web design and SEO optimization, our team has the expertise to create the custom website of your dreams. Call us at (310) 827-3890 for a free consultation today, or feel free to contact us online for a quick response.