More people than ever before are accessing the internet on many different devices such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops to fulfill the desire to stay connected – no matter where, no matter when. While this is great for most businesses, it also presents a few problems such as how a website should look and function on these numerous mobile platforms.
The introduction of responsive web design has helped reduce concerns about the necessity for fluid design that changes to fit the size of the mobile device screen; however, as with anything, even responsive design has had its little hiccups. The best way to avoid any problems with RWD, whether building a new internet location or looking at having such a thing done, is to be aware of the trouble spots that exist ahead of time. Read and consider the following tips in order to plan a great responsive website that will perform as needed.
Understand How It Works
Before building or rebuilding any website, it is important for both developers and client to truly understand responsive web design and the many ways it can prove to be very beneficial. Even though the technology has been around for some time and is becoming more progressive every day, it would be safe to say that most people including some designers have never heard of RWD and do not understand how it works.
So perhaps the best way to explain this concept is to provide examples of internet locations using RWD, demonstrating how the image size changes depending on the device, how this fluidity affects usability, and how optimization efforts can be more successful. Wire framing and some sketches will definitely take some creativity in order to get the idea across, making a personal demonstration a more useful idea. Getting a basic layout coded as early as possible to show how a website will work is highly recommended.
Navigation is an important part of every website and even more so with responsive design. Planning how to move around on a website that must appear in different ways depending on the viewing device is one of the biggest challenges for designers. Responsive navigation has become a hot topic in RWD and there is no one answer for every circumstance. What this means is that consideration must be given to the basic navigation patterns that are available such as compressing top navigation, bottom stacked navigation, or fly-out navigation to name a few. Most importantly, it should be a type that can be used on all the many different viewing devices, keeping with the main layout and visual look of the website.
Images, Fonts, and Other Elements
Another trouble spot is how images and media will view in a responsive design, since the website is always shifting and changing. When considering such aspects, designers need to remember that as the devices change, so will the screen resolution. One way of dealing with these concerns is through the use of fluid images, fonts, and media that scale according to the platform. An interesting concept is adaptive images, which provides a different version of an image dependent upon the device that is being used. Other ideas that can be tried could include using CSS Sprites, SVG vector graphics, responsive table design, and replacing regular fonts used for labels or headings with icon fonts that will adapt well to different screen resolutions.
It is important to consider which is the best choice when trying to restructure an existing website or rebuild using responsive design, which will be dependent on the complexity of the existing structure. In most cases, considering what effort would be required to recode, the answer usually lies in utilizing the less labor-intensive option of rebuilding – which will avoid many of the problems that exist with responsive web design!