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Holy Webs 101: Digital Marketing Blog

By Travis Whatley

Mastering Responsive Design: A Step by Step Guide

Responsive design is the heart of a user-friendly web experience. Since more screens and screen sizes access the web, responsive design aids retention, often prompting your desired action.
In a digital-first economy, responsive design determines metrics like sales, lead generation, search engine ranking, and digital marketing spending.
Therefore, it pays to master this design approach.

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive design determines how web content is delivered based on a user’s screen dimensions, platform, and orientation, adjusting the text, grids, images, and video to the device accessing the content.

Implement Responsive Design Best Practices in 5 Steps

While there are dozens of elements within responsive design, there are only a handful of best practices that are worth mastering and used most extensively and successfully to achieve a multitude of objectives.

Step 1: Assess Your Mobile Traffic

Knowing mobile traffic data is useful in determining your design approach. It helps answer questions like:

  • How much traffic will access content on mobile?
  • What demographic can be unlocked with a mobile-friendly design?
  • How will mobile design define other metrics?
  • Is my design future-proof?

That last question is fundamental because no one knows how much mobile traffic will account for all web traffic by 2030, given it’s nearly doubled since 2015.

By the first quarter of 2023, U.S. mobile traffic accounted for 45.5 percent of all web traffic; in the third quarter of 2022, mobile traffic had breached 52 percent. 

Despite this slight decrease in mobile traffic, it has remained above 40 percent of all U.S. web traffic since Q1 2019.

You can use these stats to ascertain how much any website’s traffic — irrespective of the industry — will originate through mobile. 

(Expect at least 40 percent of traffic to come from mobile, with that figure increasing depending on the industry).

Naturally, if data reflects mobile traffic far less than 40 percent, it’s likely the design needs to be optimized for mobile and therefore is losing out on mobile search and social sharing.

Step 2: Define Your Break Points

Break points determine how content is delivered based on screen size and resolution.

Some of the shortfalls of non-responsive design include horizontal scrolling to access crucial content outside the bounds of the screen’s width or content improperly loading and being cut off.

Incorrectly defining breakpoints can also increase page load time, distort content, or require users to adjust settings to view content as intended.

Defining multiple breakpoints is the best way to ensure your responsive design displays content as you envisioned it.

The most common minimum width breakpoints include:

  • Desktops and Laptops: 1200px
  • Tablets (Landscape): 991px
  • Tablets (Portrait): 768px
  • Smartphones (Landscape): 600px
  • Smartphones (Portrait): 428px

However, these dimensions won’t apply to every device, making it a responsive design best practice to list and define the dimensions of your top ten devices and then use those to define your breakpoints.

Step 3: Go Mobile First

With the extent of device fragmentation, even the breakpoints can be challenging to define. A mobile-first design approach changes that.

The mobile-first design prioritizes design elements based on how users view them on mobile devices, then adjusted for larger screens.

The design process begins by defining how the application or website will be viewed on the smallest screens; then, those elements are resized or adjusted to create a comfortable viewing experience across larger devices.

As mobile web traffic overtakes desktop traffic, a mobile-first approach will be crucial to ensuring your content is optimized.

Step 4: Build Layouts Around Content

Building a layout around content makes the design intuitive and easy to navigate, irrespective of screen size.

Consider the content’s purpose and develop a hierarchy based on that. For example, the purpose of a blog feed is to get readers to click on a post; therefore, images and headlines should be prioritized and displayed the same across all devices.

Based on that input, you can also prioritize elements better, deciphering which parts can be hidden — behind a burger menu or icon — on smaller screens as they don’t deliver the content’s purpose.

Step 5: Use Responsive Images, Video, and Text

Rather than have a content shift from mobile to desktop, use images, video, and text that display the same on every device. SVG should be prioritized over PNG for images as it resizes better; the typeface, typography scale, and spacing used for text should be determined based on how it reads on smaller screens.

This is the backbone of responsive design best practices, guaranteeing a nearly identical experience on all devices. 

If you’re using a mobile-first approach — another responsive design best practice — you should create a brand identity formulated on what appears best on iOS and Android smartphones rather than desktops. This allows your design to be future-proof.

Mastering responsive design reduces the need to constantly rework a project while guaranteeing it performs well on all devices well into the future.

Conclusion

By following these steps, you can identify your target audience and create a website that resonates with them. Remember, the more you understand your audience, the more effective your website will be in achieving your business goals. If you need or help or would just like an expert opinion Holy Webs is here to help! “Book A Clarity Call” with Holy Webs 

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