5 essential tips for responsive website design & development

Modern browsing habits mean that building a responsive website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Over half of websites visited today are being viewed on a mobile device, which tells us that the way that users view and experience your website has changed. Responsive website design and development ensures that your website can adapt seamlessly to any screen size or device, whilst providing optimal user experience for any visitors to your website.

While the rapid increase in mobile website views necessitates optimising your website for responsiveness, there are many more benefits to having a responsive website than purely accommodating different screen sizes. Responsiveness of your website can play a vital role in enhancing and establishing an online presence, improving the user engagement on your website and helping to boost conversions. Failing to do so can frustrate users, resulting in high bounce rates and missed opportunities to connect with your target audience.

To help you understand what goes into creating and developing an exceptional responsive website that captivates users, boosts SEO rankings and drives traffic, we’ve compiled this list of 5 essential tips for responsive website design and development. By keeping in mind the following tips when you’re designing, building or even just updating your website, you can be sure that you are offering viewers a seamless and enjoyable experience across all devices.

1. Mobile first approach

Taking a mobile first approach, you start—as the name suggests—with design and development of your website for mobile. A content-centred approach helps determine what content is given priority in your mobile design where space is limited. Focusing on the content for a mobile interface will help designers and developers create neat and practical user interfaces. Adding elements to a website for a bigger screen is much easier than going the other way—having to edit or remove elements because they are not displaying properly on a smaller screen—and helps you to identify what content really is your most important.

2. Grid layout

One way to ensure your layout can adapt to different screen sizes is to take advantage of a grid layout. Creating ‘blocks’ that work with the grid allows you to place different bits of content in each block. They can move about the screen depending on the screen size and breakpoint used (more on these later). This is one of the key ways to provide a seamless experience for everyone using your website.

An easy way to implement a grid system into your website is by using a responsive CSS framework. You may use Tailwind if you are developing the front-end of your website yourself, or a page builder such as Elementor if you are developing on WordPress. These CSS frameworks make responsive editing for mobile easy. By utilising tools such as these you will be incorporating responsive development into your website quickly and easily.

3. Touch friendly components

Responsive websites do not just rely on the UI (user interface) of the website, but also the UX (user experience). Using touch friendly components gives users an experience they can enjoy, rather than find frustrating. For example, a website that relies on hover animations will not function properly with touchscreen devices. It is also crucial to consider spacing, to ensure that users tapping on the screen have enough space to interact with the particular component they want. It is incredibly frustrating for users to try and tap on a button, and instead highlight some text. Touch-friendly components can ensure that users can easily navigate and use your website, so they can concentrate on what is on your website, instead of trying to find their way around it. 

4. Flexible images and content

The ‘max-width’ property in CSS is incredibly useful for responsive websites, and can be used on both images and placing content in containers on a webpage. This property stops content becoming too big as the screen size increases to keep it easy to read and visually appealing. Using ‘max-width’ enables images to scale and resize accordingly without breaking the layout you have created. This method further contributes to adapting your website to different size screens and ensures that the design of your website remains intact.  

5. Media queries and breakpoints

These are essential to your responsive website as you define a set of rules for your CSS, depending on the conditions of the media query. This applies to screen size where you would typically use breakpoints, as well as other elements, such as resolution or orientation. When adjusting for screen size, you should aim to set different breakpoints that alter the layout of your website for either a ‘min-width’ or a ‘max-width’.

One common example of this approach is the use of a navigation header on desktop that is replaced by a clickable ‘hamburger’ menu on screens below a certain number of pixels. By setting a breakpoint that will hide the header and instead display the hamburger menu, your website will be much easier to use on mobile, instead of a user having to zoom in on a header that is now too small to be functional. You can also apply media queries and breakpoints to typography to ensure that it is easy to read and appealing across all devices.

Responsive web design is no longer an optional feature—it’s a fundamental requirement for any successful website. By implementing these 5 essential tips, you can ensure that your website provides an outstanding user experience across devices, resonates with your target audience and drives valuable results for your business.

Remember, a responsive website not only improves user experience but also has a significant impact on your search engine rankings. Google and other search engines prioritise mobile-friendly websites, so ensuring your site is responsive will positively influence your SEO efforts and help you reach a wider audience.

Get into the habit of regularly test your website across various devices and screen sizes, and seek user feedback to identify any areas that need improvement. By continuously refining your responsive design, you can stay ahead of the curve and deliver an exceptional browsing experience that keeps visitors coming back for more.