4 Best practices for responsive web design

January 31st, 2020
4 Best practices for responsive web design

Over a decade ago, almost every website was designed with a screen resolution of 1024x768 pixels in mind, which was by far the most common of the time. Today, screens come in many different sizes and aspect ratios. Almost everyone in the United States now owns a smartphone as well, and the number of mobile-only internet users continues to grow. Yet even smartphones and tablets come in many different forms, with dual-screen phones even entering the market.

Responsive web design offers the only practical way to accommodate all your users now and tomorrow. Here are four essential practices for making a responsive website:

#1. Optimize your visuals

Internet speeds might be getting faster, but there are still millions of people stuck with slow connections, and it will be some time before 5G mobile technologies go mainstream. As such, one of the biggest challenges with responsive web design is to find a compromise between image quality and download speed. You only have a few seconds to hold people’s attention, so it’s essential to get it right.

Aside from removing any visual content that isn’t absolutely necessary, you should compress images as much as possible without substantially reducing their quality. SVGs (scalable vector graphics) are ideal for almost anything that isn’t a photo, and make for great design elements. Also, avoid using autoplay video, which consumes an enormous amount of bandwidth and can leave your mobile users with huge data bills.

#2. Don’t neglect typography

Typography has long played a central role in branding and web design, whether responsive or not. But when designing a website that looks great and functions well on the small screen, there are a few additional considerations. Text that is too small to read comfortably is sure to turn visitors away, yet there’s more to great typography than just choosing one clear font and getting the sizing right.

A 16-pt font size is the standard at which most web browsers render on-screen text, so it’s a good guideline to start with. Naturally, headings should be larger, preferably by around 50–60%. It’s also important to avoid having too much written content on one page, especially if your target audience primarily uses a smartphone. Finally, be sure to use the right background and text colors to avoid contrast issues.

#3. Prioritize page content

Responsive web design isn’t about trimming your website down to the bare minimum so that it loses its identity and usefulness. Rather, it’s about prioritizing which content people see first. For example, visitors should never have to scroll down to find out what the page is about or to see a call to action. It’s also a good idea to keep your business contact details on the page at all times, typically in a bar at the top or bottom.

You can also hide content behind buttons, which users can tap when they want to see more. There’s much more to responsive design than trying to fit a website onto different screen sizes. What’s important is that the design aligns perfectly with the actions you want your visitors to take. Keeping to a relatively minimalistic design for each individual page will also help reduce the amount of bandwidth needed, thus increasing page performance.

#4. Provide scalable navigation

Having a beautiful website that makes a great first impression is undoubtedly important, but if people struggle with navigation, they’re not likely to stick around. Getting the navigation right is perhaps the hardest job of all, not least because there’s a huge difference between using a mouse and keyboard and a touchscreen. That’s the reason why many sites offer a completely different navigation menu for mobile users.

What you shouldn’t try to do is create a consistent navigation process between different screen sizes and input methods. Rather, navigation should be consistent on the same device type. For example, hamburger-style menus are ideal for mobile devices, but tend to be clunky and hard to find on the big screen. Similarly, small buttons and text-heavy menus are difficult to use on mobile devices.

Cyber Shift Technologies helps businesses in Canton design responsive websites that will wow and impress audiences. If you’re looking for web design and hosting services, call us today and let us know what you need.

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