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Responsive Web Design Best Practices You Should Know

It seems like only yesterday when accessing a website on a mobile device required a lot of pinching and zooming and scrolling sideways to see anything.

Thanks to responsive web design or RWD, those dark days are over. With the way it makes a single site, with one URL and a single content source, adjust to the size of the device being used, RWD offers an optimal browsing experience for mobile and desktop users alike.

We also have Google to thank for making a website’s mobile-friendliness a ranking factor in 2015. Since then, responsive web design has grown by leaps and bounds. Websites across niches have started switching to RWD so they won’t miss out not only on higher rankings on Google, but also leads, conversion, and sales.

If you have a website and it’s not yet mobile-friendly, it’s time to jump on this modern website design bandwagon. To help you with the process, here are some responsive web design best practices you should know.

Forget About “The Fold”

In all likelihood, it has been hammered into your head how important cramming everything at the top of page is, in the service of “the fold.”

The thing is, “the fold” no longer exists, not on mobile devices that keep getting wider and longer anyway.

Today, it is just as essential to give people more content below “the fold,” as scrolling has become as natural as breathing. You can be sure that a website with ample spacing and long, flowing content blocks will still keep visitors engaged in reading your content, even when they’re below the imaginary fold.

Keep Essential Info At The Top

The “fold” may no longer be a thing anymore, but it doesn’t make putting your contact info, telephone numbers, email addresses, and calls-to-action at the top on mobile any less critical. People naturally scroll, but for such important information, make sure they don’t have to by keeping them highly visible at all times.

Ensure Readability

As a general rule, all of your content must be highly readable regardless of the platform.

However, it would help if you gave plenty of attention to ensuring readability on mobile. Responsive web design allows you to make sure your website has easy-to-read content that’s fully optimized for the size of the device they’re using.

Much of a website’s readability hinges on the way you use typefaces on your site. Determine whether they’d be perfectly legible or not on small screens.

It’s also important to strike a balance between headers and body font sizes for the device size. That way, you can avoid displaying a huge disparity between the sizes of the typeface you're using, which would make reading your content a bit awkward, even unnatural.

Ensure readability, and none of your users will be squinting when they read your content.

Make Device Features Work To Your Advantage

Internet browsing is just one of the many functions of a smartphone. It’s for making calls, sending messages, and opening apps as well.

Since you’re switching to RWD, why not take advantage of these smartphone features to enhance the mobile experience for users, boost conversions, and egg them on to take action? Connecting and communicating with you will be so much easier for your audience if you make the most of these capabilities.

One way of doing that is to make your phone number on the mobile version of your site clickable. Mobile users tapping that area will automatically place a call to that number.

Apply the same to email addresses, and you can enable users to open a new message in an email app, with an auto-filled recipient to boot, once they click it. You can also do it with social media icons to make them open directly in their specific apps.

Go With SVGs

When you’re making use of illustrations or icons in your responsive web design, you have to go for Scalable Vector Graphics or SVGs.

As its name suggests, scalability is the biggest thing that SVGs have going. Infinitely scalable, SVG icons and graphics will remain crisp and sharp no matter what you do to it.

Resolution or pixelation is never a concern with SVGs, unlike with JPGs and PNGs. They will look consistently clear and polished on desktop or mobile.

SVGs also contribute to faster page load speeds given their smaller file size.

Don’t Forget About Larger Screens

Sure, responsive web design is virtually synonymous with enhancing the browsing experience for mobile users. And with their ever-growing numbers, it’s only right for websites to do what they can to make that possible and turn to RWD.

The very definition of responsive web design, however, doesn’t say anything about being beneficial only to mobile users. RWD is supposed to benefit ALL screen sizes, from the smallest smartphones to the biggest displays.

It may be true that there are now more mobile users than desktop users, but the numbers of the latter are nothing to sneeze at. Many people still use larger screens to surf the web, including primarily mobile users who jump between mobile and desktop from time to time or even use both simultaneously.

It’s great to do responsive web design to enhance the mobile experience, but don’t do it at the expense of larger desktop screens. As much as possible, scale your responsive web design up to the largest possible screen sizes.

Always Test Your Designs

As with web design in general, testing your responsive web design is the best way to see if it works or has problems that need resolving.

There are several tools available that you can use to test how your design looks and functions in different devices. Use them whether you’re implementing major changes or tiny adjustments to your responsive web design.

Since you’d be too close to your work, it would also be great to show your responsive web design to other people. A keen, independent eye will be more likely to spot basic errors and inconsistencies than you. If you missed something, other people should be able to identify it.

These are just some of the most common responsive web design best practices out there. Keep them in mind during the design process, and you’ll have a website that will truly serve the needs of users, regardless of their preferred platform.

Cancian Digital, Web Design Napier

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