Web design is responsive design. Responsive web design is web design, done right.
~ Andy Clarke
In the web designing realm, responsive design is not a new kid on the block. With the exceeding usage of internet on the variety of screen sizes and resolutions, web designers are hastily following this trend to make optimally usable designs. But, do you know that humans are way more diverse in behavior and interaction than the viewports available in today’s world?
Website’s design should be able to fill this gap between audiences’ taste and choices. It should not just aim at the devices but the target audience as well. Responsiveness is the design flexibility that enables all types of users to interact with all types of devices in the best possible way. Here’s your guide to making a responsive website design that responds and adjusts according to the needs of both screens and users.
Content Driven Design vs. Design-First Process
Now let’s evaluate both these techniques. You have an idea and you start designing around it. Then you start filling up content and realize that either the content or the design needs to be readjusted, because it’s just not sending the message out. You end up re-working and that’s the implication with Design-First approach. On the contrary, if you draft the content first, you can establish the purpose of the website. Then you can design the UI to convey this purpose in a more interactive manner. Hence, no re-work is required.Now that we are aiming for content driven designs, the next task at hand is to draft content with maximum readability. Here are some interesting facts about drafting website content from different studies by Neilsen Norman Group:
- Fact No. 1: Less than 20% of the content is actually read on an average webpage (read here).
- Fact No. 2: Users read a web page in an F-shaped pattern (read here).
This is your perfect content strategy. The reasons to these are also quite natural. English language reads left to right and headings in the content are pretty self-explanatory about the text within. You can present the most important information, keywords and calls to action around this F. While bold fonts and headings can make information extraction simpler, white spaces and margins in the design can further complement it.
Usability of Navigation
Providing usability of navigation within a website is one of the core factors of keeping a user from moving away. Search bars, menus, links and buttons are a few of the most common types of navigational modes within a website. When making a responsive website, you should pick their navigation strategy considering the following factors:
- Fact No. 1: Where does most of the traffic come from – device wise? The navigation specifics would differ according to the viewport. For example, hamburger menus would suit mobile users more than desktop users.
- Fact No. 2: Giving an extensive search does not minimize the need of a main menu or links. Search requires more clicks and more specific information while menus are simpler to use. The important thing to remember in this context is: Fewer clicks are not directly proportional to customer satisfaction, qualitative clicks however are.
Greater number of clicks to reach the required information does not frustrate the user, unnecessary clicks does. So, spend time in designing your site map and navigation.
Consistency is also an important factor to consider while designing the navigation path. Users rely mostly on their memory to navigate around a website. Don’t make them feel bad about it.
Scrolling is one of the major challenges of a responsive design. As the screen size gets smaller, scrolling gets lesser interactive unless the website content is supportive. Scrolling should serve the following usability goals:
- Users should immediately know how to interact with the website.
- Users should feel guided not lost.
- Users should not need to THINK what to do or WHERE to go next.
Scrolling is simpler than navigating through pages and making sense of the sliced content. That is why one page websites are trending and we see evolving design patterns like parallax and z-axis which are not only attractive, but they have the capacity to present the website’s purpose in the best possible way.
One the responsive note, websites with heavy animations cannot be replicated on smaller screens like mobile, as it is. Size and dimensions of media files like animation and images are a major hindrance, but not a blocker. You can look into Media Queries if you want to see how your website design can be made responsive for all screen sizes. If your website’s desktop design is not at all mobile friendly, separate style sheets can be created for mobiles, but this requires caution. The theme and look and feel of both style sheets should be consistent so that the user can get a consistent experience on both versions.
The very reason why the idea of responsive design was conceived in the first place and so quickly adapted is – “consistency”. Responsiveness not only makes a design consistent for all devices, it also makes its usage consistent. This is one of the major reasons why responsive websites get an edge in search engine rankings because it is the key ingredient in usability. No matter what device is being used to access a website, it always offers the same familiar, easy to use and recognizable interface.
GUGGGLY is offering website design templates that are fully responsive and easy on the eyes. You can give it a try because our website design templates are absolutely FREE! You can find your pick in our catalog of free responsive website design templates. Happy responsive downloading.