Responsive Design Optimization

Responsive Design Demystified: Ensuring Your Theme Looks Great on All Devices


The majority of those who use the internet in the modern digital era visit websites via mobile devices. This implies that your business can miss out on a lot of traffic & potential clients if your online presence isn't responsive. The most important aspect of the development process is responsive design, which enables the website to modify its size and layout automatically according to the screen dimensions on the device being used. 

We're going to explain responsive layouts in this post and provide you the tools you require to make sure your website looks fantastic across any device. Take control of your online success and discover how you can make your website more responsive by discovering how to fix a badly optimised theme!

What is responsive web design:

The idea behind a responsive website is that, depending on the screen size, platform, and orientation of the user, the website's design and development should adapt to their behaviour and environment.

The technique uses multiple types of pictures, adaptable grids and layouts, and default CSS media query use. The website needs to adapt immediately to the user's shift from a laptop to an iPad, taking into account the variations in resolution, image size, and scripting capabilities. It could also be necessary to take into consideration the settings on one's devices; for example, when an iPad is using a VPN for iOS, the website shouldn't be preventing the user from accessing the page. As stated in various ways, the website ought to be packed with technology that can react to the user's choices on its own.

The Idea Behind Responsive Web Design:

For A List Apart, Ethan Marcotte provided an introduction to the strategy referred to as responsive web design. It is based on the idea of responsive construction design, which is the method by which a room or other place adjusts to the quantity and motion of people utilising it.

If we apply this discipline to web design, we get an entirely new but comparable concept. Why should we make an original web design for every user group? After all, designers don't make buildings that are suitable for every kind and size of group that uses them. Similar to responsive building design, web design needs to change on its own. There shouldn't be a limitless number of unique solutions for every new user segment.

Naturally, we are unable to do this in the same way that a building would using robotics and motion sensors. Thinking more abstractly is necessary while designing responsive websites. Yet several concepts are already in use: media queries, fluid layouts, and scripts that easily (or automatically) rearrange HTML and markup.

But responsive internet design is about a completely new way of thinking about design, in addition to changing screen resolutions and dynamically resizing pictures. Let's discuss each of these aspects as well as upcoming ideas.

Modifying the resolution of the screen:

As the variety of devices grows, so do the screen orientations, definitions, and resolutions. Every day, new gadgets with larger screens are created, and each one of these gadgets might be able to accommodate modifications in terms of usefulness, size, and even colour. Some are in portrait orientation, some in landscape, while others are actually square in shape.

We need to take into account the hundreds of various sizes of screens in addition to planning for both landscape and landscape orientations (and possibly enabling those configurations to transition in an instant upon page load). It is possible to classify them into broad groups, create designs specifically for each, and adjust the flexibility of each design as needed. But that might be too much for one person to manage, and who can predict how much will be used in five years? Furthermore, a lot of people don't make the most of their browsers, which leaves way too much area for various sizes of screens.


Only the arrangement of the columns (structural components) and the text were adaptable in a design a few decades ago, when layouts that were adaptable were considered a "luxury" for websites. The layouts were easily broken by images, and if pushed too far, even the form of a flexible foundational component would break. Although they could accommodate a few thousand pixels roughly, these flexible designs frequently couldn't transition from a huge screen on a computer to a netbook.

We can now adjust the degree of freedom. We have solutions so that layout never fails, even though images can be mechanically resized (although they could get smashed and unreadable in the procedure). The solution offers us a lot more alternatives, even though it's not a perfect fix. It works well on gadgets that can quickly flip from portrait to landscape mode, with customers moving from a big desktop or laptop to an iPad.

Check out Zoe Mickley Gillenwater's book "Flexible Web Design: Creating Liquid and Elastic Designs with CSS" and download the chapter "Creating Flexible Images" for additional information on designing fluid sites. Furthermore, Zoe offers an exhaustive compilation of guides, materials, ideas, and best practices for making adaptable grids and layouts, titled "Essential Resources for Creating Liquid and Elastic Designs."

Although all of this is technically achievable, using these capabilities is not as simple as plugging them in and calling it good. Take a look at this design's logo, for instance:

Resizing the image too small would make it appear grainy, but it was crucial to keep the website title visible and unobscured. The image is therefore divided into two parts: the graphic, which is set as the background and will be cropped to retain its size, and the text, which is going to be reduced proportionally.

The work of art is displayed as a background in the h1 element above, with the image aligned to correspond with the heading's (the container's) background. This is but one illustration of the type of creativity that went into creating genuinely effective, flexible web design. However, even with clever adjustments like these, a layout may still end up seeming overly short or narrow. The ideal scenario in the above logo example (though it works) would be to avoid cropping half of the graphic or to avoid making the logo small enough that it "floats" up and becomes illegible.

Flexible Images:

Dealing with images is one of the primary problems that responsive web design requires us to address. Reducing pictures proportionally can be done in a number of ways, many of which are simple to use. The standard approach is utilising CSS's max-width property for a quick fix; this was initially tried by Richard Rutter and is mentioned in Ethan Marcotte's article on fluid pictures.

All images shall load in their original dimensions unless the viewing area shrinks to less than the original width of the picture, provided that no other height-based image styles override this restriction. Since the image's maximum dimension is set to 100% of the screen and browser width, it will resize to fit the narrowest portion of 100%. Basically, the concept behind fluid pictures is to transmit images at the largest size at which they would be used, as Jason Grigsby pointed out. Instead of declaring the width and height of the images in your code, you allow the browser to adjust the images' relative sizes while utilising CSS to set the size as needed. It's a highly beneficial and easy method for artistic image cropping.

Although IE does not support max-width, a clever use of width: 100% could neatly address the issue in an Ia-specific style sheet. Another problem is that the rendering isn't always as good as it should be when a picture becomes too small, especially in outdated Windows browsers. But there is JavaScript in Ethan Marcotte's essay that can resolve this problem.

The main factors to take into consideration should be the resolution of pictures as well as the timing of downloading, even though the aforementioned is a fantastic short fix and a wonderful place to start for responsive photos. Although downsizing an image for handheld gadgets might be quite easy, if the original picture's size was intended for bigger displays, download times may be greatly slowed down and unneeded areas may be taken up.

Responsive Design Demystified:

These days, web design that is responsive is all the rage, especially since websites have to adjust to the increasing number of handheld gadgets that have small screens. A lot of developers and designers want to build websites that are responsive from the ground up or update their current sites with flexible features.

But at first glance, the entire subject can be a little perplexing. Though still relatively new, mobile-first design continues to grow quickly. It uses a lot of jargon that can be a little perplexing, such as viewports, media queries, responsive designs, and adaptive designs. Where do I begin?

An introduction to the field of web design that is responsive is provided in this article. You'll

  • Discover the meaning of responsive design and its applications.
  • Examine the differences between "adaptive design" and "responsive design."
  • Transform a present fluid layout into a layout that is responsive so that it appears well on all types of screens, including widescreen desktop and mobile.
  • Discover how to generate responsive designs with the use of queries for media and the viewport meta tag.

A brief summary of responsive design:

A website should "respond" to the device it can be viewed on, according to the basic principle of responsive web design. Broadly speaking, this can indicate things like:

Layout modifications to accommodate varying screen sizes, ranging from small phones to widescreen PCs

  • Image resizing to fit the size of the screen
  • Serving low-bandwidth images to mobile devices.
  • Making web parts more user-friendly for mobile
  • Keeping unneeded components hidden on smaller screens
  • Recognizing and responding to mobile attributes like device orientation and geolocation.

But when individuals talk about "responsive web design," they mostly mean the first of these: developing a design that can adjust to several screen sizes without appearing out of place.

Currently, the majority of webpages are made to function best on desktop browsers with frames that are roughly 1,000 pixels wide. If the width of the window in your browser is significantly less than this, users will either see a horizontal scrollbar or the content will appear squashed. Similarly, material seems too stretched horizontally and has too much white space on the web page when the internet browser is maximised for a widescreen screen.

Utilising a fluid-width design, in which the columns and items adjust in proportion to the browser width, will help you slightly improve the problem. A fluid-width design begins to crumble at extremely tiny or massive widths, even in that situation.

Using today's wide range of screen sizes and browser widths, it is nearly impossible for an internet designer to accommodate every user with these antiquated methods.

The difficulty is made more difficult by mobile browsers, which have screens that are simply 320–768 pixels wide. You can kind of get around this with most new cell phones by using your fingers to pan and zoom a web page. It is undeniable, however, that viewing a conventional desktop web page design on a mobile device is not a pleasurable experience.

This issue can be addressed by building two web pages: a desktop version and a mobile version. But this will necessitate more development time and require you to keep up with two sets of site designs.

This clarifies the appeal of responsive web design. Some of you simply need to create one responsive version of the site that looks amazing on small mobile devices and functions perfectly on widescreen PCs. The website adjusts its design accordingly when the screen and browser get broader and narrower.

Adaptive and responsive:

The terms "responsive web design" and "adaptive web design" may be familiar to you when considering websites that fluidly adjust to different screen sizes. What makes a difference?

Both phrases really refer to the same fundamental concept: a website's appearance ought to change depending on the device that it is being viewed on. Paul Gordon and Harry Roberts both argue that the term "adaptive" is more suitable to describe this behaviour because the website truly adjusts to the device rather than continually reacting to external modifications.

Harry goes a few steps further and proposes that instead of reacting constantly to a user's browser resizing it pixel by pixel, sites should just adjust their design to a narrow, particular range of screen widths. Such "adaptive" designs are intended to be simpler to construct than "responsive" designs.

Therefore, there isn't a lot of difference between the two names. For my part, I concur with Harry and Paul that the term "adaptive" would be a preferable choice. Currently, it appears that the majority of designers and programmers prefer to employ the term "responsive." Select the item that you want!

This type of partnership is really simple. It includes:

  • The header bar of a page. The entire viewport is obstructed by the bar.
  • Content is a primary content area. This fills up 65% of the screen width and extends to the left.
  • Section of the sidebar, #sidebar. This covers 20% of the viewport width and is floating on the opposite side of the main content area.
  • A menu for navigation is #nav. Additionally, floating to the right, this is positioned next to the sidebar.
  • 15% of the total viewport width is occupied by it.
  • A page's footer bar, denoted by #footer. This bar covers the entire viewport, identical to how the header would.

We also use a #pageBody div with a max-width of 1200 pixels to enclose the content area, sidebar, and navigational menu in order to avoid having the content spread too much on extremely large browser viewports.

The content region, sidebar, and navigation all decrease in proportion when the viewport gets smaller. This is good as long as the browser width is under or equal to 1,000 pixels, beyond which the three columns get a little small. The text among the columns gets so squished that it becomes illegible once you further reduce the width of the browser opening, down to about 600 pixels.

The flexible layout works effectively with rather large browser windows.

The fluid design, however, begins to falter with smaller viewports.

Modifying the layout to be responsive:

It is apparent that the above fluid layout will not function properly on the small viewports of handheld devices. Responsive designs can help with this.

We may adjust the position of the different items on the website according to the viewport width by making the design responsive. Standard three-column layouts are displayed in wide desktop browser windows; however, mobile and narrow browser windows have modified layouts that better fit their comparatively smaller widths.

Understanding Media Queries:

CSS media queries are necessary for creating responsive designs. You can use media queries to build a set of CSS rulesets that are only applied when a browser's viewport is within a specific width/height range or is a specific width and height. For instance, developers can apply a set of custom CSS rules that dynamically rearrange the contents of a website if the page displays in small browser windows by developing a media query for viewports that are smaller than 700 pixels wide.

Nearly all modern web browsers support media searches, with the notable exception of IE 8 and earlier.

When developing responsive designs, you'll likely employ the following media questions:

  • min-width: applied if the width of the viewport is equal to or slightly greater than the width
  • max-width: The width applies if the width of the viewport is equal to or slightly less than the width.
  • min-device-width: Applied when the display width of the device is larger than or more equal to its width.
  • max-device-width: This applies if the width of the device's screen is equal to or even less than its width.

Although the attributes width and device-width allow you to give exact width values, you're likely better off using the min/max version to define a range of values.

Although small, the distinction between width and device width is important.

  • The browser viewport's width is known as its width. This is usually smaller than the display width on desktop browsers. But because most mobile browsers employ a "virtual viewport" that is larger than the actual display and allows the person using it to zoom in and out as well as drag the viewport around, it is usually greater than the display width on mobile browsers. For instance, even though the screen of an iOS device is normally between 320 and 768 pixels large (in portrait mode), Mobile Safari utilises a virtual viewpoint that is 980 pixels wide.
  • The width of the display on the device is known as the device width. As a web developer, this data is usually not that important on a desktop computer. Knowing the screen width of your cell phone might help you adjust your layout so that it fits the screen comfortably. To do the same thing, you can use width rather than device-width when you're utilising the viewport meta tag in order to lock the viewport width to the display width (more information on this later).

Another minor distinction is that device-width (and min-device-width/max-device-width) are determined in device pixels, while width (and min-width/max-width) are measured in CSS pixels. One CSS pixel equals one device pixel if a page is 100% zoomed in on a smartphone or tablet. One CSS pixel is smaller than one device pixel when the page has been enlarged out. The introduction of high-density screens, like Apple's retina show, has further complicated matters by introducing the possibility that a single "device pixel" could really represent many screen pixels! (The positive aspect is that you won't have to worry about if a device's screen is high-density or normal-density, which actually makes your work as a web developer easier.)

Adjusting to viewports that are not wider than 1,000 pixels:

As stated earlier in the article, the fluid design functions well in large browser viewports, but as the viewport gets smaller, below 1,000 pixels wide, the content, sidebar, and navigation columns begin to look crowded.

Let's put this right. To find out when the viewport is smaller or bigger than or equal to 1,000 pixels wide, we'll use a media query. If so, the navigation will be positioned above the sidebar as opposed to to the right. The navigation, sidebar, and other portions can then be made somewhat broader in order to make everything feel less cramped.

This may be achieved with the following CSS: Add it to the last line of main.css, place it in another CSS file, or integrate it into the header portion of the page.

If the viewport width is 1,000 pixels or less, and if the website is viewed on a monitor, the rulesets within the media queries are activated. The rulesets function in the following manner:

  • The width of the main content was increased from 65% to 75% by the initial ruleset.
  • The additional rule set sets both items to 25% width and places the navigation below the sidebar.
  • In order to provide some vertical space above the navigation and the sidebar, the third rule set takes away the sidebar's content's right margin and adds an additional upper margin in its place.

Adjusting to viewports that are not wider than 700 pixels:

The viewport becomes even smaller, about 700 pixels wide, and even the new two-column design begins to appear crowded.

In order to address this, we may further modify the page using a different media question to make it a single-column design suitable for these small viewport sizes. The CSS is as follows: 

If the website is viewed in a viewport that is not more than or equal to 700 pixels wide, these rulesets take effect. The sets of rules are:

  • Remove the content's right margin and expand the content columns to fill the viewport.
  • The navigation menu should be extended to the full width of the viewport and repositioned above the primary content.
  • Turn the navigation items to run horizontally rather than vertically.
  • Slide the side panel to the full width of the viewport and position it beneath the main content.

Once the window's width falls below 700 pixels, we can change our layout once more through the creation of a new media query.

Adapting to viewports that are not wider than 480 pixels:

At this juncture, we've fairly optimised the design by having everything in just one row. We can still perform one last optimization for extremely tiny browser windows, such as those found on mobile phones: we may reduce and entirely eliminate the padding and margin that surround the page elements.

If the viewport width reaches 480 pixels or smaller, these rulesets eliminate the white margin that usually surrounds the outside of the page and lower the remaining white margin from 20 pixels to 5 pixels. Additionally, they significantly reduce the amount of padding on the navigation and header sections.

Use your browser to test out this design. Now, it appears to display well on all browser widths, ranging from 1,600 pixels to 320 pixels:

Using the viewport meta tag when working with mobile devices:

Of course, making your web pages mobile-friendly is one of the primary reasons to create a responsive style that looks well on both big and small screens.

As you can see, the written content is small and difficult to see because the iPhone's browser has stretched the page out. Although the iPhone's screen is only 320 pixels wide in the portrait position and 480 pixels broad in the landscape orientation, our "1,000 pixels and less" media query has been activated, reducing the page's width to two columns rather than three. However, the "480 pixels and less" media query is not activated. What is happening?

The iPhone 4 (and likely to follow the iPhone 5) has a 640x960 high-definition "retina" display, not 320x480. But from a CSS standpoint, these devices continue to report their screen lengths as 320x480 pixels due to compatibility issues.

The majority of mobile browsers, including the iPhone, employ a "virtual" viewport that is bigger than the actual screen. This enables online pages meant for bigger desktop browser windows to be seen in mobile browsers. The viewport is initially stretched out to fill the screen with the entire page. Next, the person using it can zoom into particular regions of the viewport by pinching and double-tapping.

Since the viewport of the iPhone is 980 pixels wide, most websites that are made to fit on a 1024 by 768 desktop monitor will work perfectly with it. This explains why the iPhone uses our "1,000 pixels or less" media query. But with the page completely zoomed in, we've created a design that is responsive and especially meant to adjust to tiny screens. How can we convince the iPhone to stop utilising its 980 pixel wide virtual viewport and switch to a 320 and 480 pixel wide viewport that fits the screen size?

The viewport meta description is useful in such a scenario. The... portion of a page may have this tag added to it to adjust the viewport size for mobile browsers.

In this situation, we require the width of the view to be equal to the width of the screen on the device, which will produce a 1:1 ratio between the screen pixels on the device and the CSS pixels on the web page. The initial-scale and maximum-scale settings in the viewpoint tag can be used for this. 

initial-scale equal to one makes sure the page is fully zoomed in when it is first shown, matching the width of the viewport to the screen width of the device in portrait mode (320 pixels on an iPhone, 768 pixels on an iPad, etc.).

When turning into landscape mode, the device cannot zoom in more than 1:1 because of the maximum-scale=1 setting. Put together, it compels the width of the iPhone viewport to grow to 480 pixels when in landscape mode. The viewport would have a width of 320 pixels in both landscape and panoramic modes if the maximum-scale setting was omitted. In certain cases, this might be exactly what you want, but in landscape mode, this would overstretch the material on the responsive layout.

Currently, the viewport of our website is 320 pixels wide if viewed in portrait mode on an iPhone. It is 480 pixels wide if viewed in landscape.

We may force mobile web browsers to match the width of their viewport to that of the device by employing the viewport meta description in conjunction with the initial-scale and maximum-scale values. This will cause the correct media query to be sent.


You have studied the idea of responsive web design and explored using multiple responsive design methods in this article. You have examined:  The fundamental principle of responsive website design is to build websites that seamlessly adjust to various screen sizes and devices. The slight difference between "adaptive web design" and "responsive web design." The procedure of converting a conventional fluid design into a layout that is responsive and can adjust to different browser lengths. The function of media queries in CSS in responsive designs. The viewport meta element can be used to set the extent of the viewport in a mobile browser.

What is the difference between adaptive web design and responsive web design?
Adaptive web design refers to designing a website with layouts that adapt to specific device sizes or breakpoints. Responsive web design, on the other hand, focuses on creating a flexible design that smoothly adjusts to various screen sizes without the need for predefined breakpoints.

How can I make my existing website responsive?
Reactive website conversion involves evaluating design elements, implementing media queries, and testing across devices for necessary adjustments and iterative improvements.

Why is responsive web design important?
Responsive web design is crucial because it ensures that your website looks and functions optimally across different devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. This adaptability improves the user experience, reduces bounce rates, and enhances SEO performance.

How do media queries work in responsive design?
Media queries in CSS allow you to apply different styles based on the characteristics of the device, such as screen width, height, orientation, and resolution. By using media queries, you can create responsive designs that adjust layout, typography, and other elements to suit various device sizes.

What are some best practices for responsive web design?
Design for mobile devices first, then enhance the layout for larger screens. Optimize images with responsive and WebP formats. Test across devices, prioritize content, and use flexible units for scalability across devices.

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