What is responsive web design and how to use it

Learn what responsive web design is, why it is so important, and how to create one for your website.

what is responsive web design

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As the devices we use to browse the web change, the pages we access also need to transform. Luckily, technology has evolved enough to propose a great way to make sure content is displayed correctly no matter what you are using: responsive web design.

In the past, there were attempts at keeping a parallel mobile version for our websites. That seemed like a good idea at first but it essentially doubled the attention our content needed while also fragmenting our audiences.

There are also those who simply do not care about such accessibility options. Accessing an unoptimized website design on your phone is a highly frustrating experience and one that you certainly do not wish upon your potential customers.

See below what you will learn while reading this article:

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What is responsive web design?

Responsive web design is the term used to refer to creating web pages that are successfully viewable in any device. This means having content that changes to fit multiple screen sizes and browsing conditions. It adheres to the following principles:

  • fluid content grids, which change size and shapes depending on the viewer screen’s width;
  • media queries that depend on how many elements the screen can display at once;
  • flexible images and media, which makes them respond to different screen widths.

In the past, computers were the only means to access the web, and websites were optimized for the average monitor screen size. Now, that space is shared with multiple viewports in smartphones, tablets, computers, and other kinds of devices.

Thus, responsive web design is a desirable quality for any page. That is a way to make sure more people are able to successfully use your interface.

Responsive web design or adaptive web design?

It’s common to think responsive web design and adaptive web design are the same concepts but that is a mistake.

Responsive web design is completely flexible, with your website’s elements shuffling around your layout as the screen resolution changes. Even the most specific values are serviced. That is important considering how many different screen resolutions there are among computer monitors, smartphones, and tablets.

On the other hand, adaptive web design has predetermined widths to work with, servicing a different layout depending on them. While it may seem flexible, it might provide a bad user experience to those who access your content on a resolution that is not predetermined.

Why is it important to have a responsive web design?

Making the correct decisions when building your website helps you successfully use it to acquire customers and reach the results you wish. Not choosing a responsive web design will severely damage your chances of success.

Still not convinced? Below are the top 5 reasons why it’s important to have a website with a responsive design.

1. Trustworthiness

Besides website security, adaptability is also decisive for trust. Did you know that 94% of people do not trust website with a bad design? According to market surveys, it takes 50 milliseconds for a website to make a good first impression. After that has passed, it’s unlikely you will get another chance.

If your website does not have a responsive web design and offers a bad experience to its visitors, you will not gain their trust. And this is an essential element to turn them into customers for your business.

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2. Search engine optimization

Google and similar search engines always look for ways to provide a good experience for their users. That is why most criteria used to decide what websites get the top positions are all connected to quality and relevance.

That is why responsive web design is so important for search engine optimization. By making sure your website works well across all screen sizes, you might also get a boost in your ranking and visibility.

3. Cost-effectiveness

The ineffective alternative to responsive web design is having a separate mobile version for your website. This means double the development attention to your pages while not enjoying the advantages of responsiveness.

Instead, prefer to work with proper responsive web design. Since it means a single adaptable version for your pages, your costs tend to decrease and you can be focused on a more effective goal.

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4. User experience

If your website does not load properly on your visitor’s device, they certainly will not have a good user experience. This is a crucial element that can turn these people into happy customers or make sure that they never return.

After all, people have plenty of options to choose from when browsing the web for several kinds of services. If someone has a bad experience when browsing your website, there is no guarantee you will get a second chance. Make sure a good experience is a priority.

5. Larger audience appeal

Lastly, never forget that responsive web design is a way to increase your reach. This means getting more people to access your content and having a good experience that is associated with your business.

By resisting the idea of responsive web design, you are alienating a considerable portion of your audience. Correcting this might yield excellent results in terms of visits, conversions, and satisfaction.

How do I make my website design responsive?

Now that you know what responsive web design is, you should learn how to turn it into a reality on your website. That is the way to enjoy its benefits and prevent your visitors from having a bad experience when interacting with your services.

How about starting now? Below, you will find out what changes you need to make for a responsive web design.

Website layout

Whenever we think of responsive web design, the first element we picture is the website layout. Working with it is the first step in making your content more accessible.

A good way to begin is to envision your layout without thinking about responsiveness at first. You can work with a pixel width that fits most computer monitors.

After that, start adding media queries and conditions to your CSS that help transform that initial layout into a responsive one.

An example of this is the use of a 1 x 1 aspect ratio on your content. Most mobile browsers default to a full view of websites, which usually shrinks them and relies on the zoom feature for navigation.

This process can be easier if you are using your CMS for marketing, as it will probably already have the right optimizations WordPress plugins.

Media responsiveness

By using the correct media queries, you can output the appropriate content depending on your visitor’s viewing conditions.

You also need to make sure to use proportional sizes instead of absolute. For example, this means preferring to set an image’s width to 100% instead of 600 pixels. In the first case, it will always occupy the entire screen’s width no matter its size.

Since you are working with mobile devices in mind, do not forget to use compression in your images. After all, your visitors might be accessing your website through limited data plans on their phones. Accessibility includes any access conditions.

Lastly, there is the matter of typography. Just like with images, you must avoid absolute pixel sizes when building your responsive web design plan.

Through CSS, you can set your font sizes to percentages just like you do with images. Use this feature to display your text appropriately depending on the screen size.


You cannot finish your responsive web design project without proper testing. You must make sure that your layout really works across different devices and conditions.

Most modern browsers include a testing environment where you can set different user agents and screen sizes to test your layout. 

Also, make sure to consider your target audience and their most common access conditions. This should apply not only to your layout but also to your navigation experience and writing style.

Now that you have learned everything that is important about responsive web design, it’s time to put it in action. If your website does not properly adapt to multiple viewing conditions, you are probably losing potential customers daily. Use the information in this article to fix that and work with a responsive website.

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