Responsiveness is a technique to optimize a website for all type of devices like desktop, mobile and tablets in order to provide better user experience. There are huge variety of smart phones and tablet devices available in market. It is impossible for website owners to test whether the website loads properly on all these devices with wide range of screen sizes. This resulted in a definite need of simple and cost effective site layout to fit into all these devices without additional cost and effort. The layout of responsive sites automatically detects browser’s view ports and fills the width and height of the browser window.
Note: Responsiveness is also referred with other words like fluid, liquid and flexible.
Responsive Design and Mobile Sites
Earlier days site owners offer completely different site on mobile devices by integrating third-party services. Responsive design started becoming popular since there is no need for site owners to build a separate mobile site. Responsive layout has two major advantages:
- Save huge time on setting up additional mobile site.
- Save money paid to third-party mobile site builder tools.
How it Works?
Each element in a responsive layout is treated as a grid or box which gets auto adjusted based on the browser’s view ports. CSS media queries are used to detect width and height of the browser window to adjust the style of the site. The minimum width is defined in the theme below which the site layout will be changed to a mobile layout in addition to the alignment of elements.
Generally the sidebar elements go below the main content in a mobile device and there will be no horizontal scroll bar visible. Even Google shows the horizontal scrolling as a warning on mobile friendliness tester to ensure site owners provide a mobile site to users without the need of horizontal scrolling.
In addition to money and time, responsive sites offer unique user experience on all devices allowing users to remember the structure of a site easily. Most users share bookmarks across the devices they use and responsiveness provides seamless switch between devices without noticing change in layout or content. The URL of site’s pages across the devices also remains same with responsive design.
Importance of Responsive Site
Nowadays just having a separate mobile site is no more sufficient and user experience is the most important factor for search engines. Mobile friendly responsive sites also rank well in Google and Bing search results due to good user experience. Earlier, Google used to show “Mobile-friendly” in the search result to force users to build responsive websites. Now, this has been removed from search as most of the sites are already mobile friendly.
Responsive layout is a simple way to provide unique content across devices with better user experience especially for the sites heavily depending on organic search engines for traffic. Most website builder tools also moved away from their regular themes and concentrating on responsive themes to avoid providing separate mobile site builder tool.
Testing Responsiveness of a Website
You can have a responsive site by using a responsive theme for your site or use CSS media queries to adjust the elements on different devices. You can also have a separate mobile site and redirect users to a mobile version. At any case, it is necessary to test the site on different devices to ensure the compatibility. All web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari have a builtin developer tools option to view the site on different devices.
For example, on Safari you can enable responsive mode under the menu “Develop > Enter Responsive Design Mode”.
You can also use Google mobile-friendly tool to check the compatibility of your site on mobile devices. Go to the tool, enter any page URL and press enter key. The tool will fetch the live page and run the test for few seconds.
You will see a a result result showing any problems detected on the page or “Page is usable on mobile” success message.
There are also responsive device mockup sites available for testing your website on different devices at a time.