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10 Proven and Effective Tips for Designing Responsive Websites

This mega guide covers everything you need to know, from basics and best practices to advanced instructions to create responsive website designs.
10 Proven and Effective Tips for Designing Responsive Websites
This mega guide covers everything you need to know, from basics and best practices to advanced instructions to create responsive website designs.

10 Proven and Effective Tips for Designing Responsive Websites

Web design has seen major undergoing changes over the years and it’s a field where we are at a constant shift of production that is introduced by perpetual innovation and transformation. Back in the past, web design was all about creating a smooth browsing experience for internet users. But since then, the mobile revolution has drastically changed the way we design for the web. 

When designers build a new website today, they need to make sure it looks great, functions well, and communicates the right message across all sorts of browsers and devices. We have witnessed a large increase in mobile users and the forecast is expected to grow even further in the future

For this reason, you are expected to create stunning and beautiful responsive websites that appeal to all your users that visit your website from across different devices. Responsive websites have become a necessity especially if you put to the equation that Google favors mobile-responsive websites in their search algorithm. Hence we can say that the days when you had to design for single desktop screens are a thing of the past now.

What is Responsive Design?

Create Responsive Design in WordPress

Responsive website design is an approach that allows design and code to behave and respond to the size of a device’s screen. Having your website be responsive means it is flexible to different screen sizes and visitors from either desktops, tablets, or mobiles will be presented with an exceptional user interface and can engage easily on all of the devices. Responsive web design is the capacity of an interface to be fluid and present itself in an ideal arrangement based on the available screen space.

Besides being a technique to provide device flexibility, responsive web design is at the forefront of user experience. The aim of responsive web design is to provide a consistent user experience irrespective of the device used. Responsive design requires a combination of a fluid grid, flexible images, and media queries. For a web designer when creating responsive websites the ultimate goal should be to seamlessly tailor the UI and UX of a website design across different devices and platforms.

Why should you create responsive websites?

Every website must comply with the rules of responsive web design and present an aesthetically pleasing display on all the different device sizes in order to ensure coherence and offer an excellent user experience. Mobile devices and their users now constitute a huge segment of traffic coming to your website. 

Thus appealing to these visitors with a satisfactory and consistent user experience it’s essential to your business’s longevity. Responsive websites are will ensure the content is displayed nice and professional, the text will be readable and easy to follow CTAs to capture a wider audience. 

Looking through all the effort that you have put into gathering all the traffic and visitors, you don’t want to miss out and drive away potential clients by providing them with a terrible user experience while they scout your website from a mobile device.

As mentioned above, following through the best techniques of responsive web design is not only about showing an outstanding user experience but also about improving your rankings on search engines as Google has stated the mobile-first indexing rules for a few years now. Google as one of the largest search engines gives primacy over websites that incorporate the best mobile-oriented web designs techniques and create excellent responsive websites.

Effective Tips for designing responsive websites

The following tips for mobile website design and responsive design will help you make sure your site is both responsive and mobile-friendly too. Since responsive design is crucial for any website, we will share Pandora’s box of all the most effective responsive web design tips and techniques that you can start implementing right away.

Understand how your visitors use mobiles

Without further ado we will begin our comprehensive guide on the best responsive design tip and just to state the obvious, you should come to terms with how your visitors use websites differently from desktop devices from those of mobiles. 

The best approach to take upon this technique is to use the invaluable insights you can get from using one of your favorite analytical tools integrated within your website. Make use of the analytics to figure out why they’re accessing your site with a mobile device and which pages and elements they access the most. With this information, you can assess which pages or other elements on your website will need to be easily accessible to your users.

Implement fluid grids

Create responsive web design

A grid is a two-dimensional structure of intersecting lines that help you arrange and organize your content on a web page. These guidelines incorporate margin, spaces, and columns that collectively provide a consistent framework for your page’s content. By using fluid and flexible grids you will be able to place each element that’s expressed as a proportion relative to its container. 

This means the elements will resize depending on the size of the container they sit within. In this context, rather than basing your website design over fixed-sized pixels, adopting fluid grids results in liquid layouts that expand with the web pages. The flexible grid is able to resize automatically to fit the different screen dimensions. In this way, the grid is not based on pixels or percentages, rather it is designed in terms of proportionality. 

Grid view divides the web page into columns that make it easier to place the elements on the page. In order to create beautiful and responsive websites, it is vital to remember ordering, reordering, nesting of rows and columns to align content perfectly. To realize this in practice, you can use grid systems like Bootstrap that already has a fluid grid or define your parameters for columns, spacing, and containers.

Pay attention to the navigation

Creating an identical website for smaller screen sizes that contain all the elements available on desktop size is a challenge on its own. Because you are designing for smaller screens, you need to make the design work within these limitations. One major component that you should always look after is the navigation menu, this helps the visitors navigate and explore your content easily and it plays a crucial part in the user experience. 

An ideal solution when designing for a smaller screen is to replace your nav menu with a hamburger menu that will contain all the important links on your website. Try to simplify your navigational choices and use icons paired with text, in-page links, collapsible menus, and dropdowns to get people where they need to go. In general, you’ll only have room for four or five core links. That affects not just your site’s navigation, but also its entire content strategy/information architecture. 

For this reason, you want to make sure you include a few of the links most important on your content that represent the places people will want to go/should go, and that those pages offer opportunities for people to dig deeper.

Adaptive Image

Mobile design 1

Image sizing can be one of the most challenging aspects of responsive web design. A visually pleasing website will contain lots of media whether that be images or videos. While these components look stunning on desktop screens, it poses quite a challenge to display and place them on smaller screens. Images have been an obstacle to implementing truly adaptable responsive websites since the very beginning. In the case of images and videos, it is recommended to use the max-width property. 

The idea behind it is that you upload images at their maximum size and let the browser resize the picture based on the relative size of the CSS guide. Another method to create responsive images is also adding multiple versions of the image on the server. The simplest, the easiest, and the oldest but unfortunately not the most efficient way to handle this situation; nevertheless, it works.

The rule of thumb for every CTA

Your call to action buttons are pivotal and hence the proper highlight should be provided on all screen sizes accordingly. When designing and creating responsive websites, placing strategic CTAs will have a huge impact on user engagement as well as increase leads and conversions. 

Your call to action buttons should stand out and be visible to the user. Take into account physical differences in using the website on a small screen and a large one. Mobile World is all about designing for thumbs. When you’re making your website responsive, it’s a common trap to just make everything smaller for small screens. 

Although this might be true for some elements, when it comes to buttons, you have to make sure they are big enough for the users to see and tap. To ensure usability for people with disabilities, give buttons a height of 36dp and give touchable targets a minimum height of 48dp.

Incorporate responsive typography

Typography matters even on smaller screens thus make sure to scale the font size, line height, and width to best fit your design and different screen sizes on your responsive website. It’s a no-brainer that smaller text on smaller screens is hard to read. Using larger font sizes can dramatically improve readability. For better readability use a font size of 16 pixels for body copy, and adjust up or down depending on the font’s design. 

When designing your responsive website, make sure your font is easy to read and is big enough on smaller screens. Use our collection of the best free serif and sans serif fonts to include on your design projects. When choosing which font you want to use, make sure to use a highly-legible font, especially for the vital text on your content. 

Spacing is also another important factor to consider when deciding on typography. Make sure that your line-height is set to an appropriate amount. Using a larger or a smaller line-height value will drastically degrade your design. We recommend something in the 1.25 to 1.5 range, yet you should run your tests on specific screen sizes for better visuals.

Make use of media queries and breakpoints

Responsive design 1

The most popular CSS properties that help realize responsive web design are the viewport and media queries. Media queries allow you to show the right styling to your visitor, depending on their device. They will allow you to optimize your website layout and create stunning responsive websites for varying screen widths. 

The content responds to the different conditions on the different devices while the media query checks for the width, resolution as well as the orientation of the device being used, and the appropriate set of CSS rules are then displayed. Such example of media queries is:

/* On devices that are smaller than 992px 992px, set the background color red */
@media screen and (max-width: 992px) {
 body {
   background-color: red;

A responsive website design should have at least 3 layouts for different browser widths. The specific numbers we will display are not fixed and you can use different values as per your needs.

  • Small: under 600px. This is how content will look on most phones.
  • Medium: 600px – 900px. This is how content will look on most tablets, some large phones, and small netbook-type computers.
  • Large: over 900px. This is how content will look on most personal computers.

Each of these layouts will include the exact same text and content, but each will be best displayed based on the user’s screen size. When scaling the content down for smaller size devices will sometimes make it unreadable. A common approach with media queries is to show a multicolumn layout for large screens and reduce the number of columns one by one to fit the smaller screens.

Plan out your design first

Usually, the most unexpected things turn out to be the best, yet this is not always the case in web design. For web designers to craft their art, they must first map out how their design will look like and what components should be placed where before you begin building it. 

For responsive websites, planning out your designs is one step further to a successful site. While designing a website you will need a competent content structure to give you a primary idea of how your content will be organized. Content and design flourish when developed in tandem. Before you begin building your website you will need to do some research

  • Look for website inspirations
  • Determine the color palette
  • Decide on your main call to actions

Design around the content and base your navigation on its organization. Make sure to present a strong sense of character and personality and think about the message you want to convey. Create your design around that concept.

Minimal is the new Black

When designing a website on large desktop screens, you have a large space filled up with elements and components, yet with mobile and smaller screen sizes, the incorporation of a multitude of elements will cause chaos. But thankfully we have white spaces for that. Although minimalism is always a good idea when designing a responsive website keep your work as clean and minimalistic as possible. 

Make use of negative space (aka, whitespace) to create breaks in your design and highlight those areas of content that you don’t want anyone to miss. To easily create responsive websites, you can check out our collection of the best minimal WordPress themes that attribute the mobile optimization as well.

Loose unnecessary words

We said that designing for desktops it’s a lot easier because it allows for more text, more components, or elements. Yet, the process of responsive website design requires adaptation as well. With mobile devices, you must work within the confines of smaller screens. 

This means you have to start thinking and writing more economically. This makes your text shorter and more catchy to the reader (it has to make sense of course). If you’re taking writing from a desktop site, it might need some editing. Consolidate copy, use bullet points and other structural devices, and trim the fat wherever you can. 

Long texts are fine for a desktop, but 10,000 word blog posts can be painful on a phone. If you are a responsive website with a lot of text in it, we recommend you take the minimal approach, make use of the white spaces and only leave content that’s important to give context to your philosophy.

Final Thoughts

The popularity of mobile devices and tablets has changed how we design websites and navigate through them. Long gone are the days where you would design websites for desktops only. Now you have to think responsive wise while creating and building websites. 

Mobile first-indexing has been an important release from Google that prioritizes and favors responsive websites optimized for mobiles as well. This allows for a larger inclusion to a wide audience that will visit your website from the comfort of their fingertips. 

Responsive website design lets us strip away what we don’t need, so everybody can get what they need done, done faster. For this article, we’ve laid down all-out best tips that everyone should follow while creating responsive websites. 

These are practices we follow in our day-to-day work and we are proud to present some of the most exuberant and beautiful WordPress themes that come responsive ready as well. Leave in the comments below your best responsive tip.

By Snowy Smith

Director of product design, Freehand

Introducing Kaon WordPress Theme