Of the many principles that are crucial to modern web design, building responsive websites is one of the most important. Most web developers today are familiar with the term, but there are a lot of misunderstandings about what it means and how to achieve it.
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What Does Responsive Web Design Mean?
Before you start testing the responsiveness of your website, you first need to understand what the term means. Responsiveness is an essential concept in modern web design; it’s something that every website designer and operator needs to be familiar with. To some extent, the term ‘responsive web design’ is self-explanatory; it describes a website that responds quickly to the user. A responsive website can’t be slow and sluggish to respond to user input.
But there’s more to a responsive website than just being nimble. To qualify as responsive, a website needs to be adaptable and versatile. That means it will automatically adjust to different screen sizes and resolutions, irrespective of the device it was initially designed on. Responsive designs make websites as device and platform-agnostic as possible.
Understanding the Importance of a Responsive Website
It’s hard to overstate how important it is for modern websites to be responsive. If users land on your website and find that it doesn’t display correctly or that features don’t work properly, they will leave immediately. This will raise your bounce rate and ultimately hurt your SEO. Properly testing a website for responsiveness is essential for ensuring a good user experience.
Given the sheer variety of devices that internet users can use to browse websites today, each with a different screen size, building websites to work perfectly on every single device is a tall order. The process of testing a responsive website is essential for making sure that a website works correctly on as many devices as possible. Any web designer worth their salt will strive to make their website compatible with as many devices as possible.
The only way of ensuring that a website works correctly on as many devices as possible is by performing a responsive design test. Below are some simple ways that any website owner can test the responsiveness of their website and identify any areas where they need to adjust their approach.
There are numerous online testing tools you can use to evaluate the responsiveness of your website. All you need to do is navigate to one of these websites and enter your URL to generate a responsiveness report for your website instantly. You can use these tools to assess the responsiveness of an individual web page or an entire website.
There are plenty of these online tools available. Some of the most popular include Responsive Design Checker and Screenfly, but there are plenty of other alternatives out there.
Chrome Web Browser
Googles’ Chrome web browser is a fantastic tool for testing a responsive website. Using Chrome, you can emulate various mobile devices on a laptop or desktop. All you need to do is load the website you want to test in Google Chrome and then do the following:
- Navigate to the website you want to test in Google Chrome.
- Right-click on the webpage and select ‘Inspect’ from the pop-up menu.
- You can then move your cursor over individual elements on the page to check the associated coding. Alternatively, you can access the device mode menu by press Ctrl + Shift + M to reveal a list of mobile devices to emulate.
- Select the mobile devices that you wish to emulate to see how
Chrome also offers a ‘responsive mode’ in which you can freely resize your browser to see how your website responds to different display resolutions and screen sizes. This enables you to emulate your website on various browsers and devices rapidly.
The most reliable way of establishing how well your website functions on different devices is actually to load the website up on those devices. Emulation is better than nothing, but it isn’t a perfect solution. The only way of knowing for certain whether a specific device is capable of correctly displaying your website is to use that device to open your website; no emulator will ever be as accurate as actually displaying your website on a mobile screen.
Most web developers only have physical access to a couple of devices at most; there aren’t many developers out there with an arsenal of smartphones to test their websites on. This can complicate the process of on-device testing, but you should still attempt to run your site on as many devices as possible personally. Alternatively, you can make your site available to beta testers, who can then test its functionality using their own devices.
Testing your websites’ responsiveness is an important part of the web development process, but what should you do with that information afterwards? There are numerous simple things you can do to enhance the responsiveness of your website. For example, media queries are one of the most popular techniques for tailoring a websites’ style sheet to different devices. Developers can use media queries to alter the way that specific elements on a web page display depending on the screen resolution or type of device displaying them.
If you run into any issue with the responsiveness of your website on the devices you emulate or load your site on, be sure to note the devices and their specifications. Doing this will enable you to add custom code to your website to compensate for problematic screen sizes and resolutions. If necessary, you can also recode individual features and web apps to ensure they function correctly on all device types.
Building a responsive website is an essential part of modern web design, but it is easier said than done. Without thorough testing, it is difficult to establish precisely how responsive your website is or how it will respond to specific devices. You can never be too careful when it comes to designing a responsive website; you should aim to make your site compatible with as many devices as possible.