It’s 2020, and the web has become more important than ever. It’s currently the one consistent space where people can communicate, shop, watch, and learn. This increased traffic and continually competitive space mean that website performance and accessibility are essential today. This is why we need responsive web design fixes that everyone can make.
Responsive design isn’t a new concept. It’s been around for over a decade by this point. But many websites still suffer from usability issues that they can solve with a few minor changes. Whether you run a website on WordPress, Shopify, or somewhere else—you should take the time to ensure your website is responsive and working properly.
We’ve put together fourteen of our favorite responsive web design fixes and tips that all websites should make in 2020.
The Basics Of Responsive Web Design
Need a quick primer? Responsive web design ensures that a website looks good and functions properly, regardless of what device it appears on via HTML and CSS.
Gone are the days of mobile-friendly designs as the gold standard. Consider how many devices you use in a day—TVs, desktops, tablets, phones—and just because your device is changing doesn’t mean your expectations of a quality web experience are.
A Google study indicated that 75% of users prefer using mobile sites. Even if you’ve spent time designing a website on your desktop, you will waste time and money if it can’t easily translate to a mobile device.
The website must adapt to the user’s preferences and not the other way around. How you make your website responsive is up to you: website builders use built-in responsive models or software for the more DIY-inclined.
If hands-off is more your style, you may choose to employ a web design company like Globalgraphics in Toronto or other agencies in London, New York, LA, Hong Kong, or any other major city that suits your needs.
Whatever path you choose, here are our top responsive web design fixes, tips, and trends.
1. Test It, Then Test It Again
You may not be impressed by this first suggestion, but the simple stuff is often the easiest to forget. Test your product!
Don’t just take someone’s word or have blind faith in your code. Get your hands on every device you can—and test, test, test. Make sure every aspect of the site works as well on mobile as it does on desktop.
Be rigorous with yourself—you only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your visitors. Don’t blow it because you only tested it on iPhone and not on Android. Most browsers will allow you to test what a website looks like from specific devices. Google Chrome will even let you test specific models of a device.
2. Minimize Pinch & Zoom
If your clients have to constantly pinch and zoom to see your website’s layout, they will become frustrated and uninterested.
How can you avoid this? Set your viewport with a meta viewport tag in the header of the webpage.
Doing this empowers the browser to control and adapt to the page’s dimensions and scaling depending on the device it’s being accessed from.
3. Optimize Your Pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words. But if your visitors can’t see what the picture is, it really isn’t doing much for you. Use the max-width property in CSS coding to ensure your images are responsive.
By setting this to 100%, your images will respond to the specific device accessing it. This is important because if the image is wider than the viewport, it can cause horizontal scrolling, which will impact the user experience.
4. Remove Horizontal Content
No one likes horizontal content. User behavior doesn’t support accessing content like this, and when it happens, it’s disorientating and annoying.
Horizontal content also causes the dreaded pinch and zoom. How can you expect anyone to take the time to read your information when the formatting causes friction?
To fix this in your code, add a ‘VW’ to your font size, which stands for viewpoint width, and your code would look like this: font-size: 10vw.
5. Personalize To The User’s Device
You can also ensure your website is catering specifically to your customers’ device using media queries. Media queries help you define completely different styles for different browser sizes. The best items to query on are min-width, max-width, min-height, and max-height.
6. Maximize Your Real Estate
One way to maximize your space is to hide your navigation. While spread out navigation may work well on a desktop, it’s a nightmare on a mobile device. Many websites use the hamburger menu, which provides a drop-down menu with different page options.
Condensing your navigation will also keep loading times down and improve how users interact with your website.
7. Make Your Website Accessible
Accessibility is becoming more important even on the Internet. In 2019, the United States Supreme Court upheld that sites must be accessible to all.
One way to do this is to add a voice interface. This is both convenient for others (think Alexa or Siri) and considerate of those with different accessibility needs. You should also optimize meta descriptions and tags to make it easier for the visually impaired to use your website.
8. Stick To The Grid
The CSS grid layout is not compatible with all interfaces. Still, it’s becoming increasingly popular amongst responsive web designers. The grid is beloved by responsive web designers as it provides them with more consistent, responsive design across interfaces and browsers.
Incorporating the grid into your design will make your designer’s life easier and help ensure consistency across your website.
9. Optimize Your SEO
SEO is a key facet of your web presence. It’s the core of digital marketing and vital for rankings on search engines.
As Google favors mobile-first (over desktop), it’s becoming more and more important to ensure your website is responsive and favors non-desktop users. If you don’t have a mobile presence, it’s nearly impossible to appear in the SERPs. For this reason, you should consider your SEO strategy when updating your website.
10. Optimize Your Content Too
While your website’s responsiveness is key, it won’t do much if your content isn’t optimized.
Limit your text and lean into visuals. Having a giant block of text on a responsive website will diminish the user experience. Make your vital information easy to find and access, keep it relevant, and limit your word count.
11. Automated Light Adjustment
A responsive website is designed to respond to the user’s device, but what if you could design a website to respond to a user’s space?
Ambient Light Sensors are being used to design websites that respond to the light the user is in. Most devices currently support ambient light sensors (think of your laptop adjusting to the sun). Imagine having a website that could respond and change based on the time of day? It would certainly set you apart from the competition.
12. Avoid Pop-ups
It’s important to have your CTAs visible and clear. However, it may not translate well to mobile if you’re using an overlay or a pop-up.
Pop-ups can often overwhelm or take over a mobile site completely, turning off the visitor and making the experience feel more difficult. Eliminating desktop pop-ups and overlays from your mobile experience will cater to the user’s immediate needs.
13. Eliminate Trendy Fonts
Larger and more elaborate fonts are becoming more popular on websites. With a major focus on minimalist designs and white space, a unique font is a great way to make a splash.
You want to ensure that when this font downscales—it’s still as aesthetically pleasing and legible as possible. That beautiful cursive may be difficult to read when it downscales.
A suggested body text size is 16px (1em), and a 1.5em line-height (which allows the text space for your eye to process it).
Mobile usage is becoming the most popular form of web traffic. All of these tips lead to our final tip: consider designing your mobile site first. We already know that Google is prioritizing mobile experiences. We also know that the majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t focus on creating an exceptional mobile experience from the very beginning.
A mobile-first approach will ensure the best compatibility. By designing the more difficult and limited platform first, you won’t have to worry about downsizing your design.
Great Design Means Focusing On The User Experience
Responsive web design is still a popular trend in 2020. And with the focus on accessibility and usability, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Your website needs to leverage responsive design best practices if you want to stay competitive.
These tips and fixes will help you as you work to design a more responsive website. But remember, whether you design your website yourself or look for an agency, you should ensure your website offers the best user experience possible.
Positive user experience is one of the best ways to improve your conversion rates, build brand loyalty, and create a professional look and feel for your website.