Last Updated On August 20, 2022

The Best Tools for Responsive Web Design

The Best Tools for Responsive Web Design
By Team TIS

With the exponential germination of newer devices, varied platforms, and the latest desktop and mobile-specific browsers, it has become indispensable for every business owner to ensure their websites render perfectly irrespective of the device being used by the audience. With mobile browsing gaining hype everywhere, it is imperative to mold the website structure in a way that it delivers all the important information, products, and news easily and effectively.

Thus, clients tend to hire responsible website designers who are well versed with the newest tools and techniques that let websites adopt finger-friendly strategies, magnetize visitors and convert them subsequently. While the conventional design approach requires one to create a separate web design per device, responsive designs ease the task by detecting screen resolutions smartly and adjusting their layouts accordingly, thereby, catering to the audience with the Mobile-First approach. Imagine how soothing it is to see your web design layout adapting to the viewing environment (the browser) and responding to every screen resolution (the device) flawlessly. So, fasten your belts and dive into the following article to join us on a ride that gives Life To Your Designs.

The best tools for Responsive Web Design are based on the three elements that make a website responsive. 1. Flexible/Fluid grid, 2. Responsive Images and 3. Media Queries. The best tools are ones that help you to achieve the elements necessary to make your site responsive on as many devices and screen sizes possible.

Using Prebuilt Flexible/Fluid Grids

You can quickly download prebuilt flexible/fluid grids to save time and get your responsive site completed easily and effectively. The other benefit of using prebuilt grids, such as the Golden Grid System, is because it easily adapts 16 to 8 or 8 to 4 columns through “folding”. The Golden Grid System also has a small browser overlay that will expose the grid on your page so you can test your design.

The 1140px CSS Grid is another good prebuilt flexible/fluid grid you can use. This tool allows you to design from a wide desktop resolution down to the smallest of devices. It will fit into the 1280 monitor but will also become fluid and adapt to smaller monitors correctly.

Using a Responsive Calculator will help you with your workflow as well. A responsive calculator will calculate pixels to percentages and also will generate CSS rules that can then be easily copy/pasted into your style sheets.

Tools for Responsive Web Design Images and Text

Another key element to Responsive Web Design is having responsive images and text. To achieve fluid images and text you can use The Filament Group’s Responsive Images. Responsive Images will allow you send appropriately sized images based on the screen resolution. Adaptive Images is based on this same premise. However, with Adaptive Images by Matt Wilcox, PHP and some JavaScript are used to serve the appropriate image size but without the extra mark up.

As for responsive text, there are some plugins available to help improve your workflow. The jQuery plugin, FitText, will make font sizes flexible and helps to achieve scalable headlines. The headlines will fill the width of the parent element. To make bold blocks of text resize responsively you can use the SlabType, Algorhythm.

Media Queries Tools for Responsive Web Design

Once you can envision the fluid/flexible layout of your site as well as how to make your images and text responsive across all devices, you now need to concern yourself with media queries. Media queries are necessary to shift the pages elements into a responsive state.

CSS3-Mediaqueries.js is a tool that will enable appropriate rendering on older versions of Internet Explorer as well as other browsers. Adapt.js is a tool that will detect the browser dimensions of the user’s device and it works correctly with most older and newer browsers.

The Categorizr is another helpful tool that will assume devices being used are mobile unless the user’s tablet or desktop informs otherwise. Using the Categorizr allows service of the resources to the browser sympathetically.

These are some of the best Responsive Web Design tools available, but are in no way an all-inclusive list. There are many tools available to help you improve your workflow. When you using Responsive Web Design you will find it is essential to have as many appropriate tools necessary so that you can make the best design in the least amount of time. Many web designers will attest that one of the quickest and most effective ways to improve workflow is to use shortcuts available that will not decrease your creativity. Allowing Responsive Web Design generator tools take on some of the busy-work will not affect the overall creativity of the site. It gives the web designer, more time to focus on making your design fresh and unique.

Want One Website For Every Screen?? Adopt The Perfect Solution — RWD

Responsive website designing (RWD) is a technology that refers to the crafting of websites in a manner that gives optimal viewing experience, hassle-free readability, and smooth navigational charm along with minimal resizing and scrolling on a multitude of devices. Not just this, a responsive site lets you –

  1. Create and Manage a single site instead of Individual Sites for every device and browser
  2. Optimize only 1 site for SEO purposes. According to the latest recommendations by Google, you must make your website responsive to top the search engine rankings.
  3. Do time-optimization and Build your site cost-effectively.

Get Familiar With The RWD Approach

RWD technology uses a mixture of the following two approaches.

  1. Automatically resizing the page elements including images by defining relative units (%ages) rather than absolute units (fixed pixel widths).
  2. Using custom styling rules based on the characteristics of the targeted devices, browsers, and specific resolutions.

Know The 3 Basic Ingredients Of RWD-:

  1. Fluid Grids– Fluid Grids resize the page elements in relative units (%ages) instead of the absolute ones (pixels) so as to prevent them from displaying outside their containing element. In generic words, fluid designs let you customize your grid columns in sync with the screen width limits.
  2. Flexible Images – In this concept, fixed pixel widths are not defined for images as a consequence of which, they can move and scale in sync with the flexible grid. One can accomplish this by scaling down oversized images down to match the container width using the following CSS code:
    img { max-width: 100%; }
  3. CSS media queries –Media Queries is a tactic that lets you define different styles for different screen sizes based on browser windows, their orientation, screen resolution, and color. Let’s have a look at a few lines of code shared below to understand better.@media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) {
    /* define your device-specific styles here */
    }

Learn The Popular RWD Tools –

Your First Weapon to Quick Project Development – BOOTSTRAP

Bootstrap is an open-source module-based front-end framework that was introduced by Twitter in August 2011 and soon became the most popular GitHub Development Project in 2012. Its latest version Bootstrap supports responsive design and comes with the following basic modules and reusable components that are a pre-requisite in every website design.

  1. Columns and Tables
  2. Forms and Buttons
  3. Dropdowns and Breadcrumbs
  4. Paginations, Thumbnails, and Headers
  5. Carousels and Collapsible Menus

Not just this, the toolkit also comes bundled with some JQuery Plugins (Dojo Bootstrap), a few controls to support UI Bootstrap (Angular Js), and an exclusive stylesheet Less.css that lets you organize your style codes, cascade them, and speed up your UI development even more.

Your Website is in WordPress?? Skeleton is the Solution!!

Skeleton is a framework based on a simple 960px grid system that comes bundled with a collection of stylesheets to help you build responsive websites quickly and rapidly. Not only this, it offers you an exclusive extension for WordPress called Skeleton Plus which is a WordPress theme that helps one to design simply beautiful mobile-friendly websites on the most popular content management system-WordPress.

Major features of Skeleton-:

  1. It is one of the most lightweight and scalable frameworks available till now.
  2. Its layout scales seamlessly from 960px to tablets, mobiles, and other handheld devices.
  3. Strong topographical features

Test Your Website on the “Screenfly” Tool before Going Live

With so many devices and varied browsers in the hype, it becomes difficult to test your design fitting pretty well on every screen size. For this, you probably need a testing tool to quickly get an idea as to how your website will deliver on major gadgets and multiple browser windows. Screenfly is a responsive emulator by “QuirkTools” that helps you wave off all your worries by allowing you to test your design on a plethora of devices absolutely free of cost. Just visit their site http://quirktools.com/screenfly/, enter your web address and choose amongst 27 different devices including 2 Netbooks, 2 Notebooks, 5 different Desktops, 6 Tablets, 9 major Mobile Phones, and 3 TV screen resolutions on both portrait and landscape mode. Not just this, there is an option to let you define your own custom screen size right at the top and apply it to check how your website renders on that particular resolution. Amazing, isn’t it??

Major CSS Tricks for RWD

The First Trick – Define your Breakpoints clearly

There are 6 major breakpoints that you should not forget to define if you want to have a responsive layout for your site. Accomplish all this using CSS Media Queries.

Target the first generation smartphones in Portrait Mode with a CSS rule that corresponds to Resolutions less than 480 px
USE the CSS Code-:@media screen and (max-width:480px) and (orientation: portrait)

Target the high-end smartphones and iPads in portrait mode with Resolutions less than 768 px
USE the CSS Code-:@media screen and (max-width:768px) and (orientation:portrait)

Target giant tablets and mid-sized laptops with separate styles for Resolution greater than 768 px.
USE the CSS Code-@media screen and (min-width:768px) and (orientation:landscape)

Target Low Resolution traditionally used Mobile phones with a style for Resolutions less than 320 px.
USE the CSS Code-:@media screen and (max-width:320px)

TargetiPads and Big Tablets in landscape mode by defining style for Resolutions more than 768px but less than 1024 px
USE the CSS Code-:@media screen and (min-width:768px) and (max-width:1024px)

Target widely designed desktops with a style for Resolution greater than 1024 px
USE the CSS Code-:@media screen and (min-width:1024px)

The Next Trick – Make your Layouts Flexible using Flexible Grids!!

You must use Flexible containers to make your layouts adapt quickly to every screen size. Flexible Grids use –

  1. Columns to Organize your content
  2. Relative widths to adapt to the viewport size

To accomplish this, we recommend using Grid-based Frameworks that lets you use a separate style sheet to make the task quicker and easier.

Some of the best Grid Systems available for free include-

  1. 960 Grid System (960.gs)
  2. Golden Grid System(goldengridsystem.com)
  3. Columnal(columnal.com)
  4. 1140 CSS grid(cssgrid.net)

Just Wrap a specifically styled div with the layout div in case you want to have custom visual styles on your flexible container element that is defining the responsive layout.

The Most Important Trick – Let your visual media react!!

By this we mean, you should make your Graphic Media (images and videos) actually behave and respond to every screen size as well as the browser window. As a conventional approach, many of us are still in a habit to set absolute widths and fixed heights for our images which makes them inflexible and thus deliver ugly on most devices. As an RWD process, inflexible images have to be converted to flexible to make them actually respond to changing devices and browser environments. To simply adjust your width (Adaptive Sizing Technique), use the style attribute- img {width: 100%}. Variable Breakpoints clubbed with media queries can also be used for alternate pictures if you don’t have any problem with the Bandwidth usage.

The Final Trick – Use Percentage-Based Styling Smartly!!

The switching from pixel-based layouts to percentage layouts is indeed the most critical aspect of the RWD process. There are so many small and large design elements in a website that it becomes really challenging to bang over the head with nested %age layouts(%age inside %age) unless you are a calculation nerd and still end up madly frustrated with everything cluttered across the screen. For this, we recommend you to

  1. Use %ages only for your Headers, footers, Sidebars, and other big elements and
  2. Hardcode small design elements, paddings, or margins (Values as small as 1-10px) using pixels only

Last, but not least, we will strongly advise novices to gain sufficient knowledge on Responsive Web Designing Technology to have a pressure-less and hassle-free experience on all your forthcoming projects. Enjoy your site on all devices and drive your audience crazy keeping all the tools and tricks handy!!

By Team TIS
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