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Wednesday, Dec 03, 2014

Are You Making These Responsive Design Mistakes?

Common Responsive Design Mistakes

These days responsive web design is mandatory for anyone who ventures into the online world. However, despite its revolutionary approach, responsive design has its share of challenges. Some design mistakes can keep you from delivering optimal experience to users. This, in turn, can lead to poor conversions and cause those users to turn away from your website.

To prevent that from happening, watch out for these common pitfalls in responsive design and avoid them at all cost.

Mistake # 1 - Hiding Content

Yes, real estate is a constraint in responsive sites. And yes, it’s impossible to dump all the content from the desktop version onto the responsive one. However, the way out doesn’t lie in hiding content altogether and surviving on the bare minimum.

Stop punishing your users for the device they’re using. There should be enough content on a responsive site to facilitate all the functions a user enjoys on the desktop site. At the same time, content should be presented in a way that it doesn’t crowd the screen or look too cluttered.

Mistake #2 – CSS Bloat

In trying to deliver a website that works well across all devices, a lot of designers tend to overuse CSS. This is done either by adding more of it to respond to different scenarios or overwriting styles again and again for a variety of viewports.

There are two ways to solve this problem:

  • Compress and minimize CSS. You can do this before you launch the site or on the fly using TextMate or YUI Compressor Plugin.
  • Split CSS into two different files – one to be used for mobile and the other for everything else. This will greatly help in reducing the file size.

Mistake #3 - Ignoring Page Speed

Assuming that a responsive website will work well on mobile devices just because it does so on a desktop is dangerous. When transitioning from the desktop to the mobile world, we forget about the drastic change in the Internet connection that follows suit. Struggling with poor 3G and 2G connections and waiting for a page to load can be really, really frustrating. Page speed is crucial in developing an optimal user experience.

To improve your page speed you can:

  • Link externally to CSS and Javascript
  • Optimize media and graphic used on the website and compress them wherever possible
  • Use neat and tidy website code and make sure there are no unused bits floating around.
  • Test using free tools such as Google’s Speed Test and Pingdom.com

Mistake #4 - Ignoring Touch Screen

When it comes to responsive web design, most designers go with a “desktop first” philosophy. However, when they graduate to the mobile version, the design is completely thrown out of alignment. The site starts looking cramped.

Furthermore, by forgetting to account for the touch functionality on smartphones and handheld devices, navigation becomes a nightmare for users. To avoid this, action links and buttons should be big and adequately spaced out. In addition, they should be surrounded by proper margin space and padding so that users can use the buttons comfortably.

In the end, responsive web design is the call of the day. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to launch a website, a small business enterprise trying to get more traffic to flow your way, or a writer enthusiastically putting down his thoughts on a blog, your site has to be accessible and scalable on all kinds of devices.

Creating individual experiences for each device isn’t a very scalable option. This is where responsive design comes to the rescue. Do not allow these common mistakes to get in the way of delivering a solid user experience. Work your way around them and use the power of responsive web design to bring success to your online venture.

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