While responsive web design came into its own as a major trend in 2012, subsequent years will go down in history as website designers putting their creative mark on responsive design.
Without a doubt, responsive website design has captured the attention of businesses that now recognize a responsive website is more a necessity than the norm. Statistics support the changeover to responsive design as a recent Mobile Internet Use report from the Pew Research Center finds that as of April 2012, 88% of U.S. adults own some type of mobile phone and more than half use their mobile phones to go online.
Responsive web design is quickly replacing the arduous task of designing different websites for desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to fit the various screen sizes and aspect ratios of the display. Rather, responsive design allows for one single website built on a fluid grid that uses media queries to automatically proportion itself to the dimensions of the browser or device being used to access the site.
It didnâ€™t take long for web designers to adapt to this latest approach to web design. In fact, the latest trends in responsive design reflect the ways in which designers are taking responsive website design to new heights through the use of both creative and functional design techniques.
1. Responsive and Adaptive Design
Incorporating adaptive design into responsive design brings optimization to a whole other level. It builds on responsive principles to enhance user experience, making the adaptations via the browser or the web server.
While the responsive approach responds to the size of the browser, the adaptive approach adapts to the capabilities of the device. This might involve leaving out images, videos, animation, audio, or content that is not device compatible. Or it could mean including geo-location, parallax scrolling, or multi-touch optimization to enhance the user experience.
In this example, auto-detection scripts combined with media queries identify the type of device in use and its capabilities and then displays the best content for it. Combining responsive and adaptive means one site design can be specifically targeted to the functionality of a particular device and only those resources are loaded.
2. Image and Content Sliders
Image and content sliders are a natural for responsive websites because they provide a compact and interactive way to present a lot of material. By using various scripts and plug-ins, content sliders can be created in a mix of designs, from sliding boxes with captions to auto-playing featured content.
Image and content sliders pair nicely with other elements on the web page, such as content boxes and navigation bars, to create an interesting way to engage visitors.
This content slider example uses multiple sliders on a single page to organize a great deal of essential consumer information and deliver it in a clean, concise and appealing way.
3. Off-Canvas Layouts
Off-canvas layouts, also commonly referred to as off-canvas navigation, deliver a creative solution to page elements in responsive designs. Taking advantage of empty space outside the browserâ€™s viewpoint, website designers hide page elements there until the user clicks to view them.
This technique affords more creativity in creating bigger and bolder off-canvas navigation that promotes better readability. Tap gestures also can be incorporated into off-canvas layouts.
This site example makes good use of the mobile navigation toggle by using an off-canvas layout for the main navigation menu. This unclutters the web page design and keeps the main focus on the most important link and call to action.
4. Lazy Loading
While we all know how important it is for a website to load as fast as possible to prevent losing site visitors during the wait time, responsive design can make that standard a challenge to achieve. Enter lazy loading. The web development technique works wonders for complex sites by delaying the loading of certain elements rather than load everything all at once when the web page is requested.
The lazy loading technique was first used on sites displaying image galleries or archived content, but its attributes have made it appealing to responsive design loading challenges. The designer decides which elements get priority loading and which are lazy loaded. Lazy loading responsive design websites save bandwidth and speed up load times by delaying or not loading all the content until the user scrolls down to see more.
This lazy loader example achieved reduced page weight by 200KB and lower initializing or loading time by over two seconds. Other sites comparing load times report differences with lazy load by as much as 11.7 seconds.
5. Personalized Responsive Design
With consumers interfacing more with brands on a mobile basis, there is a need for website design elements that align with the companyâ€™s branding strategy. As a solution, website designers are beginning to explore personalized responsive design where site visitors can filter the content themselves and display only what is pertinent or useful to them during their visit.
Besides adapting to multiple platforms, this personalized responsive design site example uses components from the entire companyâ€™s brand, including products, promotions and social channels. The end result is a personalized experience for visitors with site changes based on user behavior while scrolling through the site.
Responsive design holds endless opportunities that when paired with the creativity and innovativeness of website designers and developers redefine the website experience. As new scripts, plug-ins and the like are developed, they are being geared towards responsive web design because it holds the most advantages for website performance in the future.