What is Responsive Design? +10 Crucial Tips & Best Practices

Team of responsive designer designing a wireframe application of mobile

Responsive web design ensures your site looks beautiful no matter what device it’s viewed on while providing an optimal user experience.

Below, we’ll cover the basics of responsive web design and provide tips for creating a site that looks perfect on any device. So let’s get started!

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is a form of web design that makes your website look great and function well on any device – whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. It uses flexible layouts and grids, images, and other elements that adapt to the size of the screen they’re viewed on, ensuring the user experience is consistent across all devices.

Why is Responsive Web Design Important?

According to global statistics, more than half of all web traffic is mobile, bringing in 58.33% of users specifically. Therefore, you are missing out on effectively engaging more than half of your website visitors if your website is not responsive.

Responsive web design provides users with an optimal viewing experience regardless of the device they’re using. Plus, Google ranks websites that are mobile-friendly higher in its search engine results pages (SERPs). This means if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you could lose potential customers.

What are the Benefits of Using Responsive Design?

Now that we’ve covered what responsive web design is and why it’s essential let’s dive into some of the many benefits it offers to both you and potential customers:

Improved User Experience

A poorly optimized site can detract from the user experience and leave users frustrated. Responsive websites will adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions, which makes it easier for users to navigate and interact with your site on any device they’re using. This leads to higher engagement, lower bounce rates, and overall happy visitors.


Many business owners might consider creating multiple versions of webpages for different devices, This technique is known as adaptive design. Creating a single responsive website, however, is often more cost-effective and less time-consuming than designing, creating, and managing multiple versions of a website. With one website that looks great on any device, you save both time and money.

Better Search Engine Rankings

Mobile-friendliness is a crucial factor in determining how high your site ranks in search engine results pages. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, it can negatively impact your SEO. Therefore, using responsive design helps you increase the chances of ranking higher in search engine results, and ultimately, drives more traffic to your site.

Increase in Conversions

A responsive website leads to more conversions across all devices. This could include making a purchase, filling out a lead form, or subscribing to your newsletter. If all information, CTA buttons, and forms are easy to access on mobile, you don’t miss out on higher conversions.

Simpler Site Management

With a responsive design, you only have one site to manage, which makes site maintenance more manageable. It is easier to update and make changes to a single site as opposed to multiple versions. Additionally, a responsive design saves time and reduces opportunities for errors, providing a simpler web management process.

Responsive web designers at a desk planning the mobile design of a website using paper cards

10 Ways to Make a Website Responsive

Making a website responsive doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here are some tips for creating a responsive website:

1. Use Responsive Web Builders

If you’re not tech-savvy or don’t have the time to build a responsive website yourself, using a web builder is an easy way to create your site. Many web builders have responsive templates so you can quickly get your site up and running. Some examples of web builders are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, as well as WordPress plugins such as Elementor and Avada.

2. Use Flexible Grids and Fluid Layouts

A flexible grid is a type of layout system that allows for an element’s size to be adjusted based on the size of the screen. It allows for a dynamic and adaptive design, by utilizing relative length units such as percentages and viewport units instead of absolute length units like pixels. This makes it easier to resize images, text, and other elements so they fit perfectly within the browser window.

Some popular grids include Bootstrap and Foundation.

Bootstrap led the battle against static website development and established mobile responsive design as an industry benchmark. Consequently, most developers today continue to use Bootstrap screen-width breakpoints. The company uses media queries to target landscape smartphones (576x), tablets (768x), laptops (892x), and large desktops (1200x).

Fluid layouts are a type of web design that uses relative units instead of fixed units, allowing the layout to stretch and resize itself as the user’s device or browser window size changes. This type of design ensures that all content is visible, no matter which device users are browsing the website on. Fluid layouts also provide more flexibility and control over how your content will look on various device sizes.

3. Utilize Media Queries

A media query is a powerful tool used in responsive web design to customize the site’s layout and presentation to fit different screen sizes. In simple terms, media queries are sets of code that enable a website to detect the user’s device and adjust its content accordingly. With the use of media queries, web developers can set up different CSS rules for different screen sizes, allowing the website to adapt seamlessly to different devices.

Media queries work by specifying the parameters in which a particular CSS style should be applied. For instance, a developer could set a particular font size for screens with a width of fewer than 500 pixels, then another size for screens larger than 500 pixels. This approach ensures that the web page remains legible and user-friendly, regardless of the device.

To use a media query, first define the parameters that you want the query to match. This can include screen sizes, minimum and maximum widths or heights, aspect ratios, and even device-specific characteristics such as orientation or pixel density. Once you’ve defined these parameters, you can write CSS code that will be applied when those conditions are met.

For example, you might define a media query that targets devices with a screen size of less than 600 pixels. Within that media query, you could specify different font sizes, margins, and layouts that are optimized for smaller screens. This ensures that your website looks great and is easy to use, regardless of whether the user is on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

4. Use a CMS

A content management system (CMS) is a great way to ensure that your site is responsive, even as you make changes. Popular CMSs like WordPress and Drupal have plugins and themes specifically designed for making websites mobile-friendly. Some plugins include the ability to create an off-canvas mobile navigation menu and optimize images for small screens. WGM prefers Elementor out of the available library of WordPress plugins.

5. Use a Theme or Template

Using a pre-made theme or template can help you create a responsive website quickly and efficiently. Most WordPress themes are built with responsive design in mind, so it’s easy to find one that will work well on any device.

The WordPress theme directory and popular marketplaces like ThemeForest have a large selection of responsive themes you can choose from.

6. Mobile-First Design

Mobile-first design is just what it sounds like – a method of website design and development where the mobile version of a website is designed before the desktop version. This approach helps developers to focus on creating an experience tailored specifically for smaller devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

As mentioned before 58.33% of all web traffic is mobile. By starting with mobile design, developers can ensure that all users, regardless of their device, have access to an optimized version of the website.

7. Utilize Versatile Navigation

Make sure your navigation is easy to use on any device. Make sure all drop-down menus and navigational elements are mobile-friendly and easily viewable on a mobile device.

8. Set Responsive Breakpoints

Setting responsive breakpoints will help your site look good on all devices. A breakpoint refers to the screen width in which a media query implements the CSS style. This means setting a point at which the layout changes depending on the browser width, the device’s size, and the resolution. Use breakpoints for the most common device resolutions below.

The most common breakpoints used for responsive design are 320px, 480px, 600px, 768px, 900px, 1024px, 1280px, and 1440px.

For mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, the 320px breakpoint is typically used. This size works well for smaller screens and provides an optimized experience on any device.

9. Optimize Your Images

When designing a responsive website, it’s important to optimize your images for different devices so that they do not appear cut off or stretched out on different screen sizes.. One way to do this is by setting a maximum width for your images. This ensures that your images won’t stretch beyond their original size and look pixelated or distorted on different devices.

To set a maximum width for your images, you can use CSS. Simply add the ‘max-width’ property to your CSS code and set it to the desired maximum width of your image. For example, if you want your image to have a maximum width of 500 pixels, you would add the following code:

img {

max-width: 500px;


This code will ensure that your image won’t stretch beyond 500 pixels on any device, but will still be responsive and adapt to different screen sizes.

It’s important to note that setting a maximum width alone won’t optimize your images for different devices. Also, consider resizing and compressing your images to ensure they load quickly on all devices.

There are several tools available to help you optimize your images, such as Photoshop, ImageOptim, and TinyPNG. These tools can compress your images without sacrificing quality, making them smaller and easier to load on all devices.

10. Optimize Text for Readability

It is also important to optimize the text on your page for readability across devices.

The optimal font size for mobile devices typically ranges from 14-16px, while larger devices like tablets and desktops should use font sizes of 18-20px. You can also use media queries to serve different font sizes depending on the device’s resolution.

Also, make sure your line height is set correctly so that paragraphs are easy to read and don’t take up too much space. The optimal line height for mobile devices typically ranges from 1.2-1.3, while tablet and desktop devices should use a line height of 1.4-1.5 pixels.

Bonus Tip: Test, Test, and Test Again

Once you have built your site, it’s important to thoroughly test its responsiveness across all devices. Make sure that the design looks good and functions properly on all devices.


From setting breakpoints to optimizing images and text, there are many things you can do to make sure your site is responsive and accessible to all users.

We hope this blog post has given you some useful tips on making your site responsive and successful across all devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is adaptive design?

Adaptive design is a type of web design that detects the user’s device and screen size and then serves up optimized content accordingly. Unlike responsive design which adjusts the layout of a website based on the browser width or device size, adaptive design uses predetermined breakpoints to serve different versions of a page depending on the device used.

For example, an adaptive website might serve a mobile version of the page to smartphones and a desktop version to desktops or laptops. Adaptive design is often used in combination with responsive design for a more tailored experience across all devices.

What is media query?

A media query is a CSS rule that allows you to apply styles depending on the width of the browser window. Media queries are often used in conjunction with breakpoints to serve different styles depending on the device type or screen size.

For example, a website might use a media query to apply different font sizes for mobile devices, tablets and desktops. Media queries can be used to create tailored experiences for each device so that your content is easily readable and looks great no matter what device it’s being viewed on.

What is CSS and HTML?

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and is a language used to style the elements on a web page. HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and is a language used to structure and present content on the web. CSS and HTML are two of the foundational technologies used to create websites and they work together in order to create responsive designs.

CSS is used to apply styling to elements and HTML is used to structure content, making sure it’s properly formatted for different devices. By using both technologies together, you can create responsive designs that look great no matter what device they’re being viewed on.

Picture of Amanda Haney

Amanda Haney

Amanda is WGM's Account Executive She has a background in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, blog writing and photography for a successful men’s lifestyle blog, and family and wedding photography. She is in charge of managing our clients’ brands – from writing and editing website and blog content, managing social media, and creating promotional and internal documents. Amanda enjoys creative photography, singing covers of her favorite songs, traveling, and spending time with family, friends, and her dog Parker.

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