Key Challenges When Converting to a Responsive Site
The goal of Responsive Web Design, or RWD, is to deliver users a consistent viewing and interaction experience across all devices. Below are some common challenges that you need to overcome for building a well-functioning responsive website.
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Responsive Web Design, or in short RWD, is not just about crafting a beautiful template or theme. The ultimate goal is indeed to deliver users a consistent viewing and interaction experience across all devices. And if you’re planning to convert an existing website to responsive, there are a lot of challenges you may face during the conversion process. Below are some common challenges that you need to overcome for building a well-functioning responsive website.
Let's go through each point one by one!
A Variety of Screen Resolutions
One of the most common challenges that designers usually face is to decide what screen resolutions they should make the website responsive for. There are a wide variety of screen resolutions available today and no doubt, we are going to see a number of new screen resolutions in the future.
Catering to every user’s needs may seem nearly impossible but believe me, delivering users a consistent experience across all screen resolutions is not really as difficult as you think. By defining different layouts at appropriate breakpoints for different devices, you can easily do that.
Unlike a regular desktop site, a responsive website takes much longer to design, develop, and test since it requires more preparation time, resources and testing efforts. As a general rule, it takes about twice as long to build a responsive site compared to a regular one.
Some of the factors that cause developmental delays are complicated design elements, advanced functionality, and multi-device testing. Even though responsive websites take longer to create, they are, in my opinion, better than regular websites in terms of usability and maintenance.
This is definitely the most complex problem every one of us encounters when converting any existing site to responsive. No matter how great your current navigational system is, you have to make it as intuitive and self-explanatory as possible for small screen devices too.
No doubt this is a very complicated task since the motive is to make each page as accessible as it was on the desktop. And, if your website has a complicated navigation structure, this problem gets even more severe. In such a situation, a drop-in or an off-canvas menu resolves the problem better.
Making Images Flexible
Another major challenge presented by responsive design is making imagery responsive. Just like site content, images also need to be flexible and must not look blurry or poorly scaled up on any device. To achieve this, you’re required to resize images proportionally.
Since poorly scaled images quickly lose their details and real meaning, you must have a clear idea of how you plan to prevent images from looking distorted in the responsive version of your site. Also, make sure your images are not too large to download over a mobile data connection.
Maintaining the Performance
If your site has a lot of long pages with heavy media files, then optimizing it can be a really big challenge. Small screen devices have slower data connections and therefore it becomes extremely crucial to reduce page load times in the case of responsive design.
Achieving Legibility and Readability
Despite the fact that web font services like Adobe Typekit and Google Fonts has gifted us the flexibility to create and display alluring typefaces online, achieving good legibility and readability in responsive web design is not every designer's cup of tea.
To make your text legible, flexible, and readable across all devices including mobile, you need to follow a consistent approach that is Responsive Typography. Taking advantage of CSS units like em and rem, you can easily maintain readable type in responsive design.
Optimizing for Touch Screen Devices
Today, a wide range of mobile, tablet, and desktop devices are making use of touch screen technology. Unlike a regular desktop screen, which you operate with a mouse and a keyboard, a touch screen needs to be operated by fingers. Thus, a new design challenge arises–making your site ready for touch screen devices.
Since human fingers are not as precise as mouse clicks, you’re required to make your website as finger-friendly as possible so that visitors can easily navigate through it on touch devices. As a general rule, make sure your touch targets do not scale below 40 square pixels.
Limitation of Media Queries
Responsive Design makes use of CSS3 Media Queries, which is supported by almost all modern browsers, to determine the screen size of a device and then render the appropriate layout. With a set of media queries, you’re able to display different layouts on difference devices.
Unfortunately, some older browsers—like Internet Explorer 8—don’t have support for media queries. In these cases, you’re required to provide a working solution to gracefully degrade the design to support older browsers. To avoid this problem, it's suggested to use a completely separate style sheet for the older browser or design your site with a mobile-first approach.
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