The internet is growing like crazy. The growth of mobile internet usage is also high compared to general internet usage. It is difficult these days to find someone who doesn't own a mobile device. In this situation there arises a question on how to build a website that is suitable for all users. The IT world response to this has become responsive web design.


Responsive web design or RWD is a practice of building website that work perfectly on all devices and any screen resolutions. So how responsive web design is done?

The RWD combines three major components:-

  • Flexible layout
  • Media queries
  • Flexible media

Flexible Layout

We no longer depend on pixels and inches. In RWD everything works on percentage or em units. Flexible layout means designing the website layout with flexible grids, which are built using percentage or em units that are capable of dynamically resizing to any width. Flexible layout of the responsive website doesn't recommend the usage of fixed values because the view-port height and width changes from device to device.

Media Queries

Sometimes the width of the browser view-port becomes very small that even scaling the layout proportionally will create columns which are too small to effectively display the content. In this situation media queries can help us to build better experiences. Media queries are the latest technology in CSS3, which makes it possible to apply a CSS only to a specific screen size. Say if you wish to have a different background for your website's tablet users, you can do so with the help of media queries.

Flexible Media

A layout is not flexible if some of the elements are fixed. A flexible layout allows the columns and grids to be fluid. But what about the media, images and videos?

To achieve responsive images we replace the fixed measurements such as pixels and inches with percentage. The images are made relative to its parent container using ‘max-width’ property so that it adjusts according to the container's percentage width. This is applicable only for inline images and the CSS3 has introduced a new property called background-size for background images.

For videos, if you are using the standard HTML5 video, you can make the video tag width to 100% to make it fluid, but if you are using iframes and embedded media like YouTube and Vimeo then the 100% trick will not work. The only solution here is to absolutely position the embedded element within a parent element, which has a 100% width so that it may scale based on the viewport width. There are many frameworks introduced for responsive web design and the best among them is Bootstrap. If you are creating a small website with simple layout, you don't need to do the flexible grids or write the media queries instead you can simply rely on Bootstrap.

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