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Responsive Web Design

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Due to the rapid development of the IT industry, there are many different devices for accessing the web: desktop computers with a wide range of screen dimensions, tablets, mobile phones, TV-s. Hence there is a need for adapting the web content layout for different screen dimensions and resolutions. Responsive web design is a modern technique for that purpose. This paper considers the implementation of responsive web design in practice. We conducted a survey and analyzed 470 websites of various categories and countries and give an analysis of the obtained results. Due to the evolution of techniques and communication devices in the past decade, anyone can easily surf the web using a PC, mobile phone, tablet, television, game console, etc. All these devices have the ability to access the internet, and have their own screen dimensions and use different resolutions.

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Hence web designers should take care that the content of their website is readable and functional on all these resolutions. That was a motivation for the development of Responsive Web Design (RWD). The term RWD was first mentioned by Ethan Marcotte in his report published in May 2010 on the portal “A list apart“. Therein (Responsive Web Design, 2013) he described theories and the applications of RWD. One year later, the term RWD was ranged on the second position on Top Web Design Trends in the British e-magazine .net. The year 2013 was announced in Mashable Inc., the British-American news website, technology, and social media, as a year of RWD, (Mashable, 2013). Hence the idea of the authors of this paper to investigate the extent to which RWD is implemented in practice. For that purpose, we checked 470 websites in four different countries: Serbia, Canada, the UK and the USA. The authors came to the conclusion that it is necessary to educate web designers and constantly affect to the good organization of the HTML page so that they could easily adapt to different resolutions and devices. Responsive Web Design (RWD) The main idea of the basic principles of RWD and Rich Internet Applications (RIA) is a Web for All and Web on Everything; see (Karolyn, 2013.).

The essence of this idea is to enable access to the web content for all existing media. As already stated in the Introduction, nowadays, there are various types of devices for accessing the Internet that has different screen dimensions. But users have similar needs when surfing around the web, regardless of the device they are using. For, example, getting information from websites created for widescreen computers, accessing the web by mobile phone can be quite uncomfortable. Hence the need for adapting the layout of the web content for different screen dimensions and resolutions. On the other hand, creating different web pages for various devices is a hard work for web designers, and should also be avoided. Together with the development of the media industry (mobile phones, iPods, screens), techniques for adapting web content for different media are developing too. In this context, RWD appears to be a good solution. It is not flexible and not profitable to conduct surveys about what devices users use for accessing your website and adapting the website according to the results. The right solution for different user devices is creating a flexible, smart and adaptive website. In order to do so, one has to take into account different screen dimensions and resolutions and to adapt the content layout accordingly. This is a relatively new concept and requires a well organized HTML structure, as such a structure can be flexible to different devices. Therefore, it is advisable to pay attention to (Developing responsive, 2013; Images Guide, 2013): • The number of columns of the web page should be adaptive to the screen/window dimensions. • The menus and the content have to be displayed according to the interest of the users • Images and videos should dynamically be resized in order to fit the screen width • Menus, links, and buttons have to be bigger on touchscreen devices, so it could enable a user-friendly environment • The space between interactive links has to be sufficiently high in order to avoid an occasional press on small devices like smartphones or tablets • The font size and line spacing should be determined to enable easy reading.

The number of columns should also be carefully chosen in that manner. • Using CSS3 rules for visual effects instead of images. Generally, the content should not be reduced so extremely, that it becomes hardly readable. It rather should be adapted to the screen dimensions (Fig. 2). In other words, it should intelligently re-shape itself for maximum usability and impact. Creating a responsive website requires using a proportion-based grid, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries. The proportion-based grid is often called „Fluid grid“. Its basic idea is that the dimensions of all elements should be given in relative units, i.e. in percents (%), whereas fixed units like pixels should be avoided.

One should also give flexible dimensions for images which are proportional to various screen resolutions. CSS media queries allow us to create different styles for various screen dimensions and devices. In that way, the web page is displayed using the style which is best adapted to the user’s screen dimensions. RWD limitations Besides all above-mentioned advantages, there are also some limitations of RWD. First of all, there is no universal screen resolution, which fits all devices. In other words, the so-called „one-size-fits-all” resolution does not exist. Usually, it is not possible to stretch the web content from the smallest smartphone to the resolution of the biggest smart TV. The pictures might be of low resolution and the text might be of low readability. Therefore, it is important to optimize content to the needs of the business. Besides RWD, there are some rules which can help to adapt the content layout without changing the elements: After determining the optimal content width just add margins to fit the rest of the screen. This is what we called semi-responsive web pages.

A solution for some of these limitations is prefixed for the CSS3 properties which make those features working well in various browsers. As shown in Table 1, for example, the browser Mozilla is using prefix -web kit-. Overall, in spite of all limitations, the benefit of using RWD is significant. Statistics and tools for RWD According to (Browser support, 2013), the most commonly used screen resolutions are 1366x768px (mostly for laptops) – 25% and 1900x1200px (desktop computers) – over 30%, mobile phones with resolution 800x480px – 0.5%. Searching the web by using mobile devices is constantly increasing since 2011. The number of computers around the world reaches 2 billion, while the number of mobile phone owners is up to 5 billion. The need for creating responsive web content which can easily be accessed by using various devices is obvious. The survey The task of this paper will be • To examine the presence of responsive web design in Serbia, Canada, UK and USA • To comment on usability, representation, and legitimacy of using RWD within web pages. Methods used in the survey for collecting data were: descriptive and comparative methods. In this survey, we used two criteria for assessing the implementation of RWD: • The behavior of the web content during Viewport reducing • The content layout on various screens and devices using the aforementioned tool In our survey, we will classify the observed websites into three categories: • Fluid responsive websites, • Semi-responsive websites, • Not responsive websites.

Fluid responsive websites are complete adaptive to different screen dimensions and the content is visible on all devices and resolutions (mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and PCs). This can be achieved in two ways: by including CSS3 media screen queries which give us an opportunity to implement different CSS rules for different resolutions or one can use JavaScript or jQuery scripts for dynamic calculating the dimensions and positions of elements according to the screen dimensions. Semi-responsive websites contain a grid of certain dimensions, and their content is adaptive up to a fixed screen dimension, but the content is no more adaptive on lower screen dimensions. The grid is mainly centered horizontally and has such dimensions to fit a wide range of screen dimensions. In many cases it is the grid of 960px or 980px width. We call websites semi-responsive: • If the width of the main content divider is smaller than the majority of screen widths and the rest of the page fits as a background, as shown in the Fig.6a and Fig.6b, • If they have some elements which are adaptive to all screens, like menus or link buttons, • If the horizontal navigation bar is moving into a new line without changing the font size The results of our RWD survey indicate that the majority of analyzed websites are not created using the latest technologies like CSS3 and HTML5 and are not adaptive to various resolutions and devices.

The commonly used technologies are HTML4, CSS2, JavaScript, Flash, and PHP. Taking into account the results of our analyses, RWD and new web technologies are taking big steps in the future, since the need for adapting websites to various devices is growing continuously. The majority of websites created before 2012 are optimized for resolutions of 1024×768 and 1280×1024, with a body width of 800px to 960px. Social network link buttons and email forms are mostly fluid responsive. Also, the most popular social networks are fluid responsive. This could be one of the reasons for their big popularity.

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Fluid websites are somewhat underrepresented today, but they are definitely the future of web design. In fact, creating a responsive website is a complex process, and costs certainly more than a common website. One of the problems in implementing RWD is also the lack of knowledge in this area. In other words, this technology is slowly being introduced into the curriculum of IT schools. In The Higher Technical school of professional studies, there are several IT study programs (Web design, Information Technology, Electronic Business and Multimedia) including web design courses. The first two authors of this paper are teaching a subject called Internet Languages and Tools which covers topics RWD techniques.

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