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Responsive layout overview

From: CSS: Page Layouts

Video: Responsive layout overview

If there's one thing you need to embrace to become a successful web designer it's that the web is a constantly evolving place, and you're going to need to evolve right along with it. While a few years ago, we were arguing over the merits of fixed layouts versus flexible layouts, a very odd thing happened. People began using the web in a way that made this argument moot. Now over the past few years, the explosion of smartphones and tablets means that your content is now consumed by a wider array of screen sizes, resolutions, and browser types than ever before.

Responsive layout overview

If there's one thing you need to embrace to become a successful web designer it's that the web is a constantly evolving place, and you're going to need to evolve right along with it. While a few years ago, we were arguing over the merits of fixed layouts versus flexible layouts, a very odd thing happened. People began using the web in a way that made this argument moot. Now over the past few years, the explosion of smartphones and tablets means that your content is now consumed by a wider array of screen sizes, resolutions, and browser types than ever before.

As a designer, that means you have to decide whether you're going to target one view over any other possible views, design a flexible layout that has to have the ability to grow from one extreme to another, or whether you are going to build a layout that is responsive. So what's a responsible layout? Well, responsive layouts do just that; they respond to the environment in which they're viewed. On desktops, the design could be enhanced for the larger screen, with increased graphics size and layouts that target wider aspect ratios. On a tablet, they could change layout and functionality based on the device type or the orientation of the device.

On smartphones, they could again change layout based on smaller size, hide some elements, and even take advantage of smartphone features like geolocation and messaging. And if you're wondering, all three of the layouts that I just showed you are the exact same page, just viewed at different sizes. Now if it sounds like I'm describing multiple layouts, you're not too far from the truth. Now responsive layouts typically use a combination of layout techniques and multiple layout types to serve the proper layout to the proper screen or device. Now with that in mind, here are few pros and cons to consider when thinking about using responsible layout.

Now the biggest reason to use them of course is that it allows you to control how users experience your content, based on the device or screen size. This allows you to create unique experiences for every device type or screen size that consumes your content. You can also use this as a way of reorganizing or even eliminating content based on the context. Mobile users can experience a site that's tailored for the mobile experience, while desktop users can interact with a site designed around that context. It also means that in many cases you don't have to create separate sites for mobile devices or redirect them to mobile-specific pages.

Now the downside to responsive layouts is that they require much more work, in terms of planning and executing the designs. You are essentially designing around multiple contexts all at the same time, and that requires you to be much more rigorous about how you build your site. Failure to plan one aspect properly can cascade into having to rework multiple areas of your site, as they are all tied into one another. You also have to rely on newer features. So in the short term you are going to need to expend a great deal of energy into providing fallback features for browsers or devices that don't have the support needed for your responsive layout.

Also, to take advantage of things like certain mobile-specific features and to adequately serve alternate content, you're going to need to go beyond just using CSS into at least moderate JavaScripting and using JavaScript libraries like modernizer that are designed to help you create responsive designs. Now my own personal feelings are that as designers, if we don't design for all the ways that people can consume or interact with our content, we are failing to address a significant amount of our audience. In terms of smartphones and tablet, I feel that we've reached a point where those audiences are just too big to ignore anymore.

So even if you want to take things slowly and not try to master responsive layouts right off the bat, at least understand the concepts and how the techniques of fixed and fluid layouts are used to help create more responsive designs. In a few years, my guess is we are going to be looking at layouts that aren't responsive, and wondering, how in the world we ever got away with it.

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This video is part of

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CSS: Page Layouts

71 video lessons · 40112 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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  1. 4m 20s
    1. Welcome
      54s
    2. How to use the exercise files
      3m 26s
  2. 1h 39m
    1. Box model review
      8m 47s
    2. Calculating element dimensions
      11m 11s
    3. Understanding margin collapse
      7m 59s
    4. Calculating em values
      7m 41s
    5. Calculating percentage values
      7m 51s
    6. Normal document flow
      13m 3s
    7. Controlling element display
      8m 53s
    8. Using CSS Resets
      7m 11s
    9. Fixed, fluid, and responsive layouts
      9m 9s
    10. CSS debugging tools
      6m 46s
    11. Using the Firebug Inspector and the WebKit Web Inspector
      11m 5s
  3. 53m 15s
    1. Page design workflow
      3m 6s
    2. Page design tools
      4m 56s
    3. Determining page structure
      7m 18s
    4. Creating image assets
      8m 58s
    5. Creating initial page structure
      7m 3s
    6. Adding meaning with classes and IDs
      5m 23s
    7. Structuring content with HTML5
      6m 6s
    8. Building internal structure
      10m 25s
  4. 1h 36m
    1. Floating elements
      7m 50s
    2. Clearing floats
      7m 28s
    3. Containing floats
      7m 50s
    4. Clearfix technique
      10m 38s
    5. Floating inline elements
      14m 34s
    6. Two-column floated layouts
      8m 17s
    7. Three-column floated layouts
      11m 30s
    8. Column height considerations
      7m 3s
    9. Creating equal-height columns
      10m 42s
    10. Floats: Lab
      5m 25s
    11. Floats: Solution
      5m 21s
  5. 51m 42s
    1. Relative positioning
      7m 59s
    2. Absolute positioning
      8m 59s
    3. Fixed positioning
      4m 23s
    4. Controlling stacking order
      8m 31s
    5. Clipping content
      8m 21s
    6. Controlling content overflow
      5m 38s
    7. Positioning elements: Lab
      3m 59s
    8. Positioning elements: Solution
      3m 52s
  6. 48m 46s
    1. Design considerations for fixed layouts
      3m 28s
    2. Establishing the layout grid
      7m 57s
    3. Defining column spacing
      9m 30s
    4. Applying the grid through CSS
      8m 56s
    5. Creating grid-based assets
      8m 26s
    6. Grid design resources
      6m 22s
    7. Building fixed layouts: Lab
      4m 7s
  7. 44m 35s
    1. Designing for flexible layouts
      2m 30s
    2. Calculating percentage values
      8m 45s
    3. Setting flexible width values
      6m 6s
    4. Making images flexible
      8m 10s
    5. Setting minimum and maximum widths
      7m 24s
    6. Building flexible layouts: Lab
      4m 53s
    7. Building flexible layouts: Solution
      6m 47s
  8. 49m 36s
    1. Responsive layout overview
      3m 49s
    2. Using media queries
      7m 16s
    3. Organizing styles
      8m 39s
    4. Making content responsive
      8m 33s
    5. Mobile design considerations
      7m 32s
    6. Building responsive layouts: Lab
      4m 23s
    7. Building responsive layouts: Solution
      9m 24s
  9. 1h 22m
    1. Creating multi-column text
      6m 36s
    2. Using borders to enhance design
      13m 59s
    3. Rounding corners
      6m 56s
    4. Adding drop shadows
      10m 35s
    5. Working with opacity
      6m 8s
    6. Utilizing the background property
      15m 5s
    7. Working with CSS sprites
      7m 58s
    8. Enhancing page design: Lab
      6m 22s
    9. Enhancing page design: Solution
      8m 38s
  10. 6m 25s
    1. Additional resources
      6m 25s

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