Nowadays, we see people opening websites and search through hundreds of pages for a certain one. The websites come in all shapes and sizes and are viewed across the different devices varying from desktop computers and laptops to smartphones. Sometimes, it can be a serious challenge to develop websites assuming all these options. And breaking them into smaller segments, or web design patterns, can help to cope with the tasks and keep the workflow more manageable and fast.

Building a responsive website is not an easy task especially when fixing some scaling up and down issues according to the multiple devices. Fortunately, communities in love to post information and we can view responsive web design patterns and how they are made. Responsive web design patterns, aka web design UI design patterns, can be used as a tutorial, templates, or simply inspiration for a development process.

 Design With Mobile In Mind

Custom-designed responsive sites can now be seen all over the web. However, Ethan Marcotte started talking about responsive design only in 2010. He published an article and outlined that the websites are not ready to be viewed and work seamlessly on the devices with different screen sizes and orientations.

Thanks to the rise of smartphones, mobile internet and the necessity to develop sites that run normally across multiple devices, the popularity of a responsive web design (RWD) has gone through the roof. RWD is becoming more of a best practice, as it gives a comparatively simple and inexpensive solution for startups to create a functional mobile-friendly website. There are no questions that corporate responsive design is extremely practical and flexible, but it also delivers gorgeous UX/UI and smart solutions.

The Web Design Patterns

RWD means that a site responds and adjusts its layout to the various sizes of the viewport. If you start looking at screens modularly, you will mention the patterns – the repeated components that constitute the design system. Width, height, resolution, orientation, navigation and font sizes of the pages are also what the web application design patterns are making technically.

There are five common and up-to-date patterns that experts and designers consider as great solutions for design project plan best practices. In a nutshell, main multi-device layout patterns are:

  • Mostly Fluid,

  • Column Drop,

  • Layout Shifter,

  • Tiny Tweaks,

  • Off Canvas.

Moreover, the communities share articles or some checklists, where you can find a combination of the patterns, for example, mostly fluid with tiny tweaks layout.

  • Pattern #1 – Mostly Fluid

One of the most used patterns is the mostly fluid – a very popular one. It is actually pretty simple to understand. It is a multi-column layout that represents larger margins on larger interfaces. This responsive layout is an appropriate choice for digital trends, magazines or fashion news websites.

It can include the template for such functionalities as drop down menu, social account blocks, etc. On the devices with the larger interface, the layout generally keeps the same size adjusting the margins.

On smartphones, the fluid supports content reflow and introduces stacked columns vertically. The main advantage of this multi-column structure is that it doesn’t change its core layout until the smallest screen width occur. This pattern works well on the websites like wellington.govt.nz and alistapart.com.

  • Pattern #2 – Column Drop

One more example that is loved and admired – a column drop. It’s has a multi-column structure that completes with a single column, removing columns at the narrowest viewport. The overall sizes of segments tend to stay consistent. This pattern adapts to various interfaces and tends to fill the available viewport regardless of a size. It is perfect for responsively designed websites that users will use on a wide range of displays.

For devices with a wide range of displays, each column is stacked at different resolution breakpoints and differs for each design. Head over to weenudge.com or ashpt.co.uk to check out their web design background patterns.

  • Pattern #3 – Layout Shifter

The layout shifter pattern does the most to adapt to the different displays sizes. As the most complicated pattern, it requires changes at each breakpoint across screen widths. These substantially redouble efforts and that’s why the layout seems to be unpopular comparing to the previous patterns we mentioned above. Check a few examples to get a feel for it: foodsense.is and bostonglobe.com.

  • Pattern #4 – Tiny tweaks

As the name implies, tiny tweaks pattern adds small adjustments in minor ways:

  1. Changing the font sizes,

  2. Resizing images,

  3. Moving content around.

If the screen width gets bigger, so do the font sizes. The pattern functions wonderfully on single column layouts such as one-page linear sites and heavy-weight articles. The websites that use tiny tweaks are designmadeingermany.de/magazin/5 and futurefriendlyweb.com

  • Pattern #5 – Off Canvas

The off canvas pattern reveals a column of navigation and removes auxiliary content out of the viewport until it called upon again. So, instead of stacking the content vertically, the off canvas moves columns off, including the menus. The pattern’s complex navigation is good when you have to focus on big amounts of content.

The layout shows them only when the displays are wide enough to house the content. Literally, the content keeps asides to side. But it will be available when users make some actions to request and view it. Check out some examples: facebook.com, disney.com, html5rocks.com/en.

Final Thoughts

With the need to optimize websites for mobile users, understanding responsive design patterns is a must. It has to be a primary aim to good designers and development experts. Thanks to so many great digital tools available today, development gurus and the communities that have shared tons of discussions and articles about the technical aspects of RWD, we started building flexible and adaptable layouts.

RWD is completely different to traditional web designing in terms of such issues as:

  • Different screen sizes,

  • SEO friendly designs,

  • Navigation,

  • Scrolling and viewing experience,

  • Creative designing,

  • Performance,

  • Cross-browser compatibility.

Here, we can see how multiple columns turn into a single one, a sidebar drops the main content or elements become integrated with each other. In many examples, we can see that using existing patterns helps to build layouts that viewers are familiar with. It assures that users will complete their goals without too many thoughts and get a better, more intuitive experience.

By the way: RWD patterns should never be used rashly and irrationally. They are simply useful references or manuals, outlining the solutions to problems that developers have already considered. Coming up with the right solutions, you have to take into account specific context — your website’s content and user goals.

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