UI/UX: Designing a Responsive Navigation

February 13 2015

Living in a digital freak world is more about Internet Internet and Internet! The industry witnessed a tremendous growth in smart gadgets like mobile phones, laptops, tablets, iPhones and so on. The list is quite crazy to watch out for and together with it was the internet that took off quite quicker than anyone could have possibly predicted. Moving from desktop surfing to mobile phone surfing, everyone is browsing, checking emails, and doing online shopping.

Responsive Designing

With the surpassing use of mobile internet from desktop users, a big question arises to website developers: Is my website design suitable for all the users? The industry said: Go for Responsive Web Designing.

Why Responsive?

What separates design from art is that design is meant to be functional. Intuitive design is all about empowering your website user with a new superpower. Remember the web isn’t about controlling; user doesn’t have to be fooled around zooming and shrinking the content. All a website needs for user’s best experience is a friendly interface; friendly meaning navigation that simplifies the user walkthrough of your web page.

Responsive Design Overview

Internet navigation has slightly changed over years. Responsive Web Designing is a practice of designing web page suitable for every device and for every screen size.

It is more focused on grids and fluidity. Accessing responsive layout should prove to be a flexible and gratifying experience for all the users; as desktop to mobile screen users may have alike benefits from a responsive web page.

Flexible Layout

What are the ingredients to design a responsive website? In terms of layout it takes three core ingredients:

  1. A flexible, grid-based layout.
  2. Flexible image and media, and
  3. Media queries.

Flexible Grid

It is a process of “creating a typographic space on the page,” building the proportions of a grid to the size of a blank piece of paper; but for a web designer, it’s the presence of an actual page. The canvas, the browser window, can be bent and flexed to any shape or size, whether modified at the whim of the reader, or defined by the phone or tablet they are using to view the content.

You need to create an element in your markup, give it a fixed width in your CSS, and centre it in the page. But when you are thinking flexibly, you instead need to translate a design created in Photoshop into something more fluid or something more proportional.

Taking the flexible layout concept, and formula, and reimplementing it to all the parts of a grid will create a completely dynamic website, scaling to all viewport size. For even more control on the flexible layout, you can also make use of the min-width, max-width, min-height, and max-height properties.

Media Queries

Media queries were developed as an extension to media types commonly found while targeting and including styles. They provide an ability to define different styles for individual browsers and device circumstances; the device orientation or width of the viewport for instance. Being able to apply uniquely targeted styles opens up a world of opportunity and leverage the power of responsive website design.

Create Your Own Responsive Website

Always think about the people who will be using a website before you design an interface. Keep in mind that an average user is your primary target. Think of the best solution from a user experience perspective and not the best-designed solution or the most creative solution. Keep your mind open for possibilities to improve.

For example, the drop-down navigation is a big part of larger websites such as online shopping site. How would you handle sub-menus or sub-sub-menus which still need visibility on mobile devices? Your best answer would focus solely on the user experience.

When planning your own responsive website, don’t try to be excessively creative with your solutions. There are other possibilities for innovation, can get the creative ideas from chaotic swirl of thought pattern.

Visitors won’t leave you as long as it’s functional and blends into the layout. Making a responsive navigation workout is 60% work done giving a feeling to the user to use your web page multiple times. Throughout the entire creative process, keep your vision as simple and as achievable as possible.