Responsive Design

Your constantly-updated definition of Responsive Design and collection of topical content and literature

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive design refers to graphical user interface (GUI) design that adjusts smoothly to different screen sizes. Designers apply it in GUIs such as webpages that must function on devices of various sizes. Responsive designs respond to changes in screen size by adjusting the placement of design elements to fit the available space optimally—a liquid quality offering versatility.

Responsive design is similar to adaptive design, which also adapts to different screen sizes. The difference is that content moves dynamically in responsive design whereas it is fixed in layout sizes in adaptive design. A responsive design thus has only one single layout, which resizes and moves dynamically according to the screen size. An adaptive design, on the other hand, uses multiple fixed layouts that do not resize, and the website will choose the most optimal layout for the screen size.

Because smartphone access to the internet is greater than PC access, responsive design is normally done using the principle “mobile first” – i.e., designers define the experience on mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets and then scale it up to larger screens. The advantage of responsive design is that it enables the creation of GUIs for multiple screen sizes without the need to design each GUI separately. A disadvantage is that the designer does not have complete control over how the GUI appears on the various screen sizes. This is particularly problematic for complex designs which might not translate seamlessly across screen sizes. Another drawback of responsive design is that it requires a more complicated front-end code in order to be able to scale the content according to the screen size dynamically and correctly. Thus, the plastic nature of responsive design demands thorough consideration early on—particularly as webpage consistency is vital to brand recognition and the preservation of users’ trust.

Literature on Responsive Design

Here’s the entire UX literature on Responsive Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Responsive Design

Take a deep dive into Responsive Design with our course Mobile User Experience (UX) Design.

Mobile usage overtook that of desktop way back in 2014 according to Comscore; since then, the gap between devices has only widened, with the rise in mobile usage doubling the loss seen on desktop. This increase in mobile traffic has made mobile user experience one of the most important factors in the success of a product or website, and it means that the skills involved are absolutely essential for designers, marketers, and developers if they want to keep up with the times. This course will teach you how to do just that—design great mobile user interfaces, with an emphasis on mobile usability best practices.

When you want to start designing a great user experience on a mobile device, using common sense design approaches or simply learning by doing won’t be enough. With Google reporting that 61% of users unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and, even worse, 40% choosing to visit a competitor’s site instead, such uneducated approaches could prove disastrous for your product or website. A user’s comprehension is 50% less on a mobile device, which means that content, navigation, and visual design elements must be twice as intuitive as they are on a desktop. With hard facts like that, you must constantly keep in mind the point that little screens mean very little room for error. Designing for mobile means taking the rough of the risk with the smooth of the sheer profit potential, and your need to learn the skills involved in creating an easy-to-use mobile user interface and, consequently, a great mobile user experience is nothing less than vital.

This course is built on evidence-based approaches as well as solid evidence distilled from decades of research and practice. Here, CEO of, Frank Spillers, who is a distinguished speaker, author, and internationally respected Senior Usability practitioner, will teach you what you need to know to stay one step ahead as you venture into this exciting, cutting-edge and lucrative field.

All Literature

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