Responsive web design is one of the hottest topics among designers and developers right now. If you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, we’ll walk you through what it is, how it works and how CSS media queries are something you need to start incorporating into your own designs.
To top it all off, we’ll finish with twenty seriously impressive of responsive designs that use media queries to present experiences specifically catered to different visitors.
What Are Media Queries?
CSS3 has brought about a ton of fancy visual effects such as shadows and animations, but what about practical improvements? Is there anything about CSS3 that actually improves the way you can build websites from a usability standpoint?
The answer is a resounding “yes” and is due largely to the inclusion of media queries. Media queries are incredibly useful because they solve a huge problem that arose quite suddenly in web design: the need to design for vastly different screen sizes.
User screen sizes have always differed but for the most part this difference was limited to a few inches and you could bet on a huge majority of your audience fitting within parameters that were fairly easy to design around. These days though you have some users on a 27″ Apple cinema display and others on a 3.5″ smartphone.
That’s a huge difference and there are plenty of stops along the way. The ever-growing number of devices that are web friendly make it increasingly difficult for designers to present one static solution that caters to everyone’s needs.
This need has given birth to the idea of responsive web design, which goes far beyond fluid page widths and actually dramatically changes the layout of a page as the size of the browser window or device screen size changes. Media queries are one of the most powerful tools for meeting this goal because they allow the designer to set special CSS according to certain pre-established rules.