5 Responsive Web Design Challenges [+ Solutions]

An increasing number of people now browse the web through their mobile phones, making responsive web design extremely important. In the simplest terms, responsive design basically refers to developing a website in a manner that it automatically scales its content to match the screen size on which it is viewed, no matter whether it’s a smartphone, iPad or a tablet. Web users visiting these websites through their mobile phone hence would not have to toil extra hard to read the content featured there.  

Having a responsive design can aid you to solve a number of issues with your website.  Foremost, it shall make your website mobile-friendly, and ensure that it opens seamlessly and looks good on both small and large screens. This would, in turn, increase the time visitors are likely to spend on your website, as well as improve your website rankings on major search engines.  

You can easily use a cross-browser testing tool like Lambda Test to check the responsiveness of your website across diverse screen sizes with just one click. Based on its results, it would be a prudent move for you to make your web application as responsive as possible, so as to augment your visibility and reach.

While having a responsive web design is extremely important, there are certain challenges involved in developing such a website. However, by maintaining a systematic approach and following expert tips, you can surely solve, and be able to create a website that is both robust and responsive. The following pointers provide a better insight into the major responsive website design challenges, as well as their fixes:

1. Displaying expansive data: If there is a large chunk of data that is required to be displayed to the web users, quite often, developers end up creating tables. While these tables look fine on the bigger screen, it does not work well on mobile devices, and end up being too confusing and convoluted for the web visitors to comprehend. It is important to avoid horizontal scrolling as much as possible, to make web content more readable on mobile phones.

Solution: There are certain libraries that support responsive tables, which you may use. But these tables also are likely to have a horizontal scrollbar that you should try to avoid. Other ways to solve this problem would be to cut down on all unessential columns in the table and reduce the amount of horizontal data presented.  You may even build a compact pie chart instead of a table, or make a table that allows the users to scroll/swipe the columns while keeping the first one fixed. You may make each row a table of its own, which can easily be scrolled through vertically.

2. Adding responsiveness to a fixed-width layout: Many old websites have a fixed-width layout. People either need to develop such websites from scratch to make them suitable for all screen sizes, or find ways to make them as responsive as possible. Transforming all those websites to responsive online platforms tend to be among the most challenging tasks for a developer.

Solution: Depending on the complexity of the task involved, there are several choices available to a developer. In case you have a static website, then it would be a good idea for you to consider a framework that can add more fluidity to your fixed-width layout. Foundation, Bootstrap and other popular frameworks can go a long way in enabling you to transform your fixed-width layout to a responsive one.

However, if your website has a complicated UI, you might face greater problems in fitting it into a design that is a responsive one. In such a scenario, it would be better for you to leave the desktop website as it is, and develop a new layout from scratch for the smaller screens.   

3. Making icons and images responsive: Icons and images are vital components of any website. Ideally, its images have to be scaled down as per the width of the device the website is being viewed on. In addition to the typical smartphones, one needs to take into consideration the retina display on Apple devices, to make sure that image details are not lost while scaling. If a website is not made properly responsive, then the images would get bigger than they supposed to be when viewed on a phone or become blurred. Both of these situations are not ideal.

Solution: One of the easiest solutions for having proper responsive images is to make use of CSS properties like width and max-width, in order to scale down the image width.  You may even use a library like bootstrap that provides support for fluid images for this purpose.

4. Creating complex navigation menus: Navigation menus are quite a core component of contemporary UI. They are meant to make it easy for the users to navigate the website by featuring all the relevant links in one place. The typical multi-layer drop-down menu works perfectly in the desktop version. However, it makes it responsive, developers often have to resort to having three bars right at the top left corner of the web page.

Solution: Responsive libraries help in automatically scaling the navigation menus in a manner that it can accommodate the navigation links, brand name, as well as drop-down lists, even when the website is viewed on the phone. You must, however, make sure to keep the navigation bar simple, concise and aesthetic, and not overdo it.  In case you have to list particular categories in a drop-down menu, then you can always create a separate page for that. It is important to week out all the unimportant details from the navigation bar.

5. Older browser support: Older versions of browsers often cause a huge issue for the developers. For example, Internet Explorer version 8 and below would not recognize media queries, as well as various other HTML5/CSS3 features. Hence, building a responsive layout, while making sure that they are able to support these browsers can prove to be highly problematic. In many cases, supporting older versions of Chrome and Firefox also becomes an issue, if they do not support the specification to be used by the developers.

Solution: You may consider using browser-specific prefixes to see to it that your website supports diverse types of browsers.  Being a cross-browser testing tool, LambdaTest can help you to test whether your website opens perfectly on various browsers or not, making it easier for you to carry out the needed changes.

Perform Responsive Test Online

Subsequent to meeting the challenges mentioned above and making your website responsive, it is prudent that you perform a responsive test for various devices, including smartphones, tablets, ipads and iPhones, laptops and desktops.  This would help you to see to it that all your changes have been carried out effectively, and images and content featured on your website are adapting themselves according to the screen size they are being viewed on.

You may even perform a responsive test online on a diverse mobile view of your website, which covers all the key screen resolutions and viewports. The more you test and improve, the better user experience shall you be able to deliver to your web visitors.

Using the LT Browser

The Lambda Test or LT browser is a robust cross-browser testing tool through which you can easily check the responsiveness of your website, as well as perform live mobile view debugging. This tool allows you to perform tests on more than twenty-five devices and carry out a thorough, responsive testing.  While many prominent and commonly used devices are present on this browser testing tool, if you cannot find a certain one, then you may always create a custom device and choose to save it for the future use.  

With the help of the LT browser, you can compare two distinguished mobile views directly, while having a side by side mobile view of the website. As a result, when you scroll your website on the first device, the second one would automatically mimic the process. This shall make it invariably easier for you to test several devices in a prompt manner.

The LT browser shall also allow you to perform a responsive test online on your privately or locally owned website, and subsequently test them all on the available and custom-made devices. You may even validate any quick fixes to debug your website by leveraging the debugging tools of the LT browser.

Conclusion

In the contemporary world, having a responsive website has become a necessity for all companies. If their website is not perfectly compatible with mobile phone browsers, then a brand can lose out on a lot of traffic. Having a responsive website would eradicate the need to design a separate mobile website for the smartphone users, as they would be able to scale up or down automatically to match the device it’s being viewed on.

However, transforming your old website into a responsive one is not easy. There are a variety of challenges involved in it, which you can effectively solve with the right tools and guidance.

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