When building a new website or considering a new design for a site you already have, one of the best ways to clarify what you want and get some inspiration is to spend time looking at examples of other websites.
For web designers, looking at the layout or design of other websites can spark ideas for how to approach the website you’re working on. And for business owners or amateur website owners who struggle to communicate what they want visually, it’s much easier to analyze what you like and don’t like about another website than it is to figure out what you want from scratch.
For modern website design projects, it’s not enough to spend time perusing website examples on desktop alone. A majority of web users today do their searching, browsing, and shopping on mobile devices.
When you’re building your website, you have to think about mobile. And that means when you’re searching for inspiration you should as well. What you need is to look for responsive web design examples.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is the dominant trend in web design today. Responsive websites are designed to look good on all possible screen sizes, while still providing the same information and page elements no matter the device.
Designers pull this off by changing the way page layout elements are organized on the website, rather than changing what elements are included. For a simple example, a website that has text and and an image show up side by side on a desktop screen could have the text move below the image when the same page loads on a mobile device.
In the coding, designers tell websites how to recognize the type of device or screen size the site is loading on, and change how it appears accordingly. Hence the name “responsive website design”—the website responds to the screen size it’s being viewed on.
Responsive website design has become the norm because it’s Google’s preference, which makes it good for search engine optimization (SEO), and because it provides a straightforward way to ensure your mobile visitors get a good experience without having to design a separate mobile website.
Having one responsive website versus different websites for different devices saves you the trouble of having to do twice as much work during the initial design phase and for ongoing maintenance. And it means your website will work on the growing range of device types and screen sizes that have now come onto the scene.
In short, whatever type of website you’re looking to build, responsive web design is widely considered the best choice.
Why Look at Responsive Web Design Examples?
Looking at examples of responsive web design with a flexible layout is a valuable way to come to your own website design project with clearer idea of how you want your website to look. In particular, reviewing examples will help you do a few things.
1. You can see different organization styles.
One of the challenges of responsive web design is figuring out how to organize both your website in general and each individual page in particular in a way that remains intuitive and useful no matter the device type. You shouldn’t assume your own experiences and preferences are good enough for this.
By looking at the choices other skilled designers have made, you’ll gain an understanding of the overall best practices in responsive website organization.
2. You’ll see how different types of websites approach responsive web design.
Different types of websites have different goals. An eCommerce website has the goal of driving sales, while an entertainment site wants to you spend time on the site consuming content. When you view a lot of different responsive websites, you’ll start to see how the different design choices are influenced by a website’s particular goals. That’s good information to bring into your own website’s design.
3. You’ll get a feel for how a good website hierarchy works.
Designing your website with a visual hierarchy means thinking through which parts of each page are most important and making sure the design centers them. A common website building mistake is not creating a mobile-responsive web design. It’s especially important for responsive web design, where many of the visitors viewing your website on smaller devices will see less of the page they’re on at a given time.
You want to make sure that the most important parts of the page are placed higher up in the design, and that key features and links like your main menu and call to action (CTA) are easy to find.
4. You’ll gain insights into why designers organize things the way they did.
As you browse different websites, think about why pages are organized the way they are. Analyze the design choices made in each case: consider how images are used, and where different links, buttons, and other features are placed. Think about the usability of the site and how the overall viewing experience is compared to others.
Don’t just take in how the website looks on different devices, think about why. Asking those questions will reveal insights that help you make better design decisions for your own website.
5. You may see examples of design choices to avoid.
You can learn a lot from good responsive web design examples, but you can learn just as much from those that don’t work for you.
As you browse a website and click around to see different pages or take different actions, pay attention to anything that’s harder to do on a small screen than a desktop. Consider any page elements that don’t look quite right on some screen sizes, because they were clearly designed for others. Those insights will help you determine what not to do.
How to Look at Responsive Web Design Examples
You don’t have to go out and buy a multitude of device types to see how responsive websites look on all of them. A number of handy responsive design testing tools will let you see how websites look on different screen sizes all from the same device.
If you have a computer, tablet, and smartphone you can use to supplement your research, it’s always good to get that more direct experience as well. But to see a larger number of examples in a more efficient way, a tool like Resizer (which we used for all the screenshots below) will make the process more efficient.
15 Responsive Web Design Examples
Now that we’ve laid out a convincing argument for why you should pay attention to a variety of responsive web design examples, we’ll help you get right to it. We’ve compiled a list of responsive websites with a variety of website types and subjects covered.
Business Responsive Design Examples
Every business needs a website these days, and every business website should be responsive in order to reach prospective customers no matter how they come to your site. Here are a few examples of businesses that got the message and created responsive business websites.
1. CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
Finance, outsourcing, and tax firm CliftonLarsonAllen is a good example of visual hierarchy in a website. You’ll notice all three of the main versions of their responsive website center the same image, message, and call to action (CTA) button. Can you tell what action they want visitors to take?
Each website version also provides a number of clear links to learn more based the types of services the visitor is interested in, all of which are easy to spot as you scroll (or right there on the first screen in some cases).
2. The Living Well
Women’s health and wellness company, The Living Well, has a simple image-focused website that provides the same information across device types. The initial logo, tagline, and menu items are visible on all versions and communicate what the business is all about.
And prospective customers can learn more about the women behind the business and the specific services available by scrolling down, clicking on the relevant links obvious on the page, or following the social buttons that are visible on all screen sizes.
3. Yard Bar
The dog park bar and restaurant Yard Bar also has a responsive website that centers images. The sliding images prominently feature the main things you need to know about the business: it’s all about food, drinks, and dogs.
Across devices, scrolling down provides more information about those three main categories, plus happy hour times. Anyone visiting the site from any device can quickly learn what the business is about and the main information they need to know before heading over.
Freelance business software company Bonsai has a clean and clear responsive website. Like CliftonLarsonAllen, they make the main message and CTA clear on the site across devices.
The website offers a good example of moving or removing certain elements that are less important on the smaller screen. While for the most part, the page is the same across the devices, the larger screens have a form for providing your email right there on the page. To save space, the mobile version moves the form off the home page, but keeps the CTA there (once you click, you get to a form field). It makes the space look cleaner, while still providing the same basic information and options.
5. Salt Lick Cellars
The winery Salt Lick Cellars is another business website that centers images, which makes sense for a business in an industry that often draws customers in with beautiful views.
While the cut of the main image on the smartphone screen is smaller—you don’t see as expansive a view of the photo, you still get the main idea of it, along with intuitive access to the menu (a hamburger menu in the top right), and an image directing you to scroll down for more information.
eCommerce Responsive Design Examples
While business websites have an ultimate goal of trying to sell a product or service, eCommerce websites are trying to make the sale in a more direct fashion—right there on the website itself. It’s worth seeing some examples of how different eCommerce sites use their responsive design to do that across devices. When designing an eCommerce website, it’s especially important that you make your site mobile responsive and easy to use.
6. Paper & Ink Arts
Paper & Ink Arts has all the same elements on its mobile homepage as on the desktop and tablet versions, but because of the way the same elements take up different amounts of space, the homepage has a bit of a different feel between devices.
The image slideshow that dominates the screen on the larger devices, becomes a smaller banner on mobile in order to make room for other promotions. And the menu is squished into a hamburger menu in order to make space at the top for easy access to search, contact information, and the shopping cart. The choices make clear the company’s priority to make sales, and make it easy for visitors to get in touch.
Penzeys looks like they designed their main menu with the mobile experience in mind. With four simple categories that take up a narrow amount of space on the larger screens, the menu fits perfectly on the smartphone-sized screen.
All three screens make the checkout button in orange and free shipping offer in red in the top right corner obvious. While all versions let the central image that dominates the screen be the tasty-looking images of recipes you can make using the company’s spices (a compelling reason to buy).
8. Bon Bon Bon
Like many of the business websites, chocolate shop Bon Bon Bon puts an image with an obvious CTA front and center. It has an image slider, so the image and CTA change, but the CTA is always in a bright red button.
As with Paper & Ink though, Bon Bon Bon lets the main image get smaller so it’s more like a banner ad, in order to let some of the other page elements onto the screen on mobile. And the shopping cart and Information link to find contact information remain clear at the top on the mobile screen.
The online pet supply store Chewy.com looks very similar across the three devices, with the main difference being the common responsive choice to make the menu into a compressed hamburger menu. This is a rare example of a responsive website where the main image on mobile doesn’t load to fit the screen—you notice it’s cut off, but visitors have the option to scroll left to right to see the parts of the photo you can’t see here.
All three versions prominently feature the search bar, to make it easy for visitors to find specific products. And all have the obvious 30% off offer in orange.
10. Pacha Soaps
Pacha Soaps has a pretty similar look across devices. As is common in the other websites we’ve seen, they have sliding images that dominate the screen in all three versions. Unlike some of the other examples, the image takes up more screen real estate rather than less on the smartphone screen.
While small, they keep the brown menu with their free shipping and social handle information present throughout screen sizes, while switching to a hamburger menu for their main menu on the smaller screen.
Personal Website Responsive Design Examples
Even if you’re building a personal website to share your passion, rather than sell products or promote a business, it’s worth making your website responsive. Here are a few responsive web design examples from personal websites people have built around their passions.
11. The April Blake
April Blake’s blog is primarily focused on sharing recipes she cooks and occasional musings.
Her website looks very similar across screen sizes, with just a couple of small differences. The social icons at the very top of the page on desktop are removed on the smaller screens, and the main menu is compressed to a hamburger menu. Otherwise it’s simply a matter of re-arranging the elements on the page to better fit the screen.
12. House of Hipsters
Kyla Herbes home design blog, House of Hipsters, changes little between device types. The menu switches to a drop-down menu, the title banner at the top becomes smaller, and the right-side menu moves down the page on the smaller devices. But otherwise, the site’s essentially the same no matter where you’re coming from.
13. I Am Aileen
Lifestyle and travel blogger I Am Aileen’s responsive website centers a image slideshow on all device sizes, with an obvious search bar and social icons above it. The main menu becomes a hamburger menu on mobile, and the boxes of content and images below the main image become stacked on the smaller screen.
14. The Frugal Girl
The Frugal Girl blog keeps the logo and tagline visible at the top across website types, and centers the top blog post in all three versions. The main menu becomes a hamburger menu on the smallest screen, and the information and images in the right-side menu get pushed to the bottom.
15. Budget Bytes
Finally, the recipe site Budget Bytes centers the image and details of the most recent recipe on all device sizes, but moves the details and name below the image on the mobile device. The logo and website name show up at the top in all three versions. And, as is common in our examples, the main menu is replaced with a hamburger menu in the mobile version, along with a search icon to make more space at the top of the screen.
While the images and names of additional recipes show up side by side below the main image on the two larger screens, they become stacked on the mobile device.
Ready to Create a Responsive Website?
As all these examples demonstrate, there are a number of ways to organize a responsive website that works equally well on all device types. And you don’t have to be a big business with a large budget to create a responsive website—many of these examples are of small businesses or individuals.
If you want a simple, affordable way to create a responsive website, the Gator Website Builder has over 100 responsive templates that provide a headstart to putting together a website that looks good and works across device types. To get started with building your website, give our professionals a call at HostGator to find the right web hosting option for you.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.