The main trend in web design that’s dominated the conversation over the past few years is responsive web design.
As mobile use continues to grow around the world—recent estimates put the number of mobile devices in use at over five billion—the need for mobile-friendly websites is obvious.
Responsive web design is the most popular solution to that need.
Why You Should Use Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is an approach to web design that ensures a website looks good on all devices. Responsive websites have the same information and page elements no matter what device you view them on, but the way the pages are organized changes according to the smaller screen size on smartphones and tablets.
As the name suggests, the website is designed to respond to the size of the screen each time it loads by changing the way the display appears to match the screen layout and provide an intuitive experience for every visitor. Responsive web design has become the go-to option for web designers who care about providing a good and consistent experience on all types of devices.
Web designers do also have the option of building two separate websites: a mobile one that loads on smaller devices, and a desktop one that loads on computers. But with the growing number of device types and screen sizes of smartphones and tablets, that option poses the risk of still only working well in a fraction of cases.
And if you’re providing different content or information to different visitors, you risk providing an inferior experience to some of your visitors. Why keep content you know is valuable for your desktop visitors inaccessible to your mobile ones?
Responsive web design is good for your visitors, good for search engine optimization (SEO), and easier on you, since you only have to build and maintain one website. But if you’re new to web design, figuring out how to create a responsive website can seem overwhelming. Luckily, there are a number of tools to help with an adaptive design that make things easier.
20 Tools for Responsive Web Design
The tools available for responsive web design fall into three main categories.
- For beginners wanting a simple option for building a responsive layout on their website, you have tools that will help you find and use responsive templates.
- For more experienced designers, there are a number of tools that aid in the responsive design process.
- Finally, for anyone that’s built a responsive website, there are responsive testing tools to help you make sure your finished website works well on all device types.
Tools For Responsive Web Design Templates
If you’re building a website and don’t know the first thing about web design or coding, but you know it’s important to have a responsive website, then you may be worrying about where to even start.
Fortunately, as the importance of responsive web design has become increasingly clear over the years, a number of designers and web building tools have seen the need to develop responsive web design examples that newbie website owners can use to easily build a responsive website.
Here are a few tools you can use to find responsive templates that will make creating a responsive website simple, even for those with limited web design skills.
1. Gator Website Builder
Gator Website Builder has over 100 responsive website templates to choose from for an adaptive design. Anyone that subscribes to a Gator plan has access to the library of templates, as well as a intuitive website builder that makes it easy to customize the template you choose to create a unique, fully responsive website.
Simbla offers 100 simple responsive website templates customers can choose from to jumpstart the web design process. For anyone just looking to build a basic website with a few pages, their templates are straightforward and responsive.
Colorlib is a resource that collects and highlights themes—both free and premium—that anyone building a website on WordPress can use. Some of the site’s blog posts specifically collect responsive themes and templates. While working with their themes will require a little more skill than using a website builder, they can provide a good starting point for building your website and can save you some money if you’re willing to commit the time to learning basic design skills.
ThemeForest, part of Envato, offers nearly 45,000 themes and templates for people building a website with WordPress, including over 5,000 that are responsive. Their themes start at around $5, but can cost over $100 for some options. Many of the themes include reviews and ratings from past customers, so you can get some advance insights into how well they work.
Templated supplies nearly 900 responsive HTML templates that are freely available under the Creative Commons. Anyone can browse their collection and download and use any template that feels like a good fit for your needs. If you’re looking for a free option to get started with, this is a good place to look first.
Tools For Doing Responsive Web Design
Responsive templates are the best option for anyone with limited skills hoping to get a website up on their own. For designers with the skills to build a website from scratch, there are a number of tools for responsive web design that make doing the job well easier.
Bootstrap is a free, open source tool for building mobile-first responsive websites. Bootstrap provides a toolkit of the various elements you need to build a responsive website and lets you pick and choose the elements you want to include on your page to make prototyping intuitive.
Wirefy is a free tool for easily creating responsive wireframes. The tool makes it easy to plan your design around your content and make sure it looks good across device types. It requires a working knowledge of HTML and CSS, but makes the work of building a responsive site easier.
If your website includes video, FitVids is a free, useful tool for ensuring your videos load at the right width on different devices. It’s a simple plugin that allows for fluid video embeds. Whatever screen size your visitors use, the videos will automatically load to the right width.
9. Adaptive Images
What Fitvids does for videos, Adaptive Images does for images. The program detects a visitor’s screen size and automatically delivers the images on your page in the right size for them to look good on the screen and load quickly.
FitText does for fonts what FitVids and Adaptive Images do for visual elements. It automatically resizes your headings and display text based on the size of the screen visitors have. FitText is a free and easy-to-use plugin.
Webflow is a tool to help people design and build responsive websites visually—it automatically generates the code for you, so you can stick to the visual side of design. The company offers a free basic plan you can use for designing a responsive site, and paid plans that come with additional features and services.
Invision is a tool for enabling collaborative responsive design. It makes it easy to share your work with others on a team. And notably, it makes it easy to access it on various devices as you work, so you can test out how it looks on different screens as you go. Invision is free for one active prototype at a time, and has paid plans for those who need more.
If you want to include an image slideshow on your website, the Blueberry image slider is designed to be automatically responsive. It’s a free open-source tool that automatically sizes all the images in your slideshow to fit on the screen of the device your visitors are on. All you have to do is load your images.
UXPin is a platform for web design and prototyping that prioritizes user experience. The platform enables quick and easy design and provides a library of pre-built components you can incorporate into your designs. It also makes collaboration with other designers on your team easy. UXPin is a subscription product that starts at $23 a month.
15. Style Tiles
For professional designers that work with clients, Style Tiles is a useful tool for creating quick mock-ups of your design ideas for approval, before having to dive into serious design work. You can download free templates created by a designer familiar with the process of working with clients and knowledgeable about the importance of responsive web design.
Responsive Testing Tools
One of the challenges inherent in responsive design is that, while your goal is to create a website that looks good on every possible device and in every different browser, you can’t reasonably test out every variation on your own. There are dozens of different screen and resolution sizes out there, and no person or business will have access to every one of them.
While it’s worth it to try out your new responsive website on as many devices as you can access, you can go further by using responsive testing tools to see how your website works on additional screen sizes.
16. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test isn’t specifically for testing responsive websites, but Google has been upfront for some time about how important its algorithm considers mobile friendliness in websites in determining rankings. For any business that cares about SEO, Google’s tool lets you go straight to the source to confirm that your website is mobile friendly enough to meet the search engine’s standards.
Responsinator is a free and handy responsive testing tool where you all you have to do is enter your URL, and you can see how your website looks on a few different device sizes and orientations. It’s a quick way to get a snapshot of how other visitors will see your website.
While Responsinator lets you test your website on a few different device sizes at once, for businesses that want to really be confident that a responsive website works on every possible device, a more comprehensive solution is called for. Browserstack is a subscription product that automates the process of testing your website over 2,000 device and browser types.
Resizer is a free tool that provides a quick snapshot of how your website looks on the three main screen sizes, but also lets you test out how it looks at different widths on each device type. With a simple click, you can see how people with a variety screen or browser sizes will see the website, so you can get a much broader view of the different ways your responsive site will appear to visitors.
While a lot of how we talk about responsive design focuses on different device types and sizes, the way your website shows up in different browsers is another important consideration for user experience. The CrossBrowserTesting tool automates the process of testing out how your website looks and works in all the main browsers so you can spot potential issues before they affect how your visitors experience the website.
Responsive Web Design Made Easy
Building a responsive website doesn’t have to be hard. With the right tools for responsive design, you can pull together a website that meets your needs and provides an intuitive experience to all your users, no matter the device they come from.
If you’re building your first website and don’t know where to start, the Gator Website Builder makes building a responsive website a fast and easy process. All you have to do is select your responsive template, and use the intuitive drag-and-drop editor to change the template to suit your particular vision. Even beginner website owners can have a working site up and ready within hours.
And as an added benefit, Gator comes with HostGator’s powerful web hosting. Web hosting is a requirement for every website, so you can get two things done at once by signing up with one of the most respected web hosting companies in the space.
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.