They say 2013 is the year of Responsive Web Design, the year when responsiveness will come into its own. Actually, the field of web design and development is already going through a responsiveness induced revolution of sorts.
Let´s face it, we as designers and developers simply cannot keep up with all the new resolutions and devices entering the market at a rapid clip. Designing a website for every one of them is impractical, and almost impossible. We simply don´t have the time, resources and patience to keep creating a website for each new resolution or device that enters the market.
So, just what is responsive web design?
To put it simply, Responsive Web Design is a design approach that allows you to build a single website that functions optimally on different devices, with varying screen sizes and resolutions.
With the continuing and accelerated adoption of mobility, it makes sense for web designers, developers and even businesses to build websites that cater to a multi-device environment. This unique approach benefits both the website visitors, as well as, the people behind the website. The focus of this technique is on contextual design wherein every element responds to the user´s behavior and environment, with respect to the screen size, platform and orientation.
The basic concept behind responsive web design is to ensure that the same website can be accessed from the laptop, your iPad, your Android device, etc. with any loss of user experience and functional value. Essentially, it needs to switch over from one device to another seamlessly. To make this happen, designers need to use a heady cocktail of flexible grids and layouts and images; at the same time they also need to make intelligent use of CSS and media queries.
The focus here is on creating a website that instinctively adjusts to a user´s preferences; so if you are accessing a particular website from your laptop, and you then open the same website from your iPad, it needs to accommodate the change in resolution, image size and scripting.
All this should happen seamlessly.
You might be wondering how you are going to be able to craft websites that will respond so quickly, accurately and efficiently to a user´s needs? Yes, it is a difficult task, something that requires quite a bit of learning and relearning, but it has made a whole lot simpler with the availability of numerous tools and resources that allow us to create responsive web sites without missing a beat.
Enter Twitter´s Bootstrap
Here, in this article we are going to discuss one of the most widely used frameworks for designing responsive websites – Bootstrap, from Twitter.
A Brief Introduction
So, what´s new, you might want to ask; agreed, there are plenty of other frameworks out there, who do much the same thing, but they aren´t as comprehensive as Twitter´s Bootstrap. It offers you all the UI components that help you create a responsive website or a web enabled application.
Here´s a fly on the wall look at all the stuff that Twitter´s Bootstrap brings to the table.
- Base CSS: This helps you create beautiful Typography; enables syntax highlighting with Google Prettify; it also helps you code tables, forms, buttons; it offers Glyphicons for creating monochromatic icons.
- Grid Layout: a 12 column Grid that helps you chart out a fixed, fluid or responsive layout.
- Web UI Component: Miscellanylike Buttons, Labels, Thumbnails, Progress bars etc. is on offer.
This framework allows you to do more with LESS; the idea is to allow you to update the style as per your needs and requirements. No matter what your skill sets, you will be able to optimize the use of Bootstrap, whether you are an experienced developer and designer or are just starting out.
Also, a word of warning; it doesn´t have default responsive features. If you want these features you will need to switch on the responsive CSS by using the right Meta tag and the additional style sheet within the <head> of your document.
Why you must build with Twitter Bootstrap?
I am sure you must be as doubtful as I was about the merits of this framework, when I first heard about it. As web professionals, we are ingrained with a healthy dose of skepticism about every new technology that seeks to simplify certain challenges for us.
I was skeptical about its benefits and whether it would really help me the way it claims it will, and I initially started using it with all the circumspection at my disposal. But overtime, I realized that there are really plenty of reasons why I, you or anybody else for that matter needs to build a website with Twitter Bootstrap.
Here are just a few of them for your perusal.
For Cutting Edge Responsive Design
Grid System – Powerful but Simple
I know we have nightmares about defining a grid system, where we have to declare a “first” or “last” class of elements at beginning and the end of respective rows. But, with Bootstrap, all you need to do is place the elements in a row in a container, and allow it do the rest.
Less is definitely more when it comes to this framework. Conceptualized and created to use the LESS CSS preprocessing markup, developers can easily modify items across the site with the use of very few variables.
Choice in your Hands – Fluid or Fixed
Bootstrap is immensely flexible as far as the Grid layout is concerned; you can pick the layout of your choice, relevant to your needs. So, if you want an intricate interface, you can pick the Fluid layout, on the other hand if you think you need to mix both, the framework allows you to do that too.
Don´t like CSS or just want to go without it, just this once, well you can create a complete layout with just the use of HTML and minimum classes. What this does is that it helps you create a web app quickly and effectively.
Amazing array of Starting Styles
Bootstrap gives you access to some beautiful typography, striking buttons and some very readable tables. No this is not a reworking of the CSS; it is just that this framework has just overhauled it to suit the need of the hour.
Superb jQuery Integration
Baked-in jQuery plugins help you take your website design to the next level, so you have:
- Modal Boxes
- …and many more.
Development becomes Modular
Standalone survival of its individual parts is the hallmark of Bootstrap. But if there is a need for one part needing another, the dynamic download will help make use of the proper files.
Not quite actually, but it gets as near to that as possible. If you don´t like a Bootstrap feature/element, but love something else that you would like to use, you can create your very own Bootstrap, through the Twitter Bootstrap customize page.
The Bootstrap Community
Its growing by the year and it is this community that offers feedback that has nurtured the continuous growth of Bootstrap.
Twitter´s Bootstrap is even better than Bootstrap Bill (Couldn´t resist that one), and allows you to become an integral part and driving force of the responsive web design revolution. Getting started on it is easy, and becoming an expert is even easier. So, go take a look at it.