40 Useful Responsive Web Design Tools

November 3, 2012 · 34 comments

by Sonny M. Day

responsive web design tools

With the great popularity of tablets and smart-phones, the demand for responsive website design is more serious than ever. Right now, more and more websites are adopting responsive layouts and this trend is expected to become more intense as the percentage of mobile Internet users increase. This development have created tremendous demand for the services of web designers and developers proficient in this highly adaptable system of website layouts. Already, we can see responsive WordPress themes, available from major theme providers that meet the challenges of adopting to different screen sizes.

As expected, some pretty useful responsive web design tools have surfaced recently to support the design and development process of responsive websites. Thanks to the large community of talented developers who made all these resources available. You may ask – what exactly is a responsive web design tool used for? Which tools do I need myself to be ahead of the responsive game? If you are a web designer or developer considering to explore and possibly specialize in responsive web design, you have come to the right place. We are sharing with you, some of the most useful tools and resources here to help you build a responsive design toolbox.

You can find valuable layout aid tools, prototyping tools, code generators, and even a collection of inspirational responsive website designs in this article. We hope that this collection can help you enter the responsive design scene and make a difference. If you like this article, please help us spread the word by clicking our social media buttons. We will also be happy to hear your comments, suggestions and additions to this collection of useful tools. Enjoy!



Article Index

Responsive Wireframes and starting out templates

It is always useful to know the overall direction before you dive into the detailed design. If your existing tools for making sketches are not prepared for going responsive I have found a few you can use

Wireframing Responsive Designs with Mockups


Tutorial on how to do wireframing for responsive layouts and you will also find a library of mockup templates

Responsive Layouts, Responsively Wireframed


This is a demonstration by James Mellers, illustrates how a series of pages could work across these different devices, by simulating how the layout of each page would change responsively, to suit the context. Just use the buttons top-right to toggle between desktop and mobile layouts and see the difference.

Responsive Web Design Sketch Sheets


This tool is a useful aid in mapping out the placement of elements across various devices. With this tool, you can have an idea where to place the the elements of the web page in different sizes of browsers.

Style Tiles


Style Tiles is a design deliverable consisting of fonts, colors and interface elements that communicate the essence of a visual brand for the web.

Multi-Device Layout Patterns


Multi-device layout patterns are collections of popular patterns commonly used by designers in making responsive layouts. It shows how websites adapt to different screen resolutions and how they display the page elements with the variation of screens sizes.

Responsive Design Sketchbook


Quickly map out your responsive site with the Responsive Design Sketchbook. Inspired by “Responsive Web Design” by Ethan Marcotte, this new sketchbook has a multi-grid front page for thumbnail sketches of multiple viewports. The back page is a single blueprint page with break point indicators.

Simple Device Diagram


This device is a handy tool in responsive website design planning. It simplifies the process of choosing what device widths to design to. It outlines the ideal width for the design for 3 layout sites, 4 layout sites, etc.

Responsive grids and frameworks

Less Framework 4


Less Framework is a CSS grid system for designing adaptive web­sites. It contains 4 layouts and 3 sets of typography presets, all based on a single grid.

Fluid Grids


Fluid Grid Calculator is a nice tool that you can use to generate CSS for you fluid grid design. All you have to do is to enter the number of columns and the sizes of the columns and the gutters.

Simple Grid


Creating the code for your grid should be the least of your problems when building a site. That’s why SG keeps things simple and straightforward with as little markup and classes as possible. Even nesting grid slots doesn’t require extra classes.



Protofluid is a tool that makes it possible to do rapid prototyping of Fluid Layouts, Adaptive CSS and Responsive Design. ProtoFluid simplifies the development of fluid layouts and adaptive CSS using Media Queries. It works within your website, HTML5 app or game in the form of a single JavaScript include.

1140 CSS Grid


The 1140 grid fits perfectly into a 1280 monitor. On smaller monitors, it becomes fluid and adapts to the width of the browser. Beyond a certain point it uses media queries to serve up a mobile version, which essentially stacks all the columns on top of each other so the flow of information still makes sense. Although the the best resolution for this CSS grid is a 1280px, still it works equally well with 1024px screen as everything can still be seen just like in 1280px monitor and all the way down to the mobile screens. It is a great tool for designers as one design, ie., 1280px fits all screen sizes. There is no need to declare inline sizes for images as they get re-sized down smaller.

Tiny Fluid Grid


Tiny Fluid Grid is an awesome web based app that can help you determine the grid system of your design. By setting the number of columns, gutter percentage and minimum and maximum widths of your design, the app can give you a downloadable CSS of your responsive grid.

Mobile Boilerplate


Mobile Boilerplate is a base template created by the developers of HTML5 Boilerplate, to help mobile developers create mobile web applications quickly. It features cross-browser viewport optimization for Android, iOS, Mobile IE, Nokia and Blackberry. Also it supports Apache server caching, compression, and other configuration defaults.

Variable Grid System


The variable grid system is a quick way to generate an underlying CSS grid for your site. The CSS generated file is based on the 960 Grid System.



Designed by Tyler Tate, is a simple and lightweight CSS Grid generator. It will allow you to set the number of columns, column width and gutter width, and you can get a downloadable CSS for your websites grid.

Golden Grid System


Golden Grid System is a folding grid that can be used as a starting point in responsive web design. Golden Grid System (GGS) splits the screen into 18 even columns. The leftmost and rightmost columns are used as the outer margins of the grid, which leaves 16 columns for use in design. The 16 columns can be combined, or folded, into 8 columns for tablet-sized screens, and into 4 columns for mobile-sized ones. This way GGS can easily cover any screen sizes from 240 up to 2560 pixels. The author, Joni Korpi, has a very good advice to its users. Don’t use GGS as it is. “Take it apart, steal the parts that you like, and adapt them to your own way of working,” he said.



Gridpak is the starting point for your responsive projects, improving your workflow and saving time. Create your responsive grid system once using the simple interface and let Gridpak do the heavy lifting by generating PNGs, CSS and JavaScript.



Columnal is a responsive CSS grid system helping desktop and mobile browsers play nicely together. It is 1140px wide, but since it is fluid, will respond to the width of most browsers. If the browser gets thin enough, the site will change to a mobile-friendly layout.



Skeleton is a small collection of CSS & JS files that can help you rapidly develop sites that look beautiful at any size, be it a 17″ laptop screen or an iPhone.



Bootstrap provides simple and flexible HTML, CSS, and Javascript for popular user interface components and interactions. In other words, it’s a front-end toolkit for faster, more beautiful web development. It’s created and maintained by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton at Twitter.

320 and Up


The common practice in responsive web designing is to begin with full size desktop as a starting point and from there make scales in smaller screen sizes. The creators of 320 and Up have it on the reverse. They said that you should start designing in small browsers and from then work your way up. The updated version of 320 and up features, Five CSS3 Media Query increments: 480, 600, 768, 992 and 1382px; Design ‘atmosphere’ (colour, texture and typography) separated from layout; Bootstrap styles for buttons, forms and tables and more.



Gridless is an optionated HTML5 and CSS3 boilerplate for making mobile first responsive, cross-browser websites with beautiful typography.

Responsive Scripts



FitText makes font-sizes flexible. Use this plugin on your responsive design to achieve scalable headlines that fill the width of the parent element. This jQuery plugin works by inflating the web type to fill its parent element. That is why you still get a full width text no matter what the size of your screen is. It works well with Lettering.js, or any CSS3 property you throw on it.



inuit.css is a CSS framework equipped with a plugins called igloos, that extend the core framework to add more specific functionality. It has a custom grid system builder for creating fixed or fluid grid system igloos.



Slabtext is a jQuery plugin for producing big, bold & responsive headlines. Put simply, the script splits headlines into rows before resizing each row to fill the available horizontal space. The ideal number of characters to set on each row is calculated by dividing the available width by the CSS font-size – the script then uses this ideal character count to split the headline into word combinations that are displayed as separate rows of text.



Respond.js is a fast & lightweight polyfill for min/max-width CSS3 Media Queries (for IE 6-8, and more). The goal of this script is to provide a fast and lightweight (3kb minified / 1kb gzipped) script to enable responsive web designs in browsers that don’t support CSS3 Media Queries – in particular, Internet Explorer 8 and under. It’s written in such a way that it will probably patch support for other non-supporting browsers as well.



Adapt.js is a lightweight JavaScript file that determines which CSS file to load before the browser renders a page. If the browser tilts or resizes, Adapt.js simply checks its width, and serves only the CSS that is needed, when it is needed.

mediaQuery Bookmarklet


The mediaQuery bookmarklet gives a visual representation of the current viewport dimensions and most recently fired media query.

Responsive Data Table Roundup


These collection of table curated by Chris Coyier, discuss how tables should appear as screen size decreases. It is complete with examples and source codes that you can look at as an aid for your own responsive web design.

Adaptive Images


Adaptive Images detects your visitor’s screen size and automatically creates, caches, and delivers device appropriate re-scaled versions of your web page’s embeded HTML images. No mark-up changes needed. It is intended for use with Responsive Designs and to be combined with Fluid Image techniques.

Seamless Responsive Photo Grid


Seamless Responsive Photo Grid is a grid that you can use to make images display edge-to-edge on the browser window with no gaps. The idea behind this trick by Chris Coyier is to tile the photos and make them flow in a series of columns from left to right all throughout the page. By setting the images width to 100%, they will take up exactly the width of one column. The number of columns depends of the size of the browser. As the screen size becomes smaller, the grid works by having media queries test the browser width and adjust the number of columns accordingly. You can resize your browser all around and watch things move very quickly.

Convert a Menu to a Dropdown for Small Screens


Chris Coyier discusses how to make a navigation menu convert into a dropdown when you are browsing the website on a small screen. That’s a better choice than a tiny link.

Tools for testing Responsive layouts

Responsive PX


This works by loading your website and displaying the portion visible on different screen sizes. You can adjust the width and the height of the display to simulate the resolution of different devices.

The responsinator


The Responsinator helps website makers quickly get an indication of how their responsive site will look on the most popular devices. It does not precisely replicate how it will look, for accurate testing always test on the real devices.



Screenfly allows you to view your website on a variety of device screens and resolutions. Enter a URL and click on GO to get started.

Responsive Web Design Testing Tool


Another testing tool that can provide you with a view of your website in different screens sizes is this web app. It displays your webpage simultaneously after you have entered your URL. It can help you help with testing your responsive websites while you design and build them.

Adobe Shadow


Adobe Shadow is a new inspection and preview tool that allows front-end web developers and designers to work faster and more efficiently by streamlining the preview process, making it easier to customize websites for mobile devices.

Inspiration for Responsive webbesign

Media Queries


Media Queries has a sizeable collection of responsive web designs that you can see as inspirations for your design.

Author : Sonny Day

Sonny M. Day is a passionate SEO and web design enthusiast who loves photography, mountain climbing, snorkeling and dirt bike riding.

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