If you work in the web industry you have probably paid attention to the responsive hype hitting us like a tsunami. The word “Responsive” is almost as hot as “Cloud” has been in the hosting industry over the last two years. The reason for the popularity of responsive website design right now is the need for making websites accessible to mobile users that are soon to be accountable for 10% of the internet requests. A good example of this trend is the sudden large availability of premium responsive WordPress themes that sell like fresh-baked bread.
I believe that responsive web design techniques and ready to use responsive themes and frameworks are likely to have a strong disruptive effect on how we all build websites in the future. Very soon customers will not accept solutions that ignore mobile users and while dedicated apps and mobile sites still are valid options for large budget projects I guess responsiveness is here to stay and rule.
As always checking up on what other designers have done can be great inspiration for your own projects. Responsive website design as an approach is still quite new and it can be difficult to imagine the many new possibilities it offers. Some simpler responsive designs simply scale the graphics while others implement unique designs for every standard screen size. Below I have collected some really stunning examples of responsive websites but first lets look at how to investigate a Responsive website and check out the cool designs. This post was updated with more examples and tips.
How-to Easily Check All Layouts of a Responsive Website
When you seek inspiration for responsive design it is important to see how the layout will be rendered in various screen sizes.
Obviously the best way to see all layouts of a responsive website is to test it in all the different browsers, screen sizes, devices etc. it is required to support. However the responsive effect implemented by media queries work as well in a modern desktop browser if the window size is changed. This way you can simulate how the layout will be presented in different devices with smaller resolutions and viewports.
Another pretty cool tool is ResponsivePx that kind of works the same way as resizeMyBrowser, but you have more control of the window sizes. If you have a specific need this works for you.
Really Cool Responsive Website Designs
Now time to get the examples on the table. I present them in four typical viewport sizes (width) 320px, 480px, 768px and 1024px. Tip: A really great way to see more layouts at once is using the responsive presentation tool by Matt Kersley shown below.
If good responsive website have been left out below I would love to hear from you and I will consider to add them!
Boston Globe is a great responsive example as it shows how a busy newspaper layout can be adapted to the different screen sizes in an elegant way.
This is a magazine style layout that adapt nicely to the various screen sizes. Pay attention to the left side navigation that jumps to the top as the width is decreased.
Smashing Magazine is probably one of the coolest and most advanced responsive website designs I have seen. You all know this site I guess, but if you have not seen it in various responsive states you should go and check it out. In windows above 1500px (width) the layout takes the entire navigation and put it to the left making optimal use of the space available. Try testing the site in ResponsivePx and see for yourself!
Webdesigner Wall is another really great example of how well Responsive blog design can be done.
Fork is a CMS platform and their site really shows how responsive design can be implemented elegantly. The key slogan text remains in all layouts and I like they way icons are used to showcase and extentions. As the viewport is getting smaller the number of icons is reduced but there is a “More extensions” option. This idea allows the mobile site to work / convert after same design priciples as the default layout for browsers but in a mobile friendly way.
Bluegg is also a responsive blog design but more simple than the two previous ones. The way it is done is what we see on most responsive designs so far. The layout is the same but scaled until the screen size is very small (smart phone size with around 640 px). Then the layout is changed to one column and sidebar ect. is placed below the main content.
Sweehatclub is not just about sweet hats… the responsive design here is really sweet and features four unique layouts.
Boostrap is an example of how column design and navigation can be made responsive in a cool way. In stead of showing the menu all the time (taking up space = more scrolling) it is a drop down menu. Another typical way to do navigation is to use a select box as seen above on Smashing Magazine.
This site has a full with rotating background slider image and map in all sizes and it looks quite lovely.
The typography is very strong on this responsive site in all sizes and there are some pretty cool navigation moving around.
I think the idea of having text direction for the navigation change to vertical is great. However I checked and found it to be implemented using images and it does not load when resizing. It will work when the page is loaded in the intended screen size e.g. on an iPhone. Also notice that the logo text change.