Responsive CSS design – Web Design Tips

For designers, the most difficult and interesting aspect of responsive web design has been the flexible nature of it. We’ve constantly in the process of trading in our tenacity for pixel perfection and embracing the web for what it really is; fluid. Today we’ll cover some steps to help you transition towards flexible web design, or as I like to call it, ‘Getting’ Flexy’.

Responsive CSS for a web site will increase a websites visitors by attracting the mobile and tablet visitors also along with the visitors who enjoy their post in desktop version.Now the number of people who are using the tablets and mobiles to browse the web are increasing. Hence a web page layout should be adaptable for all the view port of the device in which the visitor views the webpage.Some of the tips and tricks for the designers to keep in mind when they design a responsive webpages are given below. This will be a prefect resource for responsive web design tutorial in web.

First, the basics

Responsive web design, as introduced has three core principles:

  • Flexible grids: percentage-based fluid columns of content.
  • Media queries: a magical tool to change your CSS based on the browser’s current state.
  • Flexible media: content such as images and video should scale with the browser’s dimensions.

You’ll notice that two of those ingredients have the phrase ‘flexible’. This is the key differentiation of responsive web design versus other web design approaches. Let’s look at how to become flexible.

Never use maximum-scale

Occasionally, in an attempt to override an orientation bug in iOS, web developers will add maximum-scale=1 to their meta name=”viewport” tag. Don’t do this. The unfortunate result is that users are unable zoom the page (using a pinch-zoom gesture). This is a bad practice and a huge accessibility concern. If you want your site to be ‘flexy’, it has to be zoom-able.

Do this: you win the internet!

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

This will inform the browser to set the window width to the device’s width without overriding any user needs. Then in your CSS, add this brand new at-rule:

/* You'll need prefixes. @-ms-viewport, @-o-viewport, etc... */
@viewport {
width: device-width;

This is an in-progress W3C spec written to move this viewport information over to CSS. IE10 and Opera browsers support this. Go ahead and start rolling this into production sites.

Responsive Images:

Making the height and the width of the images to auto is best for responsive webpages (should be used).

Also make sure always using a compressed image. Because images of 5mb or above are produced when captured from Digital cams. It will take time to load in mobile internet. Hence make sure you compress the image before you use it in the website.

Some of the sites found in the web

Mobile Navigation Menu:

Navigation menu for mobile should be redesigned when the page is viewed in a smaller width.You could see how the menu is re aligned in this demo, when the width is reduced. Some responsive mobile navigation menus are available in internet.

Relative Positioning Of Elements:

Every element in the html is relative to another.Thus it is much flexible when the browser width gets changed. In the this demo header and side menu positions are relative. That gives the flexibility for the menus to get aligned below the header when the width is reduced.

Relative Font Size & Usage Of Percentage:

Instead of using px for the font sizes em is used .Thus the font size reduces relatively when the font size of the header or some other html element reduces. Percentages should be used instead of px.

Example: instead of setting as 1000px , 100% or 90% should be set based on the requirement. Thus the website scales based on the width. The most common example is font-size, if you wanted to set a heading font-size (20px) based on your body font-size (10px) in em units.

Don’t use px units, use em units

The px vs em debate is a long one but em units have proven themselves useful in responsive web design. Using em units should be familiar to most web developers, but worth reviewing. An em unit is a relative unit of measurement based on the parent element.

Keep it relative: typography

Setting your type in em units enables you to use the power of CSS to build a scale-able typographic system that grows with the viewport.

body { font: 100%/1.5 serif; /* 16px */  }
h1 {  font-size: 2em; /* 32px */ }

@media (min-width: 600px) {
body { font: 112.5%; /* 18px */  }
h1 {    /* Do nothing! I'll automatically be 36px */ }

Based on personal experience, this will save you hours per project versus going through and updating pixel values. Also, it has an accessibility benefit when a user adjusts their font size.

Keep it relative: white-space

Additionally, using em units for padding and margin helps create a vertical base for your design. At larger screen dimensions you can insert more white-space into your design in a healthy, consistent manner without too much labour.

#hero { margin-bottom: 1em; }

@media (min-width: 600px) {
#hero { margin-bottom: 2em; }

Using em units will help you preserve a balanced system of relative proportions. For a more advanced approach on relative sizing,

Min-Width & Max-Width with CSS Media Queries:

Min-width and Max-width should be mentioned in the CSS along with the width.Thus imposing a constraint for the widths are better suited for scale-ability for its queries should be added with the min-width or max-width as condition to display certain elements.

Media queries are so important for a responsive css design.

@media screen and (max-width:320px)
    .ad_bar{ display: none }

In the above code we are making the ads to disappear when the display device width is below 320px. By this we way we provide a better readability of the content in mobile devices.

max-width min-width
‘Desktop down’ ‘Mobile first’
Start large, dig down Start small, build up
Good for legacy sites Future friendly

Go forth and be flexy!

These are just the basics on the path towards fluid width nirvana. It’s important to remember that we’re all learning and it’s OK to make mistakes. I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to take the plunge and build out your own responsive design. The day when most websites sit on a flexible frame and are universally accessible by any device is hopefully fast approaching. Help the web become a better place.

If you have any more suggestions to be added , feel free to comment below.
view demo


Posted by: Dhiraj kumar

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 100,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pure CSS3 Animated Polaroid Gallery

Normally, Polaroid Gallery is a CSS3 & jQuery Image Gallery plugin for Media Library. It is used to overlay images as Polaroid pictures on the current page or post.

It’s a sure thing that CSS3 features like transitions, animations and transforms can add extra spice to your designs. In this article you will see how you can build an awesome CSS3 animated  Polaroid pictures gallery with some of these cool features.  This is something I wished to do for a while and I finally made it.css3-animated-polaroid-gallery


The HTML structure hasn’t changed at all, simple and minimal. Here’s an excerpt:

<div class="photo-album">
<h2>Dhiraj, Geetu & Atharv at Taj ↦ Agra
  <a class="large polaroid img1" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Camel wants to kiss Atharv. </a> 
  <a class="polaroid img2" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    My dearest one.. Atharv with Geetu. — at Taj Mahal</a> 
  <a class="small polaroid img3" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
  <a class="medium polaroid img4" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    My dearest one.. Atharv with Geetu. — at Taj Mahal</a> 
  <a class="polaroid img5" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Atharv & Geetu with Dhiraj.. Taj in background</a> 
  <a class="polaroid img6" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Atharv in a cute pose.. Taj mahal in background</a> 
  <a class="polaroid img7" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Atharv with his papa Dhiraj</a> 
  <a class="small polaroid img8" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
  <a class="medium polaroid img9" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Geetu with Dhiraj</a> 
  <a class="polaroid img10" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Nice one..</a> 
  <a class="small polaroid img11" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
  <a class="small polaroid img12" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Atharv with his papa..</a> <a class="small polaroid img13" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Atharv with his papa Dhiraj</a> 
  <a class="small polaroid img14" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Nice one..</a> 
  <a class="polaroid img15" href="#"> 
    <img alt="" src="" /> 
    Atharv with his papa Dhiraj</a> 


a.polaroid {
		display: block;
		text-decoration: none;
		color: #333;
		padding: 10px 10px 20px 10px;
		width: 150px;
		border: 1px solid #d7d7d7;
		background-color: white; background:rgba(255,255,255,.9);
		z-index: 2;
		font-size: 0.7em;
		-webkit-box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.3),inset 0 0 0.7em rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4);;
		-moz-box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.3),inset 0 0 0.7em rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4);;
		box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.3),inset 0 0 0.7em rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4);-webkit-filter: blur(1px); border-radius:5px;
		-webkit-transition: all 0.5s ease-in; text-align:center
	a.polaroid:hover, a.polaroid:focus, a.polaroid:active {
		z-index: 999;
		border-color: #999;
		-webkit-box-shadow: 15px 15px 20px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4),inset 0 0 0.7em rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4);
		-moz-box-shadow: 15px 15px 20px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4),inset 0 0 0.7em rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4);
		box-shadow: 15px 15px 20px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4),inset 0 0 0.7em rgba(0,0, 0, 0.4);
		-webkit-transform: rotate(0deg) scale(1.05);
		-moz-transform: rotate(0deg) scale(1.05);
		transform: rotate(0deg) scale(1.05);-webkit-filter: blur(0px);
	.polaroid img {
		margin: 0 0 15px;
		width: 150px;
		height: 120px;

	a img {
		border: none;
		display: block;

	.photo-album {
		position: relative; width: 80%; margin: 0 auto; max-width: 70em; height: 450px; margin-top:2.5em; min-width: 800px; max-width: 900px;
	.photo-album .polaroid {
		position: absolute;
	.photo-album h2 {
		position: absolute; z-index: 5; top: 150px; text-align: center; width: 100%; line-height: 2; 
	.photo-album h2 span {
		background-color: white; background:rgba(255,255,255,.8);
		font-family: 'Satisfy', cursive;
		padding: 0.4em 0.8em 0.3em 0.8em;
		-webkit-box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.3);
		-moz-box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.3);
		box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px rgba(0,0, 0, 0.3);
		border-radius: 5px; border:1px solid #CCC
	.photo-album .small {
		width: 75px; padding: 6px 6px 12px 6px; font-size: 0.6em;
	.photo-album .small img {
		width: 75px; height: 60px;
	.photo-album .medium {
		width: 200px; padding: 13px 13px 26px 13px; font-size: 0.8em;
	.photo-album .medium img {
		width: 200px; height: 165px;
	.photo-album .large {
		width: 300px; padding: 20px 20px 30px 20px; font-size: 1em;
	.photo-album .large img {
		width: 300px; height: 250px
	.photo-album .img1 {
		bottom: 10px; right: 365px; 
		-webkit-transform: rotate(10deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(10deg);
		transform: rotate(10deg);
	.photo-album .img2 {
		top: 50px; right: 20px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-4deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-4deg);
		transform: rotate(-4deg);
	.photo-album .img3 {
		left: 400px; top: 0;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-5deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-5deg);
		transform: rotate(-5deg);
	.photo-album .img4 {
		top: 10px; left: 495px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-20deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-20deg);
		transform: rotate(-20deg);
	.photo-album .img5 {
		bottom: 0; right: 0;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(1deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(1deg);
		transform: rotate(1deg);
	.photo-album .img6 {
		bottom: 10px; right: 156px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(6deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(6deg);
		transform: rotate(6deg);
	.photo-album .img7 {
		bottom:0; left:400px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-10deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-10deg);
		transform: rotate(-10deg);
	.photo-album .img8 {
		bottom: -20px; left: 700px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		transform: rotate(-8deg);
	.photo-album .img9 {
		bottom: 0; left: 0;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		transform: rotate(-8deg);
	.photo-album .img10 {
		top: 0; left: 20px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(8deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(8deg);
		transform: rotate(8deg);
	.photo-album .img11 {
		top: 0; right: 0;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		transform: rotate(-8deg);
	.photo-album .img12 {
		top: 0; left: 680px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(18deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(18deg);
		transform: rotate(18deg);
	.photo-album .img13 {
		bottom: -20px; right: 630px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(4deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(4deg);
		transform: rotate(4deg);
	.photo-album .img14 {
		top: 90px; left: 430px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(15deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(15deg);
		transform: rotate(15deg);
	.photo-album .img15 {
		left:176px; top:20px;
		-webkit-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		-moz-transform: rotate(-8deg);
		transform: rotate(-8deg);
	a:hover, a:focus {
		z-index: 5;

view demo

Your turn

I hope you enjoyed this article and the techniques I used. Please share your comments and questions below!

Posted by: Dhiraj kumar