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Top 10 Responsive Websites

Updated on September 25, 2013

"The control which designers know in the print medium, and often desire in the web medium, is simply a function of the limitation of the printed page. We should embrace the fact that the web doesn’t have the same constraints, and design for this flexibility. But first, we must 'accept the ebb and flow of things."

- John Allsopp, “A Dao of Web Design

The idea of Responsive Web Design (RWD) is to employ web design and development techniques that make websites react to the screen size of the device on which they are being accessed and viewed. Such optimized websites fit multiple screen sizes and ensure a seamless user experience. As an example, open the Starbucks website on your desktop and keep adjusting the window size to see how the site content intelligently adapts.

Designers and developers who create such websites have to work on three 'versions' of the same website, rather than designing multiple unique websites for a desktop computer, a mobile device, and a tablet. Responsive web design was created years ago by Ethan Marcotte, a web designer and developer, but it wasn’t until 2012 that this approach gained serious momentum. In many technology publications, 2013 has been hailed as the ‘Year of the Responsive Web Design’.

Although the technique definitely has its advantages, there some drawbacks to be aware of. Devanshi Garg, COO of Icreon Tech, explains:

"Responsive design has its drawbacks in terms of the design process. It’s important to be wary of how this can potentially impact timing. Designers will need to create three different designs: one for smartphones, one for tablets and one for desktops — at the very least."

This new technique has done away with the static design phase in the design cycle. As a result, the process has become much more fluid thanks to the use of wireframing and rapid prototyping. Responsive websites are crafted using W3C CSS3 media queries with fluid grids and flexible images to adapt website layout to the viewing environment. If you are a developer or a designer, some of the important resources that you need in your responsive toolkit are:

  • Adaptive Images
  • Bootstrap
  • Gridset
  • FitText
  • Respond.js
  • Wirefy
  • Responsive Tables
  • FlevNav
  • Responsive Slides

Though fluid grids (a percentage based design approach that adapts to screen size), media queries (a way to apply CSS rules to the page based on browser size) and flexible images (images sized in a way so as to prevent their expansion outside container elements) are the three important technical ingredients for responsive web design.

Designing a website responsively also entails thinking differently and creatively. Responsive websites are being used in almost every industry, from e-Commerce, advertising, technology, events, publishing, blogs, non-profits, education and Government. Some examples of the most well executed responsive websites are detailed below:

1) Dadaab Stories


This site has been created for a non-profit organization and the responsive design on this site is seamless. This site actually transports you to an African village and where the user can connect and feel the state of the refugees for whom this site is built. Design elements also represent the vision and values of the non-profit organization.

2) The Next Web


This website can be easily navigated on any medium, which is a great approach for a news site trying to reach as many readers as possible. Given that The Next Web is a technology publication, it makes sense for its web presence to be on top of major trends like responsive web design.

3) Microsoft


On the new Microsoft site every illustration, font, and line weight works to convey the brand’s identity. By also incorporating responsive web design in their newly revamped site, Microsoft is able to exude a level of clean design and space that is missing from most corporate sites.

4) Ableton


Ableton’s community of musicians and producers are more tech savvy than most audiences, which is why their site is impeccably designed. Their site uses bold imagery and an exciting color palette that looks great in each format. The graphics are interesting and there are many creative and practical design touches throughout the site.

5) Starbucks


Starbuck’s responsive design is a great example of a large corporation capitalizing on the new concept. The site comes with a web-based style guide and is very accessible from mobile devices.

6) Ampersand 2013


7) Nordic Ruby


8) Mashable


9) CSS Tricks


10) UX London 2013


Which Site Were You Most Impressed By?

See results

Below You Can Watch A Responsive Website Be Designed From Scratch


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    • ISADORADESIGN profile image

      ISADORADESIGN 4 years ago from Manhattan Beach, CA

      The Dadaab Stories is very inspiring - great that you added this example to your responsive web design list.


      Isadora Design - Handcrafted Web Design Company

    • profile image

      simulty 4 years ago

      Hi SammF, great selection, thanks a lot!

      I've made a list in Simulty, a website combinator we've recently launched, so you can navigate all 10 simultaneously from one single tab, compare them side by side and even test their "responsivity" by resizing them as much as you want:

      I hope you'll like it!

    • profile image

      Projulie 4 years ago

      Responsive design is crucial nowadays. Most of our customer (here at includes responsive design as one of their requirements. Great hub !

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is a high quality hub and although I am not much of a technical person, I did find your hub very useful and informative!

      My children are in the software field and they would definitely enjoy your hub. So passing it on---Voted up!

      Very well done and welcome to HubPages!