Book Review: Responsive Web Design by Example

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Nobody should be designing modern websites without responsive design techniques. Responsivity has become a wildly popular idea for good reason: it supports all devices and screen sizes without the need for mobile-only layouts.

Responsive Web Design by Example is the perfect book to get you started learning and applying responsive design.

It covers a variety of frameworks and tools that every web designer/developer should know about. The examples are genuinely practical and you can apply the lessons learned into your own projects. In 258 pages this book will bring you from a complete novice to a highly proficient responsive web designer.

Book Contents

As far as responsive web design goes there’s a lot to learn. That’s why I like this book because it covers absolutely everything that you might want to learn in greater detail, but leaves the rest up to you to decide.

The book has 8 primary chapters that break down as follows:

  1. Responsive Web Design
  2. Web Development Tools
  3. Constructing a Simple Responsive Blog with
  4. Enhancing the Blog Appearance
  5. Developing a Portfolio Website with Bootstrap
  6. Polishing the Responsive Portfolio Website with LESS
  7. A responsive Website for Business with Foundation
  8. Extending Foundation

Each chapter introduces many new topics with the early chapters covering the basics of responsive breakpoints and grid systems. You’ll learn how to think with a mobile-first design mindset and how to apply these concepts into your workflow.

The author Thoriq delves into many different responsive frameworks like, Foundation, and Bootstrap. These introductions help you build fully functioning websites, but they also help you go much further.

foundation homepage

The final chapter covers Sass in Foundation while the 6th chapter covers LESS. Both of these are pre-processors and they’re invaluable to CSS for frontend development. This is exactly what I mean by Thoriq giving you the option to choose what you like best.

You don’t need Foundation and Bootstrap, just like you don’t need Sass and LESS. They’re all tools that help you do the same thing. Thoriq introduces you to all of the best responsive dev tools and teaches you through practical tutorial-style examples.

Then it’s up to you to decide how you want to utilize them in your work.

Each tutorial is written in a step-by-step structure so you never get lost. Responsive web design isn’t really about coding complex layouts. It’s actually about understanding how to design for responsivity to create an experience that works well for all devices.

The tutorials in this book walk you through a custom blog layout, a custom portfolio design, and a small business website. Along the way you get to learn fun responsive design tools like Koala and Bourbon.

Thoriq does a great job of explaining how to setup these tools and how to write the code. But he also explains why you’re doing this, which in my opinion is the best part of this book.

Pros and Cons

This book’s attention to detail is exquisite and the tutorials are by far my favorite parts. The intro does lag a bit if you’re already familiar with the basics of responsive design terminology.

But as a complete beginner you will definitely be getting your money’s worth.

Thoriq teaches you how to handle CSS hacks for Internet Explorer along with other common browser support issues. He delves into detail about all the main technologies, frameworks, and responsive tools that everyone should know about.

Some developers might take issue that all lessons in this book rely on a framework. Whether it’s Foundation or Bootstrap, none of these lessons teach you how to build responsive grids from scratch.

I personally don’t mind working with frameworks. I use Bootstrap a lot and I think it’s a great way to introduce people to responsive web design without reinventing the wheel.

But I also think this book can read as too basic for folks with more experience. You will not walk away as an expert in Less, Sass, Bourbon, Bootstrap, or Foundation. But you will walk away as an expert in responsive web design.

The book’s title promises exactly what it delivers. And while I do think some topics could’ve been covered in greater detail, I also think the author did a superb job covering all the material he did in only 250 pages.

Responsive Web Design by Example is undeniably one of the best books on practical responsive web design for real world projects.

Final Summary

Once you get into the first chapter it should be clear that Responsive Web Design by Example is a valuable book. It is the ultimate book for web designers and developers that want to fully comprehend the value of responsive design.

The target audience is broad enough to hit anyone from web designers to frontend/backend developers. Whether you’re just getting into the web design space or whether you’ve dropped off for years and want to pick it up again, you’ll have no problem following the examples in this book and learning the fundamentals of grids and LESS/SCSS.

If you’re willing to follow along with free tutorials you can probably pick up these skills elsewhere on the web. However you’ll need to search a lot and there’s no way you’ll find one tutorial that’s as comprehensive as this book.

I give it a solid 5/5 for the amount of content, valuable real-world examples, and the broad scope to reach absolutely anybody in the field of web design/development.

Review Rating: 5/5


Alex is a fullstack developer with years of experience working in digital agencies and as a freelancer. He writes about educational resources and tools for programmers building the future of the web.