Responsive Design: 15 Free & Awesome Tools

Here at Untame, we focus our design and development strategies around a holistic approach to the web, across any web-ready device. After all, web usage on phones and tablets is growing more every day; that’s why a highly responsive internet is so important. We want to deliver great web experiences to as wide a swath of visitors, no matter how they access the web.

Featured below are just a few incredible resources that may just help web designers or developers solve a few tricky responsive design problems.

FitText


FitText makes font-sizes flexible. Use this plugin on your fluid or responsive layout to achieve scalable headlines that fill the width of a parent element. FitText provides a responsive solution to text size. No more fussing with 52px headlines on the iPhone version of a website, pretty sweet!

Fitvids


Flash video can be difficult. However with FitVids responsive flash video can become a problem of the distant past. Simply activate a bit of JavaScript and videos will bend to your every need.  (A very special thanks to Paravel and Chris Coyier for FitVids and FitText)

Skeleton


Perhaps the single most simple solution to developing a responsive website or project. Skeleton is a small collection of CSS files that can help you rapidly develop sites that look beautiful at any size, be it a 17″ laptop screen or an iPhone.

Twitter Bootstrap


We’ve professed our love for Bootstrap more than a few times on the site. However, did you know that Twitter Bootstrap does not only include the ability to design a fixed width responsive site. Bootstrap also includes a Fluid grid layout designed to fit any screen at all.

Zurb Foundation


To say Zurb is advanced would be like saying that Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson is only kind of smart. Zurb provides not only a responsive framework in order to layout a design. Zurb also includes just about every Javascript or CSS element that a responsive project may need.

The 1140px Grid System


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.

Golden Grid System


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. If you require a folding grid system. Golden is a great place to get started.

Now 16 columns sounds a bit much for anything other than huge widescreen monitors. This is where the folding, inspired by the DIN paper system and Unigrid, comes in. 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.

Flex Slider


FlexSlider is an awesome, fully responsive jQuery slider plugin that is being cared for by the WooThemes crew. FlexSlider is easy to use. Even better, FlexSlider provides or hardware accelerated touch feedback where available.

Nivo Slider


The go-to slider for web developers and designers around the world is now fully responsive. It very simply just does not get any more simple than Nivo.

Style Tiles


Often responsive design simply does not mean exacting PhotoShop design placement. Styletiles provides a method in which a designers can communicate the “atmosphere” of a design.

Semantic grid system


If you are a LESS or SASS user, then you might want to take a long look at the Semantic Grid System. Tired of using unsightly layout classes throughout html markup? Semantic provides for pre-processed methods in which to apply relevant styles to semantic elements.

Spritepad


Being responsible about responsive design can mean cutting down on download times at every corner. A great way to cut down on HTTP requests is to place commonly used images within a sprite image. Spritepad makes it easy to create a sprite and even helps provide the relevant CSS code to render your sprite correctly.

Responsive Images


The Filament Group is at it again, delivering on a quick and simple method in which to query the relevant pixel density of a device and serve up a perfect image.

Retina.js 


When your users load a page, retina.js checks each image on the page to see if there is a high-resolution version of that image on your server. If a high-resolution variant exists, the script will swap in that image in-place.

TinyNav.js


TinyNav.js is a tiny jQuery plugin (362 bytes minified and gzipped) that converts <ul> and <ol> navigations to a select dropdowns for small screen. It also automatically selects the current page and adds selected=”selected” for that item.


As you can see, the responsive web is growing every day. Choosing the correct tools can make a web crafter’s job a whole lot easier. Take a look at a few of the resources above and let us know what your favorites are in the comments below.

About Brock Nunn

Brock Nunn is a web designer and developer specializing in building custom WordPress for over three years. Brock operates through his company Brock Nunn Web Design offering clients personal service with outstanding results. You can follow Brock on twitter @banunn.

2 Comments

  • There´s some frontend framework that does that all jquery responsive designs? For example if you use bootstrap it still needed use retina graphics and responsive images per example.. And about Boilerplat… i didnt start any project with that but seems pretty interesting when it talks about development tools.

    Will save this post for further use 😛 nice list of tools.

    • Brock Nunn says:

      Thanks Jose! Responsive “Retina” images is a really tough beast to deal with. There are a lot of people using JavaScript to solve it, but on the other hand we always want to be responsible with http requests and overall image download sizes. Chris Coyier on CSS-Tricks has posted a few times on the idea of bandwidth media queries. I think something like could be even more valuable then strict retina display response. After all, even if someone is using a retina ipad, it may not be a good idea to send them a giant image while their only using a 3G network.

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