Responsive Web Design: Learning Simple CSS Media Queries

Responsive Web Design: Learning Simple CSS Media Queries

If you think responsive’s simple, I feel bad for you son. We got 99 viewports, but the iPhone’s just one. ~ Josh Brewer

I was coding my websites about page and just could not get my text on the html page to show in a readable manner on any device besides a laptop. All my life I just used bootstrap and other frameworks to make building sites easier and noticed they use media queries. Given this problem when building my sites about page, I thought, its time to learn how this works!

Media What?

What exactly is a Media Query?
Simply put it uses the @media rule to prioritise a block of CSS properties only if a certain condition is true.

What is a Media Rule?
A @media rule is used in media queries to apply different styles for different media types/devices.

What are the Media Types?

  • All - Used for all media type devices
  • Print - Used for printers
  • Screen - Used for screens
  • Speech - Used for screenreaders

You control your media queries using media features.
Here are some of the most common ones used:

  • Width and height of the viewport
  • Width and height of the device
  • Orientation (is the tablet/phone in landscape or portrait mode?)
  • Resolution

I wrote my first CodePen 🥳!
I usually search for code on CodePen and always find such over complicated samples. I have created my own sample which I hope helps you easily grasp the concept...
Click here to check it out.

Heres a bonus cool CodePen that makes use of simple media queries.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens in CSS by Donovan Hutchinson

Some beginner tips

  • Choose breakpoints(media rules) based on your design and not specific devices.
  • Make use of media queries to improve your user experience based on device type even if it changes the layout slightly.
  • You can use logical operators (and, not, only, ','[comma]) to chain multiple media queries together or to enforce specific behaviour.
  • You can target a screens orientation (landscape, portrait) using media queries. This is very helpful on mobile and tablet devices.
  • You can create separate stylesheets and trigger them using media queries. This makes it easier to manage your sites css based on the device that a bug was found on. <link rel="stylesheet" href="tablet.css" media="screen and (max-width: 800px)">
    <!-- applies an external stylesheet to screens up to 800 pixels wide -->


Here are some resources that helped me understand media queries:

Comment below with other useful links you have found to learn how to use media queries or better yet share a cool CodePen with everyone 😉.