Lately, I've been blogging a lot about Responsive Design. I've covered the technical side of media queries, basic implementation, full design tutorial, some CSS tricks, and a list of awesome responsive sites. Today, I want to talk about setting breakpoints in responsive design. How should you set the breakpoints? What is the general guideline? I'm going to share my view on setting breakpoints.

Do you have a list of generic breakpoints that are commonly used?

Some like to set the breakpoints base on the devices' resolution. For examples: 320px for mobile, 768px for tablet, 1024px or higher for desktop. Personally, I'm not a big fan of setting breakpoints base on device resolution because there are too many devices out there. And what if the device resolution changes? To be more bulletproof, breakpoints should be based on the design and content.

So what is the general guideline?

In my responsive design workflow, I generally test the design by resizing the browser window. Watch how the content flows when resizing and add a breakpoint whenever the design breaks. There is no specific rule on how many breakpoints a design should have. The rule of thumb is to make sure the design and content flow nicely on any viewport width. I will use two of my sites as examples: Web Designer Wall and Best Web Gallery.

Web Designer Wall

On Web Designer Wall, I have 5 media queries: 1000px, 760px, 600px, 480px, and 320px. But in term of major layout changes, I only have three: 3-column with fixed side header, 2-column with top header, and a single column layout where the sidebar drops below content.

web designer wall breakpoints

The 2-column layout breakpoint is set at 1000px. The single column is set at 760px. The other breakpoints are necessary to ensure the content flows nicely across all breakpoints.

Best Web Gallery

On Best Web Gallery, I have 3 media queries: 1240px, 800px, and 480px. In term of major layout changes, I have two: 4-column and a single column layout.

best web gallery breakpoints

In this case, I don't think it is necessary to have more layout breakpoints (ie. breaking the 4-column into 3-column or 2-column) because the post container doesn't break on small viewports.

post container

What is your view on breakpoints?

Do you have a different approach or opinion about setting breakpoints? Please comment in this post.