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A Guide to CSS Breakpoints for Web Developers

Daniel Wolf
Daniel Wolf Jul 27th, 2023

As a web developer, you already know the importance of creating websites that provide a seamless user experience across various devices. Responsive website design is the key to achieving this goal, and one of the critical tools at your disposal is breakpoints. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the world of breakpoints, empowering you to create user-friendly websites that adapt effortlessly to any screen size. Get ready to level up your web development skills and unlock the full potential of responsive design!

Understanding Breakpoints in Responsive Website Design

Let’s begin by taking a closer look at breakpoints and their role in responsive website design. Breakpoints are specific points in a website’s layout where the design adapts to fit different screen sizes and resolutions. By using breakpoints strategically, you can ensure that your website maintains its visual appeal and functionality across a wide range of devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and desktops.

Guidelines for Using Breakpoints Effectively

Mobile-First Approach

Embrace the mobile-first approach, a popular strategy in responsive design. Start styling for smaller devices first, focusing on essential content and functionality. As the screen size increases, you can add more enhancements and features. This approach ensures a solid foundation for your responsive layout.

Content Prioritization

Prioritizing content is crucial in determining the breakpoints for different devices. Identify key elements that are critical to the user experience and ensure they are prominently displayed on all screens. By understanding user needs and preferences, you can create a user-friendly design that guides visitors through the most relevant content effortlessly.

User Behavior Analysis

Leverage user behavior data and website analytics to gain insights into the devices most commonly used by your audience. By understanding their device preferences, you can make informed decisions when setting breakpoints and in choosing browser support, ensuring your design is optimized for the majority of your users.

Identifying Optimal Breakpoints Based on Average Device Sizes

Overview of Average Device Sizes

To create a responsive design that caters to your users’ needs, it’s essential to understand the average device sizes commonly used today. Let’s take a look at some typical device dimensions.


Small smartphones: These devices often have a width of 320px to 480px.
Larger smartphones and small tablets: Ranging from 481px to 767px width.


Standard-sized tablets: These devices typically have a width of 768px to 1023px.
Larger tablets: Ranging from 1024px to 1199px width.

Laptops and Desktops

Laptops: With a width of 1200px to 1439px, these devices offer a larger screen estate.
Larger desktop screens: Screens with a width of 1440px and above are common for desktop users.

Recommended Number of Breakpoints and Their Values

The number of breakpoints you use in your responsive design can influence how smooth and tailored the user experience is across different devices. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, a general recommendation is to have three primary breakpoints:

Small Devices (e.g., smartphones and small tablets)
Breakpoint value: 767px or below

Medium Devices (e.g., standard-sized tablets and larger smartphones):
Breakpoint value: 768px to 1023px

Large Devices (e.g., laptops and desktops):
Breakpoint value: 1024px and above

By setting these three primary breakpoints, you can create distinct layouts optimized for small, medium, and large devices. However, remember that your design decisions should be guided by your website’s content, user behavior, and the devices most commonly used by your audience.

Testing and Refining Breakpoints

The Importance of Testing

Testing is an essential step in responsive web development. Use various devices and resolutions to test your website thoroughly, identifying and addressing any responsive design issues that may arise.

Tools and Techniques for Testing Responsiveness

Explore a variety of tools and techniques available for testing responsiveness, including browser developer tools and online testing platforms. These tools will streamline your testing process and help you fine-tune breakpoints efficiently.

Testing responsive websites is a crucial step in the web development process to ensure that your site looks and functions optimally across a wide range of devices and screen sizes. There are several common tools and techniques available to web developers for testing responsiveness, each offering unique features and benefits. Let’s explore some of these tools:

Browser Developer Tools

Most modern web browsers come equipped with built-in developer tools that allow you to test responsive designs directly within the browser. With these tools, you can simulate different screen sizes, orientations, and even emulate specific devices. The responsive design mode in browser developer tools is a powerful feature that enables you to see how your website adapts to various viewports in real-time, making it a convenient and readily available option for testing responsiveness.

Google Chrome DevTools
Mozilla Firefox Developer Tools

Responsive Design Checkers

There are online tools specifically designed to help developers test the responsiveness of their websites. These tools allow you to enter your website’s URL and view how it appears on various devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Responsive design checkers provide a quick overview of how your site renders on different screen sizes without the need for physical devices.

Am I Responsive?
Responsive Test Tool

Testing Platforms and Emulators

Some platforms and emulators offer comprehensive testing environments for web developers. These solutions provide a wide array of devices and operating systems to simulate, allowing you to view your website’s performance across different configurations. Testing platforms often include advanced features like network throttling to simulate slower internet connections and enable accurate testing under various conditions.

Sauce Labs

Physical Devices

While digital tools are invaluable for testing responsiveness, nothing beats testing on actual physical devices. Owning a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, can help you verify the user experience firsthand. Physical device testing ensures that you catch any specific quirks or issues that may not be evident in virtual simulations.

Automated Testing Tools

For larger projects or websites with frequent updates, automated testing tools can be beneficial. These tools run scripts and perform automated tests across various devices and screen sizes, helping to identify potential responsiveness issues quickly. Automated testing can save time and provide consistent results, but it’s essential to validate the findings through manual testing as well.


By leveraging these common testing tools, web developers can confidently ensure that their responsive websites deliver a seamless experience to users, regardless of the devices they use. Whether it’s through browser developer tools, responsive design checkers, physical devices, or automated testing, the goal remains the same: to create websites that adapt and perform beautifully across the vast landscape of the digital world.

Iterative Approach to Refining Breakpoints

Web development is an ongoing process of improvement. Gather user feedback and analyze data to continually refine your breakpoints, ensuring your website delivers the best possible user experience.

Recommended Browser Support

When testing your responsive design, it’s crucial to consider the browsers and devices most commonly used by your target audience. We recommended testing in at least these common browsers:

Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
Apple Safari
Microsoft Edge

Code Sample

@media (max-width: 767px) {
  // Small device styles
@media (min-width: 768px) and (max-width: 1023px) {
  // Medium device styles
@media (min-width: 1024px) {
  // Large device styles

In Conclusion

That’s it. You’ve journeyed through the world of breakpoints and responsive website design. By implementing breakpoints strategically, considering average device sizes, and setting recommended primary breakpoints, you have the power to create user-friendly websites that delight users across all devices. Remember, web development is a constant learning experience, and staying open to new insights and emerging trends will keep you at the forefront of this dynamic field. Hopefully this post has given you a strong foundation to build on.

Further Resources

MDN Web Docs: Responsive Web Design Basics
Google Developers: Introduction to Responsive Web Design
Smashing Magazine: A Comprehensive Guide to Responsive Web Design
CSS-Tricks: A Complete Guide to CSS Media Queries
Responsive Web Design Checker: Test Your Website Responsiveness Across Devices

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