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Why Responsive Design is the new standard

Let’s just put it out there; responsive design is the new standard in the industry of web design. It is part of the movement centered on using a smarter user interface over providing purely visual excitement; we have shifted our thinking about how the web should be interacted with.

Who doesn’t have a smart phone? Who doesn’t want a tablet or a hybrid tablet/laptop? It is just time to face facts that every site should be responsive because thousands of new people will be viewing them from places other than a desktop each week.

As sales continue to climb and products keep rolling out it is very apparent that “this internet” is one that is accessed from everything and everywhere rather than just a desktop. As such you are doing your customers an incredible disservice by not having a responsive site to meet their needs. The fact is, if they can’t get what they need from your site when they need it (i.e. via mobile) then they won’t come back. There are just too many other options available.

Responsive Design Tips

Thinking of finally jumping on the responsive bandwagon? Here are some great design tips to consider as you get started:

  • Start small – By that we mean work from a mobile approach first. This is the smallest size screen you have to deal with, at least until the Apple iWatch comes out (no, that is not a real thing). By focusing your attention on this smaller space you can easily prioritize your design and determine the “must have” aspects. From there you enhance the content for tablet and then desktop usage. This is the approach Google uses and they seem to know a few things about working on the web.
  • Strategy – The best time to work on a content strategy is when you are limited by space, such as with a mobile design. This forces you to focus on making everything accessible and readable. You want to put the right content in front of each person based on how they interact with you (device type) rather than get bogged down by unnecessary words.
  • Draw it – Yes, actually sketch out layouts and start working on prototypes. Then you can have people give you feedback on ideas, refine them, and lay the foundations for the actual wireframes. Plus sketch prototypes are cheap and easy and work well to focus on content and interaction versus how pretty the graphics are. There are plenty of sketch options out there.
  • Breakpoints – Some people design based on common screen sizes. Instead why not set your break points based on the content itself? (a breakpoint is when the sizing creates a shift) You are never going to be able to set breakpoints for the variety of resolutions and as soon as you do someone will just roll out a new product at a different size. Instead adjust the points based on look and feel.
  • Keep it simple – The cleaner and simple it is, the faster it will be. Yes, you can design something stunning and amazing, but it has to be fast and usable. There is a fine line these days with form, function, and appearance. You need to have equal parts of all three.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot more of important points such as using images that scale, wireframes, minification, and plenty of other technical stuff. For now we are just stressing the importance of getting responsive. About 45% of all mobile users complain about navigation on non-responsive sites. That is a big chunk of users to be alienating. Instead of going that route, take charge and get responsive.

If you aren’t sure where to get started, then check with a professional design firm. Unlike some options people have for setting up basic websites from those “cookie cutter” design templates, proper responsive design is quite a bit more complex and takes a better understanding of the behind the scenes development.

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