I came across this article a little while back, conveniently just around when I started planning the new design for a website I maintain at work. Responsive design has always interested me, but I found that it was difficult to come up with a design that would fit everything. Then…
The line between what is and isn’t Web-enabled is blurring. People don’t see the Internet on their phone or tablet as being the “mobile Internet.” It’s just the Internet. In the words of mobile expert Brad Frost, “mobile users will do anything and everything desktop users will do, provided it’s presented in a usable way.”
The issue for me was the “presentable way” in which to organize the site’s content. What I came to realize was that my site had a lot of extra “junk” that was essentially all the stuff you shove under your stairs because you might need it one day.
Here’s the secret: you don’t need that junk. While web servers will continue to have a future in the desktop / “mobile” schism, I really believe that responsive design is the future of the web. In order for responsive design to work, though, a entire new view of how we serve websites needs to be adopted.
Instead of sitting in the desktop-mobile dichotomy, we need to move towards viewing users as having different screen sizes, not different contexts. If you can’t make all the content on your site work on a small screen, you probably have too much junk on your site.
My goal from here on out?
- Make your site targeted: its primary function should be to address the users goals in coming to your site. The odds are that no matter where they’re coming from, they have similar goals.
- Make it flexible: Your site should adapt to different screen widths gracefully without obscuring or omitting content.
It’s a simple formula, but it takes time, thought, and smarts to make it all work. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m definitely going to work towards making it so all users who visit my sites get a fantastic experience of all the site has to offer on whatever screen they happen to be viewing it on.