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Responsive Design and Why Customers Expect It

3 February 2014 One Comment
responsivedesign

image from Kuno Creative

We take this for granted now but there is an important historical fact in the development of websites and web applications:  They were originally designed for use on desktop PC monitors and laptops. The design of the website accounted for the size of the screen and the user interface (a mouse).   So why do our apps and website need a different design today? Because people are fleeing in droves from desktop PC browsers and using their mobile phone for internet use instead.  The older design accounted for the user making the browser windows slightly smaller or larger, but did not account for significantly different sizes or aspect ratios as we find on mobile phones and tablets, and certainly did not account for a touch screen and handheld use.

Have you visited your company’s website and flagship app on your mobile phone?  Because I can guarantee that your customers have.  If you’ve addressed this issue, great.  You’re ahead of the game. If your site looks teeny-tiny, no one’s going to use it on their phone and you’re losing business.  You need responsive design.  If your site looks regular-sized on a phone but only has a paragraph of text or minimal functionality, you’re in the clear for today but are already beginning to lose business because customers are expecting the same kind of rich experience they get on their PCs in their phone browsers.  You have responsive design with a bare-bones implementation.

Responsive design is a big term for a simple idea: give users a browsing experience appropriate to their device.  If they have lots of screen real estate, such as a desktop browser, then give them large images, lots of text, video, and a broad swath of widgets, ads, articles, and software.   If they have a tiny screen, like a smartphone, choose the most-needed messaging and functionality and serve it up using a mobile UI.  If they’re on a tablet then something in-between.  Scale the content to the viewing device.  Do they have a touchscreen?  The user experience should accomodate that.  Doing this may require CSS/HTML tweaks, decisions about content and messaging, and/or actual web development.  This can be done simply or thoroughly, depending upon your and your customer’s need.

Many of your customers were hoping for this in 2013.

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