Design Responsively

A few years ago, the responsive movement broke out as one of the primary solutions for the mobile web problem. For a while, it became the ultimate solution as it didn’t have any inherit and difficult to solve problems that mobile only sites had. One bank of code to maintain and all external links back to the site was solved with CSS and not redirects. Yes, there are limitations, but as a general solution, it is worthwhile as a potential solution path.

What I am writing about is not to be an evangelist in the Adaptive vs. Responsive war raging in our community. Both may be appropriate solutions depending on your technical and business requirements. Both have strengths and weaknesses as we know.

If you are looking for information on Adaptive delivery vs. Responsive design, here are some interesting articles on the subject:

The Two Flavors of a ‘One Web’ Approach: Responsive vs. Adaptive

Adaptive Vs. Responsive Layouts And Optimal Form Field Labels

Responsive vs. Adaptive Design: Which Is Best for Publishers?

As UX designers, it is critical for us to consider our users and the means by which they access our sites. Apps are great and perfectly suited to take advantage of the inherit strengths available on tablets and phones. They may be the best answer for your business needs, but that should not absolve any company’s need to also have a mobile solution for their in browser site. How many times do I get tweets or linkedIn articles with external links I would like to view? Sure, I may be using the apps, but the links launch in the browser. I launch my Gmail app and see an interesting promotion email from Apple. I click the link. My iPhone launches a website that is so small, I can’t even read it… I am astonished that the company that brought us the iPhone and the iPad, doesn’t have a website optimized to be viewed on their devices. Yes, they have a wonderfully designed app, but that is not what launches. Only recently has Google made a mobile web version of Gmail, but at least they came to the table.

Like the rest of us, I have been in meetings with our business stake holders where those wonderful statements are made such as:

"We need a mobile app"
"No one will view this on a mobile device"
"Let’s get the application launched and then we’ll talk about mobile"

We must be prepared to combat these presumptuous statements or requirements by using our UX tool set. If we do not rise to the challenge of guiding the stakeholders with our Analytics, Use Cases and Design Solutions, then we have failed.