Monday, February 6, 2012

The future is responsive

PC's, tablets, mobiles and TV interfaces.... The list of devices used
to browse the Internet changes and increases all the time.

When designing and developing a new website, the common accepted
practice is that you start your user experience (UX) work first, based
upon how users with a PC and sometimes large tablets (e.g. the iPad),
might see things. Then depending upon the other popular devices used
to access your site, you then consider building an alternative
version.... say mobile.

But turn this concept on its head for a moment and consider the following:
1. Nobody fully knows what the future devices will be (up until 2
years ago the tablet market was virtually non-existent).
2. It is safe to predict that mobile devices will continue to grow in
use and that the available range will expand over time, as
manufacturers experiment and try to invent new form factors (in the
hope of finding a previously in-tapped customer need).
3. Bolting a mobile interface onto your existing site is hard work.
Some do fancy things with style sheets, while others just 'make the
buttons bigger' (yes this is a cheap and quick change, but not all
sites look good with chunky submit buttons, etc.).
4. Building a separate mobile-specific site is usually more work than
spending a little longer on your main one.
It is therefore unsurprising that I predict a future where a
significant number of company websites will no longer be developed
with a version for each specific device.... but a single one that
automatically adapts to the size and orientation of the devices used.
Note: I'm not talking about interfaces such as the Microsoft Metro design
language, which the software giant is successfully using across most
of its devices.

But this isn't a pipe dream for the far-off future, this is all
possible now using responsive site design & development techniques.
And soon it will be clients asking for this technology that will drive
its adoption, as they realise they don't need to spend a lot more
money building separate versions just for specific device profiles....
For examples, take a look at:
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