As device usage hits an all-time high, responsive design has morphed from mantra to mandatory if you want to stay ahead in digital marketing. But delivering the right responsive approach and covering multiple digital bases can be a tricky business. The chances are, you’ll need expert help to create a responsive strategy that really delivers. But to get you started on the right road, here are some basic tips to get you in a positive mind-set for the strategic changes ahead…
It’s about more than screen size
When you’re making the leap to responsive it’s important to think about your whole digital strategy – not just your website. And achieving a smart responsive strategy is about much more than adapting your design to different screen sizes and dimensions. It often involves making crucial decisions about the hierarchy of the information you want to present, which can involve being pretty brutal. You may need a shift of mind-set that moves away from all-singing, all-dancing and moves towards minimal (but not in all cases).
It’s also worth bearing in mind that more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to open emails. So if that’s an important part of your marketing mix, it’s worth thinking about how your responsive hierarchy will adapt to your email format for brand consistency and recognition. Ultimately, your web developer will ensure that programming delivers the fluidity needed to adapt to different devices. But the strategic decisions about your brand, your offerings and what is most important to convey will be a big part of how they handle that process. So be prepared to give some thought to this, with their guidance.
Mobile or Desktop first?
Some say it's best practice in responsive design to start with the smallest medium and work your way up.
Why? Put simply, because it’s a logical way to go. A mobile screen obviously allows the least leeway for usable space. So if you get your design right within the trickiest parameters first, adapting that upwards is a relatively straightforward affair.
However sometimes your target audience may research using mobile devices but you really want to wow them with the luxurious desktop version so these rules also work in reverse. For luxury sites and anything with lots of hero images or video, we go desktop-down rather than mobile-up.
At first, it might be tricky to visualise how that mobile layout will translate to your full website viewed in the “traditional” way on a monitor. Trust in your developer here. An experienced responsive designer will guide you through, explaining the thinking behind their suggestions and helping you to visualise the end result from all digital perspectives.
Under-design can be the key
We’ve already mentioned that in some circumstances, minimal matters more for responsive design and lots of clever tricks can come into play here to support the minimal approach – from hidden menus to single column layouts and scrolling sites. But the real priority is not to fall into the trap of unnecessary clutter. The practicalities of browsing on the go focus on usability, not prettiness. Simple, clean elements that lend themselves well to small screens and “thumbifying” (ensuring that links are easy to access with the thumb by making them large and sensibly spaced) are the way to go for responsive sites. So resist all your urges to get overly clever with the graphic elements. Naturally you want your brand to shine – but above all visitors are interested in easy functionality, and if you don’t give them that they’ll quickly abandon you.
There’s no doubt that delivering a website that literally pushes all the right buttons for your visitors is a complex and integrated business in today’s device-rich world. If you need help ensuring that your digital presence successfully crosses all the device boundaries, get in touch with the Digital Potion team. We’ll happily talk through your requirements and develop an approach that matches your business model, your target audience and your user expectations.