Demand for digital content comes from a wide and disparate range of sources: laptops, tablets, mobile devices – and of course a whole plethora of desktops with widely differing screen resolutions. Users expect to digest content easily, navigate through it quickly no matter what device their using and feel they’re being kept informed and part of the ‘full experience’.
We’re asked the same questions every time we’re being briefed on a project with a digital element to it: will our site be responsive? Will it work on a mobile device? Will we have to update content on each version? And our reply? They’re the wrong questions to ask.
Why? To quote a respected voice in web design, Brad Frost: Quite simply because users don’t care: they don’t care if it’s ‘responding’ to their tablet or smartphone. They don’t care if it’s a separate mobile site. And they don’t care if it’s just a plain desktop site. However, they DO care, very much, if they can’t get done what they need to get done, quickly and easily. They do care when your site takes 20 seconds to load. And they do care when interactions are awkward and broken. Yep, we agree with Brad.
Some simple, generally accepted definitions:
Responsive: Designed for multiple devices, adjusting the design based on the device. Equal, but different.
Adaptive: Designed specifically for a mobile or tablet experience (but not necessarily mutally exclusive to a responsive approach). Not equal and separate.
Native Application: A program or ‘app’ designed specifically for iOS, Android or Windows. Different and separate.
Mobile: A phone. A tablet. A laptop. Anything you can carry to your nearest cafe and tell the boss you’re ‘working remotely’. NOT just a phone (anymore). And in the near future a car dashboard, a pair of glasses,
Now, here’s the bad news: there is no single, 100% correct answer, no one-size-fits all and we would never propose to any client that there is. Every requirement must be put into context, understanding who wants to do what, where and planning the experience around that.
There’s plenty more to say on this vast and wide-ranging topic, and we’ll be continuing our commentary in a future post.