Responsive Design

In 2006 we were asked by Jonathan Elder, a client, to create a website for mobile devices. He really was not interested in the normal desktop versions. “Paul it must work on mobile phones”. And that was it, that was the brief. How hard could it be?

Well it was a nightmare and we did not enjoy the project at all. To give you an idea of what we were up against. We had two Nokia phones, I don’t remember the model numbers and according to the Nokia website, both phones followed standards. I can tell you one thing, they did not. Standards ? Pah! Sid the Sloth from the Ice Age film would have been more co-operative.

We used CSS and something called media queries. One phone followed the standards, the other did not and I have not even mentioned the other brands of phones. So what could we do apart from compromise just about everything? In a word our first taste of mobile websites was not a good one.

As you can probably imagine we have been watching the industry move forward and have been interested to see this new concept of “Responsive Design” come to light. Below are some screen shots of the Boston Globe website. Look for the Romney article and you will see that the content moves about. The first two images show normal desktop views with the browser window at different sizes. The next two images show an iphone that has been flipped.

Response Design Boston Globe wide screen
Responsive Design Boston Globe narrow design
Responsive Design iPhone portrait format
Responsive Design iPhone landscape format

This is great stuff. As you can see the content is king and the user experience comes first. Thought is needed to make sure the images and text are adapted to what ever device is being used. (And in the case of the iPhone, how you are actually holding it!!)

We have now picked up two projects and are really looking forward to skilling up. The great thing about Responsive Design is the fact that we will not need to carry out an internal revolution. We already follow best practise in terms of grey boxing and prototyping.

As the Italians say: FORZA !
And we would say: FORZA Responsive Design!

Now you might be thinking, sure very nice, but what is all the fuss? Well, with the advent of the iPhone, the iPad etc, there are some serious predictions for 2014 being year that mobile web browsing overtakes desktop browsing.

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