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Responsive Design: Myth Busting

Posted on Sunday, 19th August, 2012

Over the last 2 years I’ve spent a lot of time explaining to people that “mobile optimized” didn’t mean “your desktop website showed up on your iPhone”.

This year I’ve been asked more recently about responsive design. It’s not new- it’s just the hot buzz word. Everyone seems to think responsive design is the magic bullet to design, timing, and cost efficiencies. It’s not.

I’m busting through 2 myths about responsive design because I’m kinda over talking about it.

It seems like a short cut:

It’s NOT. It’s only a design/layout technique and doesn’t account for content. That approach won’t work for every brand/site presence.

It replaces tedious mobile context design:

It does not and SHOULD not. Fixed vs. fluid design needs to be thought through based on the content strategy for your site: how are you users consuming content on mobile devices? What objectives do you have for the end mobile user experience? You can’t assume they will consume the same content in the same way they do desktop. Ie: Mobile= short form—a user insight that doesn’t often change.

Sometimes responsive design can be a combination of both fixed & fluid when you use priority guides that are put in place during the wireframing/prototyping phase. If your UX designer/strategist are not doing the due diligence in this approach you’re probably doing your user a disservice.

Suggestion: make sure you do end user persona research- that should inform your approach to mobile design/content architecture and the appropriate & expected end user experience.

Great video from Brian Fling at PinchZoom talks about responsive design—Brian is a trusted authority on the topic of mobile/design/user experience.

A visual explanation of responsive design is and how it works is found here. They basically sell Joomla as the CMS platform of choice- not advocating for Joomla- just showing for the demo (and definitely not for the music editing choices.)


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