From Pixel Perfect to Responsive Design

by / Thursday, 10 April 2014 / Published in E-Commerce, Experience Design, Strategy, User Experience

So, you’ve decided to transition your site using responsive design. Congratulations! You’ll have a site that provides the right experience on the right device.

This is a strategy that will pay dividends well into the future. I know I’m speaking to the choir here, but you will save money, your customers will love you and you’ll finally have the flexibility you need to integrate marketing and commerce.

  • You’ll save money. You will now avoid endless headaches from managing all those updates from the wide desktop, to the skinny desktop, the tablets of iPad, Nook and Nexus, the iPhone, that larger Android, the smaller Microsoft device, and that shiny new product announced yesterday that you are just sure will break your experience.
  • Your customers will love you, and they won’t know why. The transition from discovering your brand on a tablet at home to learning about your products on a mobile in store will be seamless. This connection, providing an experience that simply works wherever your customer is at the moment, reinforces your service level and why they are shopping with you.
  • It’s flexible in every way imaginable. Responsive web design builds a bridge between brand and commerce using a module-based toolset. These modules allow your marketing to be stronger with content working harder. Your emails will be legible. Your conversions will increase.

This is all possible because responsive sites are not pixel-driven. They are managed on a single codebase that scales to whatever screen size they fall on. A series of smart modules does all the work by collapsing and stacking content to fit any screen.

The evolution from print to digital continues with responsive, so you will need to recalibrate your team. Your team will no longer design static screens. No longer will visual designers sit in one section while your content team is on the floor below.

Responsive design requires collaboration. For you to truly capture the magic of responsive design, your team will move to integrate disciplines and decisions. Waterfall approaches where decisions are handed from one team to another will not suffice. Content strategists, visual designers, engineers, and all your other teams will redefine work flows to embrace the new modular tools at their disposal.

Upfront homework and sound design is needed to align on your toolset. You will define what type of modules you need to support your business. You will determine how to apply these modules to different needs. From there, the magic happens. From these modules, the site’s flexibility and potential come to life. Modules do not limit design, they enhance what you are able to communicate. And they do this more efficiently.

Now, not every brilliant decision goes unpunished. You will give up some control with responsive design. You’ll no longer review multiple static screens across multiple pixel ratios. And nor should you. With good responsive design, those considerations have all been taken into account. You are able to still plan for the most widely used cases while adjusting seamlessly for the outliers.

You are not preventing anyone from enjoying your brand’s best; rather, you are allowing everyone in. And as added bonus: your nephew on his Nexus will no longer send you his feedback.

(For more on the organizational building blocks to have in place, check out Chris Haines’ article: “You’re Not Ready For Responsive Design Until…“)