Is Responsive Design Right for Your Mobile Customer?

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Responsive design requires more than simply adding “float:left” to your CSS. When it comes to responsive design, I-Frames and images are not fully worked out, and still present a significant challenge to developers. To pursue RWD means staffing up and acquiring developers with strong skills in mobile UI/UX and HTML5.

A lesser-known feature of RWD, for instance, is the fact that it requires newer QA procedures that lead to the average site release time significantly expanding as a result.

Further, fixes to one screen size might have unintended consequences for other screen sizes and companies need to consider their approach to OS management. For example, Internet Explorer has released 10 versions since its introduction in 1995 and Windows has had eight full releases over that time. Apple just launched a significant mobile upgrade with iOS 7, and Google’s Chrome browser is on version 31. Creating compelling mobile products requires years of experience working as well as established processes that account for the speed of mobile evolution in terms of UX, device capability and OS requirements.

There’s no doubt that the debate around responsive Web design (RWD) has reached the entry level of most organizations, achieving elevated status as a simple way to reach consumers on the Web, regardless of the device they use to access the Internet.

But is responsive design really the right approach to engage your mobile customers?

Roland Campbell, director of solution engineering at Usablenet, can imagine what you’re thinking: “What do you mean? Of course responsive design is right for our mobile customer. Everyone is doing responsive design now, and even Google is advocating for it!”

Before we break out the torches and pitchforks, let’s think about what Google is really saying. Sure Google recommends responsive design as a way for developers to extend content to mobile devices, but they offer mobile specific versions of Gmail and Google Plus, two of their flagship products. With one search field and blocks of content, for example, it makes sense for Google News to take a responsive approach as it is easy for content-heavy sites to repurpose the way the content is presented on mobile devices.

However Ethan Marcotte, who coined the term responsive Web design, states in his book Responsive Web Design, “most importantly, responsive Web design isn’t intended to serve as a replacement for mobile websites”.

Campbell has identified a number of key considerations organizations must examine before they decide to incorporate responsive design.


Related Topics : In Their Own Words: The Four Dark Horses for the Third Major Mobile OS Speak, HTC, Mobile Search, 3G, Location-Based Services

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