What’s the first thing you do when you wake up, and where are you? When and where you use your mobile you are a different person in different circumstances to when you use your desktop. Responsive design was great when it came out in that it enabled a site to better fit mobile/tablet devices.
When I first started working on responsive sites 3-4 years ago, it was a job done mainly by the developers to adjust the site in the code. But I kept thinking to myself that the version of the site shown on tablets but particularly mobile still offered the user a poor user experience compared to the craft and care that had gone into designing a bespoke desktop site.
Responsive design was great when it came out, but the Internet has evolved now and it’s no longer enough just to make your site responsive to ‘work’ on mobile and tablets.
Your customers are different people when on their mobile phone, multi tasking, on the go, on the train etc than who they are when they are on desktop where they are at the office, at their desk, in work mode etc. So we need to think about different customer journeys/personas for the different devices, and not just see the desktop and mobile customer needs as the same. We need to design for the mobile state of mind. We need to be thinking ‘who is your audience on desktop’, and separately ‘who is your audience on mobile’ as they are different people.
Just making a site responsive isn’t enough, as the user experience isn’t specifically tailored to the mobile customer.
Loading time is critical on mobile and each second lost has huge implications. So serving up a huge desktop site with large images and littered with functionality could actually be harming your mobile performance by you losing customers.
People don’t remember what you say, they remember how they feel when they are on your site. So being served up a cluttered, slow loading desktop site which has been crushed down to mobile can and will effect your users overall feel in what the remember in using your site. Your brain processes images 60,000 times quicker than text, and getting the right feel and experience on mobile for your customers is vital.
So creating a bespoke user experience for the mobile/tablet view particularly is vital in engaging with your users feelings. You don’t have to say everything in the text, as you can design your experience to make the visuals represent what you want the customer to feel. Less is more, have ONE single message, use less words and use a large font and have one clear call to action.
It’s important to identify the behaviour and user cases of your mobile customers, and designing around giving them what they want, when they need it. Understanding what the mobile visitor specifically needs and then designing for this as it will lead to higher conversions. You have to get to know your customers, understand them in order to design a solution for them
Making a site responsive is better than a desktop experience on mobile where you have to pinch etc, but doing the traditional ‘make a site responsive in the browser’ should just be the beginning, as you need to do alot more than this.
Responsive is a good place to start but its not enough. Here are some key things to remember when designing a responsive site:
* Stop treating your mobile customers like your desktop ones.
* 67% of all searches START on mobile.
* A separate mobile and desktop design is ideal to optimise the experience and feel for your customers, but on both devices sizes think separately about what your customer needs in terms of the hierarchy of content.
* Whether to design mobile or desktop first comes down to looking at your customers and understanding who they are and what they need.
* Understanding your customers for each device enables you to work out what content is relevant for your customers using each device, and to re-arrange it accordingly to suit your customers on each platform.
* Don’t do anything automatically as a blanket rule on all projects, desktop and mobile design decisions need to be treated separately based on your customers requirements. Same goes for whether to do an “m.” site or not.
I hope the above was useful in getting you to think about the responsive version of your site. I’m a freelance UX consultant and designer based in Farnham, Surrey and if you need any help or would like to discuss the mobile responsive version of your website of web app please do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org