The Mixd stance on Responsive Web Design

28/06/2013 by Aaron Thomas

At Mixd, we’ve been building websites responsively for over 2 years – and building with mobile in mind for a long time before that, so we like to think we’re rather good at it!

From the very start we made a big decision that very few others were making at the time – we were going to offer responsive design as standard. Not as an extra, for no extra cost, and without question. We were confident that responsive design would be the future of the web and we adamant that it wouldn’t just a ‘fad’. Over 2 years later we have a huge portfolio of responsive websites for a vast variety of clients from small independent businesses to large national organisations.

More than just designing for phones

Since it’s inception in 2011. responsive design has evolved into something much more than just “building a website that works on any device” – don’t get me wrong, that idea still lies at the very core of the concept, but things have come a long way since then. Responsive design has become an entire discipline in itself, so heres a few brief points on what RWD means to us:

1. Device Agnosticism

Developing responsive websites isn’t just a case of cramming content into a single column so it works on a phone, it’s treating every single device equally. We don’t design for phones, tablets, and desktop computers separately – we design for every possible outcome as a single experience. Not only does this ensure every user gets an experience that’s optimised for them, but it helps future proofs the site to work for any device you can throw at it.

2. Optimisation

Screen size isn’t the only obstacle in developing for mobile devices, there are a number of other factors that need to be taken into consideration: connection speed, user environment, device capabilities, pixel density – all these things and more need to be factored in to create a truly responsive experience. A responsive website needs to not only look great on any device, but perform well and react quickly.

3. Varying use cases

Because websites don’t just sit on a desk anymore, we have no way of knowing what situation or environment the user might be in when visiting a website. Things that are important to a user on when they’re sat at a desk can be less important when the user whilst sat on a bus – for example, if you’re accessing a hospital website whilst on the move, you’re more likely to be looking for directions or contact details than news articles on medical development. Part of good responsive web design is considering these new use cases and providing a more optimised experience. Don’t get us wrong – we don’t believe in hiding content for mobile users, but we just give more thought to content priority and hierarchy.

4. Giving more consideration to content

It’s easy when trying to build a device agnostic site to simply design a desktop website, then retrospectively trying to make it work on smaller devices. The problem with that is you end up with content that wasn’t designed to be accessible and usable on those devices. At Mixd we consider the content from the very start and design around it, not against it.

A new standard

When we first started working with responsive web design, it was a very new idea, and it was often a struggle to justify it’s importance when our clients had very little exposure to the concept of a “mobile web”. A couple of years later and many of our new clients choose us specifically because of our reputation in responsive design.

Across the industry we’re seeing more and more agencies offer responsive design as standard rather than just a bolt-on. Google themselves have been recommending RWD as the best tool for mobile development for some time now, and the Government Digital Service who are responsible for the new GOV.UK site have adopted RWD as a standard for all future government presence online. We’re almost at a point where we can truly say responsive web design is web design.

What does the future hold?

Responsive web design is still a relatively new concept, and there are many challenges which still remain unresolved – whether that be due to limitations in technology or because of the unpredictable nature of the web.

We’re already seeing an increasing number of new devices accessing the web – TVs, games consoles, fridges, Google Glass, Leap Motion. At Mixd we’ve done an incredible job of staying on the cutting edge of our industry and we’re confident that we can quickly adapt to new developments and best practices.

Leave a comment