So, what is responsive web design?
In the past decade and particularly since the advent of the smartphone, it has become increasingly integral for web content to be accessible on portable devices. And by ‘accessible’ I don’t just mean legible, but dynamic and intuitive. That is, looking and functioning in a way that a) automatically best suits the device on which the content is being accessed and b) caters for the multiple, often complex ways in which humans are likely to access, interact with and use this content.
This portable device design optimisation is commonly referred to as ‘responsiveness’ or, put more simply, ‘responsive web design’.
Research company Nielsen formally identified that in or around November 2014 smartphones usurped desktop machines as the device on which most web content was being accessed in Australia (see this article for more info and some fantastic infographics).
To a design agency like JCD, this represented a tipping point: a point at which employing and embracing responsive web design principles became mandatory if we wished to continue delivering superior quality digital design solutions embodying value and longevity.
Below, I wanted to briefly review a recently completed web redesign project for a client here in Melbourne, Principled Mortgage Investments (PMI). We took PMI’s site from a static, non-responsive HTML site driven by an outdated proprietary content management system to a fully responsive, custom designed WordPress-powered site.
Here are some of the key changes:
1. Improved navigation
The navigation menu is horizontally spaced out at the top of the screen on the desktop version of the site but then dynamically compresses to a really neat ‘pop-up’ vertical menu when the site width is beneath a certain measurement (ie: on tablets and phones). This vertical structure makes scrolling and selecting pages much easier on a portable device.
2. Flexible grid
The site proportionally re-sizes according to a grid structure that detects what device (and what orientation) the site is being viewed on. This ensures that the user can easily zoom in and out on specific bits of content and that text and images always proportionally re-size to ensure maximum legibility regardless of the device being used.
3. Condensation of content
On portable devices, text-heavy pages don’t work as well, as they require a lot more scrolling on the user’s part. We therefore create a condensed, or shortened version of each page for portable device users containing only the most important pieces of content. This makes browsing much more enjoyable and productive.
4. Overall simplicity
Because we’ve had to take on board the fact that the website is going to be accessed on such an expansive (and expanding) range of devices and by users with increasingly diverse needs, our design process has naturally evolved to focus on simplicity. The days of flashy, crowded sites where content competes for a user’s attention are well and truly over. Instead, we aim to ‘maximise the minimal’, ensuring the site interface remains clean and that every visual element has both a clear aesthetic and functional purpose and room to breathe.
Does your business or organisational website utilise a responsive web design framework? If not, you’ll be severely compromising the likelihood of prospective clients or customers engaging with you, if not cutting most of them off altogether.
Contact our Melbourne design studio today to discuss your specific digital design needs and how we can tailor a fully responsive, custom designed, WordPress-driven website for your business.