It’s been suggested by some commentators that responsive website design has actually emphasised how limited we are in our design practices. It’s a fair point; we take a standardised resolution, create a design, and then work out how we can rehash it to work on other devices. The argument goes that responsive web design should actually level the playing field. It is out of this discussion that mobile-first responsive design has been birthed.
Responsive mobile design begins with mobile-first presuppositions. In other words, it is the mobile version of the site that is prioritised, and then adjustments are made for larger devices. This sounds like a simple adjustment, but responsive mobile design has had a wonderful impact on the way that we think about design. It’s helped simplify the web design process no end, not least because it’s helped website designers work out what shouldn’t be included. The result is a movement towards cleaner, minimalist designs.
We’ve seen various changes as a result of responsive mobile design. The introduction of ‘whitespace’ (ie large, unoccupied spaces on the site) has resulted in leaner, cleaner sites that really do concentrate on the essential components and design features. This is often accompanied by ‘big photography’, with images being upscaled for higher-resolution devices and filling the page with life and colour. That web designers are less concerned about loading pages with content and text has left few people complaining…
There has also resulted in a big movement towards functionality. When you’re using a mobile device, ease of use is an essential requirement, because you’ve got a smaller screen and fingers tend to be less accurate than cursors. This means that we’re looking for big buttons, clear links, and much more intuitive design – we can’t, for example, use the hover function in the way that might on a desktop-orientated site. Responsive mobile design also tends towards linear pages rather than multiple menus, encouraging the user to keep scrolling down in order to find information. This can easily be transferred to desktop-versions of the site, encouraging the site visitor to do likewise. After all, who says that a website shouldn’t have 3 or 4 pages, each accessed by scrolling down?
We really like responsive mobile design and love the impact that mobile-first design is having on the industry. Vive la revolution!