Dean Parker reports from our latest Corporate Website Forum held at the Hospital Club which discussed ‘responsive design’ – the idea of creating websites that work seamlessly across a range of different devices.
We started last Thursday's session with a straw poll to identify the level of knowledge and how important responsive design is within the corporate space. The results showed that while for most people responsive design is not currently on their agenda, they believe that it will be within the next 12 months.
Given that within the next 12 - 18 months the number of people viewing websites on mobile devices will overtake the use of desktop PCs, it was surprising to find that while the majority of corporate website owners have heard of 'responsive design', most don't understand it in any detail and have no mobile strategy in place.
This is all the more worrying given that existing approaches (basic mobile sites, apps etc.) are unsustainable in the long-term because of the rapid proliferation of different devices. We need to remember that not everyone uses an iPad and iPhone and also consider new types of devices that haven't even been invented yet.
As ever, it seems that a of mixture time, money and senior level buy-in are the biggest concerns for corporate website owners when it comes to adopting a responsive design approach. As one member of the forum put it, "It's a serious business requirement but I don't think we have enough understanding to deliver it today."
So what exactly is responsive design and why should owners or managers of corporate websites care?
The idea behind responsive design is simple - it's about creating a single online presence that works well on all devices rather than lots of separate websites or apps. It's more user friendly, easier to manage and better for SEO. And it's not just about external communications - if you're thinking about a way to deliver online experiences to remote workers across a number of different devices, responsive design could be the answer you're looking for.
It's a way of creating a website that takes into account the size of the screen on which it is being viewed, to offer every user an optimised experience. Although the primary feature of this approach is reacting to screen size, we also need to consider other variables such as screen resolution, connection speed and device or browser capabilities.
In the end it's all about future proofing your websites in a sustainable and cost effective way and satisfying all your audiences, across every device, all of the time.
And finally, the whole debate around responsive design highlights the need for us all to take a smarter, more agile approach to developing digital experiences so we are prepared for the constantly changing demands of audiences in an increasingly digital world.
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