Brian Casel, a freelance web designer, is a strong proponent of responsive design. Responsive web design relies on media queries to figure out what resolution a screen is and uses fluid grids and flexible images to scale a website to that screen. Too much tech speak? Basically, responsive web design is an alternative to having a separate site for every device, and aims to adjust a site to the screen sizes of varying devices to maintain good user experience.
Brian took a break from his latest project, SweetProcess, to answer a few questions for me about responsive design and how businesses should be thinking about their mobile presence.
“Don’t Underestimate a Top-Notch User Experience”
content26: How closely entwined do you think content creation and web design should be? Why?
Brian Casel: My personal approach is to tackle content creation and design simultaneously. I’m a strong proponent of writing the copy while you design. The messaging is just as important as the font, color, style, and layout decisions. This is why I strongly believe that web designers should hone not just their design skills, but their copywriting and information architecture skills as well. It’s all connected.
“The design should support the content and allow it to adapt to any medium.
content26: You talk a lot about responsive design. Do you think it is always a better option for businesses than building a separate mobile site?
Brian Casel: If the decision has been made that having a mobile site is necessary, then yes, in most cases, I think responsive design is the way to go. There are a few advantages of responsive over the alternative methods. Responsive is all one website, so it can be updated in one central location; responsive adapts to any screen size, any device, even future devices that haven’t come out yet, so it is future-proof.
And these days, there are so many web design frameworks that make responsive design even easier that it’s almost a no-brainer. My personal favorite is the Twitter Bootstrap framework, which is fully responsive.
content26: How can businesses best prepare content for mobile use?
Brian Casel: Almost any content or message can be presented elegantly in both desktop and mobile formats. It’s important to think about the message/content first, and the layout second.
Remember that the content will take on a variety of layouts and formats as it is viewed on different screens and devices. Don’t let the content dictate how the page design should be. The design should support the content and allow it to adapt to any medium.
content26: What do you see as the biggest challenge companies that sell products online face regarding the rise of connected devices?
Brian Casel: I think we’re still in a period where most businesses are scrambling to make sure their websites are updated and revamped to keep up with where the web is going—mobile.
The question most businesses are facing is whether or not to invest in a website redesign that includes mobile optimization. Mobile optimization may cost a bit more (it depends), but it’s a very smart investment, particularly if you go the responsive approach, because this ensures maximum compatibility across all devices.
“Even if only a small portion of your product sales come via your website, you can bet that a large majority of your customers look to your website to research you before making a buying decision.
content26: And how should they meet that challenge?
Brian Casel: Don’t underestimate the importance of having a top-notch user experience on your website, from desktop to tablet to mobile. Even if only a small portion of your product sales come via your website, you can bet that a large majority of your customers look to your website to research you before making a buying decision. Make it easy on them and ensure they can read, navigate, browse, and access everything your website has to offer, no matter which device they’re on.
Brian Casel is a web designer and founder of a few online products and services. To see his latest projects and read his blog, visit casjam.com. Connect with Brian on Twitter @CasJam.