Thursday, July 18, 2013

Websites: Intentional Design vs. Purely Responsive Design

By Laura Powers

Furia Rubel develops websites for many companies including law firms, financial service companies, legal industry providers, service providers and government / municipal agencies. All of these entities have audiences that are viewing their sites on various devices. Each audience needs to be provided with the information they are seeking clearly communicated on each device. All of these websites must consider the visual presentation, the user experience and the delivery of content.

Responsive Website Design

The website design industry is buzzing about responsive design. There are many references, blogs and testaments touting it as the next best thing, but responsive design is not a new idea, nor is it a new technology. Providers are just fully realizing that, yes, all of the various devices that website visitors use, need to properly display content to a site’s target audiences.

Website visitors today use the device that is most convenient to them at the time – a traditional desktop computer, a tablet, a phone - often whatever is in closest physical proximity. In many instances, and for mobile phones in particular, websites do not need to display all images and the all of the content of a company’s full desktop website to a visitor.

Cumbersome mobile websites are often the result of a purely responsive design process that lacks a strategic and deliberate plan. Slow load times, unsuitable content display and poor navigation on a company’s mobile site result from lack of pre-planning and strategy in the design and development phase.

Intentional Website Design

Furia Rubel takes an intentional design approach that strategically considers audiences, devices and content and therefore, is a better option than a purely responsive design approach.

Intentional design is an approach to website design and development that is created for each user within the respective media. It is both responsive, in that the site responds to the user’s media, and it is strategic, in that it intelligently considers what information must be served to users on each platform. It is a disservice to a website’s audience to assume that their phone needs to display all the images and every piece of content that their desktop computer displays for the same site. It is analogous to showing a person every television station’s program when choosing what to watch instead of using quick menus to find the program they want.

From our experience in designing, developing, writing and launching websites, we know there are critical pieces of information that users want to see across all devices – phone numbers, main services or products offered, locations, team member profiles and other top-level information. Typically, a purely responsive design is simply a full website tailored to display all site content in a different view on a particular device. Why burden the device with cumbersome menus, images and content in a purely responsive design?

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