Responsive Design Gained’t Repair Your Content material Downside – A Record Aside

I spoke to a digital group at a big company some time again, and outlined a few of the many challenges they had been prone to face in creating, revising, and publishing their content material so it could work properly on smartphone, pill, and desktop interfaces.

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These included:

  • Evaluating whether or not content material is helpful, beneficial, truly worthy of being on cellular (or the desktop, for that matter)
  • Assessing the quantity of content material that may seem on a “web page” on totally different units, and placing a stability for various type elements
  • Creating a number of types of headlines, teasers, or physique textual content, so beneficial info doesn’t get truncated randomly
  • Planning to develop alternate variations of some property—equivalent to totally different picture sizes and crops, alternate options to giant infographics or tables, new demo movies displaying each desktop and cellular variations of the interface
  • Separating content material from presentation within the CMS, so content material and markup aren’t all dumped into the identical blob of a discipline

An attendee raised her hand and mentioned “I’ve been questioning whenever you would point out responsive internet design. We’re going to make use of responsive design.” I responded “Effectively, responsive design received’t repair your content material downside.”

Who thinks that, anyway?#section2

I not too long ago posted a hyperlink to an article that known as responsive design a “poor man’s content material technique.” Then my Twitter feed exploded with folks closely sighing and rolling their eyes, insisting nobody would ever conflate the 2. Why, everybody is aware of that the container and what you set within the container aren’t the identical factor. Everybody is aware of that simply rearranging modules from the desktop to make them squishy shouldn’t be a content material technique for cellular. Everybody is aware of if organizations uncover issues that transcend the particular format options provided by responsive design, that’s not the fault of the approach.

Besides not everybody is aware of that. These are just some of the anecdotes I’ve heard not too long ago from folks engaged on cellular web sites for main companies—initiatives with giant budgets, dedicated groups, and govt buy-in:

  • We not too long ago completed an enormous CMS replatforming which necessitated a redesign of the desktop web site. There may be zero enthusiasm for going again by way of the content material structuring, modifying, and approval course of with our enterprise stakeholders and our authorized evaluation group. No matter we wind up doing on cellular, we should use the very same content material now we have on our brand-new desktop web site.
  • We simply spent [insert unfathomably large number here] making an attempt to take our current desktop web site and make it responsive. We genuinely believed this course of could be sooner and simpler if we based mostly it on what we have already got. It’s not going properly, and we’ll most likely have to throw all of it out and begin over. We might have been higher off if we’d began from scratch six months in the past.
  • I used to be employed as a developer to construct a brand new responsive web site, however I’m being requested to make every kind of choices about methods to edit and restructure the content material—selections I don’t really feel solely certified to make. I maintain telling my shopper they should deliver somebody in to take care of the content material questions, however they suppose responsive design is only a front-end design and improvement downside.
  • Our executives assume that since they made the choice to go responsive, each different choice would simply be tactical particulars. In reality, implementing responsive internet design raises points that strike proper on the coronary heart of our enterprise and the way in which we work. We have to repair our evaluation and approval processes, our content material administration system, our asset administration system, our design requirements and governance. We have to clear up our outdated, ineffective content material. But it surely’s exhausting to get folks to step as much as resolve these larger issues, as a result of they don’t suppose they’re a part of “responsive design.”

Looks like lots of people are laboring below the mistaken impression that utilizing responsive design means they’ll make a cellular web site with out coping with their content material downside.

The place’d they get that dumb concept?#section3

We advised them so. And, okay, sure, they’re utilizing some magical pondering. However straight up, we advised them that the cellular web site ought to be the identical because the desktop, and that’s why they need to use responsive internet design. We bought them on the worth of responsive design by promising that they might handle and keep one set of content material and it could work throughout all units.

We additionally insisted there’s no good purpose to serve totally different content material by platform. We acquired twitchy each time anybody began speaking about sending totally different content material or much less content material to cellular units (rightly so). We identified you can’t discern consumer context or intent simply from figuring out display measurement or system sort. We advised them content material parity was the primary and most vital aim when growing a responsive web site.

Is it any marvel they assume (hope?) they’ll simply take what they have already got, wave a responsive magic wand over it, and have their current content material automagically work on cellular? Why ought to or not it’s totally different? We mentioned it shouldn’t be.

Even firms that need to take a “cellular first” strategy can’t simply throw off the shackles of their desktop content material. For some, suggesting the group “begin recent” with new content material could be organizational suicide, touching the political third rail of stakeholders and competing pursuits. Others acknowledge it’s time for a brand new strategy, however want processes that can allow them to wash up and restructure current content material to make it applicable for a responsive design. Responsive design received’t repair their content material downside—however content material technique will.

Responsive design + content material technique = BFF 4 EVAH#section4

It’s time we acknowledged that each responsive internet design mission can also be a content material technique mission. For designers and builders who may not know what to emphasise, listed below are a couple of speaking factors:

Your content material have to be revised#section5

Regardless that the long-term aim is to serve the identical content material to each platform, organizations can’t simply use what they have already got. Sensible firms will seize this chance to do what they need to have finished years in the past: clear up and pare down their desktop content material. You’ll by no means get a greater probability to repair your content material and publishing processes.

You could have to take care of legacy methods#section6

The tantalizing prospect of responsive internet design is having the ability to resolve the issue of “cellular” utterly on the entrance finish. The entrance finish is a lot extra malleable than the again finish, so in fact we need to begin there. However many responsive initiatives require adjustments to the way in which content material and knowledge are structured and revealed from the CMS or different legacy methods. For some, an strategy to APIs will probably be wanted; for a lot of others, it is going to be an overhaul of content material administration and asset administration methods.

Design your editorial workflow first#section7

The chicken-and-egg downside of content material informing design (and vice versa) simply acquired larger—name it an ostrich-and-egg downside. Whereas good folks have talked in regards to the responsive design workflow and the way design deliverables and processes should change, the editorial workflow additionally wants consideration. Planning for a way and when the content material group will migrate, edit, and restructure content material will assist everybody be certain that the content material and the design work collectively. Design deliverables like wireframes and comps are evolving—content material groups should additionally evolve away from reliance on Excel spreadsheets and Phrase paperwork to handle this course of.

You received’t have time to edit every thing#section8

Even essentially the most devoted and impressive groups received’t have the capability to revise and restructure each web page of their current desktop web site. Making knowledgeable and practical selections about what to concentrate on (and what to punt on) will assist with total planning, migration processes, and design selections. Acknowledging this early will assist get groups and stakeholders on board with the truth that not every thing will probably be good.

Plan for long-term governance#section9

Responsive design additionally received’t repair your design requirements and governance mannequin, however we nonetheless want to incorporate long-term upkeep in our aims. I heard a narrative from one group who mentioned they satisfied their firm that it wasn’t doable to do responsive design correctly except in addition they created and enforced a design system. The identical argument may very well be made for growing and inspiring adherence to content material requirements.

Responsive design itself received’t repair your content material—nobody ever mentioned it could. However the alternative to implement a responsive redesign can also be the chance to repair your content material and its underlying technique. It might appear extra sophisticated to edit your content material and repair your processes and methods on the identical time you’re designing a brand new web site—however the truth is, pretending you don’t have to unravel these issues simply makes the job tougher. Sensible organizations will see this as a profit, not a downside, and can use this opportunity to make a greater web site, not only a squishy one.

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