Where are the poster children for responsive design? | June 10, 2011
In my previous post I stated that while I didn’t think responsive design was the right approach for every mobile experience, it was appropriate for 90% of cases and should become the natural default option. Sadly the current default for most organisations is to build a suite of device specific mobile apps. While giving designers control over layout and companies the ability to make a bit of extra money through app store sales, this seems like an expensive, labour insensitive and somewhat wasteful approach. Especially when you consider the relatively small number of app consumers, compared to the number of people who access the web through mobile devices. For most online companies a mobile optimised website is going to be the smartest option in terms of reach and ROI.
I think one of the big problems with responsive design is that it’s a relatively new and unproven concept. Sure, a few companies and individuals have been building responsive versions of their personal projects like the sites for Ampersand and UX London. However few large companies have yet to cotton on, either because they’re enamoured by the idea of making it big in the app store, or simply aren’t aware of the approach.
We were talking about this in the studio the other day and likened the problem to the early days of CSS. Sure there were blogs by people like Jeremy and Myself, but there weren’t any big corporate sites using this technology. Until there was a canonical standards based site out there for us all to point too, it was going to be very difficult to convince clients of this new approach. Then along came the beautiful 85th PGA Championship Golf website.
Now we had a great looking commercial site we could use to prove to clients that web standards weren’t simply a techie fab, but were actually a viable way of building corporate websites. What we needed was the responsive equivalent. A large, internationally renowned company willing to forgo the conventional wisdom that every mobile experience starts with the app store and invest in what we see as the future of mobile interactivity. What’s more, we wanted to be the people to create it.
A few days ago we were delighted to see an early step in that direction.
The Financial Times decided to skip the app store mentality and launch a HTML5 version of their service, optimised for iPad and iPhone viewing. This is obviously still a little siloed and doesn’t quite live up to the dream of “the one web”, but it’s getting there. You could see how, with a few tweaks and a bit of responsive thinking, this application could be made to work across any and all devices with a modern browser. As such I think the folks at Assanka should be applauded for this work and hope that it is the start of a much bigger trend in responsive design.
Posted at June 10, 2011 7:35 AM