Responsive Web design is intended to ensure that a site’s layout and content scale fluidly to the available screen real estate. This is a great approach for focusing your investments on improving site content and user functionality while ensuring that users have a good experience regardless of what device and screen size they use to visit your site. If you didn’t read the first article in this series, “Why the Web Is Ready for Responsive Web Design,” be sure to read it first.
It’s worth taking a step back, however, to think through your site’s experience and understand whether the device with which a user accesses your site changes the user’s expectations of the site’s functionality. Is the user checking your site for quick updates with her cellphone while she’s on the go? Is he sitting down, 10 feet away from a large TV screen, looking to immerse himself in a relatively passive consumption experience of rich content, videos and games? Are other users sitting down at their PCs, looking to get the most from your site content? Most of all, how do these expectations affect the site layout and functionality that you provide at those corresponding screen sizes?
What Kind of Site Is This?
Planning the content hierarchy for your site across different form factors is definitely the first step to having a great responsive-site experience. Consider the following examples, which evaluate and compare the top experiences that customers want to have when they access your site from a 4-inch phone while they walk or take public transportation, when they’re sitting at their computer desk, and when they’re lounging on their couches in their living rooms.