Content is the backbone of the web. It's the reason why we browse the internet. Because of this, design, and especially responsive web design, should be built around the content itself. Unfortunately, many website projects, whether they be new websites or redesigns, don't put the effort into developing a content strategy before the design phase.
In the early days of the web, just having a website for your business was enough. Today, your website may be viewed on a dozen different devices, each with a different screen size. How do you account for all of these different user experiences – and how does your website hold up on each one?
"Without an understanding of the content and its structure, it is impossible to provide designers and developers with the information they need to create a website that puts your business' number one asset under the spotlight that it deserves," said Jay Joyce, president of The Idea People. "Sites aiming to work on screens big and small must feature carefully selected images, effective text and sensible layout hierarchies. Responsive content strategy is even more important, and should be part of the the project's initial wire-framing stages."
Whitespace has become a vital component of responsive web design, often leading to designs that are simplified and practical while still visually appealing. Buttons, icons and links have become large objects that are easier to find and click. But what about the actual content? Responsive design can't solve everything. Content must be responsive as well.
One benefit of responsive web design is the increased need for concise copy. Typically, text reflows as boxes and columns narrow, and short text blocks with ample whitespace make for easy adjustments between layouts. Because the average visitor spends little time on a website, your copy must be concise and clear. The idea is to tantalize the reader, so hook them with snappy, compact content; regardless of screen size.
Consider what to show and hide for low-resolution screens. Dropping non-critical text and images can mean quicker, effortless browsing. Users are happy scrolling, but on small screens it makes missing content easier. Keep important features near the top, and lose redundant elements when scaling down. Remember: effective copy and imagery engages and sparks interest while using up very little space!
To capture a user’s attention for the next generation of the web, you’ll need more than just responsive design. You’ll need a truly responsive philosophy to engage with users as they move away from desktop computers and start accessing your site on handheld devices and wearables. In the near future, you'll worry less about how your website looks on an iMac and more about how it interacts on a smartwatch or head-mounted display like Google Glass.
Non-responsive content pages can have a negative effect on your website and the way your customers experience and engage with your brand. Here are just a few examples of what happens to content when your design isn't responsive:
1) Today’s customers will only stick around if your content is truly engaging and if what you have to offer is quickly and easily found. Long pages with huge blocks of text make your content too daunting for the reader
2) If you’re working hard to share your great content via your website and social media, but it’s not compatible with mobile devices, no one can or will share it. Responsive design makes your site attractive and the content within easily shareable!
3) Responsive web design is Google’s recommended mobile configuration. It’s easier for Google to find, index, and organize content from one company site than from two (a mobile site and a second site for your desktop viewers). In order to maximize your SEO and page rank with Google's search engine, you really need a website that is responsive.
4) Retail sales made via smartphones are projected to reach $22 million in 2015. If you don’t have a website that works seamlessly on various mobile devices, you’re missing out on sales.
In the changing landscape of digital marketing and web development, it's adapt or die. To be successful in the mobile marketplace, businesses need to think about how responsive web design can make their content adaptive and flexible for the web. At The Idea People, we are constantly pushing the limits of today's technology to find creative and intuitive ways to make your company's website look great on any device.