Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Responsive Web Design (RWD). The digital industry is buzzing about it. Our clients are asking whether to invest in it. And Fluid is at the forefront of it.
In order to get you answers I sat down with Steve Reichgut, Fluid’s Director of Engineering. He is a respected industry leader in RWD. Steve and his team live and breathe cutting-edge technology. They’re smart about when to, and when not to, apply it.
My top three take-aways:
1. This isn’t just about technology: Responsive Web Design with a “Big R” is about ensuring that the user experience responds effectively on multiple devices in multiple contexts. This broader concept can be implemented in many different ways.
2. RWD is not an all or nothing decision: The question ‘Should I use Responsive Web Design or not?’ is probably the wrong question to be asking.
3. Thinking through support for RWD is essential: Content updating challenges that currently exist between marketing and tech teams get amplified with RWD. Trade-offs between cutting-edge and desire for control are inevitable.
Now on to the interview…
[Amy] What is Responsive Web Design?
[Steve] In it’s purest definition, the “Big R” RWD, is about ensuring that what the user is experiencing responds effectively on the device they are using in whatever context they are in. This can be achieved in a lot of different ways.
RWD though is usually used as a technical term. It is literally using three things to build a responsive experience: a grid system, media queries to determine viewport size and flexible images that size appropriately.
[Amy] What’s the best thing about RWD?
[Steve] The best thing is the whole idea that the user gets an optimal experience no matter where they are coming from. RWD gives the user a great, seamless experience.
[Amy] What’s the biggest challenge?
[Steve] Determining how it’s going to be supported operationally. RWD doesn’t create new problems, it amplifies the ones you already have. Who’s going to make changes? And who’s going to make sure the changes render right on all devices?
The other challenge is that people are combining the “Big R” definition of RWD with a specific technical solution. So they end up asking “Do I do RWD or not?”
[Amy] Is “Do I do RWD or not?” the wrong question to be asking?