Responsive web design: what not to do

Responsive web design

If you’re abreast of your web design trends, you’ll know that optimising for mobile is absolutely essential if your brand wants to keep up with its competitors. According to the UX Design Trends 2015 & 2016 book, responsive web design is the way to do it.

Responsive design enables brands to tailor and optimise their content for different devices and screen sizes, which is increasingly important in an age where 33% of all web traffic comes through mobile devices.

However, it’s tricky to get responsive design right, and very easy to get it wrong. Here are the 5 crucial mistakes to avoid if you want to make your website smartphone and tablet friendly:

Don’t get obsessed with devices – focus on screen sizes instead

Did you know that across the globe, there are over 24,000 different Android devices on the market? With this vast number just representing one brand, it’s obvious that there are far too many different mobile devices out there for you to optimise for all of them. What you should be focusing on is screen size, of which there are far fewer variables. Experts recommend starting with the smallest screen size that’s relevant to your target users and adapting the design as new screen sizes are introduced.

Don’t forget about tablets!

With brands and web designers panicking about optimising for tiny screens, it’s easy to forget about tablets, laptops and other larger screens. Rather than simply scaling up your design for these screens, why not make the most of the extra space available to you? It’s important that you tailor the content and essential design elements to the screen size, and not just the size it displays it.

Not designing for touch

It sounds so obvious – if you’re designing for a touchscreen, your design needs to work with this type of input – but it’s amazing how many brands forget or can’t be bothered. It’s absolutely crucial for customers who are used to touch interaction with their devices, and they won’t be happy to change their ways.

Limiting content

Nothing is more frustrating than accessing a site via mobile and not being able to find the information/function you want. It makes sense to streamline websites so that they don’t clutter up smaller screens, but it’s a mistake to hide content that users may actually want to see.

It’s also a problem for brand consistency and user loyalty, as a user may expect to see all the usual content and features they get on the standard website – which leaves them disappointed. The solution? You need to prioritise content more on mobile devices, but it should all be available no matter what device is used. It’s a matter of how you choose to display the content, making navigation easy for users but still providing the same user experience.

What hiccups have you experienced with responsive web design? Are there any other pitfalls you’d advise other brands and designers to avoid? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

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