“Responsive design is our red pill”

In the second semester of my Content Strategy MA I had a course called Accessibility & Multi-Screen Design. At the beginning I was quite sceptic about why do I need this kind of knowledge to become a content strategist but as the weeks and lectures went by, I felt grateful that I learnt a whole new approach when it comes designing for different screen sizes and abilities.

I watched a talk Adapting to Responsive Design by Mark Boulton which was held at Fronteers 2012. Since then responsive design has become a must, not a nice-to-have but I collected some of his advice that are still worth to consider.

He starts with the blue pill/red pill scene from the Matrix movie and says that

For a long, long time I think we’ve been living in a consensual hallucination of control on the web. (…) We’ve been trying to control the medium when it’s inherently chaotic and fluid. (…) We all are like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole at the moment.

He continues and says that Ethan Marcotte – the designer who coined the term Responsive Web Design (RWD) and defined it – was like Morpheus.

He gave us the red pill, we have swallowed it and now we’re freaking out a little bit about how do we do this? 

Let’s see how.

1. Restructure your team

(just don’t call it that way)

In a traditionally structured team designers, front-end team, back-end team, editors work separately. However, businesses can be more effective at adapting to responsive design if their teams are structured differently, in product teams (not discipline teams) and iterate quickly. Break the silos, get people sitting together, proximity will help you you learn heaps from each other. However, the word restructure probably makes the management freak out, so you’d better not say it just keep in mind that establishing a collaborative culture is essential.

2. All you need is a pen and pencil

Designing a project can be either done in code or Photoshop (or whatever software you prefer) but sometimes lo-fi sketches are the way to go. Why? Because you’ll get more honest feedback. Clients will think that you haven’t invested a lot of time and effort into it. (you may have invested just as much thought and work into a sketch as you do a Photoshop comp. but it’s def not as fancy)

3. Responsive design challenges content gives content a form

As a (future) content strategist you may ask “Why do I need all these stuff?” Because responsive design affects content, it gives content a form. You really need to understand what your content is made of, find all the small content pieces and stitch them together while being aware that metadata is that connects the pieces and makes them findable – good content with good metadata together can create great stories.

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