Conceptually, Responsive Web design is a paradigm shift that has brought the user and the user experience (UX) under primary focus. The methodology aims at streamlining the design and development of websites such that they react fluidly towards the user’s environment that includes the platform, screen size, and orientation of the user’s device.
However, as many legacy websites, infamous for their rigid UI, continue to get converted into responsive, the number of issues about their performance has been glaring. These problems are compelling enough to make them almost ineffective on any platform other than the latest generation of mobile devices.
The scenario is detrimental to the very essence of responsiveness, which intends to make the websites available to a wider audience. Discussed below are some of the suggestions that revisit the notion of being Responsive.
Conceiving websites or portals, which incorporate a range of latest advanced features, is necessary to keep up with the innovations in design technology. However, if the new features do not function on the basic models, which form the majority of phones being used even today, then you are simply disqualifying those mobile users from using your site.
Hence, it’s also necessary to offer the users a low-end version of the website that can work well on their feature phone. For instance, Gmail has a basic HTML version that is a lifesaver when your net speed isn’t very high or when you’re trying to check your emails on a phone that has only basic features.
Thus, by offering a version of your site that is compatible with elementary devices, you can make it truly responsive in both accessibility and functionality.
Designers should always focus on the core responsive philosophy of maximizing the reach of a website or a web application across the array of devices, which can be achieved by optimization of usability. The process incorporates smart design adjustments to deliver better the users by pruning the information that needs to be displayed.
In a nutshell, a website’s desktop instance can be allowed to display rich components through optimal spacing. However, the same site’s basic mobile instance would require the information to be condensed considerably without losing the aesthetics.
To achieve this, designers would have to give precedence to the most vital information as well as minimizing the number of processor-heavy elements. For example, a news article on a mobile could only display the headline, publisher’s info, and the timestamp, whereas, on a desktop, it can include a summary into the thumbnail.
Again, designers should realize that when it comes to resolution, only the latest generation of smartphones has the resolution and the processing capabilities for advanced web components and the screen-size is still a constraint as compared to the desktop. Hence, it is important to choose the relevant size and clarity of fonts and images as per the dimensions of the screens.
The quality of an image can be kept intact while reducing the size of the file by eliminating the dispensable data that usually gets added to it. Minification is the process that trims the unwanted data such as the time, data, spaces or characters in the code, software version, etc. while retaining only the data that creates the image.
In addition to Minification, the size of the image can also be reduced by a tiny amount, with a minor impact on the quality. Though the image might not be quite sharp, the time taken by it to load can be reduced drastically. One of the methods to achieve this is to save a 1600 x 1200 image at 20-quality compression instead of 800 x 600 at 90 and allow the browser to take care of the resizing.
- Creating a website with innovative features that only function on the latest generation of smartphone does not sit well with the core responsive philosophy.
- While it’s not required to ensure all the new features work on low-level devices, the website should be able to display at least the vital information and let those users be able to get what they want, without sending their devices crashing.