Let responsive design “ruin” your business

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In our course “Accessibility & Multi-Screen Design” I had the task to watch the talk “Adapting to Responsive Design” by Mark Boulton at Fronteers 2012.

You can watch it here (highly recommended!):

I must admit that I do think the topic is a bit outdated (I mean the talk is back from 2012). I feel like businesses have meanwhile understood that there is no way around a responsive website. Nowadays, even small local companies know the value of a responsive web presence. Even though in many cases the websites are still not done perfectly (images and text are misaligned, content is missing on the mobile version, links are not clickable and let’s not even start with accessibility) things are looking up.

That aside, responsive design has done something amazing. It ruined a very obsolete business model. In the following I’m just going to point out what stuck with me from the talk. I used a very misleading headline to catch your attention. But it is all about the positive change a business goes through when they open up to true responsive design.

Here are Mark Boulton’s key takeaways:

Collaborate more

In traditional corporations projects are organized in teams. The designers work together. Developers work on their own but kinda together. Marketing team keeps to themselves. No one really communicates with each other. However, businesses can be more effective at adapting to responsive design when their teams are structured differently. Instead of separating every team, establish a collaborative culture. Let creativity flourish within the various teams.

Turn off the waterfall

Design needs constant iteration. It doesn’t work like an assembly line. It doesn’t always go into one direction, ticking off one task after the other. If something doesn’t make sense, let the designer know and rethink it. It can be an infinite loop (we want to avoid that though, perfection doesn’t exist and at some point you need a product). Today, in 2018, we’ve come quite far. Agile is the new trend. It increases flexibility and minimizes risks. Many companies have already changed their process to this model.

Low-fidelity sketches and prototyping

This goes hand in hand with the previous takeaway. High fidelity designs cost money, because changes are harder to make and they take more time. So click on the “x” in Sketch or Photoshop more often, take pen and paper and sketch away. Then go out to the world (or just down the hall to your colleagues or boss) and show everyone your masterpiece. You’ll receive quick and cheap feedback. And I have to add in this saying by Mark Boulton:

They’re less likely to tell you it’s crap if it’s shiny and you look like you spent a week on it because that week represents their budget represents their money. – Mark Boulton

Focus on content and structure

You can’t have a website without content. It would be literally be a blank page. However, it is not about the process “content first”. It is a bit more complicated than that. Most importantly it’s about really grasping what your business, your product or service is about and what it is made of. With responsive design, we give content form. However, before giving it form we need to dig deep and find all the small content pieces and stitch them together to a bigger story while not neglecting metadata which connects the pieces and makes them findable.

I’d like to end this post with this nice little saying to highlight the importance of well-thought through content. I mean how can I not, I’m an aspiring content strategist 😉

“Without content, there’s no work for us.” – Mark Boulton


Further awesomeness for your eyes or ears:

Responsive design explained by W3C

Talk about „Adaptive Content“ by Karen McGrane

Adaptive content by Karen McGrane

A feel good talk by my fellow co-student Stephanie Bauer


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