Currently Viewing Posts Tagged mobile development

Fundamentals of Responsive Website Design

As you probably know, Responsive Web Design (RWD) delivers one website, with one code base, to a multitude of devices from laptops to tablets to mobile phones. At Flightpath, we get so many questions from clients and potential clients about responsive website design these days that we thought it would be a good idea to briefly summarize some fundamentals and best practices.

 

Responsive Web Design Benefits

 

  • Better user experience by supporting a wide range of devices, particularly mobile
  • Better Google search engine ranking – With Google’s recent mobile-friendly algorithm update, websites that are responsive have a higher likelihood of ranking higher than desktop-only
  • Easier and cheaper site management compared to maintaining separate desktop and mobile websites

 

Responsive Web Design Conventions

 

  • RWD utilizes flexible images and media atop fluid grids that ebb and flow with a devices’ screen size
  • Major “breakpoints” are established to allow a design to adapt and optimize better to certain screen widths. Typical breakpoints are as follows:

 Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 11.02.23 AM

 

Responsive Web Design Creative and Production Considerations

 

  • A non-responsive site cannot be simply “converted” to a responsive site.
  • The code framework is entirely different
  • Non-responsive website design elements will likely not work well on small screens
  • To start, website content and design should be developed with smaller mobile screens in mind – where the focus is only on core content and functionality.
  • While one of the hallmarks of RWD is to provide the same content to all devices, it is not only permissible but recommended to optimize some site attributes for different device sizes. (Example: Use show/hide button to limit the amount of content that shows at one time on small mobile screen.)

 

Responsive Web Design and Google Rankings

 

Google has updated its algorithm to prioritize search results per a variety of criteria associated with mobile usability and responsive design. These include:

 

  • Font sizes
  • Touch/tap element size & relative proximity
  • Pop-up/interstitial usage
  • Viewport configuration
  • Flash usage

These factors should be borne in mind to ensure optimal search engine visibility for your responsive site. You can learn more about this via this blog from Google.

Life Is In Your Hands: Truer Words (and Video!) Were Never Spoken!

Mobile subscriptions will pass the world population by 2012 and if that’s not enough to get your attention about the state of mobility, according to Google, 75% of customers prefer a mobile friendly site!

Mobile subscriptions will pass the world population by 2012 and if that’s not enough to get your attention about the state of mobility, according to Google, 75% of customers prefer a mobile friendly site!

So, while many people, even in these economic times are living large, many more are living small…even mini when it comes to living life on the web, on apps or just on their own terms.  Cause when it comes to playing with some Angry Birds or not playing around at retail, life couldn’t more in your hands!

We have enjoyed being party to this explosion through many clients, in several categories from animal health to packaged goods to cable television- all who bought in early to the new world order of “anytime, anywhere” engagement.

The Flightpath video crew distilled this incredibly vibrant and prolific world of mobile life today in a fast paced, visually cool 40 second video.

Some trends you have to hunt demographically or consumption wise to really validate, not with mobile. In fact, “ubiquity” is maybe the only word that truly defines its growth. According to ComScore, in 2011 smartphone adoption increased 99% among 6-person households, 98% among those making less than $25,000, and 92% among retirees and there were more than 400 smartphone devices on the market.

What is also very exciting about the mobile world of today, let alone tomorrow, is the evolution in user expectation.  Clearly, there is nothing second tier, nothing about “dialing back” the experience from the desktop when on a mobile device- 58% of mobile users expect mobile sites to load as quickly as or faster than desktop sites.  And, in the same Google study, they found 38% of mobile users are willing to wait 30 seconds or less for a transaction. Giddy yap!

Lastly, there is so much data, as you know, on platform adoption, usage patterns and other performance indicators that we could be here all day. So let me leave you with some Pew Internet Project stats and a handy user reference chart as a frame of reference of all that is migrating in your hands!

As of January 2013:

  • 26% of American adults own an e-reader
  • 31% of American adults own a tablet computer

As of December 2012:

  • 87% of American adults have a cell phone
  • 45% of American adults have a smartphone

how cells

Sources:

SnapHop 2012 Mobile Stats

Pew Internet Project

 

iPhone App Upgrades and Evolving Perspectives

Does the world need really another app?  That’s like saying does the world need another year of new car models.  Hybrids and electric models, yes. All those others, probably not. And if it were left solely up to me, we may still be living in caves, drawing wooly mammoth silhouettes on rock walls and commuting with our v1.0 legs and feet.  It’s not that I’m anti-progress, it’s just that I fall on the necessary side of purposeful innovation.  But new functions and features keep the game exciting and interesting.  And “purpose” can really be as simple as improved design that connects people on a deeper emotional level. These ideas give me a new frame of reference, and this week’s work of brainstorming and planning an upgraded iPhone app has forced me to rapidly evolve my perspective.

The learning curve has been more of a slippery spiral, and what I bring to the table is insight into customer feedback, particularly how the consumers feel about the current application. Valuable, yes. Technologically relevant, not so much. I’ve spent the majority of meetings jotting down tech-jargon to look up on my own, so as not to slow progress. In between, I’ve tried to address my knowledge gap with various industry articles, including the especially helpful App Development 101 for Marketers. But I get hung up on all those little moving parts, features and functions, and the endless possibilities for the end product. It takes all I have to repress a childlike curiosity that wants to stop and ask—can we make it spin and sparkle, too?

Integration adds another level of complexity, too, because you can’t just develop an iPhone app. That’s boring and totally misses the point. Consumers  are highly evolved and now expect constant engagement. Everything needs to be connected: desktop site, social media, and other mobile sites and apps.  Keep everything cyclical, allow for seamless integration, and you have something consumers will actually use and enjoy. Segment your offerings and risk looking like a digital throwback.

A clear blue horizon appears when the big decisions are made.  Once the foundational requirements are set for functionality and integration, possibilities narrow, and logic shines down to illuminate a path through second and third-tier requirements.  With this release and relief comes loss, and you have to say goodbye to some of the spin and sparkle—farewell to the geo-targeted pet-dating feature that syncs with Facebook. Soon, you have a plan for fully formed upgrade that’s shiny, new, and ready to be pitched.  I’ll admit that most of the technology is still magical to me, but I know where I contributed and how/why that shaped the features proposed for the upgrade.

This type of work is challenging and exciting. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you learn so much about the problems your colleagues are trying to solve and how your work fits into the big picture. You also walk away with a better understanding of the medium, and in my case, an evolved outlook on purpose within the development cycle.  Having a better grasp of the possibilities and limitations proves to be immensely valuable when writing for apps and the mobile web.