Creating a design that works well on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices is often seen as a daunting and intimidating exercise. Clients worry that there will be an overwhelming number of decisions to make, and they often become confused or sidetracked by pre-conceived notions about what “responsive” and “adaptive” design means.
At Akendi, we’ve figured out a simple approach that works well for our clients: we design for the user’s device.
Instead of discussing the differences between (or the merits of) an adaptive versus a responsive design, we focus on “designing for device.” This means that we work to determine the specific device(s) the end user will use, and design the product accordingly through strategy, research, design, and then coding. This means uncovering user requirements then creating a design that meets those requirements and only after that has been resolved, building it in a way that is appropriate.
We understand that discussing pros and cons may be important further down the road. But we also know that nothing is black and white. Ultimately when designing for device, we end up with an end solution that acts as a hybrid, utilizing the best points of responsive and adaptive based on user needs and the business requirements that support them.
Our approach has two main advantages:
Our approach puts people, not technology first. We start by talking to users and stakeholders to understand what the end user will be doing with the product, website, or app. Understanding which tasks will be performed on which devices is key. We prioritize their key tasks by device, and develop wireframes to test our assumptions. Only once those wireframes are tested with actual users do we actually begin to create the visual approach to the design.
During this process, we consider three important viewpoints: the interaction design, the visual design, and the technical development.
While the design-for-device approach avoids unnecessary discussions around responsive vs. adaptive, there are still technical decisions to be made. These include:
Here is an example of a desktop grid:
And here is a tablet grid:
And finally a mobile grid:
When you understand your users and the devices they will use, you can create an experience tailored to their specific requirements. You don’t need an interface that accommodates hundreds of variables, and, with proper testing, you won’t have to worry about any “unknowns” you might have missed.
Akendi is a product strategy, user experience design and usability research firm. We are passionate about the creation of intentional experiences – whether those involve digital products, physical products, mobile, service or bricks-and-mortar interactions. We work shoulder-to-shoulder to optimize the experiences you deliver. Akendi Corporate Overview (PDF).
Experience Thinking innovation firm in Product UX Strategy, User Experience Design & Usability Testing for Companies: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Canada.
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