As companies increasingly use their websites to reach audiences wherever they are -- whether on a laptop or a smartphone, whether they are shopping for products or leaving comments in a forum -- their websites need to become more adaptive to mobile environments.
In the early days of digital publishing, companies built templates to fit different user scenarios such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. But increasingly, the template approach doesn't scale, said Geoff Bock, a Web content management expert and contributor to SearchContentManagement. It quickly becomes inefficient and unmanageable.
The answer to the scalability problem has been to use responsive design, which enables companies to create one Web design that adjusts automatically to fit a variety of form factors. So, when a user browses a website from a mobile phone or a phablet, responsive design is smart enough to adjust accordingly. So, from the user's perspective, responsively designed sites are user-aware.
From the Web designer's perspective, this mobile-first approach is more efficient. When a designer makes changes to a headline or text, the change populates in all versions of the site, so changes are once and done.
"Most of us, when we started developing [Web content management] WCM, we were thinking about a full-screen Web browser, and that was the extent of our design expertise," said Bock. "Now, along comes mobile device revolution, and suddenly publishing Web content, you're no longer publishing to a full-screen Web browser but to a series of mobile devices: an iPhone, an iPad or a phablet of some sort. Different screens have different resolutions and different screen sizes. The idea that you have a different template for a different screen size just doesn't scale. The current solution is responsive design," Bock said.
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