Responsive Web Design: Mobile First, User Second?
The main principle of responsive web design is Mobile First, which many designers interpret as developing a website based on the screen resolution and mobile platform it will appear in before considering how users will interact with the website. At first glance, it seems mobile web design may have pushed down the importance of developing a website for human visitors. In fact, app developers have pointed out that mobile applications offer a better user experience than RWD.
Yet, the homepage for Skeleton has beautifully shown its visitors how a responsive website actually works. You may visit the site now or do it after reading this post, but keep in mind the following reasons why responsive web design actually creates websites for humans:
Reading an article through a mobile phone can be a pain, especially when the font shrinks down from a normal 14 px to a mere 2 px in size. However, a responsive design doesn’t only resize the typography according to the screen resolution of the user’s device.
It also responsibly puts the user’s comfort at the forefront by making sure the text is readable. So, a web designer must choose the right background color that contrasts well with the text and use the right font, such as San Serif, that remains distinct even when it’s smaller than 12 pixels in size.
Another aspect of responsive web design is the selection of digital content to display. Websites aren’t completely shown in mobile devices. Instead of keeping the sidebar, header image, footer area, and social media icons intact, the webpage retains only the headline and body of the article, its featured image or video, and the navigation links. Actually, the cleverer web designs have directed mobile users to another set of content that’s different from what online users see.
For example, web users may see a gallery of photos documenting a traveler’s visit to a certain country, but mobile users are presented with a video where the traveler described the places he’d been to and the exotic foods he’d eaten.
Following a minimalist concept in web design, the responsive webpage appears clean and orderly to mobile users. Rather than make users scroll down, designers break down long blocks of text into pages and take advantage of touchscreen gestures, such as sliding or zooming, to add an interactive layer to digital content.
Colors must be muted because mobile screens have brighter backgrounds than a computer monitor. For instance, a black text against a screen with a slightly gray or tan tint won’t tire the eyes easily compared to a purely white area.
In addition, designing websites for different mobile platforms also means giving users the chance to explore the available content without installing an app. Some devices may have limited data storage and apps with a classier user interface certainly occupy more space. With responsive web design, the website appears in a browser the same way it does on a mobile screen.