Role of User Experience in a Responsive Website Design

The mobile market is growing at an unprecedented rate to a point where digital marketers and web developers can no longer ignore the need for pursuing a responsive web design (RWD). But this isn’t just about squeezing a website and its contents onto mobile screens. More importantly, website owners, developers, and designers have to make a mobile-friendly experience that is appropriate for the target audience.

In this particular pursuit, the first step is usually choosing an approach that best suits user needs. To determine if a responsive design is best for a site, you have to sit down and identify their target audience’s primary goals in visiting a domain. Once you’re done brainstorming, you’d be surprised how seemingly opposing user groups can often have a huge overlap in what they aim to accomplish online.

But why bother learning the top objectives users have in mind while navigating to your website? That’s because user experience plays these crucial roles for your responsive web design’s success.

Create Usable Experience

Because a responsive design will often shuffle elements around a page, both the design and development phases have to ensure a usable experience across various devices. This is why the creation of a responsive design can be likened to solving a puzzle: how does one fit various elements on a desktop layout into smaller screens?

Although developers will naturally be tempted to just make every page element fit within various screen resolutions and sizes, the approach wouldn’t work if one doesn’t consider the user experience, which can be completely different from one view of the site to the next. 

Instead of just simply shuffling content around smaller screen sizes, development and design teams have to work together to make sure the page leads to the end result that users expect. In a way, the design phase will have to determine the kind of user experience to go for. Conducting usability testing across platforms will be critical in this step.

Focus on the Right Content

One of the key aspects of your website’s transition to a responsive design is content prioritisation. Keep in mind that more content is visible without scrolling on a desktop site than on its mobile counterpart. On a desktop monitor, it’s easy for users to instantly see what they’re seeking with a glance around the page. This isn’t the case for mobile users. 

With user experience in mind, you’d be able to smartly prioritise the content that users really want to see. You’d be able to minimise requiring mobile users to scroll endlessly just to discover the content that may be of interest to them.

Having the right pulse on the kind of content your user will want to consume means they get to accomplish their objective more efficiently and, therefore, results in a positive user experience.

Design for an Optimal Performance

For the most part, site performance is often an issue with a responsive design. RWD, after all, delivers the same code to all devices regardless of the code applies to that device or not. Any changes to the design will occur on the client-side and that means each device (e.g. tablet, PC, or smartphone) can receive the full code for all resolutions even if it only needs to load up the designated content.

Now imagine if a 4-inch smartphone receives the same code as a 24-inch desktop. In that case, there is a good chance that the code bogs down the performance of the mobile device, especially when it’s relying on a slower, spottier data connection. This scenario is among the reasons some webmasters turn to an adaptive design because the server host first detects the device making the request and delivers different batches of HTML code based on the kind of response it gets.

To truly assess the user experience offered by your newly published responsive website design, experts advise testing the design on a smartphone out in an actual, real-world setting. Bring a mobile device and try accessing your website in conference rooms, in between buildings, inside the basement, or remote areas with unstable Internet connectivity. This is one way to see how your site loads up in various conditions and mimic how users actually experience your mobile website on a daily basis.

Always remember that desktop users may not have to put up with intolerable page load speeds compared to smartphone users. Meaning, it’s easier to lose the latter’s interest in doing business with your brand.

Design With Budget in Mind

Making sure the website displays what it needs to show users isn’t all website developers have to think about in coming up with RWD. Because users could literally be paying to download your website’s mobile site, a good user experience will have to be considered a part of the equation early on.

At the end of the day, this is one way to show respect for your users’ data plans. Ensuring quick page load speeds can go a long way toward making them happy even if they don’t immediately realise your consideration of their needs.

Conclusion

While designing a responsive layout for your website, it’s easy to get caught up in technicalities that you’d be forgiven if you forget about who the site is actually being built for. However, always keeping user experience in mind allows designers and developers to make informed decisions and ensure the design lives up to everyone’s expectations of a great RWD.

Need a hand in coming up with a responsive layout? Digital Rescue team is always here and we’ll definitely help in coming up with a website design that is both responsive to various screen sizes as well as the needs of your target mobile users.

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