As the internet is changing, with responsive web design quickly adapting to device and screen size, the focus is on offering users the most dynamic online experience possible. Top brands like Salesforce, Expedia. Sony and Microsoft are making the switch to responsive sites to reach a wider audience of customers. Making a responsive site work for your business, however, has its challenges. The value provided by the site should be sizeable, with aesthetics, functionality and performance up to the mark. But responsive design can only work if you are aware of how to counter the issues. So, let’s delve deeper into what challenges are facing responsive sites in 2019 and how to overcome these.
#1 Problematic Visual Stage
Earlier, clients had to approve screenshots and static images before development could commence. Now, the design process is fluid. Sketching and prototyping predominate and the focus is on designing elements. Further, elements are rearranged, depending on different resolutions and device dimensions. For meeting the requirements and adjusting design layouts and how they will re-flow on different screen sizes, adapting website pages for different screen sizes and dimensions is essential.
Designing in the browser and working with prototypes that are HTML and CSS from the onset helps in creating a system of components and assessing how these are reassembled for different configurations. Wireframes don’t even have to be designed for every page or state. Chosen methods applied for designing depend on website complexity.
#2 Obstacles in Navigation
Prior to the emergence of responsive web design, users knew how to navigate easily. But with responsive sites, even navigation buttons don’t make it easy for users to navigate beyond the menu, especially in the context of websites with complicated structures. The whole concept of navigation, therefore, has to be reconsidered.
Web designers working on responsive sites need to focus on making navigation self-explanatory and intuitive. Studying the site’s information architecture and content and understanding how and why users browse the site is the key to this. Testing navigation on different products can help developers to craft the perfect responsive site.
#3 Applying Images and Icons
Images are critical to web user experience. In responsive websites, however, the designer has to take it to a whole new level. Icons and images have to be flexible to permit users to enjoy graphics on high-pixel density devices. These are becoming more widespread. So, now, designers have to ensure images are scaled up without compromising on quality. There’s a fix for this as well. Lazy-loading graphics can lead to browser rendering optimisation and cut down on HTTP round-trips by delaying the loading of images not directly in the view of users. Scalable icons using SVG format is the key to retaining quality and not losing out on light and retina ready images.
#4 Displaying Data on Different Screens
Displaying data table such as flight schedules or event dates and venues on small screens can be really hard when tables are complicated. Dealing with a large number of rows and columns can also be cumbersome. So, what’s the way out? One way can be to use responsive tables.
Other solutions include abandoning grid layouts, creating smaller tables that don’t require horizontal screening or building compact bar diagrams or pie charts out of tables. But of course, other methods also work such as replacing tables with links that offer a preview of full versions, hiding disposable elements with a drop down menu. Use of colour can also be effective, through rainbow tables that use hues instead of columns. Changing the alignment of the table to the side can also make it fit well.
#5 Crafting the Perfect User Experience
A big challenge is finding the right balance. Rich user experience is vital. So is a quick loading site, given the fast-paced nature of the internet. Responsive websites have a lot of features as they attract traffic from mobile devices and desktops along with other smart devices. If the plugins or widgets are simply too many, the site can face a problem in loading fast. This means you will lose out on business, as research from Google shows that most of the mobile users leave after 3-5 seconds of not getting what they expect.
So, what is the way out? Responsive web design experts suggest conditional loading for content-heavy, feature-rich sites. This allows for the loading of only that content which users need, when they require it. First, the key is loading content and this is followed by enhancements and left overs. A website with a mobile-friendly responsive design that comes with a lot of images, galleries, documents and downloads needs to be monitored. Key elements that only convey the message of the website are essential. On account of mobile devices overshooting desktop usage, conditional loading is the only way to go. The use of automation tools for scaling and caching images are important. Making future changes to the site is also easier.
#6 Complex Testing
As responsive websites have to work well on different kinds of devices, without compromising on functionality or site quality, testing is a must. But this also means the testing procedure takes a long time to design, develop and test. It takes twice as long to design responsive as against regular sites on an average. This is a problem most developers face. But the plus point is that responsive sites take longer to create and are better candidates for natural evolution and gradual change. Rather than implementing major website overhauls that are lengthy and costly, responsive website designers can take a step-wise approach, saving critical time, money and effort.
#7 Deploying Content-Heavy Sites
Responsive web design with complicated user interface elements, multi-step forms, advanced search features, data tables, calculators, 3rd party script dashboards and so on create a problem because too much information is present. The earlier approach generally focused on how to hide or remove content from users, but many users may be looking for all of the content. So what is the way around this? Planning from the start as to which content is arranged could be effective.
The goal should be to optimise content removing unnecessary elements from drafts and focusing on the core structure of the site, sans any bells and whistles. The aim should be to prioritise important content rather than embellishing and also offer users the chance to access full versions of the website, if they need to.