The Long and Short of Responsive Design

This is a guest post from Corey Eastman of design and development whizz kids, Climax Media, the enterprise web architect agency who help both large enterprises and funded startups innovate through connected web platforms. When conjuring up ideas for our Creative month here on the blog, we couldn’t think of a better bunch to rope in than these guys, the experts behind a whole slew of great blue papers.

Read on for the low-down on changes in responsive design and what these mean for your business.

While design can be hard to quantify as an investment, responsive web design has literally paid off for some companies. For example, when Walmart Canada implemented a responsive web design to their website, they increased conversions by 20% and mobile orders by a whopping 98%.

Similarly, according to Mobile Marketer, Kia uses their responsive websites to communicate with consumers on mobile and tablet devices through their content marketing. These responsive websites also serve as the foundation of in-dealership experiences. Kia’s David Schoonover touches on an interesting point about how content must also be designed to be responsive – because users on their mobile phones will likely be reading for shorter amounts of time than desktop or tablet users, content must also be shortened in order for responsive web design to be at its most effective.

The Future of Responsive Design

In addition to desktop, mobile, and tablet, there are two other aspects to responsive web design: TV and the Internet of Things.

Everything is Connected_crop.jpg

Connected TV is the technical term for any television connected to the internet. TVs are unusual to design for because of the differences in user postures, input capabilities, display properties, and navigation styles (which are practically opposite to computers or phones). Users typically lean back when they’re watching the TV and use a remote control to move around the user interface. The direct antithesis of mobile devices, the image is high resolution and extremely far away on connected TVs. (For more information, see Bill Scott’s Designing for Mice and Men.)

Media companies have already conceived of new ways to connect with consumers through TV. For example, remember how Disney used to send free VHS or DVDs to anyone interested in Disneyland? Disney lets users browse through vacation offerings through its new TV app.

Retailer Marks & Spencer recently launched a lifestyle app for TV. Brands, much like networks, don’t have to create their own content. They can easily be curators for programming.

Connected TV is on the rise and will be extremely popular in the future. Designing for it requires large fonts and large images (because the user is so far away); it also means you should keep in mind that the user will be navigating with a remote control. However, it’s still the smaller aspect of an even larger trend: the Internet of Things.


The Internet of Things is the name of this movement where devices all connect to each other. As Gartner defines it:

“The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.”

GigaOM predicts that there will be 24 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things by 2020.

The most tangible example in today’s world is wearable technology. Technology is moving towards broader contextual awareness made possible by more sensors in devices (such as the iPhone 5S’s M7 motion co-processor). The future includes technology like Google’s Project Tango, a device that can create a 3D image of the environment it is in. This opens up doors for more situational contexts, which means more tailored content and engagement. For example, car companies can know when a user sits in a car and display relevant image to connect through their branded service.

Closing Thoughts

As your customers all start to use a wider variety of devices and move through these various channels, they’ll stop engaging with you if you don’t move with them. This is why responsive design is crucial for brands and companies connecting with prospective and current customers. As the pace of technology increases, responsive design will be one of the prevalent solutions that many media companies and brands will find essential to connecting with their audiences.

Get stuck into Climax Media's full report on responsive design over here and for more creative tips, stay tuned for further content from our team all this month on the blog.

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