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We won’t speak for you, but we find ourselves easily swept along by the headlines today, headlines that tend to polarize rather than foster a thoughtful discussion. The latest rush to judgment involves responsive design, the design and construction of a website that allows it to adjust automatically to different screen sizes—desktop, tablet or mobile.
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Brand Thinking Blog
Posted on April 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm
We won’t speak for you, but we find ourselves easily swept along by the headlines today, headlines that tend to polarize rather than foster a thoughtful discussion. The latest rush to judgment involves responsive design, the design and construction of a website that allows it to adjust automatically to different screen sizes—desktop, tablet or mobile. Half the requests we get today mandate responsive design as if it were so obviously the right thing to do. But it ain’t necessarily so.
Responsive design is neither the right nor the wrong path, nor is it necessarily more or less expensive or easier to maintain. It is simply an option. Responsive design is device-independent, meaning that the user experience will be more or less optimized for whatever size device a user has in hand. Sounds great, but there are costs in both time and dollars associated with responsive design. You have to decide if it’s worth the cost.
From the site owner’s point of view, all you want, really, is a comfortable, streamlined user experience across platforms and ease of maintenance. Do you really need to legislate how this gets done? Why not talk about it?
Before we all board the Ark of Responsive Design, why not look first at all these factors?
Both intelligent web/dedicated mobile and responsive design can perform across platforms—desktop, tablet and smartphone. If you’re tethered to a mouse or trackpad, you want your cursor to move easily among the navigation items. If you pull out your iPad, you hope your fingers replace the mouse comfortably without being forced to enlarge the viewable page and, of course, you want the same easy experience on a smartphone. All of these experiences can be accomplished with planning either intelligent web/dedicated mobile design or responsive design.
Dedicated mobile-design applied style sheets, which hide some—and change other—elements of the desktop design to match the viewer’s environment. Responsive sites must be coded to have dynamic styles that can move and shift to display the site’s most important content prominently. Since a site’s most important content may change from one width to another, designs must reflect that content rank order accordingly. This will challenge the people tasked with entering their site’s content into a content management system, because they must be conscious of content on all the responsive widths.
Does responsive design compromise brand effectiveness? The short answer is no, but designing responsively requires more collaboration with clients, design and development teams.
Remember, the same user is a different user sitting down than when on the run. Responsive design places its emphasis on speed in the user experience. “Just get me to the church on time.” Streamline the journey. Pay attention to the difference between what users do on a desktop versus their behavior on a phone. Browsing is not the same verb as rushing. Mobile means “on the move.” A laptop requires you to be “sitting down.”
This means that promotional content, images and brand messages could be compromised with responsive design (if not properly understood and prioritized) in order to get from A to B, as they should on a smartphone. “Find that lawyer’s number” is different from “I’d like to learn more about that law firm.” Or accounting firm. Or consulting firm.
There’s a technical glitch, too, with responsive design. Most contemporary mobile and tablet browsers support CSS3 (which “powers” responsive design—but not all. Some sites would be better served with the normal desktop website.
More Alike Than Different In Cost, Effort and Impact
You never seem to read in the paeans to responsive design that the business case for responsive design isn’t terribly compelling. Responsive design:
- does not automatically result in savings in time,
- requires the same sacrifices to the screen as normal development; in other words, menus become collapsed, animation is compressed, sidebars are eliminated and everything scrolls up and down on a smartphone no matter how it is developed, and
- does not automatically result in cost savings.
More Different Than Alike In Cost, Effort and Impact in the Long Run
A website is not a one-time investment. You can’t launch it and forget it. When you wish to redesign your website (in three years), you will be required to rebuild your entire site if you have chosen to build your site responsively, but not so if you have separated the desktop and mobile build. You could make a more considered decision, deferring one or the other.
The Role of Analytics in the Decision
Smart marketers track the point of entry to their website to determine whether a platform-specific app would be right for their client base. If analytics show less than 5% of your site’s traffic arrives via mobile or tablet, there is very little need to invest in a responsively-designed website. When smartphone usage dominates your traffic, design responsively to create a brilliant mobile site.
If your site is a hub for large downloadable documents, cell phone users will be unhappy and thus more likely to use their laptop to grab the doc. If your site is primarily a directory, then the desktop can play second fiddle to the smartphone. In other words, rather than just jump on the responsive design bandwagon, evaluate your users and your site.
Responsive design is an option, not a religion. Get off the train and stretch your legs. Refer to our last article on tablet design to inform your thinking. Keep an open mind. Chill.
Posted on April 26, 2013 at 10:53 am
Keeping in touch is no longer a challenge in our increasingly connected world. Sometimes it is overwhelming how connected we are, and then enters a cool app that improves that connectedness. Viber lets you make free calls and send free text and photo messaging to other Viber users on any device, network and in any country. This free app requires no activation and as soon as you download it, you create a username and password and go through the quick and easy registration process.
Viber syncs the contacts in your mobile phone address book, so there is no need to invite or add anyone, and will show you which of your contacts also have accounts with Viber. Viber uses 3G or Wifi and text and photo messaging are completely free. Invite a group of up to 15 people to share messages. This feature is perfect when traveling with friends or attending a large conference.
The user-friendly interface is similar to a smartphone so making calls and sending messages is hassle-free. It even has a speech to text feature for more convenient messaging.
Posted on April 25, 2013 at 1:20 pm
For better or worse, brand communications—from building awareness at the treetops via advertising, PR and websites all the way to your direct sales efforts through events, pitches and proposals—are rooted in technology. The irony is that the promise of technology—more marketing efficiencies and effectiveness—often makes for more complexity, not less. It has never been easy to get different software to grow in the same backyard, but the rapid evolution of marketing technologies makes your back sore just thinking about it. This past fall, we set out to chart and explain the marketing ecosystem, so that our clients can make decisions to grow on.
An article summarizing the finding and advice was recently published in Consulting Magazine.
Posted on April 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm
The store changed owners before the first customers even reached the register. Or at least that is how it seems in the purchase of Mailbox, by Dropbox. (Note: Dropbox actually purchased Mailbox’s parent company, Orchestra.)
Mailbox is an email organization application designed for mobile Gmail integration; it is a new spin on sorting your email. The hype surrounding Mailbox has been strong since its launch, and only seemed to increase as Mailbox staggered its growth by forcing its new users into a waiting queue. It appears that thousands of worldly users are excited about the opportunity to use Mailbox to help in achieving “Inbox Zero”, which sounds like a new form of enlightenment for the tech-masses.
But the Mailbox application not only caught the eye of consumers. Dropbox made the surprising purchase of this non-file-sharing related technology. Regardless of the reasons why Dropbox decided to purchase the Mailbox team, this purchase may be painting a picture of an important turn in web technologies.
The reimagining of the user interface.
The foundation has been laid for functionality. You have email, music, documents, pictures, messages, chats, hashtags, cat videos, notes and opinions all being synchronized between your mobile phone, work computer, couch tablet, kitchen laptop and your car’s stereo. With those tracks firmly laid by Google, Twitter, Evernote, Dropbox, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, we see that the next logic room to grow is that of the user interface (UI) or user experience (UX) market.
The pioneers of alternative UI’s seem to be casualities of the products they were built on (**cough**Twitter clients**cough**), but this does not mean the wave of new UI’s is crashing. Instead, we are slowly watching the trend go from how fast your phone’s processor is to how you can better interact with your data. And Mailbox is a perfect example of how users want something new to help sift through this growing list of posts, invites and updates.
The next few years will likely bring not only clever applications for interacting with data, but new and innovative ways to interact with technology. It might be wearing your camera, seeing calls on your wrist or even talking to your TV, but the next wave is rising.
Hope we are all ready to ride it.
Posted on April 19, 2013 at 10:41 am
Google Currents is a newsreader app that delivers beautiful magazine-like editions to your tablet and smartphone for high speed, offline reading. Owned by its namesake, Google, it’s a reading experience that should not be missed.
Publishers like Forbes, The Guardian, TechCrunch, PBS and many more, produce editions for the app that include full-length articles, videos and slideshows. Google Currents brings you news in various categories, ranging from sports to science, and will allow you to turn your favorite blog feeds into a digital magazine. The new fast scan navigation system lets you quickly swipe vertically to view unread stories within an edition. Swipe horizontally to move to the next edition. Google Currents uses Google’s search technology to find the hottest breaking news on the web.
If you’re busy, Google Currents allows you to save a story for later. All you have to do is star the article and it saves it to your personal collection. Each edition is available for offline reading and provides quick-touch sharing. Another noteworthy feature is the responsive design, which makes it adaptable to different screen sizes for phones and tablets. Because the app syncs across all devices, you can start reading on your tablet and finish on your smartphone.
Creative imagery is an excellent way to engage viewers and tell a story. Could you use some help redesigning your website with new images? Or updating your text-heavy brochures? For your legal marketing solutions, contact us here.
Posted on April 17, 2013 at 11:10 am
Greenfield/Belser’s clients did well in this year’s LMA Regional and Annual Your Honor Awards!
Choate Hall & Stewart took first place at the LMA New England Chapter Your Honor Awards for both large law firm website and exhibit design. It was also revealed this past Tuesday, at the LMA National Conference, that Choate had won first place at LMA’s National Your Honor Awards for their website as well as receiving an honorable mention for their exhibit design. Also shining at both award ceremonies was Gesmer Updegrove, who won first place for law firm advertising and took third overall at the LMA National Your Honor Awards.
Other LMA Regional Your Honor Awards winners include Bodman and Archer Norris who took top honors in both of their regions for best promotional and collateral materials at the LMA Midwest and Bay Area Chapters.
You can only do great work for great clients. Check out our capabilities page to see how Greenfield/Belser can create award-winning work for your firm!
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