The Client Role in Responsive Design

The Client Role in Responsive Design


The Client Role in Responsive Design

09.11.2012


In our previous blog we discussed Responsive Design and how it should be integrated across various platforms. However, responsive design is not merely the work of the website designer, but the work of every member of the website design and development team. As responsive design becomes more and more important in a world of smartphones and tablets, more importance must be given to the client and his participation within the web project.

A typical website project begins with extensive planning, meetings, requirements and then initial designs and sketches. The process then moves into design and this is the stage at which the client should become more actively involved, visualising the website design at all stages whether in the form of static visuals or responsive templates. 

Client participation at this stage is crucial as now the client can understand exactly how the website will look and feel, not only on a desktop or laptop, but on a variety of other platforms too, whether they are using an Andriod, iPhone or iPad. Here, design and device testing is imperative for understanding exactly how well a design works on each device, in terms of its user experience, responsiveness, and its general look and feel. 

Whilst static visuals are excellent methods of demonstrating the overall look and feel of a website design to the client, there are many key factors that a static visual cannot replicate, including web fonts and rendering, various CSS capabilities between different (and older) web browsers, animations and other visual effects. Static visuals, however well explained and however detailed can lead to wrong impressions being created in the eyes of the client. The client expects in his live website an exact replica of what he has seen in the visuals, but due to the above mentioned factors and countless others, this is not always the case.

The key to promoting healthy client participation in responsive design is all about structure, procedure and feedback. Simply sending static visuals to your client via email is insufficient; the client is likely to offer a myriad of unstructured feedback, simply because he was not told how to receive the design.

Ask specific questions instead of asking for general thoughts. As a website designer, you know best what works and what doesn’t in terms of responsive design and user experience, so make these thoughts clear to the client. Offer advice, suggestions and ultimatums.

Responsible design requires rethinking the way in which we work and the way in which we interact with our clients.  Use meetings, feedback sessions and other interactions as a method of getting to know your clients on a more personal level. The better you know your client, the more a project can be fine-tuned in order to meet his specific business requirements.  

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