Mlibs event – Building mobile-friendly sites with responsive design

This is part of a series of blog posts based on the sessions held at the Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event. More resources from the day are available at the event Lanyrd page.

Matt Machell (Capita) gave a presentation during the morning breakout sessions focused on building mobile-friendly sites with responsive design. The notes below have been contributed by Ben Showers who attended Matt’s session.

Matt Machell

Matt Machell

Matt made it clear that the aim of this session was for us to question our assumptions about what mobile means.

The session began with some group activities exploring the uses we put our phones to, and which are the main tools we utilise on our phones. The top uses for phones were:

  • Maps and travel apps (trains, buses)
  • Communication and social media (Email, IM, twitter, facebook)
  • Camera
  • Music (spotify, radio)

Matt’s exercise made it clear that our phones need to be reconceived as small computers rather than a phone; indeed, no one mentioned the making calls on their phone the whole session.

What is responsive design?

Once Matt had made us deconstruct our mobile phone usage, he outlined what he meant by responsive design.

Rather than building for different devices (tablet, phone, laptop etc), fragmenting content across different apps, responsive design allows you to produce a single website that scales according to the device that’s accessing it.

Responsive design provides a solution to the proliferation of different devices that’s also manageable. It means you don’t have to second guess the devices people will be using.  Its fluidity means it will adapt to any device that’s being used.

Matt did, however, make it clear that there would be compromises as content will be reconfigured and lost/formatted for the different resolutions. The nature of navigation on the site will change for different devices.

The key is that is fluid and flexible, and adapts to different devices.

Matt’s presentation is available on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/Shuckle/web-app-and-responsive-design-for-libraries

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