Designing for Many Devices – Responsive Design

DirectScot harnesses current and emerging trends in design for digital using flexible grids, flexible media and media queries to serve up the most appropriate experience. In short, DirectScot embraces the flexibility of responsive design, rather than seeing it as a hindrance.

We are currently in a period in which there has been a dramatic increase in the number of devices that websites are viewed on. Smartphone penetration continues to increase with more people predicted to access the internet via this method than PCs by 2013. At the same time we’ve witnessed huge growth in tablets, like the iPad and Kindle, presenting yet another range of screen sizes and capabilities for websites to deal with.

What is Responsive Design?
A design that can adapt to the constraints of the browser window or device that renders it, creating a design that almost responds to the user’s needs.
Ethan Marcotte

User interaction methods are also expanding meaning it’s no longer just about the pointer and keyboard. Touch, console controller, stylus and even voice are becoming increasingly important to consider.

The spectrum of screen sizes and resolutions is changing every day, and creating a different version of DirectScot that targets each individual device was deemed to be impractical. The challenge in developing the user experience for DirectScot, with responsive design in mind, was to ensure the best possible experience for the widest audience while future proofing it, as far as is achievable, for the changes in the digital landscape yet to come.

The time is right
Responsive design should help ensure that DirectScot is accessible and well presented to the widest audience, regardless of where and on what device they are accessing it from. As new and as yet unforeseen devices continue to enter the market, responsive design should help to ensure that DirectScot is future friendly.

Tell us what you think. You can comment on this blog by leaving feedback here. Please also contribute your views as part of the consultation on DirectScot.

The DirectScot Team

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2 thoughts on “Designing for Many Devices – Responsive Design

  1. Hello,
    It’s really nice to see the public service sector experimenting with this approach. This will be increasingly important going forward as I suspect more and more UK citizens will choose a “mobile-only or mostly” approach to accessing the Internet (either for cost reasons or simply the fact that these devices are now so versatile and enable far more independence than a laptop).

    The prototype is however (at the moment…and in relation to certain behaviours) a bit heavy and will be more usable to people on higher-end devices. Based on what we see out and about in Edinburgh (which i’m aware isn’t representative of all of Scotland…but only reinforces the fact that you may want to be pragmatic about performance) it would be wise to ensure support for lower-end Android devices and at least try to support older BlackBerry browsers. If you can achieve support for those BB, you will likely inherit support for early touch devices from Samsung which are also still quite visible in Scotland.

    Way-finding and access to navigation could also be improved–although kudos for using the table/caption hack to relocate the primary navigation (…we just happen to be stress-testing this approach at the moment and have found it’s even supported on older/legacy mobile browsers).

    Is there a way to contribute technical comments that relate to overall design and how the site is currently working on devices? The SurveyMonkey consultation topics don’t really enable this. Is there an alternate way to send this type of feedback?

    • Stephanie, thanks for your useful feedback. Interested to know more about your feeling that the prototype is ‘heavy’ in relation to behaviours. If you would like to provide more comments on the technology behind DirectScot you can do this at info@directscot.org or post your thoughts in the blog. There’ll be another post soon on the technology that underpins the prototype.

      We agree about the rise of mobile devices and the important implications for the delivery of government information and services. The prototype is really just a starting point and support for a greater number of devices would be the aim of a full version of DirectScot.

      Dave Hall
      DirectScot Team

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