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User Behavior Needs to Determine Website Design

February 10, 2014 By Jocelyn Bull
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If you’re considering a new website any time soon, chances are you’re grappling with the issue of responsive Web design. It’s a hot topic, and can seem pretty complicated. Here are some important tips to consider.

Responsive design is an approach to creating websites that provides an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to laptops and desktop computer monitors, providing easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling.

Pros and Cons
On the plus side of responsive design:

• It can make tracking your customer’s journey across different platforms easier.
• It can ensure greater parity of content. Once you’ve updated content in one place, it’s the same everywhere—which, for many brands, is a fantastic advantage.
• It forces you to concentrate on mobile first, meaning you really define what the core content for your site is. Focusing on that means you usually end up with a better desktop site because only the really relevant, really great stuff is left in. If it’s not good enough for the mobile site, why is it good enough for the desktop?

On the other hand:
• Responsive design is not a standard yet, and there are lots of unknown elements at the moment, making it tricky to troubleshoot problems;
• It requires designers and brands to rethink how they approach Web design.
• The initial setup costs can be more expensive, although the long-term costs should be lower.

When done properly, responsive design ensures the user experience remains enjoyable by rearranging content to establish the correct hierarchy of information. User experience and user interface design play a big role in making sure they can clearly see what’s important and what’s not, and understand where they are in the online journey.

Behavior Over Platform
We generally prefer the term “behavioral design,” as the crux of the issue isn’t really screen size, but customer behavior. The starting point for a Web design strategy should always be the customer. Instead of focusing on which devices people are using, it’s more important to understand their behavior at different parts of the customer journey and, therefore, what you need to do to meet their needs at those different points.

 

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