One of the biggest takeaways from our inspiring visit to An Event Apart in Chicago last week is the acknowledgement that online content is a big challenge not only for writers and strategists, but for designers as well. Of course, there are a number of ways to tackle this challenge—throughout our three days of sessions, passionate rallying revolved around putting two core components first: content and mobile.
So how exactly do putting these components first help us solve the design challenge of creating for the web? Read on, and discover new ways to approach your projects.
Content First: In creating tools and products for the interactive landscape, we are continually faced with designing, writing and strategizing for a never-ending plethora of screen sizes, browser capabilities and bandwidth variability. Gone are the days of fixed-width design and making sure a layout looks the same on every device.
The philosophy of content first challenges us to understand how users expect to experience our content. If we start here, we can begin crafting user-centric experiences that keep audiences coming back. For designers, this means partnering with content strategists, writers and developers very early on in a project, and approaching projects “from the content out,” rather than creating layouts “from a canvas in,” an idea coined by Mark Boulton. In short, it means more collaboration earlier on in our projects, from all areas of expertise.
Mobile First: This philosophy is rattling around along with the buzz about “responsive design.” And I have to admit, as a designer, it’s been a bit of a tough shot in the arm. What about my beautiful 1200 x 800 pixel background image?! I started designing for the intertubes back when we only had 640×480 screens, and 256 colors! Now I have to design for even less screen space?!
The truth of the matter—statistics presented at An Event Apart demand attention to this philosophy: 378k iPhones are sold per day (more than the number of babies born every day). Not to mention 562k iOS devices, 1M Android devices, 200k Nokia smartphones and 143k Blackberry devices are activated per day. I’m coming around, and beginning to embrace the simplicity and elegance that can happen when a web experience is designed by first understanding how it will be used on a mobile device. In fact, one of my favorite quotes of all the lectures was from session leader Luke W: “Mobile is a magnifying lens for your usability problems.”
Design for mobile is a new and forever shifting paradigm that should inform and change the way we design and think about content—for all of our interactive web experiences.
How has putting content and mobile first helped solve your online conundrums? Any other insights to share from An Event Apart? We’d love to hear what you learned, so share your thoughts in the comments below.
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