Contributions by Karen McGrane
Every organization is different, with their own internal processes, stakeholder needs, and customer expectations—meaning that there’s no one right way to approach a responsive redesign project. What’s right is what’s right for your company, as Karen McGrane explains in her new book, Going Responsive. This excerpt looks at the pros and cons to different responsive project approaches—from beta release to big reveal and everything in between—so you can figure out the best fit for your team.
For years, we’ve told clients to serve the same content to every platform. We explained that Responsive Web Design allows content to squish itself into any container. Is it any wonder, then, that the belief has slowly grown that RWD can act as a substitute for actual content strategy?
ENIAC, the world’s first programmable digital computer, was completed in 1944. Today, more people have access to mobile phones than have access to toilets. There are more mobile internet users in the developing world than in the developed world. It took just seventy years to get from a device the size of a two-story building to a device that fits in your pocket.
We’re witnessing one of the latest waves of technological disruption, as mobile devices put access to the internet in the hands of people who previously never had that power.
Arguing for “separation of content from presentation” implies a neat division between the two. The reality, of course, is that content and form, structure and style, can never be fully separated. Anyone who’s ever written a document and played around to see the impact of different fonts, heading weights, and whitespace on the way the writing flows knows this is true. Anyone who’s ever squinted at HTML code, trying to parse text from tags, knows it too.
Seems like user-centered design just isn't all it's cracked up to be. We're told that user-centered design is limiting and we need to look beyond it. It's just not good enough, because it doesn't consider all the variables involved. Jared Spool tells us that user-centered design never worked. Even Donald Norman weighs in to discuss ways that human-centered design may be considered harmful.
How do you know if you're doing a good job? There's always an external way to measure quality—being prepared, attending to the details, listening to the collective wisdom about what it means to do good work. Give a crap about the little things, and you're good. What about doing a great job? There's no checklist, no guidelines that will get you there. Being great means being vulnerable; not giving a fuck about what other people think. It's harder than it sounds.
You have five minutes while waiting for a friend to meet you for lunch, so you find yourself shopping for a new pair of shoes. When your friend arrives, you put the phone away, but leave the web page open to help you remember what you found when you get home.
Thirty-one percent of Americans who access the internet from a mobile device say that’s the way they always or mostly go online. For this group, if your content doesn’t exist on mobile, it doesn’t exist at all. The U.S. government has responded with a broad initiative to make federal website content mobile-friendly. Karen McGrane explains why this matters—and what you can learn from it.
Making your content mobile-ready isn’t easy, but if you take the time now to examine your content and structure it for maximum flexibility and reuse, you’ll have stripped away all the bad, irrelevant bits, and be better prepared the next time a new gadget rolls around. This excerpt from Karen McGrane’s new book, Content Strategy for Mobile, will help you get started.