Mobile Design: ‘Responsive’ is Not a Noun

‘Make it responsive’ is something we don’t really hear our clients say. Yet, strangely, it is what most design companies offer under their ‘mobile services’. But what is not to like about a website squeezing beautifully into a smaller tablet or phone display? It is fine, but it is just the beginning of what you should do with mobile design. 

‘Responsive’ is not designing for mobile context. The rote reformatting of a desktop site that is ‘responsive’ ignores needs that users have when they are away from their desks, out in the world, one their way to a meeting, or travelling in Peru. Most functions redesigned as responsive are useless to many of our clients. Most of our clients have too much data and they hire us to show the right insights at the right time. Showing that same stuff but smaller is not what they need. 

We use the principle of ‘Kairos’ to make mobile experience better. Kairos is Greek for ‘right place, right time’. We only include the stuff that was useful to people in a mobile context. Mobile design is hugely important and it is much more important that just resizing things. Mobile design needs to do more than just be ‘responsive’ to the device, it needs to respond to the context of use in the world.