Responsive design. Is it always the right solution?
We all want to work with the latest technologies and techniques on the web, that’s only natural. This is what makes our industry so exciting. You want to show these techniques off on sites you create and that’s great, it shows that you are passionate, but when it’s at the expense of the client this becomes an issue. You should never charge a client for something if you aren’t sure it will benefit them in some way!
So let me be a little clearer about what I mean. The purpose of creating a Responsive website is to create the best experience for the user no matter what device they are viewing on. So how do you find out if your client’s target audience will benefit from a Responsive site? The obvious place to start looking is at their site traffic and get a good idea of the number visits they receive from mobile & tablet devices and desktops. Only then can you make a decision, based on these figures. In the scenario that they don’t have these stats available, you’ll have to do a little research of your own, if that’s an option.
There is an argument that you could future proof a site by making it Responsive. Yes mobile traffic on the web is increasing at a staggering rate, but who’s to say that in the future mobile traffic will increase for a particular site, you just can’t know! If you can identify a pattern where mobile visits are increasing each month, well then you could very well consider doing this.
So what if a client comes asking for a Responsive website?
Awesome, a client who knows what they want! But do they really? It’s our job as designers to make sure the client understands what exactly they are asking for and how it will benefit their business. You should never assume that a client coming asking for x and y knows exactly what is right for them, they might but it’s up to you to make sure!
Take the time to find out what they understand and if you need to, tell them that a Responsive website just isn’t for them and explain why. It’s easy for clients to think the newest trend will work for them and it’s your job to figure out if it will, or if their money would be better invested somewhere else. You will get satisfaction knowing that you helped your client spend their money wisely, by caring and advising them. They will appreciate this!
So you want some Responsive sites in your portfolio?
Ok, so just because the client doesn’t need it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make the site Responsive. There is nothing wrong with making a Responsive site and not charging extra for doing so! Take the hit knowing that you are getting another Responsive site under your belt.
However if making a site Responsive negatively impacts on the user experience, avoid it. So for example, say you decide to spend less time on one aspect of the site and put more time and effort into making it Responsive, this might mean one area of the site is lacking. You need to look at all areas and work out which are most important and make sure your focus goes to these first. At the end of the day your client wants to see results and if making a site Responsive helps, great! If not, you are still doing your job and providing the client with the best solution to their problem.
Just to be clear, I don’t agree with charging for Responsive design as a feature, but charging for the extra time it takes to properly plan and build a Responsive site! Maybe you agree with something I’ve said, or see things completely differently, so I’d love to hear your opinions and how you decide if going Responsive is right for your client!