The Content First Approach to Responsive Design
Author: Rain Michaels
Summary: Responsive Design is a basic requirement for any new project, however, the way we approach responsive design can vary widely depending upon priorities. At Stauffer, we follow the Progressive Enhancement (or Content First) model.
What does this mean?
As Responsive Design has become a basic principle for web application design, there is simply zero excuse for any contemporary site accessible today to not beautifully render well across the diverse and ever-changing range of different devices and screen sizes.
Today, search engines penalize sites that are not yet responsive, and many are now seeing analytics with over 50% mobile usage. In fact, an increasing number of web application users are mobile-only — in 2017, approximately 15% of all users in the US — meaning, their entire experience of the web is small-format.
While responsive design is no longer optional for any web application, it is also not simple. It requires web application owners to think critically about the nature and presentation of their content. It also requires designers — a demographic that often cares about pixel perfection — to let go of control of how the end consumer will experience their work.
This presents a complex challenge, and like most good challenges, there are different paths to approach the solution. In the last few years, three distinct methods for making a site friendly across devices have emerged, and the one you choose says a lot about your priorities.
These methods include:
- Separate web applications built for each environment
- Graceful Degradation (most common)
- Progressive Enhancement (also known as Content First, or sometimes simplified to Mobile First)