Mobile Websites & Beyond Part 2: Mission-Critical Applications Go Mobile

12.7.2012 »
Design
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In my last post, I wrote about the basic philosophy and principles of designing for different screen sizes and platforms and the intriguing design challenges our new mobile world creates—but that’s only part of the picture.

There are countless mission-critical business applications accessed through web browsers, many with unique interaction requirements that can be much harder to adapt for the mobile user. Given the rapid growth of mobile (as I noted in our last post, 36% of adults with smartphones now use them for primary Internet access), this presents a critical business challenge.

We recently had an opportunity to adapt one of these applications, with outstanding results: The Workshop at Macy’s is an innovative supplier diversity program designed to give select high potential minority and/or women-owned business owners the tools they need to better succeed and sustain growth in the retail industry. The program requires candidates to complete a detailed online application so Macy’s can evaluate potential participants, and this introduced some special challenges to the responsive design paradigm.

The Workshop at Macy's Responsive Website Design

As with the Macy’s, Inc., site, all content is available on any device, formatted for maximum usability and readability at any size. Applicants can fill out the application anywhere they are, from any device, and switch between platforms as needed.

Unfortunately, mobile still introduces certain restrictions, including the lack of a universal ability to upload documents from a mobile browserthe final step in the application process.

The beauty of a responsively designed site is that it allows us to make exceptions, and for this obstacle, we direct mobile users to finish the application on their desktop when that final upload step is reached. The user has still had the advantage of completing the bulk of the form from their tablet or phone, and now must finish at a desktop—which is probably where their required documentation is anyway.

For Sanger & Eby, the methodology of responsive web design has become ingrained in our approach to designing for the Web.

We plan for the mobile users that account for a large and growing portion of the audience, and our process allows us to identify what content and functionality is most important for users on varying devices and translate that into sites and applications that work well on any screen size.

New devices will continue to introduce new screen sizes, and responsive, flexible sites ensure that all of our screens, including the ones we don’t even know about yet, will continue to provide users with all of the content and functionality they have come to expect. 

Responsive design, applied strategically, provides a level of future-proofing for sites never before available, and we’re proud to be leading the way into the wide world of mobile for our clients.

Have a question about responsive design, or ready to make your site reflects how your audience wants to use it? We’d like to hear from you.

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