1 May 2015
We already know that the 'business card' of a company is its website. This is what represents the company, enables a relationship with customers, increases sales, etc. Lately, with the emergence of Smartphones and tablets into our world, supported by several researches and a glance around (that is, if we're not too bust staring at our own tablet/Smartphone), we can understand that any company with some dignity that respects its customers will build or adjust its site as so to make it responsive.
The term 'responsive' has become a known term in the world of website and construction. Just in case there is still some doubt concerning the term's definition: a responsive site is a site adjusted for the screen size of the device from which the user is viewing the site be it a laptop, television screen, tablet or Smartphone.
One of the main objectives of the responsive website is to ensure optimal transmission of messages in any viewing setting and for any type of user. With just a small adjustment, the user can be provided with a satisfying experience that can bring him/her back, again and again.
Constructing a responsive website is, technologically speaking, quite a simple process. Adjustments can be made quickly and simply. But is the technological aspect enough? Is this what ensures the user experience? I believe not, since more users consume the content through small screens and therefore surf differently than a PC user. This leads us to the conclusion that content presentation is critical.
So, what should be done? How should it be approached? Most importantly, how is it related to the world of KM?
First of all, an important clarification: although we usually deal with the internal content of organizations and companies that nowadays due to security issues, platforms and technologies do not make their organizational and professional portals compatible with tablets and Smartphones, it is highly recommended to plan ahead for the day responsive sites are relevant to you as well (this day is close than you think).
I'll start off with the bottom line; the user experience is not comprised only of cool design and/or comfortable responsive design. Although these play a big part in attracting users, but when attempting to keep them interested and making them return, the site's content and its method of presentation play an important role as well. While a PC layout enables boasting a navigation tree, buttons, pictures, content and ultimately enjoying a large portion of 'web real estate', a tablet/Smartphone utilizes much less space.
So what do we recommend?
Ask yourself: what is the main message of the item/content page? This is a good starting point.
Don't give up on the content's quality. It will get there with the scrolling. But before the scrolling, choose the main message. It is recommended to either write the main message as attractively as possible in order to encourage the user to keep on reading or include the content available in the main message.
Reevaluate the content (this is an opportunity for refreshing the page)- does the existing content enfold added value, useful and necessary for the 'small screen' user?
Don't fear scrolling. When viewing a site through a Smartphone/tablet, scrolling is actually preferred over hyperlinks opening new pages and forgetting the previous ones.
Pictures: recommended when limited.
If the PC screen offers a variety of pictures for each item, you must ask yourself: what is the most important picture? Which one picture delivers the message/atmosphere/experience best? Start with that picture! This picture will be presented at the top of the page in small screen format.
Ask yourself: can I convert some of the content into pictures in order to convey some of the messages graphically? Try using iconography, pictures or colored textboxes. These can generate interest and keep the user's alert.
Navigation bars and buttons
If a regular site contains a side navigation bar as well as an upper navigation bar. Take in consideration that in small screen format both navigation bars will not be presented. Usually, a single button that upon being clicked on will present the full menu. It's important to decide what is presented by this button? How will this button ease the user's navigation experience?
Dedicate some thought to the hyperlinks: what hyperlinks are important to the site's content? How should these links be presented in order to assist and offer the user more relevant content? (And if we're at the end of the page, add pictures-they contribute to the atmosphere).
NOTE: these pointers are also relevant for regular PC sites. The shift to responsive sites can improve all formats of your site/portal.
Are there any items that can be compromised due to the shift to responsive sites? Could they possibly be there currently for sentimental reasons?
Did you add nay pictures to the site? If so, is it possible to create pictures that contain messages out of the content and therefore generate interest and enjoy another method of message conveying?
Is your navigation currently loaded? IS it possible that some hyperlinks can be inserted in order to "air out" the navigation toolbar?
A responsive site should also create a positive response experience. According to all described above, this is a complex mission. Nevertheless, it is possible and worthwhile.