The new content problem, and how responsive design just isn’t enough anymore

Over the past few years, the web industry has been very focused on devices. So much so that responsive design is defined as “building web content that shows up well on any device.”But focusing on devices isn’t enough anymore. By focusing only on devices, we are missing other experiences. Our web content is no longer stuck to a browser. It is traveling beyond it’s traditional medium.

Take something like a news article — a simple piece of web content — and look at all of the different places this story can, and will, show up:

  • Perhaps its original print medium;
  • As a webpage on any device with a web browser — a computer, phone, TV screen, tablet, game console, watch, etc;
  • On the homepage of your website;
  • On a search results page; – or you can say on google but i would recommend keeping it open ended to all search engines.
  • On a 3rd party website;
  • In an ad on a website;
  • In an ad on an app;
  • Printed on a piece of paper;
  • Read by a screen reader;
  • On your Facebook page, where it shows a title, description, link, and re-sized image;
  • On your LinkedIn page, where it shows a title, description and a different size image than what’s on Facebook;
  • On Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, App.net, Ello, Snapchat or some other social network;
  • As a Google Now card;
  • Pinned to a map;
  • On Flipboard or a similar news-reading app; or
  • Read out loud by Siri, Cortana or another personal digital assistant.

If you were keeping track, that is over 20 different places, each with their own look, feel and interactions. Our users have more options than ever before and you don’t get to choose how they consume your content.

This is important to keep in mind throughout all phases of website development. Content creators, designers and developers all have roles to play. We need to create various lengths of text with images that fit the different sizes, all provided with the proper markup so that devices and 3rd-party systems know how to render the content. This is an important and complex issue that we are attempting to solve at Elliance.