Responding creatively to a responsive world.

By Jordan Monson 5 years ago

The experience of creating content in our digital world has changed. Screens are everywhere. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, TVs, watches, even refrigerators! With so many variations to respond to, there is an obvious need to rethink our creative process.

Seven years ago, before Steve Jobs blessed us with second screen iPhone bliss, there was one universally accepted size when designing for the web: 1024×768. Looking back, it was a simpler time. Just set up your Photoshop document to a 960 grid and you could ride off into the sunset.

But by today’s standards, an interface needs to respond to sizes from 320px to 1920px and everything in between. In this responsive world, creating a single layout just doesn’t cut it, and you’ll be selling your brand short if you think it will.

As the ecosystem of digital devices continues to expand, the expectation of multi-screen design is the new normal. Because of this, the way we think as the creative agency needs to be as responsive as our websites. At Clutch, we’ve had to rethink our process for this new era, and in doing so we realized 3 things:

  1. The world is more than just 3 screen sizes. We have to consider orientation, is the screen 16×9, 9×16, 4×3, or 3×4? And don’t forget pixel density for those retina displays…
  2. The most important question to ask when we design responsively is not which sizes to layout, but rather what happens between those sizes.
  3. Static layouts from Photoshop or PDFs are no longer enough to accurately communicate what the digital experience will be. Clients need to physically interact in order to provide contextual and authentic feedback.

Now, instead of thinking “mobile first”, we’re thinking “context first” in order to prioritize content and user experience based on the need, device, and location of the user. We’re finding ways to take our concepts from wireframe to tactile experiences on real devices faster, saving time and creating more thoughtful review sessions.

The outcome of this new process has begun to blur the distinct lines between our UX, Creative, and Development specialists. It’s created a more unified vision within our agency and the brands we collaborate with every day. But most of all it has allowed us to be more innovative, bringing ideas and brand experiences to life faster and in higher fidelity than they ever have before.