Responsive Design Process
You cannot plan for and design a responsive, content-focused, mobile-first website the same way.
If your goal is to produce something that is not fixed-width and serves smaller devices just the styles they require, why would you use a dated process that contradicts those goals?
It’s easy to resort to working more to resolve these new challenges. What comes naturally? Do a desktop and mobile-sized wireframe, then turn around and design a desktop and mobile-sized layout. This sort of solves the problem. You and your developer have more to work with, at least. However, what about all the device widths in-between—you’ll have to cover those as well, right?
At this point, you wake up and realize you’re stuck in a familiar loop of ever-increasing deliverables and ever-shrinking profits. Using this old process to tackle new problems doesn’t really solve any of them, and it’s going to kill you from lack of sleep, make you poor from lack of profit, or both.
There are some good ideas floating around dealing with new processes. Some smart folks are of the very sensible opinion that the only answer is to design in the browser. However, other smart folks have admitted for the quiet rest of us that it’s really, really hard to design freely in the browser—at least with current tools.
Of the emerging new process ideas, those that involve responsive HTML/CSS prototypes look very promising. I’m planning to investigate these further. However, there are some definite challenges with this approach, not the least of which is the time it takes to create them when the site content is complex. Most of the examples I’ve seen are fairly generic, which doesn’t translate well to real projects.
Currently, we are successfully using a different approach. It attempts to optimize content, design, and development time, finding a budget-friendly balance of appropriate direction from all disciplines—something that is effective, lean and uses quick, widely-accessible tools.