Marc van Bree posted a superb article on 7/18/2012 over at Dutch Perspective titled Why performing arts organizations are not app-ropriate that is one of the best resources I’ve come across in recent months which arts organizations can take advantage of when determining whether or not their organization should consider developing an app. He starts off by referencing some recent and reliable mobile user statistics then moves into how and why all of this matters to arts orgs.
Van Bree identifies three options arts orgs can use for their mobile platform solutions: native mobile apps, mobile websites, and responsive design websites. For visually oriented readers, he’s prepared a handy chart which overviews pros and cons for each of the three solutions from the key perspectives of user experience, backend management, and development.
The only variance I have with his chart rating is when it comes to the categories of load speed and design for mobile users’ needs and usability. Van Bree gave the responsive design option receives one out of three stars and I could get on board with that but only under the following conditions.
The handful of groups experimenting with the newest option of the bunch, responsive design platforms, tend to copy layout and information architecture practices drawn from traditional desktop design and hope the responsive engine sorts it all out so that it works properly on mobile devices. Specifically, they overload responsive engines by applying liberal use of images for graphic design elements instead of relying on CSS3, carrying over multiple child and grandchild menu items instead of combining content via CSS driven tab and toggle tools, and maintaining redundant or outright unnecessary content.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this approach doesn’t always turn out all that great but for those groups who are rethinking the basic nature of web design from the responsive perspective, they’re discovering that load speeds are just as fast if not better than a separate mobile optimized site and usability skyrockets when you incorporate more click and swipe based finger gestures for navigation elements.
So yes, I’d agree with van Bree that responsive design platforms should receive one star out of three for the first two User Experience categories, but only for groups that are approaching their responsive design in similar fashion to installing a carburetor in a next-gen hybrid. Sure, you might be able to do it, but you probably won’t like the results.
For groups which successfully adapt to the new design standards, those ratings would go up to two or three stars out of three.
Short On Time?
Then set aside van Bree’s article for later and stop by Proper Discord’s recent post on apps which has far less words and a nifty flow chart. Plus, it’s funny and that never hurts.