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Letting Go of the Desktop Design Mindset

Let’s face it, most of us create and build websites on the desktop. The tools we use are designed for the desktop. And because of that, our mindset is focused on the desktop.

Most clients visualize their designs from a desktop perspective.

The issue is – that is not how most of us are consuming daily content.

design for the desktop is a ux fail

When we design for the desktop and then try to make it work on mobile – we’re only getting half the project done right. Mobile devices and tablets have unique user experiences, that are different from the desktop. You could even make the case that at a minimum you are designing for at least three unique experiences: desktop, tablet, and mobile.

I realize responsive designs are meant to solve the layout problem. I know that designing with a mobile first approach helps focus our attention on the smallest devices first. But what about the user experience?

Designing to provide a great user experience on any device is not simply a matter of resizing content. Media queries alone will not solve the problem.

I started examining how much time I was spending with my clients discussing the unique user experiences on mobile, tablets, and desktops. What I discovered was – most of our focus was on the desktop. Perhaps it is because that is where we are reviewing the designs and laying out content. That is where our mindset is.

But yet research shows that how visitors are accessing content is changing.

I spend most of my time using an iPad for content consumption – in landscape mode. All too often, navigation menus wrap and appear disjointed, along with layout issues that do not effectively utilize the available space. The layout is not optimized for my experience. It fails.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Designing a great user experience on any device is not simply a matter of resizing content. #UX ” quote=”Designing a great user experience on any device is not simply a matter of resizing content. “]

So while the desktop design may wow your client, taking the time to explore creating optimal user experiences on other devices may ultimately help with conversions and reduce bounce rates.

This all leads up to having those discussions with clients when designing a site. Educate them on the importance of creating great user experiences for their visitors on any device.

Points to consider

  1. Have early discussions about designing experiences vs. designing a website.
  2. Review the objectives for the site and how best to serve visitors based on their device.
  3. Test your layouts on multiple devices. Ask your client to give as much time and attention to reviewing the site on a mobile device as the desktop.
  4. Finally pay close attention to tablet layouts, especially in landscape mode.

Each project is different and it is important to understand the intended audience and how you can best serve them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you are approaching these challenges.

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