Forum One is proud to announce that the Aspen Ideas Festival has relaunched their site in time for their 2012 event using the responsive design solution we developed for them. We created a product that will work across desktop PCs, iPhones, iPads, Androids, Blackberries, and, well, really any device that can display a web page. If you don’t have all of those, use the Responsinator to take a look at how the Aspen Ideas Festival site will look on a variety of the most common devices.
At Forum One, we’ve been using responsive design in our projects for over a year now, bringing it in as a default feature for all new web projects. We've found that with advanced planning, including responsive design requires minimal additional effort for basic features, and we are able to spend more time refining the interface for all audiences: screen, tablet, and smartphone.
Taking as our first challenge the Aspen Ideas Festival, we decided to build a proof of concept to test out and refine our ideas. We had finished this project in time to launch for the 2011 season, but quickly noticed that it didn’t look right on the mobile devices that many of the attendees were using at this prestigious conference. The festival website was built on the most advanced version of Drupal (version 7), and we found a theme that bundled in the basic responsive design. But we were still not satisfied with how it looked. We wanted to make it as easy to use as possible, so we customized the theme with better menus and buttons for mobile devices.
Some hard lessons learned from Aspen Ideas Festival’s website and other responsive designs that we’d like to share:
- Each audience (smartphone, tablet, and desktop) has its own behaviors and device limitations that need to be considered and optimized for in the interface.
- Touch interaction needs to be optimized for on tablet and smartphone - this means navigation, links, and buttons need to be scaled to be touch-able.
- Third-party plug-ins, especially video, need to be accounted for, since some may not yet be mobile or touch friendly.
- Testing across multiple devices, screen sizes, and environments takes considerable amount of effort and needs to be factored into the development schedule.
With this experience under our belts, Forum One has started to integrate responsive design into all of our new projects, ensuring that all of our designs are future friendly.