Responsive Design & How it’s Shaping Product Development
‘Responsive’ has been the go-to buzzword within the real estate industry for quite some time. By now, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the term – the ability to provide a user experience across multiple touchpoints and mobile devices. But what effect does responsive design have on product development here at WolfNet?
Understanding Client Behavior
The focus on responsive design requires that we monitor and understand consumer behavior, more specifically how they interact with different devices. You can have the most robust application with the newest and coolest features but that doesn’t go very far if the consumer experience is poor.
With consumers always on the go, they want to access information quickly and easily. The way they access and process this information also differs based on their device of choice. For example, a customer sitting at home may have access to their iPhone, Samsung tablet and MacBook at any given time. They choose the iPhone for a quick look at new listings, they go to the tablet for better visuals (i.e bigger pictures) or they may choose their MacBook to get all the information they possibly can. Knowing and understanding this makes it clear how much of an impact responsive design has on our product development process.
The Responsive Design Process
Here at WolfNet, during the production process we try to stay aware of the fact that any product or feature must be considered from a variety of screen sizes. We’ve learned that it’s easier to add-on than it is to remove from a new product. Designing from mobile at the start than working our way up to desktop is far more effective and reduces the chances that we’ll have to remove features because they don’t fit. The WolfNet production team learned this lesson while we developed our responsive property search. Responsive wasn’t as popular when we developed our original legacy search so we had a difficult time paring it down to fit mobile instead of the other way around! What we ended up with was a mobile search that was extremely limiting to our customers.
Putting Mobile First
Mobile/responsive was top-of-mind when developing our new responsive IDX property search. We created wireframes and mock-ups for a variety of screens right from the beginning. We understood that consumers were shifting towards ‘quick bites’ of information they wanted immediately otherwise they were gone off to a new product or service. Our new interface needed to be intuitive, where consumers could process features at a glance – for example, we moved away from heavy text in exchange for iconography.
The focus on mobile deign yields quite a few benefits for us, most importantly it’s favorable within the eyes of Google. It’s a lot easier to index websites that are consistent across multiple platforms, which helps boosts our SEO rankings. Additionally, our development process is lean meaning we use quicker development cycles and shorter time to market. Responsive design supports this approach because we’re only required to maintain one platform!