I’ve spoken about responsive development and how important it is before, but this post isn’t about that: responsive is already something you have to be doing, and if you aren’t doing it now, you’ll have a major redesign on your hands in a year or two. This post is about how, once you’ve done a responsive design for your website, whether or not you’ve really gone the last mile with it. What’s the last mile?
If you aren’t testing on multiple devices, you aren’t going the last mile with your responsive engagement. Sure, there are emulators, and they’re a good stepping stone to see how your design will appear at different resolutions, but that’s not the whole experience.
Emulators can’t show you how it feels to navigate the design with a track pad versus a roller ball versus a touch screen, or how it feels to be walking around holding the device in your hand, interacting with your website. This is important, because all of these things are part of your user’s experience. User experience doesn’t stop at the design, and by taking the device into account, that’s where you really start to see the holes and problems – and when you start to be able to fix them.
Open device labs are starting to pop up in major cities across the world. They’re free resources that exist to help you test your website on more devices. They help you get beyond just the interaction design, and actually see the same thing as person who ends up using your site on their device. This is the next mile in creating a mobile experience, and is what you need to be doing if you want to compete.
To find out more about this, I’d suggest reading up on open device labs: OpenDeviceLab.com has been a huge support to us in opening the Device Lab, and they’re a great place to find out more about the concept as well as where other device labs are around the world. You should also check out Brad Frost’s piece about estimating the cost of a responsive design, since he includes a section about how to estimate testing costs for responsive.
How has testing played a role in your previous web efforts? Let’s start a conversation about it – I’d love to hear your experiences. And, of course, I’d love to see you in the lab testing your projects.