Keep the Hi-Fives in Your Web Design

Jeremy Mansfield
July 19, 2012

While the topic of mobile first has been debated since 2011 and the release of Luke Wroblewski’s book on such said topic, I want to take a step back and look a little more closely at what we should be trying to achieve beyond just a mobile first approach.


Responsive Web Design

To start off, I love responsive web designs and mobile browsing experiences.  I access web content throughout my day on my iPhone whether it’s stalking my friends on Facebook while in line at a sandwich shop, comparison shopping for the best deal in a store, trying to find a coupon before I check out, getting a jump on my emails over my bowl of breakfast cereal, skimming twitter feeds sitting at a red light, and even playing Angry Birds while in the bathroom. Yes, I did admit that.

But I’ve been disturbed as of late to see designers and developers get so caught up with the shiny wizardry of all that’s new with a mobile first, super slim, modular approach that they sometimes forget what it is exactly that most of us should be trying to do. For me and my team, it’s telling a compelling brand story and trying to capture the users attention visually. I fear a growing trend has emerged for the time being that has caused websites to be, well, really boring. Our quest for pixel perfect grids and modular mania has left us with a lot of over simplified designed websites that lack atmosphere, mood, emotion and a compelling story.


Hi-Five Design

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s the visual cues we give our viewers that help tell a compelling story, not the mathematical accuracy of our grid. I fear that zealously embracing a mobile first approach can keep us from fully exploring a concepts visual potential.

Now, let me restate this again. I totally love responsive web design and the potential it yields. For starters, it’s a whole heckuva’ lot easier to maintain one version of a website versus a handful of them! It’s also very cool and exciting to see your creation morph, flex and bend to fit the growing number of screen sizes out there. But do we have to start designing with a “mobile first” approach in order to have a great responsive web experience? I don’t think so.

I speak for myself and also for my team, we are just not willing to compromise our storytelling process in order to create a brand atmosphere in 320 pixels of space. We like designing big. And we like telling a visual story. For us that’s still having fun swashing our canvasses with color and visual appeal. From there, we have fun shaping that brand experience into a more simplified and mobile responsive view.

So don’t let a mobile first approach and responsive grids keep the hi-fives out of your design. Keep it smart, but make it fun.


July 19, 2012

Thanks for sharing this great content, I really enjoyed the insight you bring to the topic, awesome stuff!

July 25, 2012

Great article, Jeremy!

Jeremy Mansfield
July 25, 2012

Thanks, Josh 😉 As we’ve discussed plenty O times before, there is *always* a way to push the boundaries of great design alongside great functionality with the user. Have fun, push the limits, strike the balance between completely utilitarian and over the top designs.

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