It is no secret that SharePoint is wildly popular, with nearly 4 out of 5 Fortune 500 companies using it. Similarly, responsive design continues to be a dominant topic across the tech landscape as mobile devices represent an ever growing portion of internet traffic. Clearly there is demand for making those many SharePoint sites responsive. What's less clear however, is how to assess the inherent challenges and opportunities this presents. We at BrightStarr have been working with our clients in this regard to position them for success, both now and in the future, and have found there are some common trends to consider (using Sharepoint Responsive Design platform but not only):
No two devices are the same, and each one has its strengths and weakness. By detecting and applying only those features that the device and browser can actually handle, you not only improve the site based on available features, but can also enable modifying the layout or content to suit each situation. For example, if there are large data tables and the site is accessed on smaller screens or limited scrolling options, dynamically eliminating lower priority columns can maintain a satisfactory user experience when it would otherwise be diminished.
Choosing how people access the information on your site can be a difficult decision, as the optimal layout may vary significantly depending on the device. It is especially important because navigation is at the heart of User Experience. In addition, there are numerous ways to approach any one interface / event. Building all of this out can potentially require serious modifications to your template. In some instances, you can minimize the complexity that comes with the native SharePoint RWD tools. Open-source projects, such as responsivesharepoint.codeplex, can be leveraged to convert pre-built front-end frameworks.
Take full advantage of functionality device manufacturers provide via APIs, to leverage built-in sensors such as near field communication (NFC), accelerometers, GPS, etc. This can be an alternative to standalone enterprise apps when they are either not practical or detract from the User Experience. In addition, there are many readily compatible "white label" plug-ins compatible with SharePoint which can reduce development cycle times for many uses.
In the analysis of your responsive web design, have you found a contingent requiring streamlined design due to low bandwidth or processing power? This could be as straight-forward as removing the use of images and graphics and instead using text, CSS, etc. Minimizing load times and preventing errors resulting from compatibility issues can ameliorate user abandonment due to slow or non-rendered content.
Platform and Touch Optimization
Once your site is up and running, use analytics to ascertain which device / operating system combination is most popular. This business intelligence will help focus your efforts when making further refinements. For example, by making it frictionless to have the web site pinned on the mobile home page and prompting such actions on initial visits, you can greatly increase the frequency and duration of user engagement. Even many desktops are now gesture compatible, so consider expanding the ways touch can be used to browse and interact with your web site.
As you can see, there are many ways in which the intersection of SharePoint and responsive design will continue to catalyze change. RWD is intrinsically linked to adapting for the advent of mobile technology and accommodating varying devices so why not check out our whitepaper on this topic via the button below.