How to Get Ready for Responsive Design

Responsive design has been hailed as one of the greatest greatnesses ever to grace the Internet. With myriad mobile users accessing the web, it seems as if responsive design is just about the only way to make an awesome website even awesomer. I've remarked on the necessity of RWD before  However, not every website is ready for responsive design. There are three major hurdles that every organization must clear before they launch into the bliss of responsive design. 

1. Your content needs a major overhaul.

A site is only as good as its content. You can't improve your content just by going responsive. That's why the very first thing on your agenda should be to improve your conten . Content can easily become a company's bugaboo. It's outdated, low-quality, or inaccurate. There may even be some flash content lurking in the closets. Before you even thinking about tweaking your CSS and announcing your shiny new RWD site, clean house on content. 

2.  You need to switch your CMS.

And you thought going responsive was going to be easy? The cold, hard fact of the matter is that your CMS may not be able to handle responsive design. By applying the right coding skills, just about any quality CMS will be able to dish out RWD. But it's not quite that simple. Although a site's overall presentation may be responsive, the actual functionality of the pages and content may not meet RWD standards. For example, some WYSIWYG CMSs automatically add bits of codes that can wreck a responsive framework. Auto-inserts of inline CSS, Java, HTML tables, or unclosed tags may be added to a page of content, thus conflicting with the responsive site layout. Many of these easy-to-use WYSIWYG editors generate non-semantic markup that clashes with responsive design. In other words, if you're going to go responsive, you need to make sure that your CMS is going to help you, not hurt you. Choose a CMS that does responsive right. 

3. You need to rework your collaborative approach.

Responsive design is far more than a design tweak. It's a complete change in the way that you work. The old model of web design and development looked like this. First, the designer created a Photoshop template. Next, the developer created the website from that template. This waterfall model of web development has served its usefulness. Now, it must give way to the more Agile-oriented approach required by RWD. It bears repeating:  Responsive design isn't just about design. It's about fluid grids, breakpoints, load times, style guides, front-end development, mobile form factors, pixel density awareness, mobile native controls, and a host of other factors that you haven't thought to think about. Old process flows simply aren't going to cut it. Intensive interactive collaboration among UIs, IAs, designers, digital strategists, developers, and other team members is crucial to a successful RWD rollout. 

Don't let these three major hurdles prevent you from jumping into a responsive design implementation. You might be able to hold off RWD for a little while, but give it a few months, and responsive design is going to be even more important. Now is the time to begin considering your strategy for going responsive with your website — hurdles or not.