Responsive Content Management

Whether you're experienced in Content Management or a casual website visitor, you will have no doubt encountered a responsive website - and if you're a Web Developer you know the everyday challenges in creating them.

In the last few years it seems there has been more written about Responsive Web Design than any other related subject. So much so that even the phrase itself is starting to become obsolete.

Now, over halfway through a decade that has seen the World Wide Web begin to realise its potential, it is safe to say that RWD has left its early "#2 web trend of 2012" label behind and has matured into an established part of modern Web Design and Development. If a site isn't responsive, it's typically because it hasn't been worked on in a while.

Responsive Content Management

It has been covered so widely and in such detail, it begs the question: what is left to write about?

Most of us who create websites for a living build a site from the content up, crafting a prototype around the words and images. It makes sense that these should be the most important elements.

We create a structure which adapts well to a range of screens because it is a base requirement in this modern age of the web. We make sure that it is intuitive and easy to navigate, mostly down to a lot of well researched Information Architecture and a little common sense, to meet the business and marketing objectives. But how the content itself is treated has the power to put all of this hard work to waste. 

How the layout responds to the available space is a major consideration for RWD, but how the layout reacts to the content should be just as important. A website isn't fully responsive (a phrase that's become very overused) unless it can also respond to the type of content that fills it.

It’s no use for the wrapper adapting to the constraints of the browser, if that wrapper cannot adapt to the shape of the content.

As designers and developers we often fall into the trap of trying to craft the perfect example of a website.

There is no such thing as perfect content. It is a volatile medium and language is as personal as fingerprints - how one person writes a paragraph is very different to another.

So we add the content we have today without knowing what it will be tomorrow. It changes, adapts and evolves depending on who is writing it and what they are writing about. The website layouts we create should be able to accommodate a wide range of content, just as the responsive grid needs to adapt to ever changing screen sizes and formats.

Creating a layout that’s not flexible enough to handle different combinations and types of content elegantly, or can't be extended and upgraded in the future, is simply not good enough for the web today, and tomorrow.

We need to develop with imperfect content in mind.

The solution is to provide a modern Content Management System that provides tools to make the curation of content a straightforward task, and to use this platform to its full potential. The days of paragraph after paragraph, all contained within a single WYSIWYG text box are over.

We need to make it easier for website visitors - not just by fitting content in a flexible box that adapts to any screen size, but displaying it in a way that makes it interesting, easy to read and leaves them with a clear idea of what you'd like them to do next.

It has been said many times that good design should be invisible. The same goes for good content management.

Mearns & Gill puts this into practice in the websites we create for our clients.

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