A few weeks ago I wrote a post for the CMD blog about responsive design. It’s a good primer post for people new to the concept of designing for different form factors.
This week I’m working on a mobile strategy for a client, and a deliverable as a result of that strategy is a single experience that works across all devices. While working on the project, we realized that a user sitting attheir desktop is trying to accomplish something complettely different than someone braowing the web with a tablet, or killing time with a mobile phone. Looking back at that post, I failed to speak about context in the use case.
Maybe responsive design should be renamed contextual design or responsive context?
In real-life use cases, the form factor is far less important than the context. In fact, the form factor is just an indicator of context and leads you to the likely use cases.
What really matters is not the device, but what the users are trying to accomplish on the device. This means the content, navigation and tools might change alongside the design.