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Content, Clients and Responsive Design: UX Cambridge Talk

WAAAAY back in September I spoke at UX Cambridge, about ‘Content, Clients and Responsive Design’. The aim of my session was to share my experiences working in a digital agency, and how working on responsive sites brings many challenges, but can also create opportunities to manage client relationships differently.

A bit of background

Working in most digital agencies is not fashionable, nor desirable for many. Its not a start-up culture, we’re not riddled with VC funding, we have constraints, we have limited time, budgets and client education to balance. Its a proper challenge, and I hate it, but love it too. I really believe there is value to be had from agencies. There are clients that I don’t believe could be served by other means, so I’m not ready to give up on them yet, despite the general comments from the web community that are negative.

I get frustrated that the benefits of agencies are clouded in criticism, yes they are flawed, but there is still a gem of opportunity that they bring to projects. The biggest opportunity is to enable outsiders to enter an organisation and take them on an unbiased process to assess their situation and understand how to solve their problems, without the blinkers internal staff usually have. There is the benefit that an agency has an established team of people who are confident working together, and have contingency if things go wrong unlike teams of freelancers who may be working together for the first time.

I’ve seen first hand how responsive design creates challenges working with clients, and these are made painfully visible through discussions about content, not just site functionality and structure. Content is the absolute heart of any site, and poor content is magnified when an existing site is required to be adapted to become responsive.

I wanted this session to explore these ideas and also share some tips (right at the end) about how to deal with the challenges of content, clients and responsive design. Its certainly not as complete as I wanted it to be, but its a start. I hope to work on this further in 2014.