Responsive Mindset

A presentation at UXcamp Europe 2015 in in Berlin, Germany by Gunnar Bittersmann

Responsive web design—Ethan Marcotte coined the term in his article on A List Apart in 2010. Yet the idea dates back to 2000: ‘A Dao of Web Design’, wherein John Allsopp calls designers to let go of control they know in the print medium, to design for the flexibility of the Web, to “accept the ebb and flow of things.”

This became more relevant now that the Web is not accessed only on desktop computers, but on a growing variety of devices. Web sites not only do not need to look exactly the same in every browser, they must not look the same in every browser on every device.

We cannot build a responsive web site based on Photoshop mockups—“you damn liar”, as Josh Brewer sang(!) at beyond tellerrand 2013. Mockups can only show particular views of a web page, not those in between.

We cannot build a responsive web site in a waterfall process—we need a responsive workflow. A workflow that does not separate design from development. A workflow that allows for iteration cycles.

Developers tend to think that with Scrum or Kanban, they are doing agile development. But on a larger view, they are still stuck in a wireframes–visual design–development waterfall process. You are not agile unless developers, designers, project managers and other stakeholders sit on the same table and work together, not sequently.

To implement a responsive workflow in our company, we need to rewire some people’s brains. We need a responsive mindset. But how do we get there?


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