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The responsive design approach has quickly gained traction as the standard for modern website development. This is driven by the fact that, as of 2014, people spend more time on the internet on mobile devices than they do on personal computers. Mobility has passed the tipping point, making providing a great small screen experience essential. We thought it might be helpful to share a few responsive design testing best practices that we’ve learned from experience.
Don’t Rely on Emulators
Screen emulators, like the one Google offers, are great for giving you a quick idea of what your design will look like on various devices, but they do not always reflect exactly what your visitors will see. That’s because they don’t test the rendering engine, which is how the browser interprets the HTML/CSS. You must test on physical devices to really know what your visitors will experience.
Use Data to Prioritize Devices
The exploding market for mobile devices in all shapes and sizes has really intensified the challenge for web developers and testers. Testing every device on the market simply isn’t realistic. Instead, evaluate the analytics of the project to determine which browsers and devices make up most of your traffic. Usually there will be a few that represent the bulk of your visitors. Focus on perfecting these first.
Don’t Forget Orientation and Render Times
Make sure to test both portrait and landscape orientation on every device you test. We find this is often overlooked. You also want to analyze the render time of your pages across devices so that you can identify any problems that might be causing pages to load slowly.
Use, Don’t Build, a Device Lab
While some organizations attempt to purchase and maintain all of the devices they want to test, few are able to achieve good results with this method. The hardware is expensive and keeping it all updated is a chore. With new devices coming onto the market all the time, it is also difficult to keep a large enough inventory unless it is your full time job. Device labs offer an effective, inexpensive alternative.
There’s no indication that the public’s appetite for new and novel connected devices is going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, responsive design testing is likely to become even more important and complex. Smart brands will look for solutions that speed and simplify the process. That’s our objective and we’re standing by to help.
Mobile1st is the company behind Mobilizer, the mobile optimization platform. Mobilizer helps companies increase revenue and engagement by enabling them to see exactly what their mobile users see, quickly identify display issues, monitor metrics by device, and optimize the mobile customer experience.