I am a firm believer that anyone that works in online Public Relations must at least understand the technology that powers the web. The argument for this is the fact that Public Relations professionals are often asked to establish channels of communication. Wether you are building a website, managing it’s content or working with any social media website, having a grasp on how html, embedded content and links work is an advantage to make sure your efforts are effective.
None of these arguments suggest you should be able to build a website from scratch, troubleshoot a server or programe at any level. They only make the case for the need to understand how all this works. Now lets look at something different. You find an article you like and you can then send it to any number of services that keep reading list. (Instapaper, Read It Later, Readability, just to name a few.)
It has always been the case that what you read for work is not what you read to relax, unless you have a burning passion for your job. Nowadays, with tablets, e-book readers and smartphones, the device you use to access content varies as well. The content is the same but the device and it’s screen are different.
Enter Responsive Design.
I am in no way sure if I should call this a trend or a requirement, but the truth is that web designers are doing their best to make sure you have the same ease of use and valuable experience wether you use a desktop or a smartphone or anything else in between. They are doing this by realigning design elements according to the screen, or even building a separate design for each device. Each solution has its ups and downs.
Back in October I indulged myself to build a new Theme Framework using the theme provided by the good folks at Automattic. It works quite well for me and I have put it to the ultimate test while applying a full design to a client’s blog. (It passed, instead of editing 27 files, the whole design was built with 2 files and less than 200 lines of code.)
And right now I am taking what I have learned and taking it one step further, applying a responsive layout to WordPress using the Semantic Grid System. (You can see it at work if you resize this window or view it on a smart phone.)
Back to Public Relations.
Why is responsive design important to you? Imagine your challenge is to build a website for a school, providing students and teachers with real time information for a number of reasons.
While teachers may opt to view that information using a desktop computer, students may use a smart phone. Both these publics will want that information with different goals in mind and your job is to ensure that they can use the website in a consistent way. A different design (and user experience) may mean your time will be spent providing support. These are all reasons for you to be involved and help bridge the gap between the user and the team developing your new communication channel.