No one said designing content for every possible environment was going to be easy. In our last Responsive Report, the frustration with Responsive Design and all it entails was lurking behind a majority of responses, a result of our day-to-day web design tasks becoming exponentially more difficult. But this year, there’s a noticeable shift in respondent attitudes.
Good news web workers: we’ve gotten better. Our tools have improved, our standards are aligning, and Responsive Design thinking is rooting deeper and deeper into the organizations we work with everyday. One year later, this growth has matured the tone of our survey responses to that of confidence, both in execution and in the validity of strategies.
Responsive Design has levelled up.
1014 people answered the survey last year, which is more than twice that of the previous year (496). In 2014, the roles and types of organizations taking responsibility for Responsive Design were shifting. Compared with 2013, we still see a large number of hybrid designer/developers and freelancers, but in 2014 we also saw a significant rise in management roles and in-house teams getting involved.
The largest portion of respondents self-identified as hybrid designer/developers (38%), but this group is getting smaller: declining by 8% from 2013. Front-end developers (33%) grew the most over the last year with an increase of 10%, representing the largest change amongst the roles, and the only group reported in 2013 that increased in 2014. Designers (11%) and UX designers (7%) dropped slightly.
Business manager (4%) and project manager (3%) are new for our 2014 report, due to notable increases. These roles were tracked in 2013, but did not represent a significant amount of responses.
In our 2014 survey, we added more detail to the in-house category by splitting it into three organization sizes, matching the sizes mapped to agencies: small (up to 10), medium (10-50), and large (50+).
We saw remarkable growth for in-house teams in the 2014 responses. While in-house as a whole only represented 11% of respondents in 2013, in-house teams at large organizations made up 18% of our 2014 group. When including medium organizations (6%), the in-house responses grew by more than double in 2014 at 24% total.
Large agencies saw the most decline this year, dropping by 9%. Medium agencies declined as well (5%).
We define “environment” as role + organization type. By cross-referencing these two metrics, we can see how organizations are structured for Responsive Design, and isolate the key environments that our respondents represent.
“Optimization is hard. People think it’s done right, when it looks right when it isn’t done right at all.”
We are getting better at working responsively, but while workflow concerns are diminishing, problems dealing with performance and sharing knowledge are growing. Optimization rose to become the top Responsive Design concern, up 11% from 2013 to 48% in 2014. Right behind it, educating clients (47%) about the impact of responsive design on projects debuted on this chart as the second most important concern for respondents. Learning the latest techniques also made its first appearance at 43%.
Testing – always a stubborn, chart-topping challenge for responsive design – made another strong showing (47%) as working with multiple viewports and operating systems continues to be a challenge.
People were asked to elaborate on the Responsive Design challenges they faced in 2014. As we have in previous years, we categorized these open-ended responses manually by reading each and every one, and then tallied the results to generate these rankings.
Testing is back on top as the most mentioned topic, and clients are becoming more of an issue, year on year. Learning made the largest jump up the ranks, climbing six places on our table, while workflow fell six places. Content and browser specifications make their first appearances this year.
Over the past three years, the Responsive Survey has offered a catharsis for the trials and triumphs of a web community dealing with constant change. Unsurprisingly, some emotions leaked through in the open-ended answers. For each report, we’ve done our best to characterize, categorize, and highlight the strongest feelings.
The last report showed the tension of working with Responsive Design was easing, a trend that continued in 2014 as feelings of confidence trumped frustrations.
“RWD is a state of mind.”
“Not enough conversation between the content and the design side, still. This is crucial!”
“Responsive Design is a wonderful thing, but there is so much to learn and understand before it can be done really well.”
“It’s hard being a cheerleader for RWD in a company that still uses FAX machines to communicate… ugh.”
Each year, we take note of patterns that emerge from the survey responses and try to extrapolate them into themes that will influence the trajectory of Responsive Design thinking for the next year.
Optimization of assets, site load speed, and bandwidth usage were at the top of Responsive Design concerns in 2014, perhaps following the wider trend of pushing performance matters across the web industry. Responsive Design needs to not only perform on various viewport sizes, but also many different connection speeds.
As Responsive Design becomes standard practice, its influence continues to stretch further into the operations of organizations. As it does, responsive concerns are, in turn, influenced more and more by new roles. This year, management has taken a stronger interest in how Responsive Design impacts their business.
We asked respondents to list which tools helped them get the job done last year, and we ranked each by how many times they were mentioned.
|7||Sublime Text||Edge Inspect||less|
|15||Device lab||Style tiles||Boilerplates|
The most influential Responsive Design resources we found in 2014, in no particular order: