Reach out & touch the web

Responsive IS the standard, and touch will change the game.

Currently many developers out in the world are developing with a responsive first approach. It has gone from device break-points, which quickly became overwhelming, to content break-points. Overall we are much smarter with how we handle RWD. This is making the web a much more friendly place regardless of device. With that in mind though, the browser is still trailing in terms of what it can offer users versus native apps. So what makes those native apps feel so much more interactive? Your hands ability to interact much more with the content of course. You know, the swiping, dragging, and flinging we all love oh so much.


Basically we now understand how to create and develop responsively. Keeping that in mind, designing for touch will throw us back down into the rabbit hole. Before touch was just a common expectancy we planned for in our phones and tablets. Sure, we haven’t changed our interface so much based on fingers and thumbs or mice, but we do think about the placement of elements. What happens though when users start using our sites in the same ways on other larger devices? The landscape we know is on the cusp of a change that already includes laptops and will include desktops and TV’s soon enough. Elements within our sites will need to adapt based on break-points, and in some cases should change how they act based on whether the device is touch based or not.

It may might seem like a bump in the road at first, but if you really consider how different the interactions on any site could change based on touch it can get a bit overwhelming. Think of it from the standpoint of sites shifting from a graphical user interface into a natural user interface. Touch opens the door to interacting with content rather than taking graphical steps to guide the user. Should you still click a button when a swipe could do the job better? Even consider how the basics like navigation and feature content could shift. Things which were a natural expectancy like scrolling through content also can become different when the experience is touch based. Additionally, take a few moments to think about where users hands will typically end up when using any type of touch device? In most cases those hands are going to end up near the bottom.That in itself shifts the perception as far as where should navigation be, and where should off stage elements come in from? I don’t want to open up the entire box of possibilities but these are just a few things to think about.

Luckily, with new JavaScript libraries like Hammer.js, and the growing implementation of touch in our CSS and HTML we have some options concerning how to develop for new larger touch based devices. We just need to start laying out the ground plans for how we plan to work with screens of all sizes that work exclusively with our hands. It is a discussion that has been gaining traction and it never hurts to try and get out in front of the next direction the web is going.

So take some time, sit down, relax. And then freak the hell out for a moment. It’s OK though, remember how daunting responsive design was at first?

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