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Designing Responsive Software for the Modern User

Remember the days when software was consigned to desktop computers? When the deafening tone of dial-up was a necessary precursor to accessing the internet? Fortunately, those days are but a memory, with portable devices being capable of accessing the internet immediately. But, along with the benefits produced by 20 years of technological advances come some challenges, especially for software developers.

One such problem is producing software that functions intuitively and effectively on any device. Whether the program is being accessed by a computer, laptop, mobile phone, or tablet, your users will expect it to be easy to use and well designed.

In order to create such a flexible piece of software, developers must be skilled in cross-platform, responsive design. What does that involve? We’re glad you asked.

Cross-platform Design Is a Necessity

The modern user has become accustomed to having access to the software they need at any time, in any place, on any device. The cross-platform design approach to software development involves creating an interface that responds to the device it is being displayed on.

Everyone will have encountered a web page or application that looked great on a computer or tablet, but was distorted or unusable when accessed on a mobile phone. For the owner of the software, this leads to an unhappy usership that will most likely avoid the program altogether and quickly replace it with an alternative that better accommodates their needs.

Put simply, for your software to succeed in the 21st century, it is imperative that it has a cross-platform design and capabilities.

The Challenges Posed by Multiple Devices

User Experience and User Interface Design

Possibly the most significant challenge of cross-platform design is meeting the diverse and ever-changing needs of different platforms. From iOS to Android, Linux to Chrome, each operating system (OS) has its own unique user experience and user interface parameters. Developing software that meets these requirements often means producing a number of designs or making significant tweaks for each OS.

On top of the problems posed by these operating systems, there’s also the issue of the devices themselves. More specifically, creating interfaces that are functional and easy on the eye no matter the screen size they were displayed on.

From a design perspective, it is important to maintain a level of familiarity across each platform. Although variant interfaces are required to fit the dimensions of mobile, tablet, and computer screen, they should still derive from the same recognisable and intuitive design.

The same concept applies for processes. While backend changes are a necessity to appease each operating system, users with knowledge of one system should be able to operate and navigate the software on other devices.

Performance and Load Times

Applications designed for use on multiple platforms can face performance issues from device to device. This stems from inconsistent communication between the components that are native to the device and its operating system and those that are not. When the confusion occurs, it prevents the software from reaching optimum performance.

Although a high percentage of the code stays the same between versions for each device, the code that differentiates holds the key. To prevent poor performance and slow load times, developers must know how to optimise the software’s components in order for it to run efficiently on each device.

Developing a Cross-platform Program for Imperial College London

Recently, Isotoma worked with Imperial College London on the development of a curriculum mapping tool for their staff and students. The modern student does a lot of learning on-the-go, not just in the classroom. Therefore, cross-platform design was a key component of our brief.

To maximise the benefits afforded to students by our curriculum mapping tool, we developed it with a responsive design. The result was an application that rendered flawlessly on desktops, phones, and tablets, giving students access to the program’s important information on any device at any time of day.

Maximise Access to Your Software

A rigid design that does not respond to multiple devices can be the downfall of software. The modern user doesn’t just want a program they can use at all times from any device; they need it.

Whether your current software is not responsive or you are commissioning the development of a new program, cross-platform design is essential. The Isotoma team would love to create a responsive design that maximises the audience and functionality of your software, so get in touch with us today.