When critiquing a site, don’t forget to actually use it.
I share quite a lot on Twitter, if I see a nice site I’ll post it up. It might have a nice UI, or do something unusual or clever that I’ve not seen before or it might just be something that doesn’t break any new ground but does the fundamentals well.
When responsive design was all the rage back in the heady days of early 2012 I used to be one of those people who when I saw a tweet saying “Look at ______.com, it’s all responsive and stuff” I’d visit the site, and basically be “rwd site blind” (think banner blindness with ads) and my first two actions were:
- Resize the browser window to see how it redraws and fits
- Inspect the network resources to see how big the site is
I try not to do that any more, often I actually use my phone to browse the net, particularly in the evenings and it’s actually quite good not having a load of debugging tools available. I get to view a site objectively in a “vanilla” environment.
I’m not defending the fact that a site designed to responsive pulls down the better part of a megabyte of assets, the optimisation and performance side of design is more important than ever just that sometimes, it’s nice to actually judge a site by how it looks and feels before pulling out the pitchforks/web inspector and burning something at the stake.
The Metro Blogs example above was one I saw yesterday and tweeted because it was actually quite a fun way to interact with the site and discover varied content. It’s not perfect by any stretch (see the page sizes) but big gains are relatively easy in optimisation in many cases, creating a good, responsive user experience is harder. “Testing” a site by resizing a browser and seeing what its size before actually using it isn’t a very glass half full way of going about things.