I recently tweeted that designers will need to put their rates up to cover the epic number of devices we need to use to test websites these days. It got me thinking.

Brad Frost wrote about being able to test on real devices without breaking the bank but even conservatively testing on a few mobiles and a couple of tablets, you’re looking at a significant outlay to make sure your responsive web designs are working fine. Big agencies, this isn’t for you.

For small agencies and freelancers who spending a couple of thousand pounds on tablets and handsets for testing is a considered outlay (even though it’s becoming a more critical part of the job) it’s still a big ask even to cover the very basics of iOS, Android, Windows Phone and some tablets.

I propose bundles for designers

I’ve been in touch with a few second hand/reconditioned phone companies here in the UK (If someone wants to pick up the idea and ask similar companies in your country feel free) to ask about the possibility of them offering some sort of “web design testing bundle” deal for us designers who don’t have massive hardware budgets.

I’m suggesting keeping it simple and compiling lists of “basic test suites” and “full on mega, cover everything bundles” so things like:

These companies typically only sell single units or massive quantities so I’m hoping with our requirement as an industry to be testing on real devices, there’s maybe some scope for one of them to run with this idea and make us designers an offer that’s good for us and of course still good for whichever company wants to tap into our market.

Interested in this?

I’m hoping I’m not alone in this, I’d feel a bit daft but I don’t think I’m alone in not having enough test devices right now and not personally having the budget to buy several handsets and tablets but if you take a second to vote and show your interest (or lack of) in the poll below and spread the word, I’d like to go back to the companies I’m speaking to and show there’s a market for them to work with. Thanks!

The emulators question..

Talking about emulators is a different topic and of course I don’t believe you can/have to buy every device out there but while emulators will help with many parts of your project, there’s also great value in testing on actual handheld devices. A few folks have written about that already and it’s not the aim of this post.

Mobile is the future of the web, so it’s time to start investing in some mobile devices. Testing on actual devices is now an absolutely essential part of web design. Stephanie Rieger explains that there are crucial aspects of a web experience you simply can’t realize by resizing your browser or using emulators: true site performance, device capabilities, form factor, pixel density and the impact of the network. Brad Frost

Note: I don’t want anything from this financially or otherwise, I’m not selling anything here. It’s just a suggestion to try and help out fellow designers.

Some immediate Twitter reaction

This seems to have at least got a few people thinking and this isn’t really intended to be a Q&A type post, more a throw the idea out there to see how people feel but a lot of people got straight back saying they’d prefer emulators. I’m not against emulators but as mentioned above, I think a big part this is having a device in your hand and using and interacting with it. An emulator can’t, well, emulate that.

The upgrades/new devices issue is a common one, devices are always being updates/phased out/released, how to keep up with that? Perhaps an enterprising company could come up with a bundle to rent by the day/week/month?

Stephanie Rieger was kind enough to share a couple of mails on this post saying it might be useful to try and figure out a good list of devices that cover as many bases as possible. This would make sense on a rental basis as older phones can be swapped out by the company renting.

Want to do this right now?

Thanks to Vitaly @smashingmag for the tweet support, there have been some more great thoughts, in particular with regard to setting something like this up “locally” with fellow designers.

@benmckenna makes a great suggestion about this potentially being something Media Centres could consider as a service.

@nicepaul suggests groups of local freelancers could also pool resources and chip in to buy some devices to share. Many towns/cities have meetups (as we do with #HuddsDigitals) where there might be a bit of buying power if a dozen or more folks pool resources.

Both are excellent suggestions, thanks guys.

James Young

Written by James Young

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