Title:Responsive Design: How Museums Can Thrive in the Universe of Desktops, Tablets, Smartphones, and More
Authors:Jack Ludden
Publication:MWA2013: Museums and the Web Asia 2013

In the world of cultural institutions, an interesting trend is emerging in the digital space. More and more museums are presenting their Web content using “responsive design.” This means that online content will be presented in different ways depending on the device on which it is being viewed. In other words, a museum’s website may appear different when it is seen on a desktop versus a tablet versus a smartphone. The “responsiveness” of these designs allows online content to be more facile across today’s ever-changing universe of devices. It no longer assumes a superiority of one device over another. This gives a greater breadth of creativity to museums in creating their interface, as well as their other content.

Responsive design is an extraordinarily important technique for museums to embrace. This session will address three aspects of the impact of using responsive design. First, the paper will examine the core of this coding architecture. An institution must carefully examine a variety of code bases before selecting the one that best fits its needs. Second, the session will examine how people’s job roles and responsibilities are impacted by the use of responsive design. In the past, people’s job roles were often quite segregated from one another. Third, the session will review how the use of responsive design impacts the audience of a cultural institution. The digital space continues to grow at impressive rates. In addition, this growth occurs at a relatively rapid rate. Those who tend to rely on technology are used to devices arriving with fanfare, only to be quickly replaced with the “newer and better version.” People are not forced to choose between a smartphone, tablet, and desktop. Instead, people are invited to simply own them all. For better or for worse, responsive design teaches the audience of a cultural institution to expect a more flexible and responsive digital experience overall.