Moving beyond responsive design

For the past few years Responsive Design has been the eMarketer’s most effective tool for dealing with the challenge of displaying emails properly on a wide range of screen sizes. However as technology and digital design continue to evolve, a new solution – Fluid Hybrid Design – is set to take over. In this blog Jeff Hemming, Tikit’s Product Manager, Marketing Solutions, describes how Fluid Hybrid works and explains why it’s the next iteration.

As you may know, for some time now Responsive Design has been used to overcome the challenge of variable screen sizes. Using Responsive Design, email marketers anticipate the different sizes of screen on which an eshot is likely to land, and then code their email accordingly.

Thereafter, when the email is received, it opens in the right way and displays as the marketer intends for that size of screen. So this is all good. Responsive Design works and has enabled eMarketers to send emails that are compatible with a wide range of screen sizes.

Evolving technology

However, technology is continuing to evolve at a dizzying pace; and the way people work – and how they receive emails – is changing fast as well. The latest data suggests that over half (54%) of marketing emails are now being opened on a mobile device.

At the same time, the number of different potential screen sizes is beginning to get out of hand. With iPhones alone there’s the 7, the S7, the 6, the S6, the 5, the S5 – all with different screen sizes. Add to these all the Android devices, Windows devices, tablets and laptops that people might be using, and the number of different screen sizes starts to become almost infinite.

The problem is that Responsive Design struggles to cope well in this environment.

Sure, marketers can try to cater for all the different screen sizes by embedding the appropriate instructions for each one in every mailing. But unfortunately, going forward – with so many screen sizes – this will become an increasingly time-consuming and therefore costly task. It has become quite unmanageable.

The need has arisen for a new approach that gets round the requirement to anticipate individual screen sizes. And fortunately that new solution is already here and it’s called Fluid Hybrid Design.

Fluid hybrid

So Fluid Hybrid Design is set to be the next big thing in email design. It’s ‘fluid’ because when an email is opened – no matter where – the content arranges itself to fit the available space. It sort of floats content into position irrespective of the screen’s width.

It’s ‘hybrid’ because the solution still retains elements of Responsive Design – it’s the next iteration of Responsive, not a complete break with it. However it has important advantages over its predecessor.

The advantages of Fluid Hybrid

Fluid Hybrid Design augments Responsive Design mainly because eMarketers no longer have to take action in response to the range of screen sizes their email might be displayed in. The system will make sure that your email displays correctly no matter where it’s opened.

This is a really big advantage because eMarketers no longer need to know or care about screen size. It’s one less thing to worry about, and it means you can produce mailshots much more quickly.

It’s also a way to future-proof your eMarketing. No matter what new screen sizes are coming, Fluid Hybrid Design will cope.

But bear in mind

My one caveat is that eMarketers do still need to bear in mind that many of the screen sizes will be small and that fact has to be sensibly acknowledged. Beautiful, highly detailed images, for example, will still display when you use Fluid Hybrid Design – but on a screen the size of the palm of your hand they don’t look good and become unintelligible.

Marketers also need to be very conscious that ‘fluid’ can only be fluid when you’re using digital design. Try using artwork that’s been created for print design and you can encounter problems because the coding is fundamentally incompatible. Print design locks the elements in place so they can’t reconfigure in response to a small screen.

Notwithstanding these considerations, Fluid Hybrid Design is certainly going to be a big leap forward for eMarketers, making you much more productive and effective.

So in future when you’re evaluating an eMarketing solution, or updating what you have, make sure that Fluid Hybrid Design is part of the package. It will make your designers happier, content creation easier, and ultimately engage your contacts more effectively by making your message clear on whichever device they prefer.

If you would like to find out about Tikit eMarketing click here.

Jeff Hemming

By Jeff Hemming, Product Manager, Marketing Solutions at Tikit