Responsive design: Impact on users

There is a common misconception that reflow and orientation are only for mobile phone users. You often hear people assume it is not applicable with phrases like, “it’s an internal system. Our staff all use monitors, not phones.”

The following personas have been designed to help you understand why responsive design is important in real world situations.

Increased font size

Blake struggles to read small text. They can read large print like billboards and newspaper headlines, but they struggle with small print like restaurant menus. They have prescription reading glasses, but they rarely wear them and often misplace them.

Blake has found browsing the web is fine without their glasses most of the time by changing the default font size in the browser to the “very large” setting.

If the font size does not respond to the browser settings, Blake cannot read it and the website becomes unusable if they are without their glasses.

Browser zooming

Sam has a degenerative visual impairment. They currently do not need to use a screen reader, they just use the zoom in on the browser using the plus key until they can read it clearly.

On most websites, Sam needs to zoom to around 250%. But, depending on the font style and the font size, they may need to zoom in up to 400%.

If the text gets cut off, overlaps or forces Sam to scroll horizontally, the site becomes unusable.

Split screen views

Frankie struggles to remember keyboard shortcuts. In their day job, they have to use multiple systems and copy data from one to the other.

Frankie has tried to learn the keyboard shortcuts for switching windows and copying and pasting, but they get frustrated and find it easier to just put the two windows side by side and re-key the information.

If the systems does not adjust to work in the smaller window, Frankie’s ability to work efficiently is significantly impacted.

Vertical orientation

Charlie has Retinitis Pigmentosa, sometimes known as “tunnel vision”. They have lost all vision in their right eye, but they have a narrow vertical band of usable vision in the left.

Although Charlie is registered blind, they don’t use a screen reader as they still find it easier to read themselves. To help with this, they have their monitor mounted in a vertical position and slightly off centre to the left of the desk.

If the website does not adjust to work in portrait mode, it does not fit on Charlie’s monitor and their ability use the website is significantly impacted.