What is device-agnostic content?
To put it simply, content that is device independent is device agnostic. Initially when devices (PCs, laptops and even mobiles were more or less similar in their form factor (read: specifications), the approach to designing was by putting the content layout at the center- i.e. how the content would look on the screen decided what content would go on each screen, the sequence of pages and other such website details. However, with the rapid commercialization of a stupendous variety of both economical and high-end devices like smartphones and tablets, it is simply not possible to program application content to suit the screen size, resolution and user experience every time a new handset or tablet is launched. In this light, responsive web design (RWD) came into being, which adeptly rearranges the layout of a webpage (the number of columns, the appearance of images, font sizes etc.) based on the user’s device. A RWD aims to enhance the browsing experience across devices being used by emphasizing on compatibility, flexible images, fluid grid and minimum scrolling. Device agnosticism takes this concept further by not keeping any specific device in mind and instead making the content at the forefront of web design. So content is created once to suit ALL kinds of devices, whether they are iPhones or iPads, Android Sony, Samsung or Motorola phones or any Windows device.
What to keep in mind while designing device agnostic content?
The ideal situation is one where content is device agnostic, i.e. it is created once and runs on all; and is responsive too. That is, it beautifully adjusts perfectly to the end users’ device like it was created keeping that particular device in mind. But again, that’s an ideal situation. Though device agnosticism and RWD are not absolute opposites, most times, web designers have to strike the right balance between the two.
In a time when organizations are crunched for resources and may not prefer to distribute standardized devices (laptops, tablets or PCs) to all employees, the BYOD trend comes in like a breath of fresh air. But this makes the task of web designers and LMS vendors a little tricky. With an array of devices to cater to, “Should I develop for the lowest form factor when I develop device-agnostic content” is what they seem to be asking. Well, not the lowest form factor, but the most popular one we suggest. Examine the most popular devices in the client organization through a quick survey so that you can create device agnostic content that will also be extremely responsive for majority of the devices, if not for all. Ultimately, follow up with a task analysis once content is published and improvise as necessary.
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