It's only been a few months since Time Inc., a company that has a longstanding tradition in the American media publishing space, separated from its former parent Time-Warner. The split marked the end of a painful chapter in the history of AOL/Time Warner, and it signaled a fresh start for a company that was once known for quality media products such as the former print version of Time magazine.
The Responsive Web Design Facelift
Aside from the flagship Time website, the company is holding on to Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated. These valuable properties are undergoing major renovations in terms of layout and Web design. Time's websites are not necessarily cookie-cutter in terms of design. They may share a common Content Management System (CMS) in Drupal, but visitors to Sports Illustrated will certainly get a different feel than they do visit Fortune. Web designers, however, will recognize responsive web design (RWD) across all Time websites.
RWD is one the most reasonable paradigm in modern Web development. The proposal is simple: To create websites that will be functional and attractive across all platforms. In the case of Sports Illustrated, the goal is to present a functional and aesthetic browsing experience on a desktop computer, an iPad, a Nokia smartphone, or an Android-powered portable device. It is important to note that RWD goes beyond mere device detection; it actually ignores devices and adjusts in accordance to factors such as screen size and input.
RWD as a Business Decision
Aesthetics and user experience are not the sole factors upon which Time decided to apply RWD to Sports Illustrated. Online advertising is how si.com stays in business, and this has been a major selling point in relation to RWD. Being able to tell advertisers that their brands and message will be displayed across multiple platforms is crucial. A current marketing trend is to reach prospects on their mobile devices, and RWD makes this possible.
With RWD, not everything will translate well when displayed on mobile devices. To this effect, Sports Illustrated promotes FanNation, a mobile app that is dedicated to fantasy league sports. FanNation is more prominently advertised when visitors reach si.com from their smartphones and tablets; this is when they are reminded to install and launch the app.
For a company such as Time, implementing RWD is clearly a business decision. Web developers must realize that not all clients will choose RWD since it has a tendency to do away with certain artistic elements that are better appreciated from desktop browsers. Still, more clients are warming up to RWD since they can see its bottom line benefits.