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Backstory:

Our product team has begun finalizing details for a user accounts project, which will be worked on in a fluid framework. But, responsive web design had just been brought up to the product directors, and now we're realizing it's important to start preparing for it.

Unfortunately, the high-fidelity layouts designed for desktops have just been created, and we haven't had enough resources and time to figure out if we can convert them to smaller layouts, so our directors are hoping we can develop the the whole project in the wide desktop layouts first, and then work backwards to smaller layouts.

So my question is:

Are there some things I should look out for when developing for a desktop first, and then leading to a smaller layout after development?)

Currently, we are going for a fluid layout, and making sure to follow the guidelines of making containers and typography proportionate (percentages and ems)

Edit: Updated my question criteria below JeroenEijkhof's answer

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May be you should ask more specific for what you are looking. Right now, its very broad and could be PM related as JeroenEijkhof has written. Are you looking for guidance for concept, best practises, case studies,...? –  FrankL Nov 12 '12 at 13:57
    
I updated my question below JeroenEijkhof's answer, and will update in the original post right now as well –  Handonam Nov 12 '12 at 20:38
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4 Answers

Your question is more of a project management question than it is a user experience one. First off, fluid and responsive web design are two different things. Responsive web design can implement certain fluid web design techniques. Look it up to make sure you understand. Then answer the question as to which one you are going for.

Secondly, I recommend you ask this on a PM forum.

Lastly, in general going from desktop sized layouts to mobile is a lot harder than going from mobile to desktop. There are many opportunities for things to go wrong when sized down to mobile that will result in one or both of these:

  • The desktop design is translated badly to the mobile size and results in a bad experience
  • Takes longer time, than was scoped out, to get it right
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I figured that liquid would help me transition towards the responsive web design. Is that correct? I'm currently looking for the best cases for us finishing the project in a liquid/fluid layout first, then responsive after. On top of that, also the best practices to start with now so we can minimize the damages of not having done the responsive planning sooner. But, I guess this could be a PM question. –  Handonam Nov 12 '12 at 20:37
    
Developing for responsive is different than setting up the DOM structure for a fluid layout. If you don't factor that in the beginning your developers are going to have to do it over. –  JeroenEijkhof Nov 14 '12 at 19:26
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First of all make sure it will work with touch UIs (e.g. don't rely on mouse pointer hovers).

Beyond that, it's difficult to describe a process, but here are some hints. Pages must either be able to be squeezed narrower or disassembled and rearranged into narrower pages, so things that can''t be cohesively narrowized in those ways must be identified for redesign. Navigation is generally put in a drop-down at the top of the page, and complex menu systems can be problematic there, so simplify the nav model if necessary.

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few things to look out for:

hover states, tables, iframes, big images(lazy load).

good websites to look at are www.microsoft.com, www.starbucks.com.

I was in the same situation few weeks ago and besides these 4 things I didn't really have a problem.

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Responsive web design is so important, and has been for the last couple of years. I wouldn't focus on a "mobile website". I would more focus on a mobile responsive design that will have breakpoints for most mobile devices.

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+1 Great answer. Short and to the point! –  Benny Skogberg Nov 16 '12 at 7:31
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