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January 8, 2015
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Make 2015 a Year of Responsive Design in African Eventing


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Web iconsTake a moment to think about what you do on a daily basis. Chances are, at some point you’re online checking your mail, browsing websites or updating your social media pages. And if you’re not an avid web surfer, your children probably are. I fall into this category as one of the older millennials who grew up in the age of digital technology, but wasn’t necessarily ‘born into it’. According to international research conducted by Visa in 2012, 20% of higher income millennials in urban areas are worth a total annual disposable income of $907-billion worldwide (roughly R10.5-trillion). And this includes Africa’s burgeoning middle class, a chunk of whom are mobile manic millennials. Praekett’s 2012 study on the continent revealed that the average African woman touches her hair 37 times a day, but checks her phone 82 times a day. With this in mind, I believe it’s time to start taking both the internet and Africa’s youth seriously. 

Practically speaking, this usually means creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle for your company – not to mention a fully functional website. Enter responsive design. The term has been around for a while, but isn’t particularly well known. Essentially, it means creating web pages that respond to each user for an optimal experience – but there is so much more to it than that. According to Adam Parry of Event Industry News, responsive design is set to be one of the top digital ticketing trends in 2015. “Customers want to be able to interact and view websites on whatever device they have the pleasure and preference to use, whether it be laptops, phones, TVs, tablets, etc.,” he explains. 

Ticketing tech is just one portion of the web pie, though. Responsive design can work in any website setting, from any device. But giving users a great experience is not always as easy as it looks. Paul Boag of Boagworld, an online company that helps clients plan, implement and evolve their websites and digital offerings, says that requests for responsive design are now so common that they now build websites like this by default. “Unfortunately, making a website responsive is not black and white,” he says, “People’s interpretation of what a responsive website is may be different. Making a website responsive is not black and white. People’s interpretation of what a responsive website is may be different. It is much like buying a car. Not all cars are alike, even though they have some common characteristics.” 

At its most basic level, a responsive website reacts to the viewport of any given device to improve readability, but there are many other details to consider, such as optimising images for different devices and connection speeds – the latter being a point that really needs to be overcome in general African circles. Other details include restyling links and button to be more touch friendly, ensuring elements such as videos or data tables are resized properly and not simply hidden on mobile devices, and dynamically resizing fonts to work better at different screen resolutions. Needless to say, the list continues. 

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the technicalities of what responsive web design means, but for a business, it can mean the difference between an excited new customer and an awful user experience. My advice for anyone considering web design in 2015 would be the following: budget for quality, know exactly what you want, and speak to the experts – that is, after all, what they’re there for.  


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