Responsive Design: Varying Approaches Likely to Impact Authoring Tool Selection

If you’ve read any of my other posts or attended my speaking events, it should come as no surprise to you that I’m a strong advocate of choosing the right authoring tool for developing learning and performance support solutions — instead of trying to make one tool work for everything.

The “new” thing impacting tool selection is responsive design. Responsive design is a must-have for websites as it allows for automatic adjustment of the size and position of screen elements based on a wide range of screen sizes. Basically, there’s no more need to design a PC version of a website and a stripped-down mobile version. But how does responsive design impact e-learning and m-learning design, and the authoring tools we use?

Responsive Design and Authoring Tools

Early on, responsive design became available to programmers who could use HTML5 and JavaScript libraries like Bootstrap. Now, responsive design is quickly being added to authoring tools across the spectrum. Adobe Captivate and Lectora Online already include responsive design features. Similar features are likely to be included in Lectora Inspire soon.

However, I do find it interesting that Articulate is approaching responsive design a bit differently.

Delivering E-Learning in a Mobile World describes Articulate’s thinking on why sometimes it may be better to adjust the course shell for different device sizes instead of adjusting the layout of the content itself. It’s an interesting take, and one that I’m still contemplating. 

What I am sure about, and what I continue to endorse in our industry, is the importance of tool selection. Even with responsive design added to authoring tools, one still has to make the right tool selection when designing e-learning and m-learning.

Some tools are simple; others are more powerful. Depending on what’s being developed, it may make sense to choose a simpler tool to be more efficient, or a more powerful tool to deliver enhanced interactivity. This trade-off should be considered along with any special tool capabilities, such as responsive design.

It’s an exciting time to be a developer. Responsive design capabilities of all types will be welcome additions to the learning developer’s toolkit! 

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