Response to Responsiveness

The value of a product contains a variety of functions where the intent are both the sum of its parts and the parts in themselves. This value manifest itself in design to its exact purpose, in the form of one execution to which all intents, and functions are met and presented. This presentation reduces the limits and context to a single framework (web only or mobile only, iPhone or Android) in exchange for product clarity and purity. This is the Original.

Intention: the aim
Function: the purpose of a thing (in order to achieve the aim)

An example of intent and function in relation to the parts and its whole using Facebook:

Intent: to communicate with friends
Function: the product allows communication with friends

Intent: to communicate with friends
Function: post on wall to communicate with all friends

Intent: to communicate with one friend
Function: private message to communicate with one friend

The Original is the initial design of the product where the spirit of the intent and function are at its rawest form. This form has the hierarchies of intentional and functional elements in harmony, based on initial assumptions of the framework. Because the frame never changes, the harmony of the elements never changes, by extension the expectation never changes and therefore the product is fully functional.

In the advent of responsiveness (not only resize, but reincarnation of the same product, web experience vs mobile vs apple tv app, etc), the balance of intentional and functional elements skews and oscillates and in most cases degrades when the initial framework loses it’s boundaries. Unless the relationship of the two elements are designed to harmonize again, under the assumption of each new fluctuating framework (concretely speaking, all sizes in the Apple, Android family, abstractly speaking, each difference in pixel) then each resize is a “next best” scenario in relation to the Original due to their adaptive and systematic degradation.

For each level of framework further removed from the Original, the more abstracted, and bastardized the intentions and functions become. This degradation occurs when the framework which house the balanced elements of intent and function are changed but without also changing the ratio and hierarchy of the intention and function themselves. (In the sense that, instead of redesigning or adjusting a private messaging feature, first consider if the feature is necessary in the new framework/context)

Often, the assumption is that a change of frame is not a change of the product and therefore not a change to the element of intent and function. However, the relationship of these elements are not democratic in that when the size and position of the elements are altered so does the hierarchy of their relationship, and by extension the hierarchy of their function.

To properly balance a product that maximizes its fundamental value, and the spirit of the Original, a reconsideration to the intentional and functional elements are necessary for each instance of the framework. In most cases it’s the intention that gets changed the most as the “functions” are general enough to remain similar.

For example, imagine a row of glasses order from smallest to largest, each size (or instance) has a different intention (even though the function of it hasn’t changed, to hold liquid). An instance of the smallest glass can be called a shot glass, where the intent is to hold a small amount of alcohol. An instance in which the glass is a little larger but made with porcelain can be called a teacup with the intention to drink tea. The point is that for each instance of it’s framework, the intention is altered to best maximize the function. It would be ridiculous to drink a smoothie from a stemmed wine glass. Analogously, this is what responsive executions are asking the users to do.

So within each framework, the intention and function of the product should be reconsidered for each instance to best serve the Original. This reconsideration may also require some functions to be completely eliminated or reincarnated to it’s own form (facebook messenger app not part of the facebook app) even though it was originally made to serve the purpose of the product. It’s better to create functions that better maximizes the value of the product for each particular instance than to scatter mediocrity in the pursuit of accessibility.

The judgement of a product (from a strictly objective perspective) is how successful the function meets the expectation of intent. In the instance of the Original, the expectations are assumed to be fully met. In a reframed instance where the elements of function and intent are not fully reconsidered but systematically adapted, the reframed design becomes burdened by the expectation of the Original due to skewed but not distinctive enough differentiation in hierarchy from the Original. To drastically differentiate and reset expectations, the expectations have to be managed simultaneously along with the restructuring of intentional and functional elements.

The judgement of expectation (assigning qualitative value to the product) is the degree to which expectations are met in the spectrum of function and dysfunction. The more function a product has, the wider that spectrum in which a judgement can be assigned; the less function the smaller that spectrum. The smallest spectrum possible is a binary function of did it work or not and it applies to designs that have very little to offer. But if the goal is to nudge judgement towards the functional end of the spectrum and always have expectations met based on the given framework then perhaps the lowest function is the most effective. Therefore, when the expectation of the re-frame is binary, and the restructuring of the intentional and functional elements are to fulfil that binary expectation without alluding to any functions that could have been expected from the Original, then it can be said that the re-frame has maximized its value for its particular instance which ultimately contributes to the significance of the Original.

An example of this would be the mobile version of a product that doesn’t function or expect the user to use it in mobile but redirects the user to the desktop and vice versa. (Snapchat, Instagram are good examples)

So in all, the Original is when intention and functions are balanced to the initial framework. The systematic responsiveness of that framework disrupts that balance without changing the original intention and function. This leaves the original expectation intact even though the adjusted framework can only halfheartedly meet the standards of the Original. To change the framework is to change the intent which is to change how the expectation of the current instance relates to the Original. Instead of systematically adjusting content by stacking and condensing which not only degrades that particular instance, it also takes away from the spirit of the Original. It is best to reconsider the product (intention and function) for each instance of framework instead. Regardless of the economics and the pragmatism of actual application, it’s valuable to reconsider the role of responsiveness and it’s affect on the intention of the creator with respect to the viewer in achieving the original goal of the product.