Responsive design and development continued to lead the discussions at this year’s SXSW. To further the fact that responsive development is not a “fad” or just a tech related idea, there were sessions set up to discuss the importance of changing not only the development side of how we responsively build sites, but also how we handle the design stage of a project.

Designing websites. You’re doing it wrong. I can just about guarantee that you’re not the only one. We’re all mostly doing it wrong. Let me explain.

During a session by Jeremy Fuksa called “Alternative Design Workflows in a PostPSD Era”, a nice analogy came up based on interior decorators. If you approached an interior designer and asked for a room to be designed, they would not go into three different houses and fully furnish three different rooms, and then subsequently ask you to pick your favorite room. And yet, this is how we’re doing design for the web. We build these “paintings”, static shots of visions that our designers have for a site (probably while the designer is all hopped up on coffee, with incense burning in a darkened room, jazz playing in the background…wait that’s just my?Friday?nights), usually based on little content and little immersion in the brand. How is this considered a logical or good idea? Well, it’s not! But, it looks like the industry is getting back to it’s design roots thanks to a very round about look at Lean process thinking of cutting the fat out of your processes.

The approach that was being presented, and is being used to a small extent in the industry, is to go back to developing our “toolbox” of design elements. A design toolbox is akin to the “mood boards”, or design elements created during research of the client, their industry, other industries that have similar goals, and so forth. We all remember design school right?

Tools such as Style Tiles and Sketch were presented as a good resource to get started. These tools allow a designer to not only gather up design style boards to present directions (design paths) that they’d like to explore given client approval, but also involve less time wasted on resources that may not be used again.

Think Lean.

Reusable resources are becoming a focus in the industry. Resources that are developed during the design process through css code for use in prototyping, made easier with tools such as Sketch which outputs css code, and framerjs which assists with responsive framework prototyping, allow us to stop throwing away the valuable resources of time and assets created. By getting into code quicker and prototyping during the design period, we can be more flexible to adjust to a client’s requests to change out individual element properties for a site.

But, why would we do that? We all know that designs never change during development.