Editor’s Note: I’m not a technologist, however I am someone that thinks about mobile frequently from a marketing and product perspective. Below are a few of my thoughts on the role of mobile web and RWD. Comments and criticism are welcome and appreciated.
If you had asked me a few years ago whether all web developers should be building sites with responsive design, my answer would have been an emphatic “yes.”
However, I’ve been giving that question a lot of thought recently, and I think my opinion has changed.
For those of you that need a quick refresher (or for my family and friends, who read these posts despite not understanding a word of them): Responsive design is an approach to web design that attempts to adapt and resize the layout of a website across several device types. In essence, the theory suggests that a mobile and tablet version of a website should match the experience of the desktop version.
One of the biggest arguments to support responsive design is that web visitors are increasingly viewing sites from a number of different devices, and therefore, they shouldn’t have to re-learn how to navigate your site each time.
This argument makes a lot of sense. An increasing share of web consumption is occurring on mobile devices. These users don’t create a distinction between mobile and desktop consumption, so why should publishers? It also doesn’t hurt that designing a responsive site is often cheaper to create and maintain, as it doesn’t require developers to repeat changes across a number of different templates.
However, I’ve started to believe (at least for now) that following this approach may dismiss the nuances of different reading behaviors, and ignores the strengths and weaknesses that each device offers.