Responsive Design Is a Way Forward, Not for Everyone Though


Responsive Web design has proved that it’s not a fad but a surefire way to the future – one that makes us daring, and responsible too. But is it for you?

Nobody knows what tomorrow holds for us. And thinking about it is often scary. But a progressive approach can certainly make things we do in the present last longer and serve the needs of tomorrow in just as awesome manner. Much of the credit goes to Ethan Marcotte for introducing one such approach – responsive Web design, which adapts itself as per the multiple viewing contexts, embracing the increasing adoption of web-enabled devices and hence viewing contexts. It uses three elements: CSS3, media queries and flexible layouts.

Benefits

  • You can give a rich Web experience to users from all kind of mobile devices – known or unknown.
  • You need not worry about content parity when going with responsive Web design. And you know the drill, too: upload content on your site as you would do on a non-responsive site – as simple as that. There is no need to distribute content separately and maintain websites separately.
  • The future is bound to have different kind of web-enabled devices and mobile users are bound to surpass desktop users in a year or two – this means a native platform won’t be your friend for long. But a responsive design is curated keeping that in mind, going with the “ebb and flow of things”.
  • Responsive design helps us become responsible towards future and think in a way that enables us to give a great experience today as well as tomorrow. It often leaves Web designers at wit’s end – but that’s where creativity begins, isn’t it?
  • It’s paved a way to stop designing for fixed viewports – finally!
  • It’s brought forth many future-friendly approaches along: platform-agnostic, mobile-first, context-first, user-first and so on and so forth.
  • Google loves responsive design and has embraced it, too. Let’s get back to what Google said in the mid of 2012 about responsive design and what went on to become one of the most oft-quoted statements the world over: “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device. If responsive design is not the best option to serve your users, Google supports serving your content using different HTML. The different HTML can be on the same URL (a setup called dynamic serving) or on different URLs, and Googlebot can handle both setups appropriately if you follow our setup recommendations.” We have seen this recommendation by Google becoming one of the most misinterpreted, too: Google recommends responsive design but only in case this design helps you give optimal experience to your users; if it doesn’t, you should (or rather, must) zero in on alternatives like separate mobile sites.
  • Responsive design doesn’t cost you as much as a separate mobile site or a native app.

Challenges

  • Navigation is one of the trickiest of responsive design problems. And taking a decision as per the content of your website and after determining the pros and cons of a navigation pattern you’ve decided is the best way out.
  • In a world where money is at the bottom of it all, responsive ads become one of the biggest problems. Mashable, on the one hand, displays all its ads on mobile devices, Smashing Magazine chooses to display none, on the other. The move of the latter obviously adds on to the user experience but must be having some, if not large, impact on their revenue. This .Net Magazine article discusses some impressive solutions for responsive advertisement.

There are many more problems with responsive design, such as site’s size, performance, images, etc., but everything can be and is being fixed. And as we all know, it’s problems only that push us to create a better, more future-friendly and more responsible front.

Is responsive design for you?

Do you run a blog and the user behavior to your desktop site is similar to the user behavior on your mobile site? Zero in on responsive design. In 2012, we have seen many websites, especially blogs plunging into the responsive world. Want to leverage mobile capabilities like camera through your mobile strategy? Then think of a native mobile app. Many banks are going with this approach. Thinking of giving a limited content to your mobile users, and a distinct experience too, and have no problems with maintaining multiple sites? You guessed it – consider a separate mobile site. Many hotels, such as Taj Group, are banking on this approach.

 

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