January 15, 2018, posted by Admin

Responsive Web Design: Future-Friendly Experiences

04.Is Responsive Web Design Right For Your Site?

Business Considerations

Cost is higher up front, but maintenance is likely lower. 

– As with any design, the cost is a factor. Responsive design requires more work because you are essentially designing several versions of one site. However, the cost should be compared with the costs for creating and maintaining separate sites for mobile, desktop, and tablet.

– It’s unlikely you’d have to create a new version of the site every time a new device comes out.

Understand Your Users’ Needs

Some argue that users looking at your site on a phone have different needs than users looking at your site on a desktop. For example, someone looking at a restaurant’s website while walking down the street probably needs an address and a basic menu. They are not interested in large images of the food.

Be wary of this argument.

It’s true that context (e.g., a user on the street versus sitting on their couch) should influence the design, but knowing what device a person is using does not tell you their context.

A Yahoo study found that 86% of mobile internet users are using their device while watching TV. So, don’t assume your iPhone traffic is only from people riding in a taxi or walking down a street.

Sometimes, a separate mobile site with different content and features is appropriate. 

Consider A Conference Website

Before the conference

Users want all of the information. Times, dates, hotel info, travel details, speaker bios, sponsors, blog, and updates, etc. And they likely are using a desktop to get that info.

At the conference 


Users only need some information. Their personal schedule of events, suggestions on restaurants, access to rate a speaker or session, etc. And they’re likely using a mobile device, so could you use location services (via GPS) somehow? Some conferences also have touchscreen monitors displaying the website.

There are multiple, distinct needs for this site. At this point, it may be better to design separate experiences so the users’ needs are met in both contexts. Or maybe the experience changes as the event approaches. Or maybe you build a mobile app for the conference instead. These are the discussions that must happen when deciding whether responsive design is right for your users.

A Final Thought About Responsive Design

Regardless of the medium, choosing a canvas is a powerful, creative act: before the first brush stroke, before striking the chisel, the canvas gives the art a dimension and shape, a width and a height, establishing a boundary for the work yet to come.

On the web, we try to mimic this process. We even call it the same thing: we create a ‘canvas’ in our favorite image editor, a blank document with a width and height, with dimension and shape. The problem with this approach is that we’re one step removed from our actual canvas: the browser window, and all of its inconsistencies and imperfections. Because let’s face it: once they’re published online, our designs are immediately at the mercy of the people who view them — to their font settings, to the color of their display, to the shape and size of their browser window.

— Ethan Marcotte, Responsive Web Design available from A Book Apart

Additional Resources

Responsive design examples in the wild

To see how they respond to changing screen size, click and drag to resize your browser window.

– Boston Globe

– Smashing Magazine

– Media Queries, a gallery of responsive web design examples


For a Future-Friendly Web, Brad Frost | A List Apart

Discusses the importance of making things “future-friendly” or ready for those things that don’t exist yet.

Responsive Web Design, Ethan Marcotte | A List Apart

Explains how responsive web design is possible from a coding standpoint and why it is necessary for creating an optimal user experience.

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