Responsive Design: Hype or Solution?
They seem to love it in the US. Many blogs write about the latest trend: Responsive Design. With the arrival of smart phones and tablets, this is a logical solution for those who do not want to invest in various versions of a website for all those different devices. This phenomenon also starts to appear in the Netherlands. Is responsive design a keeper or a temporal hype?
Responsive design is a solution that uses a flexible grid. Depending on the screen resolution, blocks of content are positioned differently on the page. Content remains the same and should therefore be written concisely. Mobile is leading so long poems aren’t appreciated any longer. Sounds good right? You are ready in a jiffy, you keep your money in the pocket and you still serve all your visitors the page they need.
Since the enormous growth of mobile Internet traffic, a company can no longer stay behind and offer your visitors a slow website the size of a postage stamp. Using Flash seems to be a disgrace. Less is more, HTML5 and Internet Explorer lower than the 9th edition doesn’t count anymore. Grids already existed, but responsive design takes it to the next step.
Is responsive design really the solution for all media?
A few years ago, when all of us still had 800 × 600 screen resolutions and you were the exception with a 1024 monitor, a new trend was born in the US and heading our way: Liquid Design. Everything kept in place but blocks of content were scalable in width. You had two things for the price of one and your visitors weren’t dependent any longer on their screen resolution.
Once the monitor prices dropped, everyone changed their big boxes into beautiful widescreen displays. Liquid design disappeared rather quickly because it wasn’t necessary anymore. What’s the use of a liquid design on a 1920px screen?
Right now we are in a similar transition. We are faced with an enormous variety of screen resolutions but responsive design offers itself as a solution.
Mobile determines it all, or not?
I mainly create corporate websites which are in fact ideal for the responsive design concept. But can I explain to a customer that text should be limited to two Post Its? Do customers want to show their content on a mobile device in the first place? Does the user interface of a mobile website deflect from a standard website? For example, a main navigation could be three layers deep but does it fit the mobile version?
To know the answer to all these questions, you need to focus on the mobile aspect of the story. The motto “keep it simple” is applicable to all devices, including the mobile ones, but some need a different approach than others. The result should be the same though, simple site structures for easy navigation.
If I look back to some of my recent websites I imagine how blocks would move if it were responsive designed websites. Call to actions are placed, for example, on the top right side (much like our subscription buttons on this page) which will then automatically move downward. Is this truly what I was looking for because they were placed at the top of the page because we find the important. Another design shows four large blocks next to each other, each equally important. That is a bit of scrolling on a mobile phone when these blocks move underneath each other.
Responsive design is based on simplicity. Simplicity that we were able to let go its course due to the development of the web-technology. Desktop websites and mobile websites are not the same. Anyone who likes a bit of user interface design, won’t see a solution into responsive design just yet.
What are your thoughts on responsive design?