The Responsive Website Dilemma.

These days there is a movement towards "Responsive Design". This sounds like a good idea, website designs that adapt themselves to a variety of different screen sizes. As more people use mobility networks it would seem logical to create websites catering to these devices.

Is responsive design a good idea for every website? NO, not even a little bit

Some things to consider about "Responsive Design" are the sites cost more as there is more development time. You lose control over your fixed layout, so elements may not be where you expect them to be unless you actually plan for how the content will look at each stage of your development.

Your customers will have a harder time navagating the pages and if you have advertising or sidebar elements you will lose placement for those as well.

Here are what some others have to say about "Responsive Design".

Think About Your UI – Why Responsive Web Design is NOT Right For Your Website

There is a large movement for “responsive web design” and everyone going on about “Smart phone usage is on the rise”

No kidding.

Of course there is a growing number of smart phones. That’s like saying “There are more people in the world than there were yesterday.” It’s a trivial fact that doesn’t mean anything.

I think this movement in large part is perpetuated by the design/agency community at large.

Why the mass push for responsive and mobile sites?

Responsive website’s cost more to make and bring in more money. On the flip side, clients can feel cool that they have a “progessive” website with the latest and greatest that HTML5 and CSS3 has to offer.
Beware of The Responsive Design

There is a danger in changing the user experience completely between devices.

Think about it.

    Do you like most mobile sites that you visit? NO
    Are they as easy to navigate as the normal site? No way Jose
    Do you mind pinching to zoom in to see content? Not really, it’s pretty simple.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many practical applications for having a mobile or responsive web site, but I don’t think it’s a requirement. As phone browsers get better and as connection speeds rise (ala 4G networks) the point of having a smaller (filesize/bandwidth wise) mobile site shrinks.

If you are a B2B company. Why in the world would you want to remove sidebar elements,  hide calls to actions, make your already pretty boring site harder to navigate, and pretend you are cool because your site is “responsive”?

It makes no sense, please stop it. If you think your mobile site converts as well as a full page layout, I have some swamp land to sell you.

9 Reasons Your Responsive Web Design Sucks.

How Limitations Of Responsive Web Design Affect User Experience.

1. Can’t “Pixel-Perfect” Your Website.

Responsive web design doesn’t give a designer unlimited control to determine how every element renders on different devices. This means that the design might look slightly different than initially intended when viewed on different screens and at different resolutions. Instead of responsive web design, the ideal is “Pixel-Perfect Responsive Web Design,” which gives a designer precise control over all elements including pixels. This pixel-accurate design ensures that the website functions and appears as planned, regardless of where it is viewed.

2. User Experience Can Suffer.

In placing emphasis on adapting content for all devices, responsive web design often overlooks user experience. While content-rich sites work well as responsive websites, others that rely on ad revenue, opt-ins, and sidebars can quickly become unbearable to navigate on mobile devices. In this case, the user may struggle navigating and finding relevant information on the website. The user experience is just as, if not more, important than the visual appeal of the site, and should be considered thoroughly before implementing a responsive design.

3. Poor Conversion Rates.

It’s estimated that by 2018 global mobile commerce sales will amount to more than $638 billion. Despite the growing popularity of mobile commerce, responsive web design’s poor user experience often ends up costing e-commerce businesses. In fact, more than  40 percent of consumers admitted to cancelling a mobile transaction because the checkout process was too slow. Other factors, such as poor mobile site performance, and a lack of clearly visible call-to-action buttons, have also been found to affect conversion rates.

4. Too Many Considerations.

When designing responsive websites, there are many design considerations to ensure a website is fully functional, regardless of the device, platform, or resolution. This means that unless a designer plans the website carefully, there is much greater room for error. For example, given the sheer variety of devices, it can be very challenging trying to determine what widths to design for. To avoid these errors, designers can use many different responsive design tools available to them. These include a Device Diagram, Responsive Design Sketchbook as well as Responsive Web Design Sketch Sheets.

5. Poor Performance.

Load time affects not only user experience, but conversion rates. A recent survey found that most users expect a website to load in
2 seconds or less. The same users tend to abandon a website if it hasn’t loaded in 3 seconds. This has significant implications for responsive websites when viewed on mobile devices, as mobile browsers are forced to download big HTML files. This dramatically slows load time and often frustrates users. In many cases, a simple dedicated smartphone website with very few scripts, CSS files, and images is a far more effective option.

6. Complex Implementation.

It’s not impossible to build a responsive website that runs efficiently on mobile devices. It's simply far more complicated than creating a separate mobile-dedicated website. When designing for a responsive experience, there are many different factors to take into consideration to ensure the site provides a seamless viewing experience. In comparison, a simple dedicated mobile site, also known as an "m dot" site, is far simpler to create as it's designed specially to be viewed on touchscreen mobile devices. M dot sites have limited images and a small amount of HTML to worry about, making them a more efficient alternative.

7. A Costly Investment.

Responsive web design is an investment, and a costly one at that. Generally, a responsive website costs more and takes longer to develop than a traditional website. Many argue that investing in responsive web design is more affordable than building a dedicated mobile site. While there may be some truth to this, it’s important to understand that responsive websites don’t always provide the best user experience. For many, a non-responsive website will be far more effective and cheaper to develop in the long run.

8.  Significant Work Involved.

Developing a responsive website requires a significant amount of time, and there’s a never-ending amount of work involved. Even with time-saving frameworks and tools, making a website function across all devices is a complicated task. In fact, creating a responsive website can end up adding more work than creating a separate, mobile-dedicated site.

An effective way to reduce workload is to reuse code instead of trying to manipulate CSS so that it’s compatible with all devices. To simplify things and speed up the process, you can reuse the back-end code from both the mobile and desktop version of the site. Sometimes it can be easier to maintain two simpler codebases than one codebase that’s overly complicated.

9. Technical Stumbling Blocks.

There are several technical challenges facing designers creating responsive websites. While these challenges aren’t insurmountable, it’s important to keep them in mind, as they can be used to inform the design process. Many technical challenges stem from the need to design in such a way that the website will be suitable, no matter where it’s viewed.

A good place to start is with the content. Designers need to consider whether the same content a user will find useful on a desktop is effective on a mobile device. Designers need to plan the content that will appear in different environments carefully. They can start by deciding on the content necessary for the mobile version, and then add more elements as the browser size increases. This marks a shift from the waterfall method of design, where traditionally HTML markup would be derived from a set of Photoshop concepts. With responsive web design, on the other hand, content is the starting point.

5 Reasons Why Responsive Design Is Not Worth It

1. It Defeats User Expectation

The first rule in usability 101 is to give the end user what they expect. There is no worse cardinal sin in web design than confusing the end user. And yet that is exactly what responsive design can do.

Take blogs as an example. There is a widely accepted “standard” design for blogs — header up top, content to one side, sidebar to the other. That basic design is repeated across literally millions of blogs because it is easy to navigate, and it is what people expect.

2. It Costs More and Takes Longer

Generally speaking, a responsive design is going to cost more than a non-responsive design. Resources are typically stretched as it is, so forking out an additional chunk of money for a responsive design is a painful experience.

One might argue that responsive design is a damn sight cheaper than building a separate mobile site from the ground up, and I would agree. But do you know what is even cheaper than responsive design? Non-responsive design.

And let’s not forget the extra time it will take to produce a responsive design, and the additional complications that will be involved.

It is easy to get carried away with the idea that not developing a responsive design is akin to sounding the death knell for your site. But ask yourself — how much of a return on your investment is a responsive design going to offer you? If you assume that a non-responsive design renders your website unusable for mobile users, it might seem like a no brainer, but that really isn’t the case. Which leads me onto my next point.

3. Non-Responsive Designs Usually Work

Here’s the thing folks — modern mobile devices are developed to display non-responsive website designs effectively, and for the most part, they do an excellent job. There will of course be exceptions that prove the rule, but such sites usually look terrible on a desktop PC too.

More often than not, a well designed desktop site will be perfectly readable on a mobile device, without you having to lift a finger to accommodate it.

4. There is Often No Load Time Benefit

One of the loudest arguments behind responsive design is that mobile devices are often operating on sub-broadband speed internet connections, so sites should be stripped down to ensure optimal load times.

It sounds like a sensible suggestion. There’s just one problem — many responsive designs don’t actually decrease the load time over their desktop counterparts. It is a habit of many designers to hide elements, but unfortunately this does not prevent them from being loaded. Whilst one can argue that this is simply bad practice, it is also common practice.

5. It’s a Compromise

That’s right folks — responsive design is a compromise. It is a subjective decision by the designer that the desktop display will not be optimal on mobile devices, followed up by a subjective decision as to what will be.

Briefly touching again on my first point, many mobile users will be left frustrated that it has been decided for them that they should be presented with a different design. Second rule in usability 101 — don’t make the user feel like they are not in control.

My point is this — is a compromise really any better than the perceived detrimental effect of loading a non-responsive design on a mobile platform? Especially when that compromise costs money and takes time to produce?

It seems that the retort to responsive design is the implementation of it and not the technology in the first place. This doesn't address the issue that is present when the boss hands a stack of web updates to the receptionist and asks that they be on the site before closing. The boss only cares that the information is presented cleanly and professionally, not that the receptionist is expected to be a web designer.

Some implemtations of responsive design can be useful, but to a large degree it is in tended to increase the cost of a website while reducing the design, layout and control that people have come to expect.

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