24 Jan 2013, 09:48

Turning off Responsive Web Design

As a quick reminder, Responsive Web Design (RWD) is about to adpat the site structure and layout depending on your device. Going on a given website, you will not see the same content or not the same way depending you are on a PC or on your smartphone on tablet. The url is the same for all devices, it's not a separate mobile webiste, aside the traditional one.

So with the article "Turning off Responsive Web Design", the highlited point are :

  • You should always let the user decide about which version he should be able to see or at least give him the opportunity to switch to another version.
  • Some users expect to see the website the same way with the same structure on all their devices. By "forcing" them using a device adapted version of the site may lead to more confusion than confort.
  • f you look in the comments, there is also someone whose father prefers to see the mobile version of a website due to some serious visual impairment. So letting the user chose the way the site is displayed on all devices looks to be the more effective.

On one hand we could conclude that for a mobile version of your site, a distinct mobile site and the presence of a "switch to desktop version" would be the best than to have a RWD site. On the other hand, it mainly shows that people have "desktop habits" and that it needs some "change management" to make them used to a adapted websites.

Even if both opinion are valid, I think the main issue so far with mobile websites is, beyond a different and adapted rendering, the fact that you never know if all the features of the desktop website are available or that only a part of them, leading to disappointment and confusion for end users. If some features arre disabled, I think it should be clearly mentionned.

It also shows that RWD is at its early days and that doing RWD right is not as simple as that.

And you, what do you think about it ?