Friday, March 16, 2012

An important distinction between a "cosmetically responsive website" and a fully responsive site

An important distinction between a "cosmetically responsive website" and a fully responsive site. While media queries are great for changing things visually, they don't change content. i.e. Users approaching a site from a handheld perspective will be there for a different reason than ones visiting the site on a desktop and therefore should optimally be served different content, not the same content with a different interface.

It would be very helpful to have data as to what users do online on their mobile phones. If anyone has some good resources, please post them.


  1. I would generally agree with the concept that those who access sites using either a desktop/laptop or a tablet/phone for different purposes (though some commonality overlap) and that as such, designing the two separately for such purposes is not only ideal, but more aesthetically pleasing to the eye of both consumers. However, the ideal and reality are almost never compatible except by the corporations with the cash flow to afford the cost of hosting, building, and maintaining separate sites. It is more cost effective, right now, for cross-coding (via queries)and unification (fluidity) which means that either the sites look great in one format and bad or ok on others, or not so great on all of them.

    But, I do think, that over the next 5 years, multi-platform and multi-browser compatibility will improve greatly and possible the complexity of design will also simplify for the "basic" site and new web-ventions will spring forth as the mobile web and computing capabilities ramp up.

    1. I agree. I think that the ideal solution is a responsive design to handle as many platforms as possible via queries.

      However, I don't think that aesthetics are the problem. There are plenty of sites out there like the that perform quite well (it uses an Apache Server to load only small images of the user is on a mobile device) and deliver a visually engaging experience. Styling isn't the problem, content is.

      What I am referring to here is the fact that new designers/developers use queries to simply style their content to other devices. While it may look attractive, users are likely to want different content. Often times the existing content is squished into a mobile viewport when users just need a distilled UI.

      Designing for mobile first ( remedies much of that, but I think it's important to touch on the fact that some content may need to be served dynamically to really be fully responsive design.

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