Responsive Design Poll

25 Jun 2012 - 9:21am
4 years ago
5 replies
2118 reads

I am hearing from a lot of clients who are asking questions about whether or not now (or ever) is the time to invest in a responsively designed site - that is, if they should use media queries and fluid proportion-based layouts to provide an optimized experience across devices and browsers.

There isn't a lot of information out there about how many of us are doing this now, and I've been thinking about putting together a survey so that as a community, we can have some idea about how prevalent this is becoming, whether a number of organizations are considering it, and what challenges they have faced or are preventing them from moving forward. 

Before I do that, I wanted to get a sense of whether or not there would be other interest in this type of research.  Thoughts?

Lija Hogan


27 Jun 2012 - 8:09am

I am currently involved in a responsive designed web application so I would be interested in this research. When i first began this project I found information on designing web pages/sites but not on responsive applications. I personally think that there is a difference. Perhaps your research could expand to explore challenges when designing for responsive web sites vs. designing responsive web applications (large and complicated ones).

27 Jun 2012 - 8:22am
Laura Harley

There was a discussion about Responsive Design on another UX group recently.

You are not the only one interested in the topic. At my job we are building a set of UI widgets that need to work in a variety of contexts and across different browsers and devices. It is a very diffiicult task.

The W3C and others want you to believe in the separation of presentation from the meaning or content, that any content can be displayed in a variety of styles and settings without affecting the meaning. As a designer, the premise is false. Presentation conveys meaning. The visual layout of the page, the order of presentation, the colors, the graphics used, grouping elements using whitespace, and the size of the type all tell the reader how to read the content. Information has display patterns and conventions that you can't ignore without confusing your readers. A simple table conveys the relationships between and among the values. 

Having said that, I think there is great value in trying to design for dynamic and interactive content. The changing context of the presentation--computer, mobile device, TV-- is just another variable or dimension the designer must take into account in organizing the information and activities the reader / user must work with. From my recent reading on the Resposive Design concept, it seems that UX has abaondoned the principle of 100% liquid layout where we fill the screen no matter the content or size of the screen. Instead Responsive Design seems to be saying that we need to use the monitor or screen size as a reference point to help align and lay out content. I think this is the right approach. However, as several authors have commented, a single design can't work for all content. Some content won't scale well at all sizes. Things that must display on really small mobile devices can't use the same design framework that works for very large screen sizes. For instance, really long content that is easy to read and work with on a 1900 px wide monitor will be too long for a mobile device. At least it can't work using the same presentation framework as the large monitor. The content needs to be broken into pages or some other mechanism must be introduced for the small device that isn't needed on the larger device. So they argue that we still don't have a good solution or set of design guidlelines to properly implement Responsive Design. 

See the following

Golden Grid System

Elles De Boorder, Emerce (in Dutch) has great examples of Responsive Design

Ethan Marcotte, Responsive Design, A List Apart

5 Useful CSS Tricks for Responsive Design



27 Jun 2012 - 11:30am

My web team just updated our site to be fully responsive about two weeks ago. It took about 2 months to make the complete switch but we have such a mobile audience we felt it was the right choice. 

We wrote a blog piece about it:[...]mobile-first-online-identity



28 Jun 2012 - 11:18am
Laura Harley

Taylor Thomander. I reviewed Techange's Website and your blog. I think the site is a great example of Responsive Design. I especially liked the point that you started with the mobile (smallest size) and worked your way from there. Yes, I agree that the smaller size is the one with the most constraints and risk, so it made good sense to me to start with that approach first. I'm so impressed with the Responsive Design of your site, I might even sign up for one of your courses! 

Everyone seems to want an easy, no-brainer, turn-key approach to design across multiple devices. In the blog you noted the large amount of research you did and the forums and blogs you circulated your ideas to. This confirms for me that Responsive Design is still being worked out and it also confirms that design is always best when it is informed with research and feedback. I don't think there are magical machines for design work, alas. Tools can help, but they can't do everything.

One thing I note in reviewing your site and the other Responsive Design examples that I've looked at recently -- the best examples seem to come from content rich sites, such as sites devoted to news, blogs, learning and education, products. I work on Web apps with lots of functionality, with  worksheets, large volumes of data, where users actually perform tasks and view scatter plots or charts with tons of data points and interactive dials.

I've seen good workspace apps on my iPhone, but most of these are more simple, one-dimensional tools unlike what my own enterprise Web app requires. Our app is more a templated framework that our customers set up to work with the way they want. It's hard to define a complex workspace template that will work well on a small device and a large device without serious modifications to the design and layout. Workspaces on a small device are hard. The user must maintain a task context and have 2 work panes that must display side-by-side, if the task is to be accomplished effectively. And users must work with 100s and sometimes 1000s of data items--the number of items is part of the task and can't be reduced or simplified. It's easier to design this type of task-based UI for a larger screen. Mobile devices are a real challenge.

It's also hard to specify conditional display logic in the current tools and methods (for Web development and Responsive Design) that says these 2 panes must display side-by-side no matter the device or screen resoltuion, but the other panes in the content can be stacked or rearranged randomly. 

So I think the concept of Responsive Design works best with content-rich sites, but we still need guidelines for workspace and Web applications.


28 Jun 2012 - 12:24pm

A good article and debate --

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