Why I Don't Really Love Responsive Design

Responsive design seems to be what everyone is on these days. Heralded as the ultimate solution to a growing wide range of screen sizes we are presented with. But there are a few reasons why I don’t really love it that much and still favor the idea of building a separate mobile offering.

Extra data over the wire

However far we’ve come with our amazingly fast mobile networks, the fact of the matter is, signal instabilities and low throughput are still very much a part of the daily life of a mobile phone user. When you’re using responsive design you’re sending all of the data that the user may potentially not even see or use down the wire to them. However insignifcant you feel this might be, it’s still precious time that can make your site feel unresponsive (ironically)

Differing workflows

In any application you may decide to have wildly different workflows and pages depending on the screen size. Certain interfaces that can fit inside a desktop environment comfortably may need to be split into multiple wizard-like screens on a mobile device. A modal that pops up from a push notification may need to be presented in an entirely new screen on mobile. These are problems that you can’t solve with just CSS (Or even if you can, it’s much more effort and ends up in unmaintainable code that is written for the pure sake of writing it responsively).

Logic in the views

Assuming you solve all those problems, you probably did it by implementing a lot of logic in your view layer. Although the argument can be made that logic regarding the presentation can and should be contained by the presentation itself, the “best practice” of this is up to you, but often I’d like it not to be there.

Good use cases

There are however excellent uses for responsive design. I often work with interactive interfaces thus making it not the most suitable tool, but many who work in the information presentation sector could find it to be a great effort saver once they’ve set up the framework. Things like electronic magazines, newspapers, blogs, and forums are all great applications that can fit in a responsive mold.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s all about figuring out your own use case and seeing if responsive design makes sense for you. Just because it’s the hottest thing pushed on TechCrunch doesn’t mean that you have to hop on the wagon and convert your existing application.

PS: Ironically, this blog, is responsive

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