If Responsive Web Design Is Your Only Mobile Strategy, You Might Want to Think Again!

The motivation for organizations to go with a responsive Web design approach seems pretty straightforward. You want your website to look great no matter whether your visitors are using a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet or a mobile device. 
Since so many people are using smartphones to access the Internet while they’re out and about, you would want to make sure that they can get the same information via the tiny screen of a smartphone as they would with a large screen monitor connected to the desktop they use at work or at home. 
In fact, some viewers might begin browsing on one device and would want to resume viewing the content with another device when they get back to the office or go out in the field. It’s completely understandable that organizations would want to please visitors with one website version to cover every possible condition.
These are admirable goals, but if responsive Web design is your only mobile strategy, you might want to think again! Consider how difficult it is to be all things to all people. Why should a person have the same experience using a touch-sensitive display measuring just a few inches in diameter as they would using a mouse and keyboard and a massive HD desktop display?
The bottom line is that responsive Web design should not be the only strategy your organization should follow. There are issues of display size as well as network speeds and latency and the computing capability of various devices for you to keep in mind.

Myths About Responsive Web Design

  1. Responsive websites always take a long time to load
    In fact, although many poorly designed responsive sites have heavy page loads, this is a design issue. You can design the site to load a mobile-first approach instead of loading the desktop elements first.
  2. People want to use their mobile devices differently than their desktop devices
    To be fair, you can’t really know what your particular target audience’s desires and requirements are when browsing the Web with a mobile device. Don’t assume that they are more distracted than usual or want just the minimum amount of facts delivered in a short burst. They may be at home sitting on a couch watching TV and want to use their smartphone to view as much information as possible, for example.
  3. Responsive design just has to do with mobile devices
    Actually, the idea behind responsive design is to include all types of screen sizes and devices, from the tiniest tablet to large desktop models, with an increasingly larger amount of people surfing the Internet via their large screen TVs.
  4. Responsive websites give the same version of your website no matter what the device
    This is not going to be possible in all situations. With so many differences in device types, network availability and screen real estate, your site cannot appear identical on every possible piece of equipment.
  5. It takes more testing and coding time to create a responsive website
    Actually, the amount of time a developer needs to spend working on a website shouldn’t change so much just because it is for one platform over another.

Performance Implications of Responsive Design on Cellular Networks

One of the main considerations regarding responsive design and cellular networks is the variability in network speed. For example, performance solutions company Keynote released data it collected on response times for the websites of 2014 Super Bowl advertisers. It found that Wi-Fi and wired connections gave a loading time of 1 to 10 seconds, compared to 5-60 seconds on cellular connections. 

This means it could take a whole minute just to load the entire website of a company that may have only had a 30-second spot during the big game. 
Of particular interest is the fact that about 43 percent of these top websites provided a mobile solution averaging 862 KB in size and 50 percent offered a responsive design version averaging 3211 KB (only 7 percent offered desktop-only versions). The result is that on average, responsive websites were much larger and took more time to load than the other versions.

The Real Problem - Being Responsive As a Goal

Sourcelysis have come to recognize that the real problem with being responsive as a goal is the fact that you cannot actually use it to give people equal access to information.
We would underscore that it is impossible to provide users with the same experience under so many varying conditions using a wide range of devices in terms of size, computational ability, network connectivity and so on. You have to accept the fact that a desktop user is going to have a different experience than a person logging in with a tiny mobile device.

Methods to Improve Responsive Design Websites

If you do determine that responsive design is the most suitable approach for your organization’s goals, here are some 
methods to improve your efforts:
  • Test your responsive design website on a variety of mobile devices. Don’t just resize the desktop browser during your tests.
  • Set your site to load above-the-fold material first to give a speedier response.
  • Only load the JavaScript required for the device accessing the Internet, using conditional loading.
At Sourcelysis, you will find the talented professionals who have vast experience developing websites for clients using responsive design as well as creating versions that are mobile-focused. For more information or to get a consultation for your next website, please contact Sourcelysis today.