The thoughts of Matthew Crist, a designer in Boston.

Jul 22, 2015

Responsive Design Never Killed a Company

Reading some articles about responsive design will push many to believe that it is some overly expensive, impossible to achieve, mythical beast that one should never attempt to conquer. The debate that goes on about whether or not responsive design is becoming a link bait target for sites that rely on ads for money, but as developers we understand that the concepts and ideas behind responsive design are just best practices at this point.

Business can try to force web experiences into device buckets and create narratives that allay fears of million dollar redesign projects that can avoid the nastiness of responsive design. The true fear is within the development groups that resist the change in building modern web experiences that are better for end users.

There is currently no evidence of a company adopting responsive design as a development strategy, only to end up dead later on. Maybe it exists, but all of the evidence that does exist out there in the real world suggests that companies that ignore the concepts and methodologies of responsive design are leaving money on the table. Money that can be used to train their developers to better implement responsive designs.

There are two ways to build web sites these days. The first is the old way. The second is responsively. One grants the users of any browser the ability to see content, purchase goods, or better themselves. The other forces constraints on users, neglects users in their times of need, and makes assumptions that users don’t care to have made for them.

Initially, the costs of building responsive may be greater, but that is a short term view. If building separate sites for mobile or tablet views, the development costs could be three times as much as a responsive site. Then maintenance of those separate sites needs to be considered.

Even sites that are targeted to a singular platform, like mobile, must be built responsively. According to records, there are approximately 1,273 (give or take 1000) different screen sizes for mobile devices in the market. The only way to support all of these devices is through responsive design.

So let’s agree that this thing called responsive design isn’t magic, it’s just how we build the web now.