I intend to throw some light on responsive design and the though process that should go behind developing a responsive website. I hope it will allow the business stakeholders make a informed decision.
Responsive design allows a website to intelligently morph its UI to acomodate itself on the screen of the device the user would access it from. There is a lot more happening other than a mere rearrangement of the layout to facilitate the screen size.
Take a look at yellowpages.co.in which is a very good example of a well applied responsive design to a website. If you are loading this website in a desktop browser, try and reduce the size of the browser window and see what happens. Well … that folks, is a responsive design.
Benefits of a responsive design
Here are some of the highlights of the benefits of a good responsive design.
- You have to design and maintain a single website to cater to all possible device access.
- The overall cost of development and maintenance is low.
- In all probability, you would have optimized the site, not only for performance but also for content display and interactions.
Risks of a badly integrated responsive design
There are several risks associated with responsive design. Its not applicable for all websites. Not in the traditional sense. Here are some risks that you should be aware of.
- For data and script heavy sites, there can be performance drops on small screen devices
- The design breaks or is not compatible with certain browser types. This would result in a bad experience to the end user.
- Maintaining the website becomes hell with limited or no documentation or process in place.
- User drop rates can affect your business
No business would want their customers to be driven away. While responsive design may provide benefits for the business. They get negated when the customers or users experience a bad website interaction.
An hybrid solution – Server Side Optimization
Responsive design has its benefits which cannot be ignored. one should distinctly identify family of devices that can experience almost similar experiences and cater to these distinct groups in a responsive manner. Server side scripts can manage response to the page requests depending on the source device. Depening on which device family these requests come from, specific UI can be pushed to that device. This ensures that your site will optimally peform on the device/browser and the responsiveness of the page scripts at the client side will ensure that the experience will get managed locally.