My response to responsive web design challenges

There is a post over on Bloom Web Design about problems and solutions regarding responsive web design that is gaining some traction. Since I feel it misses some important points I wrote a comment. And since the comment is taking forever to be approved I’m posting my comment here:

responsive-axbom

It is a nice walkthrough of all the common pitfalls, but I don’t agree at all with the solution for data tables. If there is data that is not important to the user then it shouldn’t be presented in any view. Assuming that there is data that is less important just because a user is on a more narrow screen is a illogical. I think it’s important to consider, and realise, that sometimes a user will be okay with scrolling horizontally as well, as long as there are obvious reasons for this (such as a data table) and it gives them access to all the data the need to complete the activity they came to the website for. Horizontal scrolling is not something that *must* be avoided at all costs.

A few others points:

  • Presenting an RWD solution as a magic solution for the client seems to be just that, a trick, rather than a a business-oriented argumentation. Better to show you understand the business, how their target group uses the web, and how RWD can make their business more cost-effective or generate more value/money. Show how operations and users benefit.
  • It’s true that this is not static designing, but the solutions you write about here do not really address the challenges of many different device widths and how this clashes with many strong wills to have a pixel perfect design.
  • What is the formal connection between CSS sprites and retina displays? Or, even between RWD and CSS sprites? The image problem continues to be quite a large one without a proper solution. As a technical solution it would require artificial intelligence resizing the images on the server side while cropping them intelligently to the fit with the design, content and aspect ratio. Right now clients should be made aware of the many problems images pose in RWD.

In conclusion, I agree with the challenges but all the solutions presented in the article are not really solutions…

Brad Frost brought my attention to this discussion thread on Branch, which is a good read if you want to gain more insight into the problems of Responsive Web Design: Boxes and grids, oh my.

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