5 problems of responsive web design

Faced with the diversity of mobile devices and the explosion in their use, responsive Web design Appears as one of the great fads of the web today. Responsive web design (in French: site web adaptatie) is an approach that aims to optimize a website for the media it is consulted on, by resizing the organization of content (based on a grid). There is nothing technically revolutionary about this solution (It already existed in 1999 ), but is spreading more and more, to the extent of becoming the de facto standard …

So would RWD be the right solution to the problems associated with the great variety of media I read? My answer is clear: no!

Problem 1: Different needs

First, it is unthinkable to offer the same content to Internet users in different circumstances and with radically different needs.

Let’s take an example: A large distribution group uses their website to present their brand through a video and highlight recruiting prospects in their group. Will the utility be the same on mobile? Not sure… A store locator that makes it possible to locate the nearest store would probably be more relevant on this medium.

Beyond ease of reading, so I question the effectiveness of “raw” RWD. A second example to illustrate this: a form on mobile is often very restrictive. Is it necessary to make the “Postal Address” field mandatory for this medium? Is it really useful to force an internet user to enter his address through his mobile? I think it’s important to treat forms differently, for example by reducing the number of mandatory fields on mobile.

Of course, it is possible to customize a responsive site by hiding some of the content depending on the medium, but…:

  • Displaying or not displaying content is not the solution to the problem if the only desire is to indent information. A very good comment from Interfacesriches.fr sums up the idea well: “It is like telling me that it is enough to reduce the number of shelves in a hypermarket to turn it into a city center mini-market. Reducing their number is not enough, everything has to be reviewed: the traffic area, the traffic, signs, etc.”
  • Furthermore, the initial purpose of RWD is to be just one site; But if all displayed elements are conditioned by rules as in media, then it is obviously easier to create different versions of the site.

Problem 2: Various technical hurdles

Speeds are now vastly different between a computer and a mobile. And even though some elements are “hidden” depending on the media, loading the whole site in raw RWD: all images, all media… Concession:

  • If the site is based on the mobile version, then not offering quality media on the desktop version.
  • If the site is based on the computer version, that on mobile is based on significantly longer loading times (and an equally significant bounce rate in other words).

Technically, it is possible to counter this by using Responsive Server Side, which to put it simply, detects the medium and displays only the appropriate media. And yet, our problem is still not solved…:

  • What if you want to resize the window or switch the tablet from vertical to horizontal?
  • Is this server processing going on the server side as well as on the client side (and therefore potentially slowing everything down!)
  • Again, the initial goal of responsive web design is simply to build a site, but is it really easier to find technical tricks to handle special cases than to create different versions of a site?

Problem 3: A complex design

Creating a site in responsive design is prohibited, as it is bound to be based on an adaptable grid. This not only makes the design taller, but also limits reflections graphically and ergonomically.

Of course, templates already exist and are available at reasonable prices (for example on themeforest.net). It may indeed fit some needs, but fitting its content into an already existing mold brings us back to the V0 of web design. In order to convey your messages well, the form needs to be tailored to the content, not vice versa.

Problem 4: Technical Limitations to Identifying Dimensions

Today it is possible to identify the resolution of a screen, but not its physical size. However, on screens of very different sizes, the resolution may be the same.

An example illustrating this difference perfectly:

iPad Mini - Flipboard

“… the Nexus 7 version is just a bigger version of the phone version. Which version would you like to spend 20 minutes reading on?”

Problem 5: Displaying ads

If monetizing your site is your priority, then responsive design will bring you additional issues.

Example: If, on a computer, your ad appears above the waterline, this may not happen on the mobile version. And there is little chance that it will please your advertisers! ,

So what is the solution?

Well unfortunately none is perfect, it really depends on ambitions, resources, issues and sectors. Responsive web design isn’t a bad solution, but it isn’t the best fit for all situations.

Keeping the user at the center of the design remains a priority!

The construction of the site should neither be based on technical solutions, nor on business speech. What Internet users need is not just to have a mobile version of a site, but to find a rapid response to their expectations (requirements that may differ from one medium to another).

In order to design different versions of a site, it is therefore necessary to first and foremost ask about the different requirements and uses, in order to define the most appropriate solution(s).

So there is no ready-made solution that is valid for all worlds, but for my part I often like to make two versions, a tablet + computer version and a mobile version:

  • Two versions connected to the same database to be able to update two sites easily;
  • Two versions adaptable in width to meet different screen sizes (you can easily see how it works by resizing a window on the Google Help Center, for example).

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you think of any problem as a nail.” Abraham Maslow (The Psychology of Science, 1966).

And you, which solutions do you favor?

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