If recent conversations I've had in professional circles are any indication, responsive design is pretty much on par with a plan for world peace in the digital world.
And up until recently, I unquestioningly felt the same way. On its face, responsive design sounds like the perfect solution to many a website's conundrums as they try to compete within multiple boxes: PCs, smartphones, tablets. A website that automatically contorts itself to whatever dimensions it's being viewed on? Sign me up.
And then, I read this WebDesignShock article
, a proverbial bucket of cold water on the responsive design dream. The piece points out a number of downsides to responsive design, namely image resizing and data that isn't seen yet still downloaded, which contributes to longer loading times on mobile devices and can thus potentially do serious damage to a site's bounce rate.
What's more, if a website isn't pre-equipped for its mobile audience, the benefits of responsive design are significantly hindered. Bryson Meunier makes a good point in this Search Engine Land piece
when he explains that responsive design is pretty much useless if the site isn't even using the keywords its mobile audience is searching for.
At the same time, I can see how creating two different sites — one for PC and one for mobile — seems like a waste of time and resources when you're trying to compete in a digital landscape where news cycles last seconds and time decay eats your relevance clean off the bone in a matter of hours.
So what's the verdict? Is responsive design the answer, or not?
Perhaps it depends on what you need from the digital space to be successful, and more importantly, what your audience needs.
Does your website employ responsive design? How's it working so far?