from Web Design

Responsive Web Design Isn't Enough

By Sam Gerdt
December 4, 2014 - read

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is popular for many reasons:

  • It allows for quick implementation of mobile-friendly websites.
  • It doesn’t require a separate platform or database.
  • It is as flexible as the CSS used to create it (extremely flexible).

But while everyone is thrilled that we finally have a simple, broadly accepted solution to the years old question of how best to develop mobile websites, there is a big question that has been largely ignored in the mainstream. What about mobile usability?

Responsive Web Design Isn’t Enough.

The frightening truth behind the mass adoption of RWD is that we might actually be looking at an overall step backwards in terms of usability when we are considering mobile friendly sites. Until RWD became standard, common practice was to implement a separate mobile platform to run our mobile sites ( Most of these platforms were optimized for mobile usability already and we were simply playing with color palettes and content. Generally speaking, mobile-friendly websites were setting a decent mark.

full responsive website design on computers

Fast-forward to now and RWD has outpaced the separate mobile platform as the preferred solution. Suddenly we are trusting each individual designer and developer to prototype and implement successful, conversion-oriented mobile solutions from scratch. See the problem? While RWD is being praised for its simplistic approach to what was a complicated problem, an enormous burden has been placed on every designer’s shoulder to adapt desktop versions of their sites to a mobile interface without sacrificing usability.

Important Note: I am only considering performance among mobile-friendly solutions. Any mobile-friendly solution is going to be worlds better than none at all.

Challenge Accepted?

So how many designers are accepting the challenge? Probably not as many as we would hope. The truth is that good usability is a lot of work. Prototyping and user testing take time and money, and RWD is supposed to save time and money, right?

If usability and conversion are important to your bottom line, you have no choice but to invest in a company that will give you what you need to succeed. This includes:

  • A design team with UX & usability experience
  • Prototypes of the mobile version of your site
  • The option to user test your mobile site

I am just as excited about RWD as everyone else. There’s no reason to expect a better solution to mobile development is coming anytime soon, but RWD is only part of what makes a good mobile solution. Get started now or find out more about why Waypost is the right company for the job.

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Tags: Web Design