Monday, June 18, 2012

Why "Responsive Web Design" Must Die: A Case Study



So in the last episode, I spelled out the alternative to "Responsive Web Design" which was basically to do the exact opposite, and issued a fatwa on RWD. But hey, don't take my word for it.

Here's a great case study: Visit www.apple.com and store.apple.com.

Make sure to do this on your desktop PC, desktop Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phone and Android tablet.

Isn't that incredible! The UX masters at Apple have become so adept at RWD, it enables a virtually identical user experience regardless of platform!

Oh wait a sec ... I think it's just the same web site. I don't think Apple appreciates the benefits of RWD. I mean, especially on an iPhone ... why not a mobile-optimized web site? You'd think with so many phone owners they'd do that? You actually expect me to buy something from the Apple web site? What a sucky user experience!

And that is why Apple wins.

Apple's web site conveys a message, an experience, a structure that reflects the company. In their eyes, a memorable web site is more important than an accessible one.

Why would they want to water that down or make a "light" site to compensate?

Honey badger don't care about your device. Neither does Apple. Because at the end of the day, it's about

Focus.

And creating the best UX possible. But only on devices that make that user experience great.

So going back to the phone, Apple does employ one RWD thing on the iPhone that makes perfect sense. When you visit store.apple.com the first time, you get a pop-up to download the Apple Store app. Because Apple understands that if you indeed plan on shopping using your phone, you deserve the best user experience possible. That is the one exception to the anti-RWD rule.

So at the end of the day, try designing one great web site, with downloadable apps that cater to specialized experiences, rather than a one-size-fits-all RWD beast-of-code that may sound wonderful in theory but difficult to execute, because it'll be more complex, require more people to create, and most importantly, make you lose focus on what makes web sites truly great.

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