With the recent trend of responsive web design, there have been some websites that are pushed out without any thought beyond “Just make the columns stack on cell phones”. With all the tools out there to make a site responsive (Bootstrap, Foundation, etc) making a site responsive to the width of a device has never been easier. However to make a site really work as “responsive” takes more than just making the columns stack on top of each other; it takes a responsible developer that pays attention to the details that might be missed if all they are worried about is making things stack.
One of the first considerations a responsible web developer will think about is how things are going to look when they start stacking. If we put an image in one place, it may look great on a big computer screen but how will it look when we look at it on an iPhone? Will that image still have the same context that it has on the desktop version? With the latest version of Bootstrap, they’ve added in the ability to use columns even on a mobile device, but just like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Another consideration a responsible web developer will pay attention to is a site’s load time. What happens when we put that big massive background in there? Will it slow down the load time on our Galaxy S III running on a mobile network? What happens if someone tries to load the site on their iPad while tethering to their phone while in Roswell, NM where they don’t have LTE?
A third consideration of a responsible web developer is how the site takes advantage of a device’s unique abilities. Does that pretty slider on the home page still work when someone is swiping their finger on their tablet rather than clicking a mouse? Are you telling people to click when you really want them to tap? The tools are out there which allow the designer to find out what the user’s device can do (touch, geolocation, etc), allowing them to tap into the extra functionality with your website. It’s up to the developer to take advantage of it.
Just because your site is “Responsive” doesn’t mean it’s meeting the needs of your users. As you choose who will develop your responsive website, make sure to choose a responsible web developer that pays attention to the details when creating your responsive website.