Firstly, let’s explain what “responsive” web design means. According to Wikipedia:

Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). [source]

Huh? What that means is that a “responsive” website flexes or adapts, sometimes completely removing or rearranging features, depending on what your visitor is using to view it (e.g. laptop, iPad, iPhone), to allow you to have the best viewing experience possible.

Sometimes, a heavy, graphical navigation is replaced by a smaller, lightweight one, a header image is removed, or the background image becomes a flat colour so that a smartphone doesn’t have to use bandwidth to load it.

Responding to Monitor Size & Resolution

More often than not, people will have varying monitor sizes and resolutions. Here are the top 10 resolutions for paulmycroft.com last month:

  • 1366 x 768 pixels : 21% of total visitors
  • 1920 x 1080 : 11%
  • 1440 x 900 : 10%
  • 1024 x 768 : 10%
  • 1280 x 1024 : 10%
  • 1600 x 900 : 6%
  • 1920 x 1200 : 6%
  • 1680 x 1050 5%
  • 768 x 1024 : 5%
  • Mobile: 2%

A responsive site will change and adapt for each resolution in various ways. This website looks fine in all the above resolutions but it is not responsive, it has fixed elements with a background that fills the screen. Will it become responsive? Probably not until that 2% becomes 20%.

When Responsive IS Mobile-Friendly

The email templates we provide for Market 2 All – our email newsletter tool – do change depending on what device they are being read in so they are responsive and mobile-friendly. When they appear in an iPhone, the right hand column is removed, allowing for a better reading experience. When viewed in an iPad, that right column pops back into view!

iPhones

4 thoughts on “Does Responsive Mean Mobile-Friendly? Not Always

  1. Content is the most important element of any business website. Your web pages should be kept simple, with only relevant information and images that help your visitors see what exactly it is you are communicating to them. Your page will load faster if it is simple.

  2. Paul:

    Just wanted to let you know that the “how can we help you” tag on the Illinois Youth Rugby Association’s website PMD designed has been most effective for us.

    Thank you for helping us spread the word regarding youth rugby in Illinois.

    David

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