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September 15, 2011 at 5:40 am #34362
Ok, I have been following the whole responsive website discussion en hype (yes, I think of it as a hype) and I hope we all can take a minute and look at it before we rush into this.
I see the benefits and need for the underlying principles of responsive sites, but I think the solution is not responsiveness.
Take this site (CSS_Tricks) for example. When you look at it on your desktop and you rescale the browser-window: the elements jump all over the place, rearrange themselves and this basically violates a very important rule of UX: Make things easy to find. Once someone expects (from experience) to find something at a specific place, it should be there and not somewhere else (at least not without proper, intuitive introduction.
The problem with responsive websites is that they change on the user without proper reason (a different device is not a proper reason from a users point of view, and neither is rescaling the browser window) and more importantly: without warning.
Now I am not saying I am against responsive webdesign, but I am saying we should think it through a bit more before we start using it without thinking about the human factor. It is all to easy to get caught up in the “catering for devices” kind of thinking while we should design for the user, not the device.
I am very interested in your thoughts?September 15, 2011 at 5:55 am #87233stianMember
I hear what you’re saying, and you do have a point, a valid one at that, but i still think it’s worth it in most cases (when it’s done well). Take this site for example.. would you rather scroll horizontally when browsing the forums? What if you want to resize your browser window to half the width, or a third of the width of your screen, and occupy the remaining space with something else? I think rearranging content to fit is far superior than having to scroll horizontally to read a paragraph.
When it comes to less technically inclined users and their possible frustration with a change in layout I think we can’t really win no matter what we do. There will be cases both for and against, but I think those who are for might be in bigger numbers then you might think. If my mom was to visit some site on say, an android device, I think she’d have an easier time navigating it if everything just fell exactly “into place” as opposed to having to scroll around the site, zoom in here, zoom in there etc.
I think responsive designs are here to stay. When they are done right, things should be apparent to the user. Navigation should be easy and the same content should be available just as it would be on a larger screen.September 15, 2011 at 7:15 am #87236
I understand your point, but would your mom have as easy a time when she visits a site on her android for the first time, but she has visited before (several times) on her desktop?
Google at least recognizes this by including a “classic view” link on the bottom of their mobile site. Something I see very little of. I am curious as to if Google has done any research on this little button and what (if any) the numbers are. We may all guess as to what users are like, but -with all respect- neither your mom nor mine can be said to be a baseline for UX.
My main point is that we now all rush into this “hype” without any background information as to how users handle it. And as usual the insight will be hindsight.September 15, 2011 at 7:23 am #87237
I think users are more focused on the information rather than the transitions of media queries. It serves a great purpose to not have to create mobile sites like we used to.
“The problem with responsive websites is that they change on the user without proper reason (a different device is not a proper reason from a users point of view, and neither is rescaling the browser window) and more importantly: without warning.”
So you want the website to alert you that it will be changing it’s layout as you rescale or use a smaller device? Honestly, I think you’re misunderstanding the whole purpose of responsive websites and design.
Responsive sites are catering to the user on a mobile scale. The purpose is to serve your content to all devices without limitation.September 15, 2011 at 7:30 am #87238joshuanhibbertMember
I have to disagree with something you mentioned. The devices we browse on certainly do matter. Mobile browsing is incredibly different to desktop browsing, and I’m not sure how you can suggest otherwise. In fact it is so different that some companies have dedicated mobile sites. Responsive web design is a much better option as it allows users to remain familiar with the feel of the site.
I don’t think you are giving users enough credit. Using this site as an example, sure things move a bit, but they always remain in locations that make sense. If a user visits a new site for the first time the same issue arises. It’s all about familiarity and as long as designers aren’t being stupid then responsiveness should not impact on that. Remember that it isn’t catering to different devices, it’s catering to how humans interact with those devices.
Oh, and I never want to scroll horizontally. Ever.September 15, 2011 at 7:35 am #87239
@ChristopherBurton yeah, I think content is the most important thing. Media queries can help users access and digest the information much more easily.
@Evert I think UX has to evolve. Perhaps making a user feel at home on both a very wide and small viewport is part of good UX and design.September 15, 2011 at 9:02 am #87245
@ChristopherBurton & @joshuanhibbert : I said I am neither for nor against responsiveness, so no need to get defensive. I just don’t want to make up my mind about it in a matter of months since NOBODY (not me, not you) can determine how users interact with responsive sites, how they want to, and how they need to. That is something that needs to be something we measure by TRYING multiple things (like A/B testing etc.) instead of stating/dictating them.
Right now we are just all shouting “responsiveness” and very few people are actually trying to see what works and what not.
It is all good and proper for you to say what you think users are capable of or not, but do you actually have the numbers to back that up?
I never said the device doesn’t matter, Nor did I say that I want the site to warn me when it changes it’s layout.
All I am saying is that responsive design should not be accepted on face value.
I am getting feedback from users who simply do not understand why the same site they visit looks different on different devices. Some even think they have gone to a different site completely, and one even reported thinking the site was “broken”.
Again, these are just incidents, but so far I fail to find any tests been done or being done on this subject. And I fear (perhaps incorrectly so) that we put in a lot of effort into this only to find out later it doesn’t work as well as we hoped. So until then I would think that as responsible designers and developers we would caution ourselves (based on past experiences with hypes) to jump in blind.
Again, in no way do I want to disprove responsive design, but as yet it hasn’t been proven either (to my knowledge) and that worries me into thinking it will probably be here to stay for one reason alone: the majority. Which breaks another UX rule: Design is not a democracy.September 15, 2011 at 9:47 am #87247
@Evert Having a set width causes a horizontal scrollbar for smaller devices, so we could just reverse our logic. If it’s that important that people become accustomed to sites which should never change regardless of what device they view it on: Why not make the width of the site 480px?
That way, there is no horizontal scrolling for smart phones and larger viewports and the users will always be used to that layout.
2 birds with 1 stone right?September 15, 2011 at 9:53 am #87248
I wasn’t being defensive in a rude manner.
The problem with responsive websites is that they change on the user without proper reason (a different device is not a proper reason from a users point of view, and neither is rescaling the browser window) and more importantly: without warning.”
“and more importantly: without warning.”
This implies you’d like a warning before the responsive layout takes place.
Why can’t I tell you how a user reacts on responsive sites? I am a user that visits them after all. Do you have the numbers to back up your claim?
“I am getting feedback from users who simply do not understand why the same site they visit looks different on different devices. Some even think they have gone to a different site completely, and one even reported thinking the site was “broken”.”
Maybe the problem isn’t media queries, it’s the design techniques being applied.
Overall, I’d also like to see some stats on responsive layouts.September 15, 2011 at 10:03 am #87249
@jamy_za It is not about finding a solution. I do not have a problem. I cannot stress this enough. it is about how users react to things. Simply set up multiple solutions and see what the common denominator is. Do not assume to provide solutions to problems that may or may not exist.
But, against better judgement, to answer your question: I would rather scale the site to fit the device and let the user either make a choice of layout, or zoom in. But regardless all these are bad solutions I suspect.
The problem with this particular point of responsiveness is that the designer determines the resolution of change. Personally I like to view all sites on my Galaxy tab (7″) the way they look on my desktop but scaled to fit my screen, while I want them to not fit my screen on my phone. I (again personally) do not experience moving the site sideways with my finger on my phone the same as horizontal scrolling on my desktop with a mouse. But then again, I am no baseline for UX either (nobody is).
The reason for my post is just that: All articles I read about responsive design and all arguments I have heard so far all “assume” that the user wants or needs it like so. I cannot stress this enough; this may be right, but then again it may not be. So before committing ourselves to this shouldn’t we at least try to find out if it actually works?
That is what I would like to talk about, not about specific use-cases.September 15, 2011 at 10:14 am #87251
“Do not assume to provide solutions to problems that may or may not exist.” – Evert
You said: UX: Make things easy to find. Once someone expects (from experience) to find something at a specific place, it should be there and not somewhere else
Clearly, there is a problem and it needs solving so I am not “assuming to provide solutions that may or may not exist”. YOU said they exist. I was giving a solution to that.
Clearly you aren’t looking for answers or opinions like you claim to be. If you were you wouldn’t be attacking, but rather listening to what others have to say. Anyway, I’m done here.September 15, 2011 at 10:19 am #87252
@ChristopherBurton I experienced you as being rude (although I will accept you do not intend to be) because of this:
“Honestly, I think you’re misunderstanding the whole purpose of responsive websites and design.”
Also you seem to assume a lot; like what I would like based on a statement (warnings) and that problems may be with design techniques (Don’t misunderstand me, I wasn’t the designer of the site I was talking about, so I am hardly offended).
Basically, you set the tone in this conversation by steering the discussion into the “yes-no” zone, while all I wanted to do was talk about views on lack of evidence and possible testcase scenarios.September 15, 2011 at 10:23 am #87253
@everybody: it seems grown up and mature discussions are impossible here and only statements and viewpoints are admitted as long as they result in someone being wrong or right?
I never wanted to talk about specific problems or usercases!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I wanted to talk about lack of evidence and possible testcase scenarios. But it seems you all just want a good fight. Well have it without me, thank you very much. It seems all you learn these days is debating and not discussing. There IS a difference you know.September 15, 2011 at 10:34 am #87255
I wasn’t directing it towards you per se or trying to come off rude. If a user is giving that type of feedback as YOU say, it is certainly the designer not the responsive layout. If you didn’t want specific use cases, don’t use them in your replies.
Also, I said your statement IMPLIES you wanted a warning.
@Jamy_za is right, you are not looking for opinions as you are being argumentative.September 15, 2011 at 10:47 am #87258
The only thing I am being argumentative about is my original intent for this post, which you all seem to want to highjack to prove to me that responsive design is “a good thing”, which I am not saying it isn’t.
Please at least give me the credit that I would know what it is I want to talk about when I start a post, I am not that dense. If you all misunderstood my initial question then I apologize for being not clear, but that is no reason to maintain in your misunderstanding even after I tried to explain that more than once. My mistake was to answer your (all of your) arguments, which I should not have done because it only obscured my initial question more.
Anyway, as far as I am concerned the discussion is tainted now, so let us leave it at that. I’ll try to remember that people in forums these days seem to assume that every discussion is a debate, so I’ll be more clear in the future. (and yes you assume right if you sense a tone of anger here, because I rightly feel abused/cornered into a position, so I better leave now before I really say something I will regret.) If at any time I said something inappropriate I am sorry. But right now I think you lot just manipulated the hell out of this discussion, even if it was unintended.
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