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    I know I’ve said I wasn’t trying to be rude numerous times previously but again I apologize if I came off that way. We’re all trying to give our opinions that you certainly don’t agree with.

    I think you’re initial post and replies are just confusing. You mention user cases but then you don’t want us to talk about them.

    You said, “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.”

    In the statement that you’ve written, it basically says that possibly statistics need to tell me how I need to or how I should interact with responsive layouts.

    This is certainly not the case for responsive layouts. Not all sites are the same, not all sites behave the same and not all users are the same. Don’t give up on a discussion simply because you’re frustrated. Explain your point further in a professional manner.


    Ok, I am willing to give it another go. I have cooled down a bit, again I am sorry if I have said anything that I shouldn’t have. Let’s just forget that.

    I am not sure if I meant to say that statistics should determine how you or I must interact with responsive layouts. But what I do mean to say is that no designer can cater for every single user. This is one of the reasons certain aspects of an OS, a program or even a website has options I think?
    You might hate scrolling horizontally, but I don’t mind.
    We know humans behave a certain way and we make use of that (in our designs), but this behavior is an average or a statistical majority. There are always exceptions to the rule.

    The feedback I was telling you about was a test done by a company on a new layout they will be launching in november. I was part of the evaluation of the results. We noticed that people who tested just the desktop version or just the phone version were fine (normal feedback you would expect), but those who tested both were not. They were in majority negative about the site and some of the feedback was even strange (like the one about the site being broken).
    To clarify, the site was made by a big, renowned design company and it looks absolutely great, either layout (desktop/phone) is clear, user friendly, etc. etc. the problems we got feedback about were by those who “switched” layouts so to speak.

    Which made me start a search for publicly done tests and statistics and other information there might be about this. Only to find nothing. Which makes me believe responsiveness, even though a good concept, should not be heralded as loudly as it is. It may be better than what we had before and it may look promising, but right now, I think it is highly experimental.
    I blindly sold responsive websites, but now I am not so certain anymore. All articles and posts I read are from designers stating -with good intentions no doubt0- their opinion and ideas about it. And they sound good, they sound plausible, they sound as if they are actually true. But we lack the proof to back that up.

    So in a nutshell, when a client asks me if he needs responsive website, I no longer have an answer. I would advice him to do so, especially when his site is frequented a lot by mobile devices, but I would also have to be honest with him and tell him it is still a highly experimental technology. Technically it may work perfectly, but in terms of UX I have nothing to prove to him it works.

    And we may debate about the specifics of any examples I may have used, but that is not what I want. Basically what I would like is to know your thoughts on:
    1) the fact that we all rush into using a technology which is not proven yet,
    2) or perhaps you think it is proven, if so I would like some links, since I can’t find it.
    3) What we can do to gather proof. What would the base test case have to look like.
    4) Should we think about possible “extra’s” which wouldn’t hurt responsive layouts as we use them now, but that could enhance the UX (like Google does with it’s “classic” link/button). It doesn’t hurt to put it there, so why not?
    5) Is it conceivable that by using responsiveness like we do now MIGHT (theoretically speaking) hurt us in the future (a bit like tables did). If not, why not. Should we not calculate that possibility?

    I hope I made my intents about this post clear now? If not, I give up.


    Very interesting topic and some very interesting points made on both sides of the argument.

    Funny that Google was brought up; when I access Google’s site on my mobile device, (Android), I always scroll and access the “classic site” link because, as a user, I like the familiarity of the desktop site. Also because trying to access gmail through the mobile Google site (not the app)… well I still haven’t figured out how. Reason for this is I leave my mobile browser logged in as one gmail account and my gmail app dedicated to two others.

    On another note, I also think it was an interesting topic that one person felt scrolling horizontally on a phone different from a desktop. I tend to agree somewhat, because scrolling horizontally on a desktop site is a no-no, (in my opinion as a user), however it doesn’t annoy or irritate me as much on my phone.

    Which brings up, what if a user doesn’t mind scrolling horizontally on their phone and you have a responsive design on your site, so that a column width shrinks down and text content is now only 10 words wide, however it may seem like infinite vertical scrolling. Do these responsive designs have backwards usability so that a user can pinch/zoom and see the content displayed as it would appear on a larger device like a desktop? (somewhat rhetorical)

    I am neither for nor against responsive design at this time, I am still learning. Just thought I would share some of my experiences and say I liked the discussion.


    I think it is quite normal to jump on new technology and is not a bad thing that we do. I’m still misunderstanding the whole “proven” aspect. What needs to be proven, that sites shrink to random sizes are either effective or ineffective? It simply allows us to view our content on smaller devices.

    I’d like to know the target audience for that “testing”.

    Also, media queries does not necessarily work on all devices which I think jQuery Mobile will take care of that in the near future.

    I certainly wouldn’t compare tables and responsive layouts. The reason we used tables is because the CSS spec was still being developed. You could compare using a totally different subdomain ( to what we now use Media Queries.

    Edit: I do agree that horizontal scrolling isn’t so bad on mobile devices because of the swipe gesture.


    Well yes, it is normal to jump on new technology, and we need to because otherwise it would never get off the ground.
    What I don’t think is a good thing however is how it is being sold as a solution without any proof. Not just sold to designers (get with it or you are a bad designer) but also to clients, which I think is much worse (he/she has to pay for something I can not actually guarantee does something worth its value).

    Perhaps “proof” is not the right word to use (I am not natively English so sometimes I just want for words). What I am looking for is tests done that show that people are comfortable (not get lost, etc.) using responsive sites (as the test I talked about showed they were not), and that show that one layout works as well as the other in terms of conversions and such. This in comparison to other layouts obviously.
    So suppose I have a webshop, does (relatively speaking in terms of visitors) sell my desktop layout as much as my phone layout? And does a desktop layout on a phone sell better or worse?

    And yes, I understand that each site is unique and should be tested in its own right. But then the whole discussion about responsiveness would be mute as well.

    I didn’t intend to compare tables with responsiveness but the problems we had with tables with possible problems we could have with responsiveness if used wrong. But come to think of it I suppose not since we can easily deactivate a certain layout by simply changing its media query?

    I cannot tell you to much about that site right now, I am sorry. It is an interactive site aimed at people between 25 and 40 in a relationship with an above average income.


    @tannercampbell: Nice idea, but why not take it a step further:

    “Hi! This is the first time you’ve visited our site on your Android mobile device. We like to give our mobile users a better browsing experience, so things fit on your screen and you do not have to squint your eyes to read our fantastic content. If you are familiar with our desktop version and prefer to use that, you can simply click on ‘desktop version’.”

    That way you are giving the user a choice if he needs it.


    @tannercampbell: I forsee a possible problem with this (as well as with a link/button like google uses). Some will probably argue that this takes the actual responsiveness out of the site?


    @Evert, also it is an extra click which goes against usability…

    … but I sort of like the idea hah.


    @evert .I understand your need to be sceptical. I’m the same with most things in life but when you go to your favorite restaurant and they renovated the toilets, are you going to be confused that much If they change the spot where the urinals were? You need to go real bad, you’re gonna find those urinals no matter what.

    I don’t care if you think my analogy doesn’t make sense, I ve followed this whole debate and as usual, it seems like an ego-lego building session.

    On another note, check this article out:
    Boston globe site article.


    @seb_z_lite: A whole article again about how they overcame the technical difficulties. Not a word about their users (on any device) and how one compared to the other in terms of functionality, usability and experience.
    Just one question (out of many I would have) is if the ad revenues on one layout is comparable to the other? No mention of that, unless I failed to see it?


    @seb_z_lite Wow I really enjoyed that Boston Globe article, except the multitude of grammar errors. It had a lot of great insight I thought. Thanks for sharing.

    I understand what you are saying too. I wonder how the conversion rates are for those ad companies since the change. I guess if they start pulling out and not advertsing with BG any longer, that would be a tell-tale sign.


    @Evert Firstly, by calling responsive web design a ‘hype’ you are fairly clearly suggesting which side of the fence you are on, even if you never clearly stated it. You then go on to proclaim that the solution isn’t responsiveness so please clarify your stance on the matter before accusing @ChristopherBurton and I of becoming defensive.

    Now in regards to that, isn’t defensiveness a required attribute to have a reasonable debate? I’m not talking about blind devotion to a single side, some compromise is needed, but how am I going to sell you on my side of the argument if I’m not willing to defend it? So in other words, I don’t believe defensiveness is as negative as you make out.

    I must admit I am a little confused by some of the things that you mention, take this for example:

    ‘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.’

    You seem to be countering your own statement there. Responsive design (in its current state) is a fairly new idea and as such we need to get loads and loads of testing under our belts to determine what does and doesn’t work. What better way to do this than implement it on live sites and get real feedback from real users?

    Now I understand the stance you are taking, and I can appreciate it. Nobody should just accept new ideas without thoroughly testing them out first. Just remember to be open when others take the time to discuss the matter with you. If you come across as single minded and accusatory then you will generally tick off the people that took the time to comment on your discussion. Just because you have an opinion doesn’t make it right, and just because I have an opinion doesn’t make me right either.

    Along those lines, just because you do not have a problem does not mean I don’t. Does everyone like to browse just as you like to browse? To me, responsive design is a required fix for a big problem in regards browsing on mobile devices.

    Out of curiosity, how do you feel about companies that have mobile only websites?


    @joshuanhibbert I am not sure I should respond to what you say. Clearly we got off on the wrong start as stated in other replies above. I admit my initial post was not clear enough and subsequent posts were perhaps even less so because I started to respond to the things people stated because they misunderstood. So let us leave it at that please otherwise we are going to start a whole new conversation about assumptions regarding each other.
    One thing I do want to make clear is this; you say: “Now in regards to that, isn’t defensiveness a required attribute to have a reasonable debate?”
    Which was exactly why I got a bit angry at some point. I felt you guys were getting me into a debate while I wanted a discussion. A debate to me is where you have opposite points of view and you want to convince the other side of your opinion. While a discussion is about not taking sides but openly discuss all possibilities and pointing out flaws so both sides can (hopefully) come to a communal conclusion. And yes, defensiveness is required in a debate, but not in a discussion I think. In a discussion the initiator sates the prerequisites for it and I admit I did a bad job at that, ok?
    The fact that you saw me as single minded and accusatory is probably because that we misunderstood each other. Especially since you (and Chris) came off as single minded and accusatory in my eyes.
    So again, I am sorry I am so vague about my question and let us tick this off as misreading each others intents and behavior because of lack of non-verbal communication on the internet?

    “You seem to be countering your own statement there. “
    What statement is that? I tried not to make a stance. I fear you think I am against responsive design? I am not. In fact the opposite. What I am against is blindly stating that it:
    – Should be implemented in every site (I think it should only be used when needed)
    – is to be presented to the user as a non-optional feature.
    – is said to be a solution while nobody clearly stated what problems it solves and what problems it creates.

    And although I am interested in peoples views on these points, my main question in this thread was and is about the last one. What problems does responsive design create.
    My understanding of it is, that nobody knows. And that so-far responsive design is being used experimentally because we have little to no feedback on how users respond to it.
    The little feedback I have is that users that are confronted with both designs get confused and do not like it. I am not saying that feedback can be regarded as the truth, but it is the only feedback I am aware of. I wanted to look up other peoples feedback on this, but found nothing. This is my “problem”:

    How can I “sell” responsive design to my clients while on the one hand the arguments fore it are good and I personally think this is indeed the way to go (if not always, sometimes other solutions are better). While on the other and the only hard “figures” I have and can find is that users who use both designs of the same site dislike it and find it confusing.

    At the same time while looking for tests like the one I was involved with, I also noticed that nobody talks about comparing the two designs in terms of functionality, conversion rates, etc. which worries me as well. What results will that give once we are done “experimenting”?

    So far I can only conclude it is not a proven technology while at the same time we sell it to each other and to our clients as if it is. Which is why I called it a hype.
    Again, I am not against responsive design. I am against ignoring the fact that we know very little about it and its results.

    As to your last question: I guess they have a very good reason for it and if it works for them it is fine. I don’t see a difference between mobile-only sites, or desktop-only sites or responsive-sites. I think if something works for the owner of the site it is ok. Because in the end, every site is about getting the results the owner wants from it and not about what technology is used.


    In my experience people tend to be a lot more vocal about the negative than the positive. The reason I say this is to get you thinking about potential problems that responsive design might create from another angle. So you might not have heard that much ‘good’ about responsive web design, but you haven’t really heard that much ‘bad’ either. If responsive design had major flaws then I’m certain in today’s age you, and I, would have heard about it from many sources. The fact that there isn’t that many negative responses can be considered a positive in my opinion. I agree that it isn’t great, and it certainly isn’t hard statistics, but at this stage it is all we have to go on. What do you think?


    I think I still failed to get my intent across and we are still discussing different subjects. So basically I will take this discussion elsewhere. Sorry for the waste of time and emotional “turmoil”.

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