Is Responsive Suffocating Web Design?
Responsive websites automatically resize to fit all screens, but in doing so, is less emphasis being put on design?
I think we can all agree that mobile optimized design is a necessity, but is overall design being compromised to accommodate function? Sometimes I think we get more caught up in making sure a site is compatible across all devices, that design becomes an after thought. I completely understand the importance of designing within the grid, but what happened to the days of pushing the boundaries beyond what was even capable and designing outside the box? Did those days disappear when Flash was rendered obsolete? Very often I see the same old "safe" layouts that do the same old things and I have to ask the question, if this is the result of ensuring a complete functional package, is the sacrifice worth the reward?
On the marketing side of things we talk about how we can’t be all things to all people, and yet on the digital side that’s exactly what we’re doing. Instead of trying to force a square peg in a round hole, we’ve shaped a peg that fits any sized hole, and yet doesn’t fit any one of them perfectly. I totally support making sure brands have a strong presence across mobile, tablet and desktop, but I’ve been in meetings where great desktop web experiences get watered down to accommodate mobile accessibility. I’ve also seen mobile sites that are grossly overwhelming because the main version is too complex to experience on the smaller screen. I think we can have both without sacrificing either, but we have to think deeper about how people expect to interact based on the screen in front of them. Each device may not be more important than the other; however, many times if we look at the deeper purposes of a site, we can break down each level of the experience to identify the areas that will have the biggest impact to the largest segment of our audience. And that’s the sweet spot that we need to work within.
As the digital world expands and there’s a bigger push to be more accommodating, we need to remember that digital marketing is not a one-size fits all medium. In order to be truly effective, you have to be willing to choose either the round peg or the square one knowing that they won’t fit every hole. But if that’s where your people are, they will reward you greatly for your efforts.