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The pitfalls of responsive design

 

There were many new exciting developments last year in the web design world, with one of the main players being responsive design. And it’s no wonder really – In a world were mobile browsing is on the rise and most of us own or have access to a smart phone or tablet, something as flexible and as ground breaking as responsive design was always going to be a huge success. It takes the hassle out of web design (essentially, I mean that’s the point right?) in that we can design one website, and it’ll work across multiple platforms, shapes and sizes – no matter what we’re browsing on. Whether that be a phone, a tablet, a laptop or a desktop computer.

The thing is though, it’s not all that great – and whilst I keep hearing about the benefits of this technique, no one seems to be talking about the negatives. And believe me, I’ve found a few that have tripped me up at times. So here they are – laid out for all to see. Five pitfalls that responsive design throws up – and how you can deal with them when the time comes.

1.     It uses up CPU and memory

The idea of responsive design is that each individual devices resizes you website to fit its screen and size. This is all very well and good in theory – but think about how many images you have on your site, and think about your poor consumer and their memory and CPU as their devices not only downloads the original image, but then translates it, resizes it and formats it into the size it needs. This is something that takes up both CPU and memory, and it’s something (unfortunately) you can’t easily get around. Whilst many people may not notice this when browsing, for those who do – it’s a surefire way to loose visitors. After all, for people on mobile contracts who have limited data, you can’t go round eating it all up every time they decide to visit your website.

 2.     Media Queries are the bane of my life

Media Queries are the things that do the translation for responsive resign, and they are found in the browser your user is using to access your site from whatever tablet they’re prone to. Well, that’s all very well and good – but tell me, what do you do when they’re using a browser so old that media queries aren’t in fact present? Well, you can’t do anything. The thing is, some older browsers that haven’t been update in a while – don’t have these media queries – which means your website goes from being a super flexible design, to being annoying inflexible and unreadable.

3.     Sometimes it just doesn’t cooperate

No matter how hard you try with new technology like this, there are always going to be devices that don’t cooperate with you design, especially when you’ve chosen to opt for responsive. The technology industry is evolving so fast too, that new tablets and phones are popping up almost weekly on the market. This makes it hard to keep up – and this can lead to unsuccessful translation in some devices. No matter how hard you try to make it work!

4.     Need for Speed

Because of all the variety in responsive design, you never know if someone is going to look at the site from a mobile or from a desktop. And here throws up another difficulty with the whole idea. Mobile speed and desktop speed are very different, and quite often it’s the speed of the connection that effects just how much someone enjoys the browsing experience. Browsing a responsive website on a mobile phone might be completely successful and super fast – but that might only be because of how great their 3G connection is. What is their Internet connection is terrible? Well, then they’re going to experience a very long wait potentially, waiting for the site to load. The frustrating thing is, you can’t really have control of this either – as it’s usually down to the provided of the Wi-Fi or 3G. It’s always worth making sure you’re with a good hosting provider too on this note too – as every little helps. Do your research and find one with good reviews regarding responsive design, or mobile browsing.

5.     It takes so much longer

It’s no secret that newer technology like this, takes longer to master and therefore the projects can often take longer to complete too. Some clients may get frustrated waiting longer for responsive design – so make sure you’re cleared it with them before you go ahead with it. Ensure they understand the time constraints and ensure you give them a realistic expectation to work with. Responsive design requires more code, which takes a lot longer to write and edit than a standard site– and in order for the design to be fast and smooth – you’ll need this extra code in the template.

 

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