Until some years ago, I just thought responsiveness on the web happened by itself – that it just fits to every browser window, every screen by itself. Until I became a web designer that is 😦 As a trainee, I proudly made a home page design, rushed to show it to my boss, only to see an ugly vertical scroll across his screen. But wait, it looked just fine a second ago, on my computer. I struggled to understand the concept of responsive design, writing and rewriting the code, making sure it fits every screen size AAANNDD modifying it for IE. Sigh. Thanks to Bootstrap, Skeleton and other frameworks, I could churn out responsive web sites more quickly.
I don’t believe I stopped to think ‘why am I doing this?’, why is responsive design important (to the users) and why is difficult (for the makers)? Because RWD is customized for user’s convenience. The devices (ideally) shouldn’t restrict the user’s experience, but rather enhance it. The user should have the freedom to choose a Mac or a PC, or an android tablet, yet get the experience that they want. It’s the era of a million choices that caters to user’s convenience. But it’s also extremely hard for the designers and developers. Well the coding is hard too, yes. Plenty of additional lines of code to include older browsers, and updating to new Operating Systems, but the biggest problem is understanding context of the usage. What are you designing for? What are the different reasons that a user would be using a particular device instead of another one? The reason to visit a website through a phone, instead of sitting on laptop might be different. How do you foresee that? How do you differentiate the needs?
Oh my god. My job just got tougher.