So I thought I'd share my thoughts and opinions on the state of responsive web design. To start out, for those who don't know what responsive web design is, I'll try to explain quickly and easily. Basically RWD (responsive web design) means that your website adjusts automatically to different screen sizes. It eliminates the need for a completely separate site, such as a mobile site. So whether your visitor is looking at your site on their iPhone or their desktop, it's the same site, just displaying differently to accommodate the screen size.
We have seen trends and fads in web design over the years. For example, several years ago it was "don't use tables for layout", if you did then you were not one of the cool kids. It became so bad that using tables became a bad word. Finally peopled realized they should use tables for what they were meant for, displaying tabular data, etc. Then there were flash sites, some of these were quite fine pieces of art. But ultimately, flash was just about killed by Apple and the rise of HTML 5, JQuery & CSS 3. Flash still has it's place for a few things such as streaming video & complex web apps.
Now, the latest, RWD, and the madness that surrounds it. There is no doubt that visitors are coming to your website on a plethora of devices and screen sizes. But what do you really want to accomplish? In my opinion, you simply want people to be able to use and read your site easily, without much fuss. Some responsive sites out there adjust for just about every screen size you can imagine. In our practice we try to produce 4 different views, desktop, tablet, phone landscape and phone portrait. At the very, very least I would say have 2 views, 1 desktop/tablet and 1 phone. But why have 50 views? To me this teeters on the edge of fad. Is all that time spent developing those views necessary? Again, it goes back to what you are trying to accomplish.
Stats collected from one of our client's site:
Windows Chrome 11.7%
Windows Firefox 12.4%
Windows IE (7-10) 29.1%
Mac Safari 10.9%
Mac Firefox 8.1%
Mac Chrome 4%
This is fairly consistent for a majority of our clients. As you can see, nearly 1 out 4 visits is on a mobile device and as mobile technology progresses, this number will undoubtly grow. Mobile phones and tablets have drastically altered how society browses the web. We urge you to recognize this major trend in web environments and we ask that you consider RWD for your next project. Even in its infancy, its a useful tool that will only get better and systematically standardized.