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Weekend Reading: Responsive Web Design and Mobile Context

By Jason Grigsby

Published on March 27th, 2011


Lots of great stuff published over the last few days focused on responsive web design and mobile context. Unsurprisingly, I have quite a bit to say about these topics and will write more about them in the next couple of days.

But in the meantime, I wanted to collect links to the articles in one place for handy access to anyone who wants to read them and so I had them at my disposal when I write my articles. Quotes are in italics.

Sea Change by Jeremy Keith
It’s always hard to tell what restarts a conversation that has been dormant for a few months. My suspicion is that Jeremy’s article was the fuel and Jeffrey Zeldman’s reference to Jeremy’s article was the catalyst.
Exquisite Tweets from Brian Fling, Ethan Marcotte, Bryan Rieger, and many others.
Brian Fling responded to Jeremy and Jeffrey on twitter spurring a rather lengthy discussion until Jeremy reminded everyone that we using blogs instead of 140 characters.
Responsive Web Design and Mobile Context by Tim Kadlec
Let me be clear—I’m not saying that there is never a need to tailor the content of a mobile site. I’m also not saying that responsive design and one web is an end all be all for mobile. It’s not a black and white issue—there are many, many shades of gray.
The Mobile Context
Mind reading is no way to base fundamental content decisions
It’s About People, Not Devices by Stephanie and Bryan Rieger
A must read about mobile context.
A Richer Canvas by Mark Boulton
Start designing from the content out, rather than the canvas in.
Toffee-Nosed by Ethan Marcotte
Because maybe your site is better served by a separate mobile site than by a responsive approach. Or maybe the reverse is true: maybe a responsive approach is more appropriate. The moral here is that you should tailor the approach to the project, and put the polemic aside. Because nobody knows your project, your audience, better than you do. Anyone who suggests otherwise is committing a different kind of fallacy.
Caveat by Jeremy Keith
But here’s the thing: I am fully aware that there is no one correct answer to every situation.
Context by Jeremy Keith
Breaks the discussion into three factors: viewport, bandwidth and context.
Responsive Web Design or Separate Mobile Site? Eh. It Depends by Josh Clark
Good summary of the overall conversation.
Clarification by Jeremy Keith
Here’s what I’m getting at: we act as though mobile is a new problem, and that designing for older devices—like desktop and laptop computers—is a solved problem. I’m saying that the way we’ve been designing for the desktop is fundamentally flawed. Yes, mobile is a whole new domain, but what it really does is show just how bad our problem-solving has been up ‘till now.


James Pearce said:

As an aside, I suspect there’s something else underpinning this torrent of discussion*

Mobile is buffeted about as the problem statement du jour, but is perhaps just a symptom of a web that’s starting to see a new nature for itself in the world. Our sedentary library wants to become a pervasive operating system. And it’s no surprise this threatens.

In summary, we’ve reached “it depends”. Actually this is a great step forward, although at some point I fully side with

(* well, broadcasts)