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  1. On Responsive Web Design - No One Wants to Experience a Desktop Site, Only Narrower, on Their Phone

    I think Responsive Web Design is a misnomer. It is only responsive insofar as the screen size of a device, which is, in my opinion, the least interesting characteristic of any device.

    It certainly doesn’t respond to any of the cool hardware in modern devices, like touch screen, camera, or GPS. And worst of all, it doesn’t respond to how differently people interact with different devices.

    A quick scan of these beautiful examples of Responsive Web Design websites reveals the following pattern:

    Full screen mode - Your standard desktop website with plenty of room for ad space, and fully descriptive navigations.

    Tablet mode - Identical to the full screen mode, only slightly narrower. Yawn!

    Phone mode - By far the most interesting design choices are made on this level. The designer can do one of two things, to reproduce the content and multi-columns layout of the original by stacking everything top of each other into one column (and pray that it will translate well), or forgo the original altogether and adopt the mobile app paradigm that Apple has established (so much for responsive design).

    The thing is, point-and-click, hover state, are staples of desktop interactions. As is ample real estate for a large amount of content to live comfortably onscreen together.

    None of that is true for mobile touch screens, where size-able buttons are preferable to text links, and space-saving icons in the place of descriptive navigations. Where multi-touch and gestures are slowly being naturalized, and location-based services all the rage. All this is just the beginning.

    In trying to apply a universal design across all platform, Responsive Web Design sets unnatural limits on each device, and therefore limiting their potential.

    Consider Facebook’s and Twitter’s mobile sites. They are one and the same as their mobile apps (location-based, photo sharing, all of it). Now consider their desktop sites, and imagine it smaller and in one column.