Responsive Design Falls Victim to the Hype Cycle

This post is part of a series – 14 Business and Technology Trends to Look for in 2014


HTML5 will continue to take over web projects, but responsive web design will lose a little luster for enterprise mobility projects due to higher cost and functionality hurdles of transaction-based workflow applications.

With the rapid adoption of mobile technology across nearly all industries and customer demographics, many organizations are planning to invest in enterprise mobility initiatives (the delivery of enterprise applications and services across the increasing array of mobile devices, wireless networks, etc.) in 2014.

Responsive web design, or RWD, which allows the web browser interface to adapt to the specific screen size and form factor of the most common handsets and tablets, is near the top of many organizations’ wish lists due to its perceived cure-all to the problem of device handset fragmentation and ability to support an unlimited number of devices (i.e. the website looks great and works well whether you are on a desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone).

Unfortunately, RWD is not the panacea many vendors and developers would have you believe:

  • RWD websites can take longer to load on battery-constrained mobile devices. To process, the entire page is delivered to the device browser (the client), and the browser then changes how the page appears in relation to the dimensions of the browser window. Mobile users want information instantaneously and if this process takes too long, users will quickly lose patience.
  • RWD websites can be more complex and expensive to build. As a general rule of thumb, RWD-based designs typically cost 50 percent more than traditional website designs. If your user experience needs require numerous user interface screen flows and navigation paths for complex transactions, then the investment costs of RWD will be higher.
  • RWD can slow down the website’s overall performance. With RWD, the device itself (not the web server) does the work and media queries display the re-sized images and optimized layout. The greater the number of devices you want to support, the slower your web site performance will become.
  • RWD is not a one-size-fits-all solution for mobile. As the complexity of user experience grows, it is likely that the need for native (developed for one specific platform, such as Apple iOS or Google Android) or cross-platform apps will also increase. The key takeaway here is the need for apps installed locally on the device will not entirely disappear – a need that can’t be addressed through RWD.
  • RWD does not support older web browsers. While this may be less important on new smartphone or tablet devices, anyone using Internet Explorer 8 or below will have a diminished user experience on your RWD website. In other words, you really need to understand the user experience on mobile and desktop when investing in RWD for both platforms.

So what’s a CIO or CMO to do?

In a future blog post, we’ll explore some alternatives to RWD. In the meantime, be sure to check out my previous article on mobile strategy, which provides an outline of mobile development options and some key factors to consider. Or, below is an infographic with some further perspectives on RWD.

Best wishes for a successful 2014!

Responsive Design: The Next Great Hope or All Hype?

Source: Monetate Marketing Infographics

Jason-MillerJason Miller leads the Mobile App Development practice, one of Centric’s fastest-growing consulting services. In this role, he helps clients get started in mobile computing, rethink the user experience and use mobile technology to transform the way we work using today’s most prevalent platforms such as Apple, Google and mobile web. Jason’s areas of specialty include mobile technology, strategy and project leadership, as well as software product development and business intelligence. Contact Jason to learn more about how to determine the mobile solution that would work best for your company.



Other Business and Technology Trends of 2014:

  1. Beginnings of a Gigantic Innovation Cycle
  2. IT Shops Will Leverage Their Knowledge of Legos® to Build Enterprise Systems
  3. The Growth of DIY Healthcare
  4. Data is the New Currency – Mining for Gold in the Internet of Things 
  5. The Emergence of the Professional DIY Data Scientist 
  6. Marketing and IT Sitting in the Tree
  7. Cloud Breaks Out of Infrastructure Groups and Into Strategic Imperatives
  8. Financial Companies Prepare to Advise Multi-Generational Homes
  9. The Re-emerging Importance of Tech Careers
  10. Data Scientist Sightings Will (Mostly) Be Proven a Hoax
  11. Non-techies Grasp the Cloud
  12. Info Synthesis and Collaboration Create a Recipe for 2014 Breakthroughs
  13. Sensors Invade – Big Data Goes Mainstream