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responsive design vs. other solutions.

     
4:40 am on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm not stuck in my ways, but I'll call a spade a spade. I'm just haven't found a suitable location to have a discussion about where these so-called mobile solutions are heading. I would gladly have a respectful, but passionate debate on the subject. I'm frustrated, no question about it, but I'm willing to change my opinion, although that would be an incredible feat. I've also come to the realization that this subject is like debating religion or politics. That said...

Can anyone explain this to me. If responsive is so amazing, then why when I'm using a desktop monitor, say normal size, I ask why are there sidebar widgets to the left or right of the main section. So like in WordPress, we are all familiar with a populated right sidebar widget.

I would like some clarity why my big screen sees the widgets at the top right, but on a smaller screen, all those sidebar widgets lose their place to the bottom of the page.

I think this would be an interesting first discussion point.
7:58 am on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I love debating religion and politics (at least with people who are civilised about debating)!

What is not clear to me, is that you think should happen? Assuming the main content of a page is text, the width of a big screen exceeds the largest width of a line of text that is comfortable to read, so we have space we can use for other things in a sidebar.

On a small screen, adding a sidebar would make lines of text uncomfortably short so we re-arrange things vertically so we can have lines that are long enough. Whether the side bar content goes to the top of the bottom depends on the particular content in question - you would normally want at least some navigation at the top, and unimportant things at the bottom.
8:20 am on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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>>I would like some clarity why my big screen sees the widgets at the top right, but on a smaller screen, all those sidebar widgets lose their place to the bottom of the page.

that's down to the developer surely, for smaller screens the content can pretty much be rearranged however you like - of course if you are using an off the shelf solution then maybe you don't have so many options of course.
12:11 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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An off the shelf solution can still be re-coded. In fact, it's probably necessary because one size can't fit all. I've never used anything off the shelf without rewriting the code to fit my purposes. So if you don't like the way something displays you can always hack it to work the way you want it to. Typical changes are reducing the image file sizes, removing images altogether, editing CSS, correcting HTML for clean code, correcting HTML for proper use of style elements, removing entire sections of a page or mix-and-matching different page elements, etc. Now template designers are coding up responsive WP templates that are designed to be modular from the beginning, like one I've used called DIVI. [elegantthemes.com]
2:49 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So to the question about why the smaller screen gets the sidebar (ironic the naming of that) bumped down to the bottom of the page.

Every, perhaps not every, but every responsive redesign that I come across which does have sidebar widgets at the top right, always bumps that sidebar content below all the main content.

Thus, sidebar widget becomes footer widget. Perhaps there are some mainstream sites where this doesn't occur, but to me it is part of the "responsive" experience.

Am I the only one seeing this, pretty much everywhere?

The point I'm trying to make is this. Having a sidebar widget, top right, has been a staple of Wordpress sites and pretty much every site for years and years and years. I think it's safe to assume it worked. If it wasn't ideal, then why was it industry wide?

So why now, is it somehow ideal to push that sidebar to the footer of a page? This is what I cannot grasp. In a sense it means that the big screen user gets the excellent (better) version of the site, whereas the smaller screen gets a broken version.

If it made sense to have the sidebar widget be a footer widget, then why aren't you removing the sidebar widget in the first place, for all users? Then we come full circle and ask whether we are best serving our users by having a one size show fits all.

My opinion is that because responsive sends a key aspect of the site to the footer, there has to be a better way. If it's an ideal design, then by the same logic, you should have the sidebar content in the footer as you do for your mobile users. Is this making sense at all?

So you disrupt the big screen user experience so that you can try to accomodate the smaller screen. And as a result of that attempt, the big screen viewer is left looking at a blah design and white space. Did I mention headlines and text the size of the width of my thumb? Thus all my screen is filled with an article heading text rather than some other useful content. It's like I get to view a mobile phone website on my desktop monitor. That is how it feels. All thanks to becoming responsive.

Am I right or wrong?
3:20 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Mr. Savage, it sounds like you are confusing common techniques used in responsive design with what responsive design actually is.

Responsive design is not taking side widgets and putting them to the bottom, responsive design is having the design respond the size of the screen. You, the developer, gets to decide what goes where and at what break points.

Responsive design can be as simple as loading thumbnail images for small screen instead of full size images with no moving elements around. Or it can be changing a hover menu into a dropdown box.

It is does whatever you define it to do. If you don't like some of the more common techniques used that is one thing, but saying that responsive design isn't good because Wordpress uses it out of the box to move common widgets to the bottom has NOTHING to do with responsive design and has everything to do with how Wordpress implements it. You are basically saying HTML is bad because GEO cities is ugly.

The beauty of responsive design is YOU the developer can make it do whatever you want. Including keeping elements to the top on inline or whatever you want. If you want to use what someone else (Wordpress) built then you are stuck with their vision, Make your own design that meets all the criteria you just outlined and has none of the things you don't like. It can still be a responsive design that you want.

You aren't debating responsive design, you are debating Wordpress's implementation of it.
3:43 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm talking "sidebar widgets" out of simplicity. Call it what you will. Take WebmasterWorld forums for example. They have a sidebar, which gets relegating to the bottom (footer) of a page.

My point isn't about Wordpress, it's about the fact that every "responsive" site I visit, it sends content that above the fold, on the site for example, down to the bottom of the page below the main article.

My point is if content was important enough to be above the fold, how is moving it to the bottom of the page somehow ideal? If it comes down to having to compromise, this is my main issue.

If you have to dumb down a site to be responsive, making things stretched out, blank, and text the height of a US quarter for the big screen user, and then make a less ideal experience for the smaller screens? Afterall that highly valued "above the fold" content gets dumped to the bottom. Call me silly, but I don't get the logic of it. Unless of course we can admit that it's not actually ideal for any one user.

[edited by: MrSavage at 3:45 pm (utc) on Apr 6, 2015]

3:44 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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One either does, or does not, embrace RWD. I look at the "screen" as the mouth of a funnel. If the mouth is large enough, all the bits of a website will pass through. If the mouth of the funnel is smaller, parts of the site will have to fall through after other parts have passed.

Actually, we've been doing this for years when screen sizes began to change (fluid design). The only difference now is that we can easily allow bits and pieces of the site to "slip" into a different position based on detecting the size of the "funnel" upfront.

I suspect that most sites that moved to fluid have not been as impacted by the mobile side, particularly those based on percents and ems (avoiding any fixed pixel sizing/fonts)

Not sure if this is a debate, a cry for help, or refusal to read the wrting on the wall. As a webmaster, I want all my content to be available and, even if not in the "perfect place", is still there.
4:17 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Lets continue with WW as an example. What happens on a small screen vs a large one?

The top navigation is collapsed into a mobile menu, because it would other wise be too wide for the screen,

The side bar consists of either less important links, or links that can be accessed through the top menu in some way, so it is moved to the bottom.

What alternative do you suggest? There is not enough room to keep it on the side, and putting it above the actual page content would be horrible - imagine having to scroll down every new page to find the discussion. It is content that goes above the page only because there is room to spare on a desktop. When there is no room to spare it goes down.

Yes, that is a compromise, in that a mobile display cannot display everything a desktop can on one screen. All things being equal, content rich sites will work better on a desktop. On the other hand, I cannot figure out how to fit a desktop monitor in my pocket (and I will be really pleased to see anyone who can manage to do that).
4:18 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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C'mon, MrSavage, give us a hint. Where should "sidebar" content go when the screen is not wide enough to permit comfortable viewing of two or more side-by-side elements?

The answers I can think of are:
-- above the primary content
-- below the primary content
-- away (display: none)

Since none of these are satisfactory to you, then obviously there's some fourth option that nobody in this thread has yet thought of.
4:34 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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There is one more option, make it more compact by putting it in a mobile menu, or an accordion, or something similar, or merging it into the main mobile menu (assuming there is one), but that adds to the complexity of the UI and is usually not worth it.
5:20 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Did I mention headlines and text the size of the width of my thumb?
MrSavage - could you expand on this?

As the resolution goes down on these 'responsive' Wordpress sites how does body, headline and sub-headline text behave? It's sounding like the themes you have seen are only layout responsive and little more....am I getting what your saying correct?

The Wordpress theme I use gives me almost all the choices of behaviour that martinibuster mentions in the free version. Paid adds Tablet behaviours to the mix. If I choose to leave the sidebar up I can have the post change to excerpt (from full) in mobile view.
5:41 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think the consensus is, without making it personal, is that in order to make something responsive, big screen users will lose some of the appeal or functionality or "best use of real estate", in order to have the smaller screens work better at the same time.

Regarding text on pages being as tall as my thumb? Not sure how to explain it, other than in general, I see websites with HUGE elements on the page. So, say an article heading? That text often is bloated. When you bloat text, it means that you are essentially wasting space on my screen. It's not a small screen, and I suppose this is the crux. I can't help but feel on this great many responsive converted websites, that I'm viewing a small screen website on my big screen. It's not the other way around. I get less, so you get more. That might make sense for mobile heavy sites. I get that. However, I find it a terrible direction for the internet to take. Perhaps the real issue is that design wise, it's very much a work in progress. I'm not sure.

The base point is that is your content is above the fold, then why is it there. If that's because it makes sense, then why dish up a version that send the important content to the bottom of the page. If it's because, whelp, that's the best we can do, then it proves my point. It's a hole in the logic. The big screen suffers through a much less than ideal viewing experience and usability in order to create a somewhat suitable, but less than ideal solution for small screen users.

Like I said, the issue is that these designs put to waste all the real estate that I have on a big screen. People have to admit that most site now are even making their menus just like a smartphone. You need to click it to expose it. Making big screen to act like small screens. I don't get the logic in that. However, to the eye of the beholder and if a restauranteur wants to add relish to their scrambled eggs and serve it to customers, then it's their choice. They can do that. Hopefully all the other restaurants don't go the same route and only offer up scrambled eggs with relish.
7:05 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I do not think that is the consensus: as far as I can see the consensus is that you can provide a good desktop design and a good mobile design.

If that's because it makes sense, then why dish up a version that send the important content to the bottom of the page. If it's because, whelp, that's the best we can do, then it proves my point. It's a hole in the logic. The big screen suffers through a much less than ideal viewing experience and usability in order to create a somewhat suitable, but less than ideal solution for small screen users.


I do not understand this at all. The whole point of it is that you send the content to the bottom of the screen only on small devices, so how does that make the big screen less than ideal? I recently redid a complex design as responsive, and on the desktop it looks almost identical. The only difference a user might notice is that some forms in popups look different. On mobile it looks very different.

What you describe is not what I see on most sites. Could you sticky mail me some examples? The only explanation I can think of is that some sites are essentially doing mobile, rather than responsive, designs. You use WW world as an example, and I fail to see how it wastes space on the desktop: a main column containing the thread, and a large sidebar, and fixed top navigation seems good use of space to me.
7:53 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think this is more of a rant. I use RWD and I do not have widgets jump to the bottom of the page. But then again I don't use WordPress.

My content looks good on any size device. The page width adjusts to fit any size, the navigation changes from a horizontal traditional nav bar into a dropdown size one that is popular on mobile. Images fit on small screens & large, AdSense ads are responsive, etc. Mobile users do not get a dumbed down or less useful version of my site. Neither do visitors with large screens.

Go ahead and skip RWD if you want. Code a mobile-only or large-screen style if you want, it's a free country (OK depends where you live LOL). I would argue RWD is better for newbie webmasters as you only have to maintain one template and no worries about subdomain (m.) crawling issues.
9:32 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think the consensus is, without making it personal, is that in order to make something responsive, big screen users will lose some of the appeal or functionality or "best use of real estate", in order to have the smaller screens work better at the same time.
That seems like the opposite of consensus to me.
You are really describing a design that is not responsive enough.

I see websites with HUGE elements on the page. So, say an article heading? That text often is bloated.
That has nothing to do with responsive design.
This type of wasting space has been quite popular for many years, especially on blog sites, and long before "responsive design" became the buzzword du jour.
Actually, that may be the key issue here: All the examples you describe are simply examples of BAD design, which would still be bad whether it was responsive or not. (Actually, on the site of eg. a graphics designer it might be perfectly appropriate, another example where context changes the rules.)

I can't help but feel on this great many responsive converted websites, that I'm viewing a small screen website on my big screen. It's not the other way around.
Ummm... are you actually maximizing your browser window on a Full-HD screen?
That would be *you* wasting space, not some web designers... ;)

The base point is that is your content is above the fold, then why is it there. If that's because it makes sense, then why dish up a version that send the important content to the bottom of the page.
Have your cake and eat it?

Do you really think that content should (and can!) be presented in the same layout on a large landscape oriented screen and a small portrait oriented screen?
If it gets layed out differently, then those decisions are usually made based on usability criteria for the devices involved.
On a wide screen, content tends to get distributed horizontally, with the most important stuff in the center.
On a narrow screen, the hierarchy is necessarily vertical, where less important stuff moves down, or is reduced to a menu button.
Which actual sequence you chose is entirely up to you.

Unless, of course, you're withholding from us the silver bullet that you found, which could eliminate the need to adapt to different contexts. You put "other solutions" into the thread title. What can you offer us in that regard?
10:45 pm on Apr 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the opinions and thoughts to digest.

I would imagine that not all of us are as active looking around the internet on various searches. I would describe myself as very active in this regard. That is to say, I'm observant/taking notes in terms of redesigns and the look and feel of a lot of big sites that changed recently their designs.

I'm not suggesting this is a wordpress issue, but it's the principle of having above the fold content being pushed to the bottom. To me that is counter intuitive. If it's important enough to be above the fold for user A, then why should it be below the fold for user B? I might be over simplifying.

To clarify what I'm noticing in this "race to mobile" is that on a big screen, I would be able to view say, for the sake of discussion only, 50 useful items to read or interact with. Tell me I'm wrong, but when a responsive design is used, or at least what I seem to be seeing, is 20 useful items to read or interact with. Call it spread out more, larger than life, whatever, the fact is I'm seeing it more than ever. On a big display, it's just more bun and less meat.

But what I hearing is that these types of issues regarding responsive is about the said webmaster or design teams decisions. However, when reading feeback on this transitions, say ESPN or BBC, etc, people are irritated. The mobile user would be content, but at the cost of diminishing the experience for the big screen users.

It's not a simple discussion point. I understand that. I'm quite interested in see what people consider excellent implementations, rather than the ones I'm running into constantly. CNET to me is an ideal. A forum like red flag deals to me is an ideal. I don't feel that on my big screen, that I'm having to get a compromised experience. Correct me if I'm wrong, but those are not responsive designs. I really do want to see something visually appearing that has some semblance of style. I'm more than happy to get a few examples via sticky mail is that's appropriate.
12:35 am on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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If you have to dumb down a site to be responsive, making things stretched out, blank, and text the height of a US quarter for the big screen user, and then make a less ideal experience for the smaller screens?
As a designer I make choices as to what a tablet and mobile use does NOT see. I do this solely to keep a large amount of user focused content above the fold. I use a responsive template to downsize the images only for the smaller view ports. Desktop users have no change whatsoever. I reduce headlines with span elements (display:none) to make them not wrap on mobile while the desktop sees no change.

To your comment about excess white space in another thread - this is a designer failing to understand the Wordpress framework with the chosen template applied. Aka poor testing with all intended devices. Often times a quick change of source code order within a single div can give a grouping of objects (paragraph, picture, video, etc) that 'flows' correctly in all viewing cases. What then happens is more content pops up to the top, reducing the overall scroll. That keeps these white space bulges from not being as pronounced on any one device.

As to dumbing down - at some point the designer has a limit to how much scrolling increase the mobile user is subjected to before judgements are made. Mobile users do expect some scroll; but to increase from 2 screens on desktop to over 10 on mobile? Has anybody found users willing to scroll past 4 pages? Most users wont.... My choice sometimes is to offer links to stub pages made for mobile of content squeezed off the main page. Is it gone? No, but it adds an extra click. See past history rants about accessibility aka 'don't make me work'.

Mobile menus are a sore point for me. Ones with many items will add a lot of content push down unless thinned out. Or do you move them over and thereby shove the sidebar partially below the fold? The |||| icon many sites use appears to be picking up as a standard (on Wordpress sites). As you have seen they are not implemented by designers too well on mobile home pages. Many users of eCom browse or narrow choices on mobile and then buy on tablet/desktop. I've seen a totally different navigation tree shown to mobile on some sites? Why intentionally make a disconnect?

Squeezing all the content of a desktop page into a mobile screen results in making the user pinch zoom to begin reading. A mobile ready site allows reading without work (see above). At big sites the designer might have little choice as to what's on the opening screen of a mobile view. Ever hear in your career "I don't care what you think, just do it!". Let's notch it back a bit on thrashing the designer, OK? I've fired customers that wanted a wall of text site, not worth my time with someone who know less than 10% of what all on this thread do!

[edited by: Hoople at 1:29 am (utc) on Apr 7, 2015]

12:52 am on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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There is a discussion of some of the outstanding new designs available today, right here: [webmasterworld.com...]
Many of these are WP themes, many using new html5 elements to emulate flash designs that were once popular. Simple logic says a news or information site will not seem right on some of these, but their equivalents are out there for any imaginable site. That's not to say that some webmasters don't ruin some of a designer's original intent with clever customizing. I don't think ugly design can be blamed on mobile friendly options though, or responsive design. It isn't the tool's fault if it gets misused.
8:31 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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They have a sidebar, which gets relegating to the bottom (footer) of a page.


No, it's not the footer, it's just under the content. That doesn't make it the footer.

I am not sure you are taking into account user intent. The user intent for a desktop user will often be different than that of a mobile user.

Nobody is being bullied into RWD. But since it's easy, it's often the go-to choice, particularly for people who AREN'T designers or coders. And the bottom line is, it works. So why not?

Don't hate.
10:10 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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What's to debate? Responsive design is just one approach. Depending on your site, it may or may not be the best approach (though it could be the easiest, if you're using a blogging platform or CMS that allows you to switch themes at the drop of a hat).

On our information site, we've made mobile-optimized versions of our most popular evergreen pages (600 or 700 pages so far). This approach works well for a site like ours, since it lets us tweak paragraph length and white space for the mobile pages without compromising the user experience on the desktop/laptop/tablet pages. And while it may sound more labor-intensive than a responsive approach, it's actually easier and quicker for an existing static site like ours.

On the other hand, for the ancillary blogs that represent the icing on the cake for our site, changing a theme was quick, easy, and good enough.
10:24 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@bird, something about your post really has me thinking for sure. Thanks for that. Having your cake and eating it too, resonates with me. It's true that there isn't a way to plop the same page with the same structure/usability when we're talking about a 5-6-inch sized screen compared to a big screen. The issue I have personally with a lot of redesigns I see is that if I shrink my browser window and look at the same page, suddenly it looks better. In that sense, the said site looks better scrunched down than it does in a grand full size monitor view. That's perplexing to me, but apparently it's not for most everyone else.

To clarify, when I say footer, I mean "below the fold", "cheap real estate", "less important stuff", etc. If the widgets content was above the fold, then I'm sure most people did so because it is important. Ads on top are more valued than those on the bottom so wouldn't the same logic apply to content that is below the fold or on the bottom of a page? I suppose it's better than not being on the page at all.

As some people have noted, it's possible that I couldn't even know for sure if a website was responsive or not. I suppose that's true. More than ever now, I will shrink down my browser window and see how that site renders. I keep coming back to the fact that sites that act responsively, those look better and waste less space than when they are viewed in my normal windowed resolution. Of course the sidebar style of column content is pushed to the bottom, but the designs overall look better, smaller. If you're not a mobile targeted website, then I can't see the logic of the best viewing experience being on the smallest possible rendering.

I would say after a lot of thought, it's like version 1.0. People are smart and I'm sure most of what's out there now will be improved upon. Either that or we are all ditching our big or normal screens so we can view the web on our 5-inch device.
10:37 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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>> I'll call a spade a spade

What you are doing is more akin to calling a spade a broken up flush. You are conflating implementation of responsive design with the technique of responsive design.

Yes there are abhorrent implementations using responsive design, that in no way speaks to the merit of responsive design

>> If responsive is so amazing, then why when I'm using a desktop monitor, say normal size, I ask why are there sidebar widgets to the left or right of the main section.

There are sidebars to the left and right because that is where the developer/designer put them.

>> I would like some clarity why my big screen sees the widgets at the top right, but on a smaller screen, all those sidebar widgets lose their place to the bottom of the page.

This has been asked and answered, but the answer is because that is where the developer/designer put them, either because they felt it was best, or because the client wanted it, or because they used some 1280grid framework that does that by default and they didn't bother to change it.

My question to you is.... In what way does you not liking most of the responsive designs you have seen reflect on responsive design as a whole? It can be anything you want it to be. Responsive design isn't good or bad until someone uses it. In of itself it is just a tool, you can use it or not. It isn't bad or good. But implementations of it are bad or good.
10:54 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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To answer that particular question, it's because for me, the implementation is making viewing various websites an eye sore. The usability for me is worse. People who visit websites on a regular basis do it because it's comfortable. Forum redesigns? You want negative feedback then go ahead a redesign and change up a forum community and see how people like it. WebmasterWorld has shown how to do a redesign without being a redesign. I think there is something to be said for that? If I could choose classic or responsive when on my desktop? I would go classic. It's what I'm comfortable with. That said, there isn't anything overly drastic about the responsive version that's negative to me. Big sites that saw and heard push back have been mentioned already.

The gist of what I'm hearing is that it's not responsive that's the issue, but rather it's the designing/implementation that's flawed. I can accept that. But really this is the message I'm hearing loud and clear. Responsive designs are NOT the issue. It's the people using the tools and making the design decisions. Okay, got it.
10:58 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Seeing less content on a large screen may simply be the result of the recent "flat design" trend. It involves the deliberate use of empty space on the page to make it feel less crowded. In esthetic terms, that can be quite a win, in terms of useability it often isn't.

Coincidentally, this trend trickled into the mainstream in about the same time frame as the technical ability to create real responsive designs. And both concepts would often be implemented on the same sites trying to look cool. That makes it easy to think that the two things somehow depend on each other, which they really don't.

The sparse look on the big screen is not a compromise from blowing up the mobile look, it is what the designers actually wanted in the first place. Now on a small screen there is simply not enough space available to leave much of it empty. So the designers were forced to compromise their "vision" there for lack of space, resulting in a more usable experience.

Oh, the irony... ;)

(no offense intended to those designers who actually create useable sites in the "flat design" or "material design" look, just that they are few and far between).
11:12 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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In that sense, the said site looks better scrunched down than it does in a grand full size monitor view. That's perplexing to me, but apparently it's not for most everyone else.

It is perplexing me, as in the last few months more and more redesigned sites popped up which looked little more than blown up mobile sites.

In the past we have always redesigned sites to fit larger screens. Starting at 640x480, 1920x1080 screens are now common these days. Single column and table based designs have been replaced by fluid two, three or four column wide designs.

And then, all of a sudden, users switched from their large desktops to smartphones and tablets. First we just served them the desktop version which was cropped in the screen and with some scrolling the user could navigate through the same page we served the desktop users. But now with Google announcing its big SERPs changes at the end of this month, webmasters are rushing to get their designs mobile friendly before this deadline.

Unfortunately, many designers have chosen to make a mobile format first, and then blow it up to desktop proportions when necessary. The ugliest design I have seen until now with this approach is Google's AdSense help center [support.google.com] which on my full size laptop only displays eleven lines, where most of the lines only contain a few words. This is such a waste of screen real estate, that I have no words for it.

The irony of the whole story is that I was browsing the AdSense help center for information about responsive AdSense ads on sites with a responsive design.

You can develop sites with a responsive design which are both useful on mobile and on desktop devices. But it takes more effort than just moving a widgets block from the right column to the bottom. You have to carefully {display:none} some objects which are not mandatory for proper functionality, resize or move images and widgets, play with font sizes and margins to get the optimal results for both environments. And I agree with MrSavage that there are currently many sites on the Internet where that careful optimization of the responsive design for both environments has not been done.
11:17 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Mr. Savage says:
It's true that there isn't a way to plop the same page with the same structure/usability when we're talking about a 5-6-inch sized screen compared to a big screen.

Yup. So, you gotta make some hard decisions. It's a dilemma, not a problem.

Bird, great comments. Thanks.

What's interesting it working with other people's websites, especially if the site is serving the vision of several individuals, is the small screens is forcing some discussions about what the site is first and foremost.

There are a lot of poorly designed website sites out there that are simply a reflection of poor business management where there is a lack of focus.

Thank goodness for stats that show what is important to users. Of course, darn users are only interested in what is useful to them, not what the publisher is pushing. (See the headline articles on NYTimes.com vs the "most viewed" on that site for an example. Trending on most viewed article today is "easy pizza.")
11:23 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I might be missing the OP's point, but I believe the mobile/responsive display is based on prioritization of site's business objectives. Sidebars often contain secondary objectives, thus their placement in mobile. YMMV
11:36 pm on Apr 7, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@bird, I'm self aware to know that I'm stubborn. For some reason, you are able to get through to me. That may be worthy of a medal of some sort! Thank you sir!
12:27 am on Apr 8, 2015 (gmt 0)

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mrsavage, i think i can understand your fundamental issues with responsive design and empathize with your position.

modern web design is - unlike web designers would state - not very focused on the user, but largely dependent on a mixture of fashion trends and marketing fads. one of the buzzwords everyone is so obsessed with is "mobile first".

and i think for an average web publisher, this perspective is bullshit.

firstly, two thirds of my users come from desktop computers and notebooks. that figure has certainly decreased in the recent years but it's getting more stable (so much for "everyone will get mobile eventually" etc.). ad clicks and purchases are largely executed on these more comfortable devices.

let me be clear: my issues are not really with responsive design for smaller screens but the opposite: responsive design for desktop and notebook screens. and i notice more often than not, that it fails there miserably. my observation is that nearly every webpage in recent years which has been optimized to display fluidly for different screen sizes performs worse on larger - or rather: standard(!) - screens.

not long ago, we had crowded web pages with tiny fonts and all that confusing fluff. man, that was bad. but now it has completely gone wrong in the other direction: on a normal screen, fonts are ridiculously large like they assume the average user must be handicapped. instead of content, far too much screen real estate is wasted for, well: nothing, blank spaces. navigation looks like these grandma phones with the huge buttons.

modern? i'd say: stupid. the look and feel is somehow wrong on a desktop/notebook screen. often you rather feel like a second class user, although you are behind the superior device.

i think this is a direct result of the notorious "mobile first"-doctrine, which imo under strict usability as well as commercial aspects is the wrong way for online publishing. hope over time the trend goes towards more reasonable solutions.

edit: haven't read the plausible latest posts while writing. especially what bird said: general design trends shouldn't be confused with solely responsive design techniques.
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