Posted By Emily Nicholls Tuesday, November 13, 2012. No Comments
Ok…enough already! If I hear the words responsive or adaptive one more time this week, I’m off to silicon roundabout with a 20ft poster and a loud hailer!
Simple fact is I don’t get it! I really don’t get it! The tech and agency world, not to mention the internal tech teams and digital teams in all those corporates out there are (I hope) pretty bright individuals, but for some unknown reason when it comes to mobile they seem to have lost all sense!
Ok so mobile is new, I’ll give them that, and I guess to a degree there is a learning curve to go through, but with so much innovation and expertise out there you’d have thought that at least some individuals would have realised that using techniques designed for desktop web development just can’t cut it in mobile.
Is it laziness? Or perhaps corporate politics or is it just fashionable and trendy to be jumping on the responsive bandwagon (aagghhh I said it! Now, where is that loud hailer!) Maybe it is just pure and simple lack of understanding and perhaps like unruly teenagers we just have to let them make their own mistakes until they feel enough pain to come to their senses.
So who’s feeling brave? Who’s a real innovator? Who can break the mould and drive change? Who can challenge convention?(probably words that appear in any one of the agency’s or corporates mission statements)
Firstly let’s bust the jargon – Responsive (aagghhh… OK just knocking up the poster) is a technical term for writing a website that delivers the same content to all devices but changes the layout according to the size of the screen, nothing more special than that, it’s certainly not an innovation for mobile web build, and here is where the problem starts.
Firstly getting a page to display on a small screen is not mobile, it’s just a miniature website, secondly using simply style-sheets to tell any one of an almost infinite number of different device combinations what to show or hide, results in a spaghetti mess that becomes impossible to fix, update and is costly to maintain. Thirdly it means you are taking a short cut and ignoring your mobile audience and the context they are using your site in – should they have the same navigation as your PC site? Finally it means rewriting your whole website, managing endless templates, images and content too.
The alternative is not however an m.site – this too is not the future, generally because the stand-alone site will be built using old techniques, but just using small style sheets for small screens.
Here’s the rub… you want to deliver your site from one code -base and from one URL, but you need to understand the different user contexts for different devices and that mobile is very different, multi device is different again. The only way to truly tackle it is to use technology and methodology founded in the mobile operators, honed and refined on leading edge multi-device projects and packaged for use by anyone open-minded enough to see that web design and build has moved on light-years from the old days PC only websites.
Enter the world of web platforms – there are many to choose from, they are designed specifically to tackle the challenges of a multi-device world, they will save time and money and they will deliver astonishing results. Finding one is the easy bit, breaking the blinkered and entrenched mindset that seems to be gripping the developer community will be the challenge!
By Phillip Clement