Responsive Design is all the rage. It's jumped from being one of those techniques that the designers and developers working on the cutting edge espouse to being the thing that Product Managers talk about when they describe the next iteration of their product. But where is the real value in Responsive Design? It doesn't really make design & development faster, in fact, it probably makes it slower and more difficult (at least initially). Rather than focusing on a fixed width it forces designers to consider their work at every width. Rather than developing for Chrome or Firefox, then bug fixing for Internet Explorer, it forces developers to write for every browser then enhance based on device capability (of which there are hundreds). It might be worthwhile dropping a couple of definitions now. Here's one from Jeffrey Zeldman
any approach that delivers elegant visual experiences regardless of the size of the user’s display and the limitations or capabilities of the device(read more here: Responsive Design) And here's mine
Delivering the same features of a product, optimised for each device, to all devices at the same time, using the same codebase.I'm quite proud of that one. It's a bit more developer focused than the typical designer focused Responsive Design definition. The key point there I think, is the
all devices at the same time. This means we shouldn't be focusing on delivering an amazing desktop experience to our audience now, leaving small-screen device users suffering with a limited, old, crufty experience. It probably means we launch products with reduced feature sets initially, although those features are immediately available optimised for every device (We can argue over what we mean by optimised another time). So my point? Well, for Product Managers the key point is that Responsive Design reduces the Mean Time to Mobile Parity (MTMP) down to 0 days. By MTMP I mean the time it takes for a feature of a product to appear in an optimised form to an audience on a mobile (small screen, bandwidth limited) device after it is launched to an audience using more traditional desktop clients. I've poked around the BBC Internet blog to see what the MTMP for various BBC Products are. It's quite difficult, as it's typically large product launches that are publicised and not feature releases (and we shouldn't be doing big relaunches should we?) and for some the desktop and mobile products are very different. Here's a couple of examples (and apologies for picking on these products).