This article is also published in french Part I - Pourquoi les sites Web réactifs ne sont-ils pas une simple étape lors de la construction de sites Web?
Responsive websites are often described as a way of development which allows to content to be visualized whether viewed at the office, on a very large screen, behind an optical fiber connection, seen from a mobile phone, using very low bandwidth, printed on an ink jet printer, read by a screen reader, or perhaps watched on an Ultra High Definition 5K TV. The use cases are so vastly represented that one can’t know where, when, on what, and by who the content will be viewed.
So, we can say that creating a responsive website means that one has to be prepared for each situation.
That is mainly the case, and based on the information sent by the user agent, at its http request, the content will be presented and formatted in accordance with defined breakpoints, or will adapt continuously depending on the space available. We are respectively talking about the display being adaptive or responsive.
Based on this finding, most developers have responded with an optimal solution which starts small and add more and more information, depending on the available room. That concept was called, Mobile First.
Some other developers responded differently, in fact inversely, starting with a full page width and then reducing it, depending on the possibilities.
That gives birth to two concepts with evocative names, called Progressive Enhancement and Graceful Degradation.
So far so good.
We also must not forget the bandwidth issue, and take that into account. Whatever the approach, developers often show or hide the content based on the device. Whether the content is displayed or hidden, the agent will always download everything.
In the same way, with the layout, depending on the device, we now have to face the issue of network speed, be that of optical fiber or the slow drip of low capacity connections.
If we do nothing, first the website owner will pay for unused bytes uselessly transferred, and secondly the user will have to wait a long time before to access information that all unnecessary data have been recovered.
This brings us to a fundamental, often forgotten issue: websites are primarily made up of content. So before thinking about how to present it, which is responsive or adaptive, it may be important to ask the question of what we want to present. And of course, taking into account the type of device on which this information will be distributed.
So, we must first consider a true content strategy. But, I propose that the next discussion on the implementation of such a strategy may be the subject of another article.
The series :
- Why Responsive Websites Are Not Just a Simple Step for Website Construction.
- Why Content Strategy should be part of Responsive Web Design ?
- What is the User Expectations for Your Website? That depends on context.
- Bringing the Content to Design