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Is responsive the way to go?
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George Andrews
Pacific Beach (San Diego) California
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January 11, 2013 - 12:34 pm
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Rick:

[This is apropos the Friday beginner classes, so feel free to move it if there's a better spot here.

Let me apologize--I was yelling at my computer but you couldn't hear me. Mac and GoToMeeting don't always work and play well together. . .]

In my opinion (and every assertion here should be prefaced with that), a mobile user's needs are almost always different from those browsing from a desktop, laptop, or tablet. While Apple seems to want the iPad to be a mobile device, it's really more of a fully-featured browser, isn't it? Let's put the tablets in with the full computers.

Here's the gist of my contention: a mobile user (i.e. a mobile phone user) has different needs. A phone-based user is on the move. My analogy is that a phone-based user wants specific information: ask the question as you get on the escalator and get the answers before you get off. Who has what I want? Where are they located? When are they open? What's their number? They don't want a long "About Us" page or a tiered menu structure. They don't want a fully-featured shopping cart or a poll about customer satisfaction. They want very simple answers. They want flat menus and big buttons. They want a Fisher-Price browsing experience, not rich and immersive technologies.

Yes, a tablet-based user may be different, but a mobile phone is the real target and responsiveness is a poor compromise. A truly mobile user (that is, a phone browser) wants something different, and a responsive solution isn't the best experience for the user. It's great for the developer, but will ultimately be rejected for the sake of expedience, like it or not.

We need to give mobile users something different, something simpler, and something more according to their needs.

–George

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Rick Anderson
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January 11, 2013 - 3:29 pm
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Those are comments worth considering.  However if you are going to hide information from mobile users I think you probably should give them the opportunity to use the full site.

I think there are a couple of flaws in your assertion that should be considered.

First, some of us regular mobile users HATE dumbed down sites.  I won't use Amazon or Ebay on my phone because they have gone that route.  I hate trying to read a news story and having to go to the next page repeatedly to read the full story.  When I run into that I dump the site and move on.

Second, some people use their mobile devices constantly.  Not just when they are on the go.  I use mine in my office, at home, in front of the TV and in bed.  I'd rather be able to order pizza from my phone than have to rev up my laptop or go down to my office.  Unfortunately my favorite pizza place's mobile site is so dumb as to be useless.

I hardly ever talk on my phone, but I use it all day long.  Even when I'm sitting in my office.

Should all sites be responsive? Probably not.  But I'm not sure that mobile friendly means less content.

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