Why Responsive Design Sucks

Ever since Google officially recommended responsive design for mobile SEO, I’ve heard SEOs parroting Google and claiming that responsive design is the best approach to take for mobile sites. However, I’ve always argued that responsive design is far from ideal since it doesn’t allow you to optimize load time or user experience for mobile users.

Josh Chan just published a great post over at Six Revisions, making much of the same arguments in great detail. To summarize his points:

  • Responsive design leads to poor mobile performance since you have to download the same content as if you were on a desktop (images, CSS files, javascript, etc). Because you’re trying to serve multiple devices with a single design, the file sizes end up being bigger than if you were just targeting a single device.
  • Responsive design is complex and requires a lot of designer and developer resources. It’s a complex design and programming challenge for which there is no clear workflow, compared to standard web design.
  • Responsive design leads to poor user experience in mobile since you’re just changing how you display content, instead of targeting the unique needs of mobile users. Responsive design can hinder creativity and innovation, and prevent designers from creating a great mobile experience.

Josh makes some really good points, and I completely agree as someone who is currently redesigning one of my sites for mobile. There’s no way I could use a few CSS hacks and shrink down the site for mobile browsers.

If you’re running a simple blog, responsive design can be a quick and easy solution, but if you have a more complex site dynamic serving is the way to go, since it preserves the URL structure while providing you with the flexibility to customize your design.

Takeshi Young

About Takeshi Young

Takeshi Young is an SEO and online marketer with 6+ years of experience in the industry. His specialties are technical SEO and social media marketing. He is also passionate about salsa dancing, and performs and competes around the country.

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One Response to Why Responsive Design Sucks

  1. Mick says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I know this is an old post but thought I’d mention the Weaver WP theme. It has an associated plugin which allows you to specify content that can be sent/not sent to mobile devices (using shortcodes). I’ve used it on a few sites and it seems to work very well.

    Anyway just passing and enjoyed reading your articles.


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