An under noticed benefit of responsive web design

An under noticed benefit of responsive web design

We’re big proponents of responsive design. And we’re not alone. Trends predict 2013 will be the year of responsive design. It’s easy to see why....with an explosion of different devices with various resolutions and sizes - creating mobile specific sites for each device variant is impractical. It’s much easier to create an adaptable site that “responds” to the size, resolution, and orientation of the device. It’s why every site we build now is built on top of a responsive web framework. Our preferred choice is Zurb’s Foundation Framework.

But a discussion around responsive frameworks is a future topic. This blog is focused on one, small under noticed benefit of responsive web design. Sharing links via social networks and email.

Mobile specific sites often “share” mobile specific links.

I’m fairly confident that you’ve either shared or received a link that when opened on a computer or tablet takes you to a layout targeted to mobile users. I find this frustrating and annoying. Especially when the mobile URL is completely different than the full site’s url. One culprit that uses mobile specific URLs is ABC News. They’ve improved their mobile site - but their URLs are still modified. This means when shared with a computer user - the link will render a mobile layout that looks bad on a larger screen. Maybe it’s just me, but this drives me crazy.

Annoying mobile layouts from a mobile shared link

With responsive web design, a URL is the same URL.

Unlike mobile specific site design approaches, with responsive web design, the URL rarely or never changes. It’s the same URL just displaying an adapted layout. So when you share the URL the recipient will see the same page, the same information, adapted to their device - you’re not modifying the URL in any manner. So when shared, the URL will work the “same” for everyone. It’s a hidden, under-rated benefit of responsive design. One that I appreciate and promote when possible.

Dec 15, 2012

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There are 3 comments for this entry. Leave a comment below »

Great post!Another big advantage of responsive web design is that a responsive website will adapt itself to the device the visitor is using for optimal viewing performance. So you don’t have to worry about losing out on visitors because they can’t view your website properly on their iPad or smartphone. It’s important to take this into account, as the mobile audience and usage continues to grow.

website design
Jan 10, 2013

Completely agree -- this aspect of one-web is crucial to the future of social sharing and one of the reasons we're big proponents of one-web and responsive at Mobify!

The future is definitely one-web -- imagining the alternative of "redirect spaghetti" and having a separate website for every type of device (mobile, m-dot, tablet, t-dot? tv, tv-dot?) is something that I'm sure gives every web designer and architect nightmares.

All the best!


Peter McLachlan
Dec 17, 2012

I totally agree, William. We are huge proponents of responsive design, too, and one big benefit is not having to create separate URLs and the chance of splitting "linkjuice". There are tons of benefits to responsive design, and I wish more businesses large and small would see not only the benefits but also the consequences of not having a mobile-friendly web site. Good post.

Touch Point Digital
Dec 16, 2012

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