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My question has two parts.

  1. Is it right to design a responsive site for the web and display it on a mobile device?

  2. Should sites be designed separately for mobile devices?

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closed as not constructive by dnbrv, Ben Brocka, Rahul Feb 27 '12 at 14:51

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Please take a look at the auto-generated sidebar on the right - you will find answers to both of your questions there. In the future, please look over the questions that the system suggests to you right before you submit your post. –  dnbrv Feb 24 '12 at 5:38
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Nothing's ever a must, but responsive design is great...when it applies. Do you have a specific use case in mind? Otherwise I feel this is too broad to be answerable. –  Ben Brocka Feb 24 '12 at 5:38
    
@BenBrocka Yea it was a client request which made me ask the question. While I suggested building two separate products, one for the web and one for mobile devices, the client thought otherwise –  user11857 Feb 24 '12 at 5:41
    
@dnbrv Hey, I did not see the auto generated sidebar, new to stackexchange, will take care next time. –  user11857 Feb 24 '12 at 5:42
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In order to get the most specific answers, can I suggest you reword the question to be more specific itself? For example 'Is a responsive design a must for a mobile phone eCommerce website where the target audience is a tech-savvy Western audience' or some such title. Try to tighten the requirements for this question, because every website is different and therefore has different requirements. The more information you can provide the more bespoke the solution. –  JonW Feb 24 '12 at 14:47

3 Answers 3

Assuming that your site is using classical pages that are put together on the server (and not a client side page built with eg. Backbone.js) then I would say that you need to consider if the full pages makes sense on a small screen before starting to try and make a responsive design for a small screen.

Eg. many blogs has enormous sidebars with lots and lots of not very relevant content. It may look okay on a big desktop screen, but when trying to make it all fit together on a small screen you realize that there's no logical place to put these things since the otherwise empty space they occupy on a big desktop screen doesn't exist on the small screen - instead the content has to occupy the full width of small screens and it's not relevant enough to justify that.

So - if you, like eg. blogs, have much irrelevant content on your pages, then you're probably better of creating a separate design for the mobile pages where you can remove that content and have the design fully focus on your core content.

If you don't have much irrelevant content - then do whatever makes sense from a technical point of view.

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I probably sound like a broken record but it depends on the specific situation.

If you can base your decision on actual research all the better. Is there a current site, can you use analytics to see if anyone is currently viewing your site on other devices? If it's a new site can you do some research as to who your audience are and how they will access?

In most instances I would encourage using responsive design techniques, but there may be more complex scenarios where offering a totally different site for mobile may make sense. Or even building a native mobile application. For instance maybe the web and mobile services differ? In which case using responsive web techniques may not go far enough.

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Being a web-site designer for half my life, and now making my own mobile applications, I can offer a very simple piece of advice, let the user decide if he or she wants to use a mobile application, or full web-site. If you need to use a mobile application, try using the output of a content management system to get all your content into your mobile application, and be sure to make the experience as similar to your full web-site, as possible. If you have a mobile web-site, instead of an application, that contains all the same content and information, and is easily accessible using the same address, while at the same time, allowing the user to use the full web-site, you may have a better over all user experience.

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