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I am about to redevelop a health-related website which has the following user statistics:

80% users from hospitals and counties (90% of these use IE8 on Desktop PCs)
20% public users such as journalists etc. (using a variety of browsers and devices)

One can possibly assume that the larger group - the 80% - will be limited to IE8-IE9 on PCs for the next 2 years or so. But gradually they may start using other devices and browsers to access the website ...

The primary use cases of the website is to report data using forms and see data via charts + the usual suspects: about page, contact etc.


Given this scenario, should I develop a responsive website?
Are there other aspects I should take into account to determine this?

If not going the responsive route, are there other techniques that could be applied to make it more device independent? For example:
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"/>

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That depends. Do you want this website to be usable on whatever device the user has on them at the time? Really the question should be 'why shouldn't I make it responsive'. With ux designers and developers who know what they're doing there's very little difference as far as development time involved. (Although testing and support may be a bit more impacted), so I'd ask the question as to why you don't want to make it responsive. – JonW Feb 4 '14 at 13:14
I agree with @JonW, there are tons of frameworks that makes doing a response site from scratch really easy. – TruthOf42 Feb 4 '14 at 13:17
Do said users from the hospital also own phones? – DA01 Feb 4 '14 at 15:11
They probably own phones but would not be very interested in consuming the services outside their work. – dani Feb 5 '14 at 15:05
So, just because they are using IE on a desktop computer, you assume that they don't want to use different sized browser windows? Responsive is not only for mobile! – Rumi P. Feb 6 '14 at 15:37

To be honest if I were in this situation I would build a site layout that is fluid using wrapper widths based on percentages of em/rem units, adapting to all screen sizes.

I'd also add the minimal amount of additional responsive features for an acceptable mobile user experience, including a shown/hidden navigation, stacking the column layout to a one column system for very small screens etc.

This way although the majority of users won't see this benefit straight away, you're catering for those who will, offering progressive enhancement and also future proofing this site, potentially saving development time in the future when the site needs to be overhauled to cater for responsive design and mobile devices.

The meta tag that you mention is for ensuring that the device browser doesn't try to zoom out to show all that is on the screen for mobile devices, so I'd only implement that if the layout is adaptable to these screen sizes.

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Respond.js is a really nice polyfill that can make media queries work in old versions of IE:

I'm currently using this in a project and can confirm it works pretty well. This takes away the technical constraint of IE support and makes it a pure UX decision - and I'm almost always in favor of responsive design.

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I would absolutely build a responsive site... and here is why:

1) I find it is actually faster to build a responsive site using a good responsive framework than not using a responsive framework.

2) Device is king right now, and get ready... it isn't over yet, prepare for the future and build good User Experience.

3) Trends... Medical Industry users more than 80% of the time prefer tablet for UI interaction. Expect this to increase as EHR(Electronic Hospital Records) apps and other apps helping the medical industry continue to mature.

4) You will gain amazing street cred.

How would I do it? Foundation5... or Bootstrap, but I lean toward Foundation5, and I've worked with 8 responsive frameworks over the past year.


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