Responsive design focuses on delivering the content based on screen resolution (pixels).

As screen resolution sizes of mobiles and tablets increase (tablets are now desktop monitor screen resolution), the effectiveness of responsive design becomes obsolete. If a tablet has desktop monitor screen resolution but is physically still 10", the website will be too 'small' to interact with and responsive design won't help.

Shouldn't responsive design focus on a screen ratio (take in account screen resolution AND physical device size)?

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    Responsive design focuses on delivering the content based on screen resolution (pixels). Not quite; that's not the spirit of responsive design, it's just the current best method of implementation. If devices start reporting better stats about what they physically are, those stats could be used instead
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 1, 2012 at 14:35
  • Just because mobile devices boast similar pixel resolutions to desktop setups, does not neccesairly mean they should serve content the same, because their usage scenarios can be quite different. Responsive also means taking target devices and consumation habits into account for how content is served, consumed and layed out.
    – kontur
    Dec 3, 2012 at 8:08
  • “Responsive design focuses on delivering the content based on screen resolution (pixels).” Says who? You might want to try and back up that false assumption before continuing. After that, go and read the Media Queries spec: w3.org/TR/mediaqueries-4/#mf-dimensions Oct 6, 2016 at 7:54

5 Answers 5


Responsiveness is here to stay. The reason being because it just not scales down a design to fit a screen resolution but instead it focuses on how to give your website user the best view as per his/her viewing device say tablet, phone or pc.

So, as long as we will keep trying to present the website user a view as per his/her viewing device responsive design is likely to remain.

Also it is worth noting here that responsive website design allows a responsive website to adapt its layout to the viewing device, user agent, and environment and not just by resolution only.

  • I think what UXCandy is asking is how long can we use this css3 media quires like: @media all and (max-width: 1000px) and (min-width: 700px)
    – Igor-G
    Dec 1, 2012 at 12:32

Responsive design is, or should be, based on the content and not the device, screen size or resolution. Images and text are only allowed to be a certain size and, if need be, moved to an appropriate location based on that.

That is where things are moving now but responsive design is definitely more work with extra planning and detail, particularly when you know things will move or resize as you go from small to large. Note I didn't say from mobile to tablet to desktop.


I believe that responsive design will be effective in the future. As you know CSS3 is not a finalized yet. I doubt it that W3C would allow it to become obsolete.

Also its possible to find out the screen size if you get the width and height of the device and divide it by ppi of the screen. 640px / 326 ppi = 1.96 inch this way you know that the screen size is small.

I believe responsive is here to stay it just might change the way we write it.

  • I agree. What I'm trying to assess is: As screen resolutions increase progressively faster, how much 'life' does a current responsive design have? What do you think? Dec 1, 2012 at 12:17
  • @UXCandy.net To answer this we need to know when the new devices with larger resolutions are coming out... but even then there are ways to use responsive as the approach to cater the design to different devices.
    – Igor-G
    Dec 1, 2012 at 12:42
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    Computing device size in JavaScript is often very inaccurate (simply bugs in JavaScript). It's not ready for prime time.
    – obelia
    Dec 1, 2012 at 17:40
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    @uxcandy.net responsive design isn't just for tablets. It's for all devices.
    – DA01
    Dec 2, 2012 at 7:22

Shouldn't responsive design focus on a screen ratio (take in account screen resolution AND physical device size)?

Yes, and to the extent of my understanding of current web tech, this isn't possible. So I would say the current standard techniques of laying out webpages (responsive design in the technical sense) will soon be superseded by techniques that take into account both physical size and pixel dimensions.

(As the complexity of this problem increases an imperative approach (i.e. JavaScript) will probably be adopted. Currently JavaScript doesn't provide a robust way to determine device size but this should be coming soon.)

  • Note that even that is not enough. You also need to take the typical distance between the user and the screen into account. A phone is usually held closer than a tablet, which is closer than a laptop or desktop screen, which is way closer than a TV screen. Even if they all have the same resolution screen, that makes for different demands on their presentation of content.
    – André
    Feb 7, 2014 at 15:08

I want responsive design to die. For some reason late last year/early this year we dropped pushing "Mobile First" when designing. This is the real focus, mobile first.

Responsive design is good in theory but in practice everyone is getting it wrong. Changing their IA for each device or break point, moving boundaries in their site, it annoys me and it is bad for the brain trying to re-find something when/if your user returns.

Let's get back to mobile first and designing IA, navigation, and boundaries that don't change when you switch to different devices. Keep your headlines as headlines, and images floating or centered dont change because of your real-estate.

  • Mobile first brought to desktop is no less disaster than trying to fit the desktop version on mobile... Those are two different worlds, requiring two different approaches. In all cases we'd have to go either for extra expenses (developing completely different versions) or go for compromises (adjusting one device view to fit other devices).
    – drabsv
    Feb 11, 2018 at 13:14

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