I am creating a responsive UI application for desktop, tablet and smartphone. And it looks and works fine.

Most of the site has a responsive design like microsoft or nokia global. It also changes when we resize our "desktop" browsers. For example, if we can resize the width to 480 pixel it will change accordingly. But from an UX point of view no end user is going to resize and view the page like a mobile/tablet user.

Can't we just disable media queries, if the user views the page on a desktop browser, and what are the advantages of not doing so?

  • I'm currently running about 25 browser windows, which range from as narrow as 300px to as wide as 2560px, with many in between. Don't forget, too, that responsive techniques can also help you support larger screens with your design (instead of simply centring everything in a very wide window).
    – Kit Grose
    Dec 13, 2012 at 23:58

4 Answers 4


But UX point of view no end user going to re-size and view as mobile/tablet.

What makes you think this? People resize browser windows all of the time.

Cant we just disable media queries if desktop browser, what are the advantages of not doing so.?

What are the advantages of disabling them? It should make the experience better. There doesn't seem to be any upside it stopping a responsive design be responsive on the desktop.

  • The only advantage (and this, I think, is probably down to personal preference), is that if you were to resize your browser between two breakpoints, you would get a consistent experience rather than have to reorient yourself with the new layout. Dec 13, 2012 at 17:01
  • 1
    Also, even if people didn't resize their browsers, there are still different desktop monitor sizes. Media queries will help deal that.
    – frozenkoi
    Dec 13, 2012 at 18:12

I used to assume most Windows users don't resize their browser; that it'd be maximized and that's that; however, from some studies that I've done over the years, more and more people are not maximizing it for a number of reasons (Windows 7/8 Snapping, hi-res monitors, task changing using a mouse are the top 3). Also, a number of college students that I've observed shrink their browser window so it's available for research; however, to the side so they bulk is for writing their papers. I've began observing similar behaviors on Mac participants as well.

So in a nutshell, people DO resize their desktop browsers and they expect the same information. I can only predict that such a trend will continue to rise as more sites become responsive and provide the same content across devices and channels. Disabling a desktop-optimized layout from being static instead of responsive would go against the small but growing trend. People don't like being locked down and restricted. Locking down a desktop layout would be like forcing a mobile user to only see the desktop site. Such experiences are one of many reasons why responsive web design and other techniques are becoming popular.

With that said, there may be times in which separate content templates for different channels are necessary; however, this is always a case by case basis and should be justified by the user research. These cases are rare though.


Advantages of responsive is that you don't need find out the user agent. Also user agents are not very reliable.

Also why wouldn't user resize the browser window?

  • 1
    +1 User agent sniffing is problematic. Disabling media queries sometimes will be opening a can of worms (from both a implementation and UX design perspective). Part of the attraction of media queries/responsive design is that it's fairly simple and rugged.
    – obelia
    Dec 13, 2012 at 17:27

There is no need to disable media queries, instead change them! Currently you are probably using min-width and max-width for the media queries. Change that to min-device-width and max-device-width to only trigger the media queries when the device has those limitations.

My subjective opinion is that displaying the mobile or tablet version of your website to a desktop user is unhealthy. It often causes a reorganization of the interface - serving only to confuse the user. To me this is comparable to if Finder.app switched viewing modes when you resized the window. Adapting to a new view is fine, serving a view intended for mobile to a desktop user is not.

  • 1
    You have a very good point. As a user, if I resize a window slowly and see it change it is ok and I do not get confused. But if I visit the web site the first time with a very wide window and later visit the same web site with a narrow window and receive a totally different rendering, I would be very confused. Dec 13, 2012 at 16:23

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