I think I don't have post screenshots. Most popular sites don't have responsive design (in fact I haven't seen any single one that does): Facebook, YouTube, Quora, Twitter, and the list goes on. With the rise of mobile devices I thought this would be the normal approach, but it doesn't seem to be the case.

Why is that most popular social media sites don't have responsive design (and choose to use a mobile version instead)?

5 Answers 5


Sometimes different content and structure is desired for a mobile site, not just a different layout and styles. The reasons for this approach are nicely laid out in Jakob Nielsen's article here:


The basic point? The desktop user interface platform differs from the mobile user interface platform in many ways, including interaction techniques, how people read, context of use, and the plain number of things that can be grasped at a glance. This inequality is symmetric: mobile users need a different design than desktop users. But, just as much, desktop users need a different design than mobile users.

FWIW there has been significant push back against Nielsens' article by proponents of the single responsive site strategy and the ensuing argument is very interesting:

Personally, I think there are many situations in which mobile device users are better served with a site tailored to a mobile environment (note "mobile environment" means more than just a small screen), and it's hard for me to take seriously any argument against Nielsen's testing methods. But it does require more resources to implement the 2 site strategy.

  • 2
    Could you maybe add in the relevant parts of the information from the links? As is, once the links break, your answer will lose most of its information. Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 1:21
  • @3nafish Suitably prophetic since 4 of these links have died since the answer was written. I've put in alternates though.
    – icc97
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 7:49

The ability to do responsive design is fairly recent and, in many aspects, unavailable in any version of Internet Explorer which is always years behind every other browser. Many properties to implement it work well in any other browser but were unavailable in IE until IE10 or, sometimes, IE9. So writing code that works in modern browsers will still require extra effort and writing to make that same code work in IE, just as in the past.

There is also more effort involved in creating a responsive site. While having a mobile version is helpful, serving it integrated into the whole site is still quite different. It's not a matter of flipping a switch to do so and is almost as bad as having to write multiple versions of the same site.

Large sites, like you mention, have a lot going on and integrate content from many different sources. Trying to make all that responsive could be quite an ordeal, especially considering that their base code is probably several years old. Just finding someone who knows how to do responsive layouts well may be difficult. We're all still learning.

  • media queries [ caniuse.com/#feat=css-mediaqueries ] are very well supported and provide the backbone for responsive layouts - things like touch area size and efficient asset service can be done without the browser being considered at all really, so I disagree that the required stuff is not well supported by IE ... some of the fancy css stuff and js maybe, but not the backbones of a good responsive site
    – Toni Leigh
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 18:28
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    @ToniLeigh You are commenting on a post from over 2 years ago when everything I said was true at the time.
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 18:50
  • tbf, IE8 and earlier can still be supported in responsive css if the design is built with that in mind and desktop first rather than mobile first, as the media queries will just be ignored
    – Toni Leigh
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 19:49

I think, they have their another versions for mobile devices. eg: m.facebook.com.

Another reason could be that, still responsive designs are not yet that perfect to implement. However, if one social site follow other will definitely follow it.


Rather than spend a huge amount of effort making a extremely large site responsive, more likely they've spent the money/time on developing a native app for iOS and android. There's a lot of good reasons for this:

Apps have a lot more capabilities on mobile and tablet compared with HTML. Your can gather more information about your user from an app. (allow this app to see everything). Apps (in theory) are more secure than HTML. You have more control with a native app and big businesses like control.

Sadly on tablet and mobile HTML5 is more restricted and less standardised.


Partly, it's entrenchment - in a proprietary codebase; in an overworked and underpaid lone developer; in a weird custom setup which wouldn't lend itself to a responsive redesign... The law of diminishing returns still applies: for all the man hours and additional costs involved, is it really, REALLY going to be worth it?

I like responsive designs, I do them myself where appropriate. I don't think it's always the right path to take, to me at least half of designing for the web is being constantly pragmatic in your decisions.

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