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As I was discussing about the benefits of using responsive web design (RWD) nowadays, my manager said that one of his biggest gripe is the fact that horizontally resizing the browser window often makes the text you were reading abruptly disappear which, I agree, can be an important usability issue.

I responded that users who resize their window in the middle of reading an article aren't common at all but as I haven't heard of statistics that could back up this argument, I didn't really convince anyone in the end.

What would you have responded and what data would you have used to back up your claim?

  • I also agree with you that when you are reading, you don't re-size the window. But it is just an assumption. Following link has some stats but they are not validated either. davidgoss.co.uk/2012/06/23/users-resize-browser-windows-maybe And yes the problem can be solved by js/css tricks easily. – Hemchandra Mar 5 '14 at 5:46
  • @Hem : Since you can't guess what exact sentence the user were reading inside the viewable area before the resizing, I thought it was impossible to fix the issue with js/css. Did I miss something? – majimekun Mar 5 '14 at 6:12
  • Using resize() you can check if the browser window is re-sized or not. If yes, trigger the css and align the design accordingly. There might be 2-3 sec jerk while aligning the design, which can be solved by css transitions :) I suggest to do a quick POC. – Hemchandra Mar 5 '14 at 6:55
  • I'd let your manager know that his gripe, while duly noted, does not trump the number of people using your site that want it to work nicely on their iPhone. – DA01 Mar 5 '14 at 7:45
  • @DA01 : Actually, the idea he suggested was to show the responsive version on all mobile devices and show a fixed-width version only on PCs. – majimekun Mar 5 '14 at 9:07
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what data would you have used to back up your claim

I'd ask that question of your manager. If they can provide data that shows a statistically significant number of your customers read your site while resizing their browser at the same time and are frustrated to the point of losing them, maybe your web site is a statistical anomaly and just isn't suited for responsive layouts unlike a vast majority of web sites out there.

OK, maybe don't say that. Not all managers may appreciate that approach. :)

This is a hole we in UX sometimes dig ourselves into. We love using data to back up decisions (as we should) but then we get into these scenarios where management expects data in response to every opinion imaginable. Which just doesn't exist.

It's fine to have opinions, but we need to make sure we communicate that as UX professionals, we do have experience and that experience should count for something when it comes to matters of UX.

In the case of responsive web design, this is simply how responsive web design works. I'd just list of the benefits of responsive web design (can vastly save money for the company, one site vs. two, reaches more customers, etc.) and ask if they felt those benefits outweighed the issue of resizing the browser while reading it at the same time.

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I often want to resize a window - which if Responsive causes content to shift unhelpfully. a) Because I want to compare with content in another window. b) I do not need to see the panel on the right (or left), just the main content.

a) Responsive seems to undermine the whole point of Windows (plural) [ almost as much as Metro-design ] b) It is really annoying that "normal" pages allow the right (or left) edge to be brought in, hiding the unwanted content ... while another unexpectedly pushes central content down (out of sight) while forcing the side panel to remain in view.

If Users could disable Responsive, that would give Users the choice about how to work.

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