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Since there is a growing trend for enterprise level applications to be developed to be web-friendly (i.e. in the cloud and fully responsive), many of the statistics suggest that there is a serious need to explore design that cater for the wide screen aspect ratios common in most office settings.

It seems like the term 'responsive design' has been largely associated with mobile devices, yet if the framework supports responsive design then I assume that it is simply a decision by the designer to be 'mobile first' and support larger viewports, or to be 'desktop first' and support smaller viewports.

Bootstrap certainly promotes itself as a 'mobile first' responsive design framework, so I am wondering if there are design frameworks out there that are either device agnostic (and therefore you can choose what the focus is), or 'desktop first' responsive design frameworks that support wide screen viewports and UI components/widgets such as complex interactions and dashboard functionalities that are simplified and customized separately for mobile devices?

  • Probably best to do custom design for the arrays of screen sizes you want to support, and then custom implementations. Responsive Design Frameworks aren't very good and have been exploiting hype. For considered and deliberate designs, It's not super difficult to custom code elasticity within sub-ranges of display sizes. – Confused Apr 4 '16 at 9:49
  • @Confused I would say that it is difficult to custom code elasticity because all the frameworks have a lot of stuff in there to make things work, and creating one from scratch is probably a bridge too far for me. I agree about the exploiting hype aspect of RDFs though... – Michael Lai Apr 4 '16 at 22:17
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Well, this is a tricky question, because mobile first shouldn't be considered as a technology, but an approach or concept. While frameworks have adapted to this, providing better tools to achieve this approach, it only means that this approach is easier to achieve, not that you can use them only for this purpose. As a matter of fact, a quick survey we did on UpWork shows that most designers still use a desktop first approach.

Because of this, and some marketing / gimmicky messaging by the framework developers, everybody was worried to market their framework as mobile first, because nobody would label their framework as desktop first. It just wouldn't create any interest. The only mobile ready framework I remember not using the mobile first motto (nor the desktop first) was Compass. At some point, they labeled it as device agnostic, but now they even took that off their site, at least home page.

Of course, you could just go and download Bootstrap 2, but why would you? By using Bootstrap 3 (or the upcoming Bootstrap 4), you can simply disable responsiveness on demand when you need it. And same could be said for other frameworks, so an easy answer for your question would be "any old version of the mobile first frameworks", but I think this would be a wrong suggestion and it's better to simply use responsiveness properly. Desktop first is what everybody did for the last 2 decades and what a majority still does, so it's just a question of avoiding to use something new!

For example, we just built a cloud app that requires heavy using of screen, the bigger the better. However, parts of this app can be accessed on mobiles if needed, so we simply made it responsive and mobile first, with just a few features working in fixed desktop size. This way, we got the best out o both approaches, but the framework is the same (in this case, Foundation)

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  • +1 Very nice answer, but I do have a little bit of issue of the fact that most of these frameworks still look at responsiveness from the point of view of re-arranging content for different viewports, whereas my ideal for a desktop first approach (I take your point about it as a technology) should be maximizing content and display for desktop, and providing logic for hiding or removing content for small viewports. The current logic is just based on showing/hiding the same content but in different configurations. – Michael Lai Apr 4 '16 at 3:58

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