inessential by Brent Simmons

iPads and responsive design

I’m a few days late linking to this, but it’s important. Dave Winer writes:

Designers really need to hear the following, loud and clear: The iPad browser is fully capable. It doesn’t need you to treat it differently. You’re fighting with users when you get fancy. Just stick with what works on the desktop.

There are some cases where some small tweaks make an existing website work better on iPad. This site has a few such tweaks — but only so that what you see on iPad looks like what you see on a desktop. I’d make tweaks for small laptops (like my 13” MBP) if I needed to also.

But there’s a huge difference between that and a mobile experience. Please don’t make iPads display the mobile version. (Especially when the mobile versions are so terrible so much of the time. I can’t stand the way they so often try to look like native apps, but then don’t work like native apps. And then are slow and annoying. Blech. Let websites be websites.)

I don’t know a ton (yet) about responsive design, but what I’ve read I like. Instead of targeting devices or thinking about mobile vs. desktop, you design so that your design works in a continuum of screen sizes. A sidebar might move to the bottom on a small-enough screen, for instance. Sounds totally sensible, and avoids all these junky “mobile experiences” that are so detestable.