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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
An architect's notes, experiments, discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

Search from over a hundred HOW TO articles, Tips and Tricks


HOW TO overcome disadvantages of Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design (RWD) means having a single website that “responds” to the current device, and changes its design accordingly.

Responsive Web Design is a good alternative to creating mdot websites as it can cater better to users accessing web pages through a variety of devices. Talking of devices, it is reported that Facebook is accessed by  more than 7,000 device types every day (a figure that is two years old and likely even bigger today)

The free O'Reilly ebook Responsive and Fast by Akamai CTO, Web performance researcher and evangelist Guy Podjarny reveals that websites implementing Responsive Web Design can suffer from serious performance problems.

This is mainly because irrespective of the screen size of the device, the same web page resource elements are downloaded even for the small screen. As examples he points out that the websites of Boston Global and Smashing Magazine (which have implemented RWD) hide some elements for the mobile view and still download resources meant for a bigger screen.

One of Guy's research finding is that compared to mdot sites, responsive websites were 3 times bigger!

In the 57-paged book, the author discusses strategies to overcome the performance issues with excellent explanations. He points out the specific problems, lays out the possible solutions and also mentions cases where those solutions may fail. It was a little disappointing to know after completing the book that there is no silver bullet to address the performance issues created by Responsive Web Design.

The right optimization to use depends on the specific situation. The current code base, size of team, tolerance of risk and CDN capabilities are just a few factors that can dictate which solutions can and cannot be used.

The author extends hope that standardization efforts underway will help make this work easier in the future.

This topic is also covered in a webcast presented by the author.

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