Thomas Byttebier

Freelance digital designer

Interfaces, UX, web sites

Responsive web design is a pleonasm

It’s been three years already since Ethan Marcotte coined the term responsive web design. And although the current technique will continue to evolve, in its core concept the idea is here to stay.

As the web continues to exist, people are going to interact with it through all kinds of devices. Yours will be more capable than mine. Yours will display more pixels than mine. I’ll instruct it through my finger while you’ll command it with your voice.

Devices always came with varying capabilities and they’ll continue to do so. As much as I despised it when I started out as a web designer, I’ve grown to embrace it and realize it’s a good thing. It really is the way of the web.

Consequently it’ll always be our job to make websites adjust to the many varying circumstances. At all times we’ll have to present the information so it adapts to the users wishes and needs. And right now one way of achieving that is through a responsive design.

At a first client meeting, sometimes clients ask me what’s the extra cost to make a site responsive. I tell them there’s no additional charge. Responsive design is not a feature. It’s how I build websites.

As much as I refuse to do a table based layout, I refuse to make a non-responsive layout. It just doesn’t make sense anymore.

And that’s why it felt totally right when someone tweeted we should stop calling it responsive web design and start calling it just web design. The term responsive web design served a great purpose but it may be time to retire it. After all it’s simply a pleonasm.