The idea of having a website that responds different, depending on the device you’re viewing it on. Ideally, the only difference is the CSS – you don’t serve up different content to different devices.
- Creating a Response, Mobile-First WordPress theme (Smashing Mag)
- Responsive Navigation Patterns (Brad Frost)
Brad also talks about Support vs Optimization. Meaning: You can support a particular device, without investing the time to optimize that experience. Go for the low-hanging fruit, and make sure that your site ‘works’, even if not all the bells and whistles work.
I agree with this sentiment. I’d probably invest more time in iOS and recent Android platforms, since that’s where the future is. My feeling is that people with older devices are probably used to a ‘lesser’ experience with most websites anyway.
That said, Stephanie Reiger makes a plea for progressive enhancement with some interesting numbers. 20% of users in the US and UK are “mobile-mostly”, close to 6.5% of web traffic worldwide is mobile, and large sites (Facebook, YouTube) see mobile visitors of around 30%. ITU predicts mobile traffic will exceed desktop traffic by 2015.
I think the problem with that last prediction is “What constitutes mobile traffic?” Just mobiles? How about my iPod? What about my Tablet? But still, the point is that the landscape is changing, and the sites we build today require some thought to be future friendly.
See also: My notes on Responsive Navigation.