A lot has been said about responsive as a default approach and you’ll often hear ‘if you don’t design responsive websites, you’re not a web designer’ and the like tossed about in conversation. However; I feel it’s important to still take this on a client-by-client basis.
The two biggest factors I take into consideration when helping the client make that decision are impact on time and impact on strategy:
Impact on time is simple; responsive sites almost always take longer to test (if you’re testing properly) and usually, but not always, take longer to implement.
Impact on strategy involves considering any kind of existing or theoretical mobile strategy and attempting to determine how responsive design may work within this. Some clients might be completely set in their ways on a certain strategy that may negate a lot of the benefits of responsive design – a separate mobile site, for example.
I love responsive and I think, without a shadow of a doubt, we should convince every client that comes to us for work to go responsive, but I think it’s still a decision that needs to be discussed and made with the client. I would never label it as ‘an extra feature’ – its very presence means it’s inherently shaping almost every decision in the design process; I certainly don’t see it as a bolt-on or an extra to any project.
I think, like browser support for example, early discussion with a client is still the answer, while every one of my recent projects has resulted in the client wanting to opt for a responsive website; I still feel the need to collaboratively weigh-up the pros and cons with the client. A lot of good can come from this going forward, with the client being more alert of things like the need for good, succinct copy and the idea of a site looking different between browsers. It’s also very easy to work this discussion into a meeting aimed towards deciding things like browser support as you can use similar analytics to help make those decisions.
Responsive is wonderful, but I feel it’s important to give the client a say in the choice and help them make the correct one.