In the process of responsive design we come to a crossroads. A divide that takes us either to desktop or mobile. We cannot attempt to make the two roads one, but must see them as distinctly different with their own challenges and triumphs.
Over the last month I've been the spearhead towards taking a purely desktop site and trying to make it work on mobile. One of the first thing that I noticed was that many individuals that I either talked with or worked with didn't understand the basic fundamentals of making something mobile. They attacked the original site with knives and scissors and tried to reform it into something new, something mobile. For probably two weeks straight I yelled, "This is not the way", and from a personal standpoint I imagine mobile first.
Responsive or Adaptive
The contention usually arises when some try to stuff that desktop site into a mobile experience for a smartphone. Great! However, what worked on your personal computer needs to be re-imagined and re-tested in order to be truly useful. If, for example, I repaint my car using a bucket of house paint it will be a different color. Though the paint would not standup well to the weather. The usefulness of that house paint is lost on my car, because it was not designed to work that way. Car paint, however, has many layers and each one of those layers serves a purpose, from primer to clear coat.
We have to look at mobile the same way. It is not reverse engineering what was, it's about building what could be. Think of mobile as the primer. It has one purpose, to start the process with a simple job. Our mobile experience is not so much flashy as it is useful, correct? Not sure how much arguments I will get for this and I may get my fair share of critical comments. What mobile experiences have made painfully clear is that users don't want flashy, they want useful. They come to your site for what it offers. I read a lot of Smashing Magazine articles on my phone during my breaks because I want to learn more about typography, the web, or anything for that matter that is interesting. What I personally like about their mobile experience is that it's relatively ad free. (I say this having not seen any ads on their site until I go there on my desktop.) Simplicity in design and function.
Mobile Rants Are My Cup of Tea
Mobile has to be the starting point, not the ending point. We have to envision, then build. I suppose that this soap box needs to be stepped off of. (He steps down from the box and dusts off his pants.) We all have a challenge to face in the world of the ever-changing web to be movers or shakers as the platform in which we interact with the world starts to tip once more.