This was well articulated.
Though everyone has "responsive design" on their resume now, I think a lot of us still struggle to actually provide valuable changes depending on screen size. Instead, we opt for the path of least resistance.
Yeah, we should be more conscious of designing for context alongside designing for different devices and breakpoints.
In the context of using a phone, what you're trying to do on a website can be pretty different to what you're doing on a desktop computer on the same website.
Accounting for context should inform design decisions and shape the content appropriately, too many websites try to keep all their bells and whistles, all the way down to the last breakpoint.
The main problem with responsive websites is layouting. People just let stack everything instead thinking in better ways to organize content. Reducing fonts and margins is not enough. Sometimes, the horizontal scrolling can be the best way to organize sections, sometimes you need to hide tons of decoration in order to achieve reduction, but in general, mobile layouts should not be designed this way but the opposite: start from mobile for mobile then think the desktop, then figure out how to produce it.
Great article. I think this is an artefact of designers thinking desktop-first for so long even after responsive design gathered steam.
A lot of designers who spend a lot of time working on mobile projects are primarily working with native apps, so they don't often have to deal with multiple layouts for the same content often.
Another probable reason is the added development complexity. Managing multiple layouts for a piece of content can get messy, especially when dealing with sliders and similar components.
It's definitely something I think we should all be handling better though, thanks for sharing!
In my opinion, the story should fit the user's environment/state. Is the user willing to scroll in order to understand the whole story? Does he/she have time for this, if not, can he/she re-enter the story easily?
Is the story "scannable" and understandable without reading every single word? Can the user find specific information when he/she returns?
Does it need to act as a page that the user uses to commit actions? Is it purely a page that provides information?
Many questions should be considered when deciding the length of a mobile webpage, same for desktop. It depends on many factors and understanding the state of the user. The length of a mobile website is linked to the function of that mobile website.
What we do know, is that users will scroll if the content is correct. If the story (storytelling) is worth scrolling for.
Heck, people nowadays care less about being run over by a car when they are scrolling through the mobile browser — one of the reason why an experiment with a traffic light being integrated into the sidewalk is introduced, here in the Netherlands.
This is definitely a useful observation and definition of a design problem - and I think ultimately it boils down to lazy and unconsidered design in most cases.
I remember Andy Clarke raising the exact same points in one his blog posts from 2012 so looks like we're continuing to be a bit lazy when it comes to visual hierarchy
I guess the piling the content on top of each other is a easy & quick solution from design and development point of view. This rarely provides a better experience for the mobile users. I think we should use more side swiping/scrolling capabilities to prioritize the content and provide more compact package for mobile users rather than super long page.