Poll: Do you design and build the site so it’s responsive even if the client doesn’t pay for it?
— Daniel Collins (@danielcollins) July 13, 2012
A year ago, or probably even a few months back, I’d have probably answered along the lines of “if it’s a small site (a few pages/templates), I just make it work across devices as standard” and I suspect I’m probably not alone in such a response because building mobile first is a relatively quick and easy process that gives great results.
On small sites
I typically still take that approach but I’m clear about explaining what I’m doing in making something responsive and that is how I’m going to build it.
On smaller sites, my answer remains a resounding “yes” but clients are charged for it because effectively I’m going to build them a site using industry standard best practice and give them something that’s going to last longer and work better than a fixed width site.
In pretty much all cases, a client would hope your work will make their website as accessible to as many people as possible. In the not too distant past, that generally meant a wide range of browsers from IE6 – 8 and all the other various ones. Now it’s devices, and we all know that fragmentation is only going to get more extreme so that’s where we look to help our clients most.
On big sites
Bigger sites need significantly more involvement and consideration though and you can’t simply bundle “responsive” up as a tick list item on a spec sheet and “just make it responsive”. It just doesn’t work like that, there are so many breakpoints, multiple templates, checking across devices etc that the decision to go responsive is not one to take lightly and certainly not one you just sling on top of a quote.
Even when you’re dealing with a site with a dozen different templates for example, you scale up the developer hours required to:
- Design/Wireframe for a range of devices
- Create visual assets/style boards
- Designing with your content and adding in (and testing) breakpoints when it looks funky
- Testing on browsers and assorted hardware devices
The responsive process needs buy-in from the start, on small projects and large but I feel it’s more than simply an add-on to a build, it’s an integral part of the planning, design and development process that the client is paying for.
The answer then, for me at least, is that in pretty much all cases responsive is the design and development of a site so a client would naturally be paying for it because that’s the deal.