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General Discussion

Responsive Design and Web Apps

Hello Everyone-

As I finish up the front-end and design tracks, I'm a little confused on responsive design as it pertains to web apps. It makes perfect sense while working through the static sites; images and texts look great in a single column. However, the confusion for me lies in trying to visualize how you would make a web app single column or a dashboard etc. Is there a course or workshop I should direct myself to here on the site? Or perhaps a source somewhere on the web to learn more about this. My goal is to build a web app and I can't wrap my mind around anything smaller than an iPad screen. Any help is appreciated.


4 Answers

Ryan Ruscett
Ryan Ruscett
23,309 Points


Responsive web design is a way to accommodate individuals to your site no matter the device. A great example is Amazon. Whether I visit amazon on my Phone, Tablet or computer. It manages to fit the "functionality" into whatever device I choose to view the web page from. This is because it's responsive.

Let me tell you this, it's not ideal viewing amazon on my phone. Can I buy stuff, sure absolutely. Is the amazon mobile app better than a web page on my mobile phone? It absolutely. Think of responsive web design as a way to accommodate users from any device. It doesn't have to and is not going to be perfect. It's just a way to get the main point across to a user no matter the device. Hence, amazon. I can buy stuff on my mobile device as easy as I can on any device. That is the goal. After all there is no way I am going to be able to see 30 items per page on a mobile device like I can on a desktop without tons of scrolling. But there goal isn't really how many items I can show you, but is it super easy for you go buy said items lol.

Think of it more as a "If someone visits my site, can they accomplish my main goal?". That's really it. You want your site to be informative towards it's goal, but you also have to understand that not everything fits into a single page. Which is why ultimately responsive web design is just that. Designing a web page that is able to look good on all devices and accomplish goal.

Sometimes this is possible and other times it's not. Just like amazon. It all works fine on any device, but if you use the mobile amazon app, you will see how it add functionality that makes it easier to see thing on a smaller screen. Like being able to drag stuff down to the bottom which stores them, which doesn't happen on the regular website, because it doesn't need to.

Responsive web design is a thought process. Not an absolute on how to design something. Ok, I have rambled enough. Later.

Ryan thanks for the response. So essentially your mobile version of your app should allow some basic functionality, but the goal should be to develop an native app for your mobile app at some point? I appreciate you taking the time to respond in such a detailed manner.


Hi Mike,

I would say yes - do the mobile version of the web site first, though, as sort of a "prototype" than adapt it as a true app for Android and mobile iOS.

The chances it will be seen be future employers though is hiring for the web version then anything they have to download from iTunes or the Google Play site, but the mobile apps can be reference in your portfolio (and you may even wish to host the mobile app binary (compiled) files on your site as downloadable links.

Monty King
Monty King
2,712 Points

The people I have been listening to on Podcasts said.... don't do native apps, do responsive web. I believe it was one of the hosts of the show that said that, but Karen McGrane agreed.


Thanks for the link Monty. I'm going to check the show out