W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-respimg@w3.org > December 2012

Re: Mobile first vs desktop first

From: Kevin Mack <kmack418@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2012 11:16:55 -0500
Message-ID: <CALvLtk6JsBaJ==3g9Mm6eBA-Q-km_PGZ3rverwjt6sxn-eYd1g@mail.gmail.com>
To: Kevin Suttle <kevin@kevinsuttle.com>
Cc: Mathew Marquis <mat@matmarquis.com>, Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>, public-respimg@w3.org
I have taken a new approach, rather than looking at Desktop/Mobile I look
at "Conditional-First". As architects/designers/developers we need to focus
on the user's experience by the capabilities and limitations of their
browser and output the best solution based around conditionals. These
conditionals are drivers for how the content can be displayed and how users
will interact. Looking at width is just one of many factors for having a
positive user experience and it seems to be the one that we have all
focused on the most.

As a side note, I would also love to see "Desktop" and "Mobile" dropped
entirely from this discussion and use it "Full-Scale" and "Smallest-Scale"

On Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM, Kevin Suttle <kevin@kevinsuttle.com>wrote:

> Well said, Mat. Very comprehensive.
>  *KS*
> On Dec 10, 2012, at 11:04 AM, Mathew Marquis <mat@matmarquis.com> wrote:
> On Dec 10, 2012, at 9:39 AM, Marcos Caceres wrote:
> Hi,
> The Editor of the img@srcset specification has requested that the working
> group clarify the differences between mobile first and desktop first.
> In particular, "Why would you need to put either mobile or desktop first?"
> I may not know much, but this—this I know.
> People with more experience than me in this area, I would appreciate:
> 1. a detailed description of both approaches.
> *Mobile-First*
> Mobile-first development—the most common approach to a responsive design,
> in my observation—means starting with the “mobile” styles first and
> building on them in layers, by way of `min-width` media queries. Typically
> a mobile layout will lean towards being more linear: a lot of UA-default
> `display: block` and `width: 100%`. This is the approach we took with
> BostonGlobe.com <http://bostonglobe.com/>, which has several major
> benefits:
> * Where desktop browser support for media queries is fairly solid and
> mobile browser support is something of an unknown, it ensures that the most
> sensible styles are served up by default, outside of any media queries.
> * In the event that a desktop browser doesn’t support media queries (and
> no polyfill is in use), the user receives a less complex—but still entirely
> usable—layout.
> * From a developer convenience standpoint, we’re not first coding the
> “desktop layout” and then overriding all of our custom styles as we build
> down. That would mean a much larger (set of) stylesheet(s), and a number of
> additional “where’s this style coming from” headaches.
> In summary: “*mobile-first development means starting with the
> smallest-screen layout and adding layout complexity as screen real estate
> permits*.”
> *Desktop-First*
> A desktop-first development approach, predictably, means putting together
> the “desktop” layout outside of any media queries, and then reducing the
> complexity of the layout and tailoring it for mobile in layers via
> `max-width` MQ. The benefit here is that we would deliver a desktop-centric
> layout to desktop browsers that don’t natively support media queries—more
> often than not, it’s for the sake of IE 6/7/8. I generally find this
> approach to be way more trouble than it’s worth fro a dev standpoint, and
> it does mean running the risk of delivering a more complex “desktop” layout
> to an older mobile browser that doesn’t understand media queries, but there
> may be situations where a responsive layout is being applied in an
> environment where it’s limited in scope to “tablet-size and up.” In this
> case, a desktop-first approach may make the most sense, where the desktop
> layout will still function as-expected on a slightly smaller tablet, but
> less essential optimizations can be made within `max-width` media queries..
> This is a common approach when retrofitting an existing desktop-centric
> site for mobile contexts, without the overhead of rebuilding the entire
> site as mobile-first—`max-width` media queries would allow mobile/tablet
> focused styles to be bolted on to an existing site with minimal overhead.
> In summary: “*desktop-first development means starting with the most
> complex, large-screen layout, and removing complexity as screen real estate
> becomes constrained*.”
> Mobile-first is my preferred approach, but there’s no “one true way” in
> any of this. I’m hoping we get more feedback from you guys on the list,
> here. The more information we have at our disposal, the stronger our case
> for a flexible solution to responsive images becomes. No pun intended.
> -M
Received on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 08:24:54 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 17:06:08 UTC