How has it come to this? The gentleman in the phone shop told me I was buying the latest and greatest phone, yet every site I visit loads at a glacial pace, speeds that make tectonic plate movements look positively spritely. It all feels like an act of pennance for some terrible act I committed a long time ago.
The Guardian website new design is really and truly awful – I have 10 sections hidden and a sore finger from scrolling – where's the news?
— marcus austin (@marcusa) January 30, 2015
I blame these new-fangled “spandex” sites, all stretchy and pretty, but ultimately all sizzle and no steak. One by one, all of my favourite websites are falling victim to this appalling scourge. What callow professionals are behind this fashion, all copying each other, one worse than the next?
I believe that the correct name for these sites is “responsive”. What designer thinks that it’s a good idea to squeeze a desktop’s-worth of content into my 5″ screen forcing me to scroll endlessly through a river of low density tripe? The phrase “responsive” sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, let me tell you something, they’re not responsive to my needs. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to adapt to mobile devices by merely squeezing everything into a long and thin shape, while bleating on about “responsive”? Why do they think this is a good idea? It beggars belief that the best answer to the question of how best to make an experience work on a smaller device is merely to stretch and squeeze it. It feels just a tad too convenient that the favoured approach happens to be the easiest one.
I prefer sites that are fit for purpose—experiences designed for a particular use case and device. I prefer pages that are less than 14 screens long, pages that load quickly, pages whose content is laid out in a way that is easily scannable by my tired eyes. We’ve regressed—the experience was actually better years ago! As always, one-size-fits-all really means not-quite-right-for-anyone.
The sooner these awkward teenage years of the multi-device web are over the better. Let’s progress beyond these toilet roll-like websites and move forward. The web is being seriously challenged by made-for-purpose apps—now is not the time to make the web experience worse.