Responsive > Mobile + Desktop

Every serious web developer, strategist, or company is talking about responsive design. It’s hard to get away from it. And rightly so. Every website should be accessible to not just the traditional desktop computer screen but also smartphones and tablets. Yet, true responsive design encompasses much more.

In an era where tablets and phones are gaining most of the attention, other important trends aren’t getting as much attention. One of the most significant of these “under-the-radar-trends” is game system Internet browsing. Gaming systems such as the Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, and the proposed Steam Box all have Internet Browsers built into their systems or software. These machines are certainly not hooked up to tiny iPhone sized screens and are most likely not even hooked up to a 17-22” desktop sized monitors. Many of these devices are hooked up to extra-large TV screens and in some cases, even more than one screen at the same time. Even the Steam Software for desktop computers (Mac, PC, and Linux) has a “Big Picture Mode” for connecting to a large screen TV.

What does your website look like on an extra-large screen with a high resolution setting?

I can hear many of you responding already by saying, “But that market is just a really tiny piece of the pie. It’s not worth discussing.” I would respond by saying that you may be missing the “bigger picture.” {Yeah, pun intended.} This same argument was used against mobile websites a few years ago.

Simply put, displays are getting larger. Each smartphone and tablet is advertised as having a larger screen than a previous one. Televisions continue to grow in size and monitors are no longer just 15”, but usually at least 22”.

But there is more to it than just an increase in people wanting larger screens. Ironically, people want smaller devices (not as heavy or cumbersome) at the same time. But larger screens and smaller devices don’t go very well together.

Society still thinks of a mobile device and desktop computer as having two different purposes. A lot of this thinking is based on the historical restrictions of making things smaller and still getting as much out of them, especially in the area of generating a nice display resolution.

But the limitations of size are nothing like they use to be. The proposed Steam Box is just one example where you can pretty much make your desktop gaming machine a mobile machine. All you need is a TV to hook it up to. The potential of an iWatch or Michael Knight Watch that actually works with a large screen is certainly not very far off. Your iPhone can already control your TV.

The future of responsive design is not just smaller screens. The future of mobile isn’t even about smaller screens. The future is smaller devices hooking up to much larger displays, most likely touch-based (which brings a whole new aspect to responsive design).

So, have you viewed your website on a large screen TV yet? Chances are someone has.