As we've written about previously, responsive web design is a great way to have your website work on any kind of web-enabled device. A responsive, mobile-opitimized website works on desktop computers, tablets, phones, and any other device with web access. This week Google announced their support for responsive web sites and launched one of their own.
Our commitment to accessibility means we strive to provide a good browsing experience for all our users. We faced a stark choice between creating mobile specific websites, or adapting existing sites and new launches to render well on both desktop and mobile. Creating two sites would allow us to better target specific hardware, but maintaining a single shared site preserves a canonical URL, avoiding any complicated redirects, and simplifies the sharing of web addresses.
As Scott Gilbertson writes on Wired's Webmonkey blog, it comes with an important caveat, and one we've pointed out before as well,
It’s worth noting that while a tutorial is nice, Google isn’t necessarily making the leap to responsive websites for its own properties. Indeed, sites like Gmail or Reader are excellent arguments for maintaining separate mobile designs. If your “site” is actually a web app as complex as Gmail then we suggest doing what Google does — hiring a fleet of developers to build an maintain separate websites for different size screens.
Chances are, though, that your site isn’t that complex and doesn’t have the developer teams that Google can afford. Even Google uses responsive design when it makes sense. To go along with the new tutorial, Google offers up that the new Chromebook website is responsive, which shows off the company’s responsive design chops.