On SpoonGraphics and Non-Responsiveness


This Wednesday just gone, Blog.SpoonGraphics got an updated design, nearly 3 years after the previous version. Needless to say, I enjoy it, it’s very well laid out, and is very ambitious. One thing that has caught people’s attention is how it is non–responsive, it has got a lot of praise for such a bold move; since I’m such a fan of Chris Spooner it’s certainly caught my eye and has given me food for thought.

A little background

I’ve been a fan of SpoonGraphics since May 2009; I’ve often read it for tutorials, articles and inspiration (it’s even home to my favourite tutorial ever!), and I also like Line25 as well. It’s given me a lot of ideas and creative thrive the last few years, and was patiently waiting for a redesign to pop up at any point.

The new SpoonGraphics came as a bit of a surprise since it literally appeared out of nowhere, especially since posts are usually on Mondays and Fridays. When this new version came out, I was intrigued to learn about the fresh design (you can tell Chris has had a lot of vintage inspiration lately), but one thing that stood out was the lack of responsiveness.

One of the main dilemmas I had was whether or not to make this blog design responsive. From my own browsing experience I often find responsive designs more of a nuisance than a benefit (with exceptions). Almost all my posts are very long and made up of multiple images. With a responsive design those images would be scaled down and you wouldn’t be able to zoom in to see the details in the tutorial screenshots.

Chris Spooner on not going Responsive

Now, I know what some of you are thinking; “This guy is crazy! Burn him at the stake as he is not one of us!”, and you’re probably thinking I’m gonna criticise him right away for doing, what seems to be, a cardinal sin. Here’s the truth though. I’m not. ;-)

Why I support this bold approach

Not that SpoonGraphics needs any defending, but I can already imagine some people have criticised it both in words and mentally for its non-responsiveness. These same people may also think that if something isn’t responsive, then it isn’t contemporary web design. I’ve always seen that as a very questionable point of view, because while responsive web design is absolute genius, has really improved the web and also made us rethink the way we do web design as we see fit, I have to admit I never saw it being the only solution for all of the web, let alone being web design as whole.

I always saw responsive web design as an idea; a solution, to a problem. What with the rising number of users on iPads, iPhones, Smartphones and Tablets you have to see responsive web design as a brilliant solution for those devices, if not using a mobile subdomain. But then again, I’ve always had this mind that not every site is meant to be Responsive, but some people have a bias towards this idea since they believe that every site needs to be responsive nowadays, yet I disagree. I mean…

All of the above aren’t responsive whatsoever, yet they are still great websites, and there are many more great ones out there like them. Non-responsive designs can also have more room for playing about in some areas, even something just as ambitious as a design. In my opinion, what’s more important in some ways is what the website is trying to say, and still has a great user experience. Maybe not suited for smaller devices than a desktop, but there could be method behind the madness, as well as a lack of need for it, or even personal preference. In reality, a non-responsive website doesn’t mean it isn’t a good design, let alone a good site.

Horses for courses, but also a matter of context

Whatever you gather from all this, it’s not that I think Responsive Web Design isn’t a good thing, because in true reality it is. In one way, I’ve seen it as a personal preference, but again, RWD is a great solution to an ever growing problem. However, I’ve always seen it coming down to certain factors; target audience, analytics, user experience and accessibility. I know RWD is a huge thing right now but I’ve always seen it as a choice, let alone a possible outcome for a project.

Responsive design is, I believe, one part design philosophy, one part front-end development strategy. And as a development strategy, it’s meant to be evaluated to see if it meets the needs of the project you’re working on.

Ethan Marcotte (Responsive Web Design)

I’ve never seen the need for every website to be responsive, and the fact that Spoongraphics has not gone down that route is never a bad thing. I’m sometimes surprised some people don’t go down the route of responsiveness, but it can also stand to reason. I welcome this non-responsive direction, and it is living proof that a fixed design can still pull off some really cool and creative ideas. Responsive design isn’t the solution; it’s a solution.

Written by Iain MacDonald

Iain MacDonald is a Web Designer and Developer from Glasgow, Scotland. He likes clean code, functionality, and vibrant design. You can find Iain on Twitter, Dribbble or at his Website.


  1. Chris Spooner said on November 9, 2012

    Thanks for your kind words Iain! I was honestly expecting hoards of angry designers coming at me with pitchforks, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who agree with the non-responsiveness.

  2. Robin Cannon said on November 9, 2012

    Interestingly, I see no problem with the non-responsive nature of the site, while simultaneously disagreeing with Chris’ justification for not going responsive. Long posts with many images shouldn’t be (…and aren’t) really any barrier to responsive design.

    Unlike Chris, I find the lack of responsiveness of many websites to be a constant irritation when browsing on mobile. I’m often relieved when I see a link to a site that I know is responsive, because I know that the reading experience is going to be more pleasurable.

    The redesigned blog looks good, and it’s pretty usable on mobile. That being said, while I totally agree that it doesn’t *need* to be responsive, I don’t think there was any particular reason for it not to be, either.


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