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Responsive web design and economies of scale

welcomebrand May 16th, 2012 157 Never
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  1. Responsive web design, mobile sites and the economy of scale
  3. This is easier than using Twitter to try and communicate an anecdotal example @peteduncanson and I were discussing recently at work after all the "Jakob Neilsen is wrong", "RWD is the true way etc" and it was an interesting way of thinking about things.
  5. // The new Marks & Spencer "teardrop" lorry
  7. He gave the example of the new fleet of lorries Marks & Spencer use see:
  8. - Technical specs and fuel efficiency savings along with a tiny pic in the bottom right of the page - http://www.donbur.co.uk/gb/news/mands_teardrop_trailer.shtml
  10. They truck enough product all around the country to make investing in a costly new fleet worthwhile. They have the quantity (eg a very high traffic website*) and at the level they operate, spending millions on a new fleet of lorries that each make small savings when they hit the road makes sense.
  12. You could compare this to a very high traffic website that has a mobile specific design/url/assets, the basic financial cost of maintaining a second codebase may in some cases be less** than trying to optimise a single codebase to be all things to all people***.
  14. Development time ironically could be lower if you split teams, speed and resource download would be better (See Manchester Airport or Dominos Pizza website resources).
  16. // You *could* buy one too but you wouldn't get any benefit
  18. Now, the trucks M&S have can be bought by any company from one man bands (eg a personal blog/portfolio) or a bigger company (eg a bigger agency) but the savings made at a smaller scale will be overwhelmed by the initial cost and you'd probably never break even.
  20. They make savings on a fleet level, every pound they save is multiplied across the fleet (see also "Why UPS don't turn left http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lsxu6KIsWl0) the savings add up at this level.
  22. RWD works for many sites but I concede that in some cases there may a case to consider that a "mobile site" and split code bases and teams could be, on a purely economic & practical basis, a feasible option. (a lot of sites in the "real world" also tend to have some legacy issues and budget which means it's not always possible to throw away a whole codebase and build a new rwd site).
  24. I think there's a bit of gap between some of the things people and agencies are saying about how they work with RWD (not sure if it's a coincidence there have been so few big RWD site launches since bostonglobe.com) and how some of the less exciting economic and practical constraints mean we might still be a way off everyone owning a new M&S teardrop aerodynamic truck and making savings.
  26. James.
  27. @welcomebrand
  30. * Include standard disclaimer about knowing your audience, budget, team and restraints etc.
  31. ** It may be less, it may be more
  32. *** This "post" isn't considering the various issues of oneweb, m. urls, accessibility etc, it's just an economic thought exercise/example
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