Responsive design is a hot topic in the world of web-design, and with good reason no one wants to open a website on their smartphone and scroll horizontally back and forth and vertically to read page’s content or to find the navigation buttons to go to the next page, and the responsive design trend is taking off in the world of eLearning Design as well.
The new responsive design tools and work flows are exciting for elearning authors and many new comers (and some veterans) to the field can see no reason why anyone would consider, much less build, a non-responsive design but there are many instances where a non-responsive design is not only a valid option but the correct choice.
The planned implementation of the course will often determine whether or not the content should to be a non-responsive design. In some instances a client may intend to use the course in a controlled environment such as a computer lab in a prison system. In an instance such as this where there is no consideration for mobile then a non-responsive design is acceptable or even appropriate. Secure or controlled environments aren’t the only instances where a non-responsive design is useful though.
Because Adobe Captivate allows publishing as scalable HTML5 you will sometimes find this a better choice that a true responsive design using breakpoints or fluid boxes. If you author enough content for enough clients you will eventually encounter content that, by its very nature, only works well in a horizontal format whether it’s viewed on a 24-inch monitor or a 5-inch smart phone. In these instances a non-responsive design published as scalable html5 may be the perfect solution. The same approach can be applied to any content that will always be presented horizontally by the LMS regardless of the screen orientation on a mobile device.
If you find yourself authoring a course for use at a school you may find that the administrators and teachers want their students taking the course on computers or tablets but want to discourage the students from taking it on their smartphones. A non-responsive design published as scalable HTML5 is my approach here as well. While this won’t make it impossible the students to complete their course on a phone it will make it far easier to complete on a computer or tablet.
Another thing to consider when deciding whether you want to build a responsive or non-responsive project is whether or not you intend to use Flash in the project. Most newer mobile devices don’t support Flash and using Flash in your project makes the responsive vs. non-responsive debate moot
In conclusion, the next time you are presented with a project don’t fall into the trap of assuming a responsive design is the correct one because it’s the “in” thing (and don’t assume non-responsive is correct either) without reviewing both the implementation and target audience of the course. Both responsive and non-responsive designs have advantages and neither is right for every project.