I sent this article around at work, and a colleague posed the following to me:
“When you say implementation, below, I assume you’re meaning how the user experience scales and the technology enables for multiple platform viewing. But how do you/do you think, in the short-term (2012/13/14) our industry’s move to responsive design for device ubiquity has denigrated the quality of the experience and user solution? In our quest for utility (publish once and retrieve from any device) have we weakened the quality of the content/design experience?”
By implementation, I mean how the interface adjusts at different sizes and how it switches from page reloads to in-page ajax switching, to surfacing full content, content prioritization, design symmetry at various sizes, and how performant the sites are at different sizes.
Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) doesn’t prevent unique experiences on different platforms. Neither does responsive design. Just like non-responsive design doesn’t guarantee good experiences; neither does responsive design. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re going to be disappointed. The experience has to be designed and solid at all sizes. Slapping on some media queries isn’t sufficient to achieve that.
Additionally, I don’t think responsive design is appropriate for all cases. COPE allows you to publish completely different experiences using the same content. NPR is a great example of this. Knowing what content you have available and the format in which it lives frees you up to manipulate that content in numerous ways.
But the foundation is good design and being mindful of what you are trying to achieve with your product.