In response to my posts about my annoyance with the move toward responsive web design and my layman’s sense that it was driven by a misunderstanding of how people access the web, a friend who makes his living designing web sites and building content writes me to fill in some additional info:
One thing I can add: while traffic numbers for mobile are way lower, ad clickthrough rates on mobile are WAY higher than any other platform. I think a lot of the new spatial mutability in design, and the expansion of white space, is to diminish the visible distinction between text and ads/social share tools. In the new paradigm, the movement between content, social media, and product websites must be fluid—one homogenous uber web constructed from calls to action, not “sites.”
The other factor at play here, one you mention, is the importance of social media in a social strategy: the majority of FB sharing happens before the user has scrolled more than 50% the way down an article. We don’t move through websites anymore as an act of exploration, but as an act of mirroring and mimicry (played out on the FB wall as a linear chronology of statements and callbacks, not a map of thought).
If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, then I have things backwards a bit in my earlier posts: responsive web design is for businesses not people. And the design shift works because, rather than exploring the web or making it (which I imagine to be the goals of going online), people are increasingly using the web simply to perform and participate in identities through sharing.
Food for thought…