Quick note on Responsive Web Design vs. Device Channels

Responsive Web Design: an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones

Device Channels: provides a way to make your SharePoint sites viewable on mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets. Device Channels are available on publishing sites or team sites with the publishing feature activated. They provide you the ability to set different master pages and CSS for different devices like Tablet, Windows Phone, iPhone etc. As a result, you can have a user friendly experience for your website when viewed on mobile device.

Between the two, go with Responsive Web Design. Personally I’m a big fan of the BootStrap framework.

I know that Microsoft had a great idea with the whole device channel thing, but the reality is you really don’t need it and it can add a lot of confusing overhead to your masterpages.  A little fortune telling on my part – I’m going to predict that this is one of the features that will get dropped from the next version or two of SharePoint.

If you really feel like you need the functionality of Device Channels because you want to target a specific platform, I’d recommend that you maintain a single master page and instead key off the user agent string that is passed in the HTTP GET request in order to display platform specific targeted information.

Advantages of Responsive Design

  • Single Master Page
  • Same HTML for all devices (makes debugging so much easier)
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Presentation based on device View Port