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Does responsive web design cost more?

A few weeks ago, Brad Frost started an interesting discussion around the cost of responsive design.

One thing I’ve noticed is that designers, at least those who read Brad’s blog, seem to be charging a lot more money to add responsive web design to a project. In some cases, a markup of 30 to 50 percent over a traditional web project was viewed as normal.

I’m very skeptical about the drastically increased cost of these projects.

Changing Workflows

I’m not trying to belittle the time and care it takes to build a site that works well on a multitude of screen sizes, but I do question that incredibly high premium doing so seems to command.

I’ve built a few responsive websites now, and I’ve found that if you approach the project with the intent that someone will be using it on their phone from the beginning (what’s being called “mobile first” design) and craft your design accordingly, it’s not necessarily 50 percent more work.

It does require you to think about a project differently, and challenges traditional design workflows. But at some point, responsive web design is going to be a basic and assumed skill for web designers.

(One of the trends I’m noticing is that the deliverables are changing. Rather than going from wireframe to full Photoshop mockup, designers are going from rough sketch to working HTML prototype.)

A Required Skill

Mobile traffic is rapidly overtaking desktop traffic. Building a site that looks good on small screens will be a must-have, not a nice-to-have.

I suspect that as our industry matures and our workflows change to accomodate responsive design, the amount of work it takes to complete responsive web projects will decrease, and pricing will fall more in line with where it ultimately should be.

What do you think? Should responsive web design cost much more than traditional web design? Why or why not?