danger-rwdMobile-first responsive web design means much more than just considering layouts, imagery, and media queries. In reality, mobile-first design is all about content. Content is king as they say, and this is especially true when it comes to responsive web design. However, a dangerous trend is emerging as RWD evolves: the act of hiding content as a screen size shrinks. Those who do this might say a mobile-sized version of a website can have less information than a desktop site because a person accessing it from his or her mobile device must be “mobile.” Right? Actually this couldn’t be further from the truth. Assuming that a user is mobile simply because he or she is accessing a website from a certain proximity and/or from a certain type of device is an extremely narrow way to think about web design.

Very often I see designers creating responsive websites that utilize media query technology to cut down on content once the site reaches a certain size. By using simple line of code (display: none;) at a given screen size, a web designer can make any content simply disappear. Ta da! A designer might do this because something doesn’t fit correctly in the one-column layout of a phone screen, or because he or she assumes that a mobile user wants to see basic information like directions and hours rather than read something more detailed about a business.

I have to admit that I have a problem with this technique because a lot of people actually use their small screen devices for web browsing. It’s a lazy approach to responsive web design which should be about rearranging, and not fully changing the site at various screen sizes. After all, if your “mobile” user doesn’t need certain information from your site then why in the world do your desktop users need it?

Instead, your website should be consistent in every way possible; this is especially true when it comes to content. Never hide things from users who come to your site from their small screen devices; never penalize them for visiting your site on a device other than a desktop.Yes, it’s hard to design for small screens, but if you think about those designs first, then it will help you ensure that every single element of content you put on that site is worthy of being there. The power of media queries can be compelling, but just because you have the ability to hide things doesn’t mean you should.

Responsive web designers should treat content as a concrete aspect of a website. It can be moved, shifted, or assigned a certain hierarchy as the website responds, but it should never be hidden. It is entirely acceptable to stack content at smaller device sizes and make your web user scroll to see more. The idea of designing “above the fold” is dead when it comes to responsive web design.

Context is a dangerous word when it comes to web design because it can mean a lot of things, from design breakpoint to user environment and situation. As web designers, we can never guess whom our next visitors will be or how they will be accessing our website. But we can be ready for them, and we can create a website that is adaptive to their needs and the size of their device.

If we anticipate designing for a world in which people are accessing things from devices of all sizes, even those which may be unknown to us, then we will always be prepared. A web designer’s work may never be done, but we can use what we know (and expect) from the future of web design to provide the best experience possible for users at any screen size, any resolution, and within any context.

Read more: Mobile-First Web Development