Why “Request Desktop Site” Doesn’t Always Work

I’ve never been asked this question and it hasn’t really occurred to me in years. Ever since the mainstreaming of Media Queries in CSS most websites do not have a mobile version of the site that is different than the main site.

What is a mobile site?

When mobile web use started in the early days of mobile. Website owners would create secondary mobile versions of their website. When you were using a mobile phone you could “request desktop site”. This would enable you to see the normal site (squished and ugly) on your mobile phone.

Because with the advent of Media Queries for CSS (code that looks at the display size of the screen) your website is now responsive to the size of the screen it is displayed on.

To simplify more. The size of your screen is measured by the website and then the website view is adjusted by the size of your screen automagically.

What is a media query? 

is a CSS3 module allowing content rendering to adapt to conditions such as screen resolution (e.g. smartphone screen vs. computer screen). It became a W3C recommended standard in June 2012, and is a cornerstone technology of Responsive web design.


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Loren Nason

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