The judges seemed to prefer experiences that were carefully tailored to specific devices: “Native apps, iOS, Android and others that rose to the level of excellence for us were purposefully appropriate in their medium.”
“With responsive sites, while they work well at mobile, they don’t necessarily embrace the fact that you’re on a phone,” said judge Ted Irvine, Vox Media’s senior director of design, in a video. “And the Al Jazeera app just knows that it lives on a phone, and it plays up to all those strengths.”
Notably, both Nautilus and the Times have separate mobile versions of their sites.
The judges — Irvine, the Boston Globe’s Chiqui Esteban, and National Geographic’s Kaitlin Yarnall — criticized designs so concerned with being adaptable to all devices that usability suffers:
Responsive design must not be a crutch — many sites that are fully responsive seem to have sacrificed bold design for parity across platforms. We hope this is a temporary aberration as technical considerations sprint ahead of usability, innovation and distinctive identity-driven design.