A lot has been written about responsive web design lately, my current position is this:
I think part of this is designing in a modular fashion, with mobile first in mind. It is a strategy we adopted at Betfair to great success, and enabled us to design modules, order those modules (semantically, logistically and analytically) and then think of the experience as a collation of those modules. Also when it came to mobile sites we had a strategy in our pockets from the get-go. There was also more correlation with native apps too
The question is whether you deliver a layout for a particular device, orientation or platform, or let the user decide. One could argue that most mobile browsers can let the user touch and zoom. I quite like the full http://www.bbc.com site on my iPhone4, but would appreciate the opportunity to switch to a more narrow layout. These decisions are hard to force on people.
Also to take into account the proliferation of people browsing on the go – sometimes on 3G data plans. Content is then much more expensive and thus, a strategy for accurate or efficient content needs to be implemented.
One could argue that designing and building big sites and then scaling down is much more hassle than starting small, smart and agile, then scaling up. From a strategy point of view is a good conversation to be had from the project inception.
This is a nice slide deck from the presentation: Meta Layout: A Closer Look at Media Queries – at Mobilism2011
Is a masterclass in Media Queries. Like most bright new things, there are pros and cons.