Responsive Design is a big thing at the moment. If a website has been made to be responsive, it means that it adapts itself to display reasonably sensibly on any screen size (within reason). There are two alternatives to responsive design – do nothing, so that the website appears just as it would on a desktop browser, but therefore all a bit small and fiddly, or alternatively build a different website for mobile users that it focused on their needs.
For a while I’ve been thinking that Responsive Design probably serves the needs of designers and developers more than it does those of end users. This week of mobile-only experimenting is reinforcing that.
If a website has taken the third way as described up above (you can usually tell because the URL will be different when you are on a phone – m.bbc.co.uk, for example), then if there is something that you can’t do or can’t find in the mobile version, you can just ask Chrome to pretend it’s a desktop and access the full website. With pinching and zooming, it’s not too bad to navigate around (and as I’ve already mentioned, given that my phone can output to an HDMI screen, all bets are off).
That option to choose between one and the other is just not available on a Responsively Designed site. The designer has decided that they know best, that you’re on a phone, and that as a result everything should be big and cut back. There is no user choice available.