The Last Three Entries:
A few years back, I wrote a little article about something called “responsive web design.” When I did, I figured I’d scoop up the
responsivewebdesign.comdomain. And of course, as with so many domains I purchase, it just sat there unused, eventually acting as a glorified redirect to my book. A neglected domain, unseen and unloved, like so many tears in the rain.
So earlier this year, when Karen McGrane and I we were going to start offering some corporate workshops on responsive design, I have to confess: it felt really, really good to finally get some use out of the
In fact, it felt so good to publish something on the site, Karen and I decided to keep doing it: namely, we’ve started a podcast about responsive design, which launches today.
Now, I know better than anyone that a responsive design is built upon a foundation of fluid grids, fluid images, and media queries—but you won’t hear any of that discussed on our podcast. That’s right: no CSS to see here, folks. Instead, Karen and I are
interviewing the people who make responsive designs happen: we’ll be speaking with people that have launched large responsive designs, and hearing about how designing more flexibly has changed the way their organizations design. And after recording a dozen or so of these interviews, I’ve been fascinated to hear how these big responsive redesigns happen. I think you will, too.
And I couldn’t be more excited that our first episode features my friend and colleague Miranda Mulligan, the Digital Design Director at Northwestern University’s Knight Lab. But when I met her, we’d worked together on a little site called The Boston Globe.
In the weeks ahead we’ll speak to people from Condé Nast, Marriott, Capital One, Starbucks, and many more—and we can’t wait to share their stories with you. So point your favorite podcasting app at our RSS feed, or just follow myself, Karen, and/or my responsive design account on Twitter: we’d love to have you tune in.
The web isn’t a “platform” like a native OS: it’s a continuum. Varying support levels work with progressive enhancement.
As he usually does, Jeremy put words to something that’s been bugging me for some time.
As I see it: we play the long game in this business. Standards get authored, browsers implement them (often at a varied, staggered pace), and, over time, we learn to rely on them in our work.
Despite that, we keep getting hung-up on perceived short-term failings in various browsers. No, IE6 doesn’t have
document.querySelectorAllsupport; no, we don’t have wide in-browser access to a user’s camera; no, there isn’t a way to reliably detect touch; no, we don’t have reliable insight into the user’s “context.”
Often, that leads to people deciding the web is being “held back.” So there’s some hopscotching of, say, progressive enhancement—which, in addition to being a great philosophy, has been shown to have real, practical benefits to businesses—in favor of “not being held back.” So, in response, we make the same arguments—good and great arguments, mind, but we’ve been making them for some time now.
I don’t really have any answers here—hell, I’m not entirely sure what I’m griping about. But I do wonder if our collective short-term frustrations leads us to longer-term losses. And seeing the web not as a “platform” but as a “continuum”—a truly fluid, chaotic design medium serving millions of imperfect clients—might help.
I mean, ages ago John Allsopp wrote about “[embracing] the ebb and flow of things” on the web. But it’s taken me some fourteen years to realize he wasn’t just talking about layout: our attitude toward the web has to be as flexible as our designs. And maybe it’s worth remembering that the web’ll get there, eventually—we just need to keep playing that long game.
In the past few years, in speaking with client companies and colleagues, the one thing that comes is that responsive web design doesn’t begin and end with CSS. The best responsive sites are founded upon a culture of performance; they’re made with iterative design and development practices; they plan for accessibility and progressive enhancement from the outset; and they are, perhaps most importantly, built upon a well-researched and -executed content strategy.
In other words, successfully designing responsively isn’t just about fluid grids and media queries: it’s about designing a better process. And that’s the challenge Karen and I find really, really interesting. (And as it happens, we have a bunch of ideas on the topic, too.)
To that end, we’ve designed a workshop to share the many things we’ve learned about responsive design and mobile content strategy over the course of one day or two. And we want to share them with you and your company.
If all this sounds interesting to you, we happen to have a little website with a bit more detail. Check it out; we’d love to hear what you think.