Responsive web design: What goes around…

“Responsive Web Design essentially indicates that a web site is crafted to adapt the layout to the environment that it is being viewed in.”1

At Generation X it has always been a first principle to consider the wide variety of user platforms when designing websites. Cross browser compatibility and varied browser resolutions have always been tested as an inherant part of the design process since I first began designing websites in 2003, so the concept of responsive web design is not new to me.

The term responsive web design, however, first came to my attention last month when I read an article by James Pearce entitled Not a mobile web, merely a 320px-wide one2, orginally written in October 2010 in response to Ethan Marcotte’s seminal article3 on A List Apart.

Proponents of responsive web design seem to fall into two camps – the purists and the adaptives. The distinction lies in whether exactly the same information is presented across all platforms – the purist arguemnt – or whether the design should respond to different platforms by delivering “different content and services altogether – or, at least, a differently prioritized version of the default desktop experience”.2 As is so often the case, both sides of the argument have much to recommend them.

Allied to the concept of responsive web design is that of Mobile First,4 whereby web applications and websites are designed for mobile devices first, rather than the mobile version being adapted from the desktop version. The case for Mobile First is argued in the book of the same title, by Luke Wroblewski.

I should point out that responsive web design principles have (not yet) been applied to this WordPress blog.

1 Responsive Web Design, Wikipedia
2 Not a mobile web, merely a 320px-wide one, by James Pearce
3 Responsive Web Design, by Ethan Marcotte
4 Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski

All that glitters is Chrome

google_chrome_web_browserI encountered Google Chrome in use for the first time at a meeting with a potential new web design client yesterday. Chrome is a newcomer to the browser wars, but however it measures up to the opposition with a market share of around 4% it now justifies being included when checking cross-browser compatibility. Safari, for example, only commands 3% of the browser market.

The potential client praised it’s ease of use and speed, but this was a man who boasts about spending £1000 a month on Google Adwords while expressing no interest in achieving organic search engine results by optimising his website. And who hosts his own websites on his office server. So at the moment the jury is still out on Chrome until I’ve had a chance to do some more research and drawn my own conclusions.

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