20 Months of Responsive Web Design

On January 25th, I presented a talk entitled “20 Months of Responsive Web Design” to TechMeetup Glasgow, at Glasgow University. There was a great crowd out on a fairly dark and stormy night. Thanks to all those who attended. Hope you enjoyed what I had to say. These are articles and other links referenced in and related to the talk.

Presentation Video – The TechMeetup guys were kind enough to film my talk and it’s now up on Vimeo.

Presentation Slides – The slides for my talk, published on Speakerdeck.

Responsive Web Design – the article – Ethan Marcotte’s original articles, published in A List Apart.

Responsive Web Design – the book – Ethan Marcotte expanded on the topic in this book, published by A Book Apart.

Boston Globe – The first responsive design to gain global attention, the Boston Globe’s new website launched in September 2011.

Macdonald Hotels – The responsive site redesign I worked on at Equator in 2011, which launched in September.

RESS: Responsive Design + Server Side Components – Luke Wroblewski talks about the hybrid approach to mobile optimisation taken for the Bagcheck app.

Media Queries – A curated gallery site of responsive websites. Some great examples in here of “big” responsive web design, where whole sites are redesigned from the ground up to be responsive.

This talk was, in some ways, a follow-on from a talk I gave last October at Social Media Week Glasgow. You may find the video and slides to that talk useful as well.

Making Love to Webkit


Making Love to Webkit

A very nice bit of blog design from Steven Wittens, making use of a whole bucket of cutting-edge web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript). And a much better use of time than making an icon or clock from a hundred empty DIVs.

Global Warming

In the past year or so, when thinking and talking about transformation of personal computing from something we do on desks and laps to something we do in hands and pockets, I’ve grown fond of a comparison with global warming, when observing most peoples’ attitude to it. Point at the charts and stats on sales trends and data use and they will agree that this is, indeed, the case. But as a spur to robust action this doesn’t seem to have any effect. The previously-linked-to BBC story about increasing average web page sizes in 2011 is evidence of this.

A reason, I think, is that, like global warming, the in-progress transformation of the web and how we interact with it is so completely, massively revolutionary that it can’t quite fit inside the average human brain. And so a weirdly well-informed paralysis takes over, where there is plenty of talking the talk, in general terms and safe, “in a couple of years” timeframes, but little to no walking the walk.

Even with things like Responsive Web Design in our toolboxes, that let us design and develop sites in actual, itty-bitty mobile devices and not feel embarrassed, we go the other route, throw more things at a page, load up on JavaScript-powered transitions and resource-gobbling CSS3 effects with little to no regard for performance and user experience.

We can see the glaciers crumbling around us, the weird weather in analytics stats. We know what is happening before our eyes! And yet… “throw another scroller component or five on the homepage and…  something… something… great user experience!” is the best we can come up with.

It’s going to be a disaster for a lot of otherwise very clever people.

But fortunately, unlike actual global warming, our collective denial isn’t going to fuck over the whole ecosystem of the web. The web is probably going to be just fine. It’s the vast majority of those who make their living making the web who are in real danger. There may even be a mass extinction event in the offing. Those who can’t adapt to the new environment. Those who thought Moore’s Law was a single smooth, exponential line heading always into the future and haven’t noticed we just jumped tracks. Those who are too lazy to tool up for the uncertainty of the immediate future, favouring the static safety of the past instead.

Revolutions require a bold response if you are to survive and prosper from them. And “Right Now” is always a bolder moment than “Later”.