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Responsive web design

Thomas Byttebier
November 29, 2011

Responsive web design

Here's the slides for a presentation I gave on responsive web design in November 2011.

Responsive web design is a very powerful idea: it makes your website look great and usable on desktop computers and all mobile devices. In this presentation I talk about why responsive web design is here to stay. But I also highlight problems that come with it, along with possible solutions.

Thomas Byttebier

November 29, 2011

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    are the blueprint of a presentation I did at Fronteers recently. I tried to make them understandable to people that didn’t attend the presentation by including these dull looking quick notes.

  3. my brother is the cute one

  4. as a kid, I wanted to be Maradona

  5. picture says it all


  7. I realize that looks like quite a fail to the

    public, but I enjoy doing it
  8. I tweet about all things design and web, follow me

  9. my old-school website is at thomasbyttebier.com


    I talked about and what these slides are about
  11. here’s a responsive website I made in 2010: sleepstreet.be

  12. this one I did early 2011

  13. I went to Build a few weeks ago

  14. with a few Belgian freelancers photo by Jelle Desramaults

  15. I was lucky to see Wilson Miner speak at Build

  16. if you don’t know Wilson Miner: he designed this pretty

    famous website
  17. he talked about how few products had such in impact

    in our lives as the car in the 20th century
  18. it even drastically changed our environment

  19. at the end of the 20th century the pc was

    another product that dramatically changed our lives
  20. here’s an office anno 1962

  21. that one is replaced by a hard drive

  22. that one is in the cloud now

  23. type writers are now called Microsoft Word

  24. and sadly she’s replaced by a computer as well

  25. leaving only this boring mofo

  26. mobile is having a huge impact in our lives right

  27. everywhere

  28. everyone

  29. this dude even sleeps with his phone

  30. there will be 7 billion connected phones in about 3

    months from now

  32. last year I went to Indonesia

  33. poor but beautiful country

  34. one of the Indonesian sulfur miners that risk their lives

    every day just to eek out a living
  35. here’s the Ijen Crater full of poisonous smoke, see the

    sulfur down there?
  36. this guy goes up and down the crater a few

    times a day carrying many kilos of sulfur on his shoulders
  37. here’s a few more sulfur miners, they likely won’t live

    long as their lungs are poisened with sulfur
  38. even these really poor people carry a phone, they get

    to know the internet through cheap mobile devices
  39. the question is: how can we deliver a great experience

    to these 7 billion people?
  40. first thought: we need an app! hipness!

  41. oh and one for Android too!

  42. and Windows phones

  43. and let’s not discriminate the Blackberry people

  44. hard + expensive to maintain, and frankly kind of silly

    to have an app mirroring your website
  45. second thought: let’s make a mobile version of our website,

    it’ll work on all devices!
  46. some good thinking there, but it’s still two versions...

  47. “90% of all websites are too simple to justify the

    time and money it takes to develop a separate mobile version.” — COMMON SENSE THINKER it’s hard to argue with that
  48. one guy sat down and thought really hard

  49. he wrote this article on A List Apart about responsive

    webdesign (Ethan Marcotte)
  50. awesome idea: one website that adapts, looks and works great

    on all devices!
  51. HTML CSS STRUCTURE LAYOUT based on simple principles we all

    know and stand behind
  52. simple, but end products are great simple, but great results

    emerged from it
  53. meacuppa.be by chilli.be

  54. antarcticstation.org by jérôme coupé

  55. jobat.be, not sure who made this

  56. lalemant.com by gorilla-webdesign.com

  57. handelsbeurs.be by netlash.be

  58. wolfslittlestore.be, freelance web designer

  59. trentwalton.com

  60. thisismadebyhand.com by Mandy Brown & Candi Ligutan

  61. Ethan Marcotte, Scott Jehl ea. a new trend setter: bostonglobe.com

    by Ethan Marcotte, Scott Jehl and others
  62. this is charles darwin

  63. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,

    nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” — CHARLES DARWIN we all agree that the best design is to be found in nature and nature is full of responsive design
  64. everyone knows this animal and how it responds to mood

  65. this little spider turns yellow when it’s on yellow flowers...

  66. ...and white when it’s on white flowers—invisible to predators and

  67. this octopus scares predators by mimicking the color and shape

    of its predators’ predators Source: webecoist.com
  68. responsive design may be hip at the moment, it’s based

    on a proven design principle and it’s here to stay

  70. % 1—fully based on fluid web design

  71. which is logical: this way it kind of automatically fits

    all screens
  72. “don’t get me started on fluid web design”

  73. it’s so nineties and is ugly from a certain viewport

    size onwards
  74. CSS MEDIA QUERIES 2—meet css media queries

  75. <link rel="stylesheet" href="print.css" media="print" /> nothing new: we all have

    used this media query for ages
  76. <link rel="stylesheet" href="layout.css" media="screen and (min-width:400px)" /> @media (min-width:400px) {

    } this one’s different: as soon as the browser viewport reaches 400 px, use this stylesheet
  77. that’s awesomeness: load different styles as soon as the fluid

    layout becomes unreadable or just ugly
  78. here’s a simple example: looking good at 1024x768

  79. but as it’s designed fluidly, the text becomes unreadable at

    larger viewports
  80. thanks to css media queries, we can change the layout

    at larger screen sizes: text is readable again
  81. similar for smaller screens: default website scaling makes our initial

    design unreadable
  82. all hail to media queries: this is a readable and

    usable layout
  83. of course it works on other devices too

  84. even this strange tablet

  85. 320 480 768 1024 most responsive designers use media queries

    to change layout at common sizes, but that’s no necessity
  86. GREATNESS! responsive web design is great, don’t you agree?


    work in all browsers?
  88. no

  89. not in older versions of internet explorer, but that’s ok,

  90. 1. Write CSS for desktop browsers— the way you always

    did. 2. Use media queries to optimize for smaller mobile screens. SPOILER: DON’T DO IT THIS WAY! using this workflow, older IE’s will always show the desktop version, which is ok as they’re used on desktops
  91. but we need to dig deeper for better mobile browser

  92. here’s a more detailed table representing media query support for

    all common mobile browsers
  93. you know, not all of us browse the web using

    the latest and hippest mobile devices
  94. there’s lots of older, popular and less capable devices around

    that don’t support media queries
  95. 1. Write CSS for desktop browsers— the way you always

    did. 2. Use media queries to optimize for smaller mobile screens. using this workflow means these devices won’t show our mobile layout. argh.
  96. friends who can’t afford a desktop computer or expensive mobile

    phones will have a bad mobile experience
  97. and frankly: there’s lots of them—developing countries get to know

    the internet through mobile devices
  98. Brian Rieger make sure to check out Brian Rieger’s presentation

    on that matter, it’s on Slideshare
  99. DAMN

  100. NOW WHAT?

  101. here’s the solution!

  102. dude even wrote a book about it

  103. HUH? what’s mobile first?

  104. 1. Start with a fluid mobile layout. 2. Use media

    queries to optimize for bigger screens. this is a mobile first approach: all devices are served a mobile layout at first
  105. meaning even devices that don’t support media queries will display

    the mobile version of your website!
  106. YAY!

  107. most desktop browsers understand media queries so they’ll serve the

    desktop layout
  108. but what about older internet explorer versions?

  109. NOT GREAT, YET NOT CRAZY BROKEN the layout will be

    broken but the content will still be readable
  110. unless you use javascript solutions such as respond.js, forcing older

    ie versions to interpret media queries!
  111. meaning as good as all desktop browsers will show your

    desktop layout! greatness!
  112. “Mobile first forces you to focus.” — LUKE WROBLEWSKI the

    book dude there’s even more advantages to a mobile first approach
  113. websites tend to get stuffed with mostly irrelevant information nowadays

  114. thinking about mobile first forces you to focus: there’s less

    screen real estate to abuse, so relevance first
  115. the design community picked this up earlier with great results

  116. thinking mobile first is an excellent exercise in design, usability

    and information architecture
  117. pretty obvious, right?


    another advantage of mobile first, at least in my experience
  119. about a year ago I designed sleepstreet.be using a desktop

    first approach
  120. /* CSS for desktop version */ @media (min-width:320px) and (max-width:380px)

    { /* make it white & 1 column */ } @media (min-width:381px) and (max-width:480px) { /* make it white & 2 columns */ } @media (min-width:481px) and (max-width:800px) { /* make it black & 2 columns */ } /* all the way up... */ DON’T DO IT THIS WAY! it led to cluttered, repeated, less-readable and hard-to-maintain CSS code
  121. a few months ago I worked on madebywolf.com, using a

    mobile first approach
  122. /* CSS for mobile version */ @media (min-width:400px) { /*

    from now on white & 2 columns */ } @media (min-width:800px) { /* from now on 3 columns */ } @media (max-width:1100px) { /* from now on black & 4 columns */ } /* all the way up... */ the CSS is much cleaner, easier to read, easier to maintain and there’s just less code
  123. RESPONSIVE IMAGES HOW CAN WE MAKE one problem solved, but

    here’s another one
  124. Use desktop-sized images in your mobile first design & scale

    down using CSS. SPOILER: DON’T DO IT THIS WAY! the solution’s easy at first thought
  125. img { width:100%; } here’s a 600px wide image scaled

    down using CSS to a more appropriate mobile size
  126. They look great on the desktop version of your website

    too. that’s a plus!
  127. But their filesize looks great on the mobile version of

    your website too. 200kb for a 300px wide photo! that’s a minus!
  128. “If I hadn’t used media queries, the user would have

    seen the desktop website with desktop-sized images anyway.” — UNCARING WEB DESIGNER there’s truth in that
  129. but bandwidth is expensive

  130. and connections are slow

  131. and if we don’t care, who will?

  132. Use desktop-sized images in your mobile first design & scale

    down using CSS. have a heart: we just can’t do it this way
  133. there’s many possible solutions yet not one is ideal

  134. 2 if I were you, designing a responsive website, I’d

    have a look at at least two of them
  135. first one is the one Jason Grigsby is going to

    write about in his upcoming book on responsive web design
  136. Jason looked at all solutions & made a choice based

    on a number of factors, most noteably future friendliness
  137. he chooses the sencha.io technique and it’s based on device

    detection. hmmmm....
  138. “How strange it is to think of device detection as

    the most future friendly technique for responsive images? I find it hard to argue with the logic.” — JASON GRIGSBY make sure to read Jason’s blog posts on the topic at cloudfour.com
  139. “At least that’s how I see it for the book.

    For your project and use case, it depends.” — JASON GRIGSBY as always: make a deliberate choice, because, well, it depends on all kinds of factors
  140. here’s another interesting technique

  141. I’ve used it on sleepstreet.be, it works and I’m more

    than ok with it
  142. it’s also used—in a modified way as I understand—on bostonglobe.com

  143. <img src=”small.jpg?full=large.jpg” /> here’s how it works, pretty easy huh?

  144. small.jpg large.jpg using javascript and url rewrites the appropriate image

    is served to the appropriate device
  145. small.jpg large.jpg an advantage: as the technique requires 2 images,

    you can create more detailed images for smaller devices
  146. small.jpg large.jpg it’s written mobile first and browsers that don’t

    support javascript will only download the small image
  147. older ie’s (6 & 7) will download both images, but

    I can live with that
  148. SCALABLE VECTOR GRAPHICS let’s talk svg

  149. No pixels. Always crisp at all sizes. Extremely small file

    sizes. Scalable in every fucking way. Pretty epic. the best invention since sliced bread
  150. I’ve used svg for the sleepstreet logo

  151. here’s the logo, designed by Ward Heirwegh

  152. it’s used proportionally on small screen devices

  153. but scaling it up proportionally on larger screens would render

    the logo quite big
  154. and it would result in a huge logo on desktop

    computers (clients would have loved it :)
  155. then again I could’ve used it proportionally but I didn’t

    like the extra whitespace
  156. as it’s svg I could use javascript to reposition anchor

    points based on screen width (thanks @christaanvdp)
  157. resulting in the side banners expanding/contracting as the browser window

  158. an improvement if you ask me

  159. So why is not everyone using svg? if svg is

    so great, why is not everyone using it all the time?
  160. frankly: it’s a pain in the ass to implement in

    a cross-browser fashion
  161. there’s a solution: raphaël is a cross-browser solution I used

    to implement the svg logo
  162. but it required me to redraw the logo using javascript.

    and that’s not how you want to spend your day.
  163. but the future is bright! @joggink is working on a

    solution called willistrator (no joke!)
  164. VIDEO responsive video will kill the video star

  165. I’ve used responsive video on madebywolf.com

  166. OK NOT OK! .video { width: 100%; } you can’t

    use the same css you’d use for scaling images
  167. but smart people have written good articles about the matter,

    such as Thierry Koblentz on a list apart
  168. another great article about responsive video, by Chris Coyier of

  169. video { width: 100%; height: auto; } basically this is

    all you have to do if you want responsive video using the html5 video tag
  170. but if you depend on external video hosting services you

    may need to support different embedding solutions
  171. fitvids.js takes care of that: it makes video scale responsively

    with embed, object, iframe tags...
  172. DATA TABLES we’re almost done... let’s look at data tables

  173. spoiler: not easy, if you have a site that depends

    heavily on data tables, better close your browser window
  174. “Data tables don’t do so well with responsive design. Just

    sayin’.” — GARRETT DIMON excellent tweet, couldn’t have said it any better
  175. Chris Coyier of css-tricks.com came up with a possible solution

  176. Chris takes this table...

  177. ...and turns it to this on mobile: it’s ok, but

    not ideal for many reasons...
  178. eg. there’s no way to easily compare rows

  179. Scott Jehl took this data table...

  180. ...and made a pie chart of it on mobile! great

    but works only with numerical data of course
  181. DESIGN I wrapped up my presentation sharing some thoughts about

    designing responsively
  182. basically it came down to this: less than ever we

    have a fixed canvas to design in
  183. there’s no right tools for the job

  184. I can’t design in the browser, it’s no design tool

    whatsoever—still need to find a better workflow
  185. fact is: fluid grids grow more and more important

  186. web design & typography is moving away from print design

    more than ever (great poster by Wim Crouwel)

  188. Thanks to these people for sharing their photos with a

    creative commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sashakimel/6189771935/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/strebkr/3151902438/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/julietbanana/4733245476/sizes/z/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/canadianveggie/167924582/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3568718036/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/missningyou/2679843655/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwanja/3169449999/sizes/o/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/crfullmoon/22195292/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/42244964@N03/4325982802/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/frak_tal/2455855855/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinoowww/4557829098/sizes/z/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/kentclark/4720549350/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/hanneorla/1439963888/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/ter-burg/1405605889/sizes/o/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/spyker3292/3721376470/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/soylentgreen23/491093601/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielygo/6209676842/sizes/l/in/photostream/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/extraketchup/459020985 http://www.flickr.com/photos/torek/2266105751 http://www.flickr.com/photos/smokingpermitted/2052869864/