I’ve thought, for quite sometime honestly, that most of a persons success in using technology, and the internet specifically, is directly related to both a person’s willingness and ability to adapt. And while parts of my thinking still reflect this belief, large parts of those thoughts are not so much changing (in the sense my opinion is flipping), as they are evolving.
Before I proceed I’d like to define what it is that I meant by “success in using technology” above. Just for the record, I’ve never thought a persons perceived (whether it’s an internal or external perception) failure to interact with any given piece of technology was the fault of the user. It’s not. It most definitely is the fault, or better still, a short-sightedness of the creator. Nor do I think the word “failure” is valid in this context either. Failure and it’s implications would suggest this is a black and white issue. And it’s not. Not by any stretch of the imagination. As with anything there are shades of grey. As there are varying degrees of success.
That said, I’d very much like to alter what it is that I meant when using the word “adapt.” How I was using the word wasn’t entirely fair. It placed too much of an expectation on the user. It’s not any users job to adapt to technology. It’s technology’s need to be used by us. Otherwise why was it thought of and built? I’d simply like to swap “adapt” for “learn.” Most of a persons success in using technology is directly related to both a person’s willingness and ability to learn how to use it. The trick is to make that initial learning curve as inviting as possible. Easier said than done. Read “Adaptive web design” in its entirety
Frankly between the two of us, while I do see the merits in designing a mobile website first — in terms of a website’s information architecture as well as the aesthetic appeal, especially for the sake of its usability and appearance on a small screen — I’m not sold yet on whether a mobile site has to be designed first. That said, it does need to be designed at the same time. Semantics, eh? I’m hilarious, I know. But thanks for thinking it.
So what’s this “mobile first with a twist” schtick? Basically it’s a bunch of borrowed idea’s from Ethan Marcotte’s amazing little book, Responsive Web Design, Luke Wroblewski’s “equally” little book, Mobile First, (by the way, me calling each author’s book “little” isn’t a slight in the least, both book’s strength lie in their size, and that’s the point) and something I’m sure Harry Roberts wrote a little while ago but I can’t relocate now. About designing for less capable browsers first then adding on top of that base for more capable browsers — or specifically how such an approach plays with Internet Explorer 8 and below.
Anyway the “mobile first with a twist” approach is quite simply a matter of designing a website for mobile, meaning for small screens (not just visually but functionally too), then tweak it larger, with the least amount of effort and the most basic — yet responsive — CSS possible. This as your starting point. A base from which to build. The thinking is this is what a visitor will see and use who is using a less capable web browser. Read “Mobile first with a twist” in its entirety
I started my initial “webucation” simply by learning virtually the only consistent (meaning “sure-footed”) language on the web, at the time. Hyper Text Mark-up Language (HTML). As I wrote here previously, just over a month ago in fact (where is the time going?), CSS resets and the manner for which I have and do rely on them have undergone quite the shake up. And as sort of an addendum to said post, not for any other reason than consistency, I’ve reinstated the FSS reset, well half of it anyway, back into FSSFive. But another approach of mine that has experienced quite a realignment is what had to be my very first lesson on HTML. Links. But more specifically how links look in a webpage.
It was 1997. Arguably during the early days of the web. At least with respect nearly everything web related was in flux. Everything still needed to be figured out and settled upon (well as much as anything on the web can be or actually is “settled”). And when I started to learn HTML it was in the dying days of version 3, just prior to the “ratification” of the new specification — version 4 — that saw use for a good 12 years. Version 4 came out in very early ’98, if I remember correctly, and 5 still hasn’t, and won’t for years, reached final draft status. But portions of the web are currently, and have been for a bit, moving to the next “iteration” of HTML, version 5.
As an aside, there is plenty of “in between” stuff I’m failing to mention in the years from 1998 to 2010, XHTML 1 & 2 being the most significant occurrences. That is on purpose. Honestly by the time I graduated College, in the winter of 2001, I had Photoshop on the brain. Bad. It wasn’t until 2005 when I got back onto web design. Previous too ’05 I was “listening” to what was happening but not with enough interest to accurately recall most of it. And not too much before ’08 I was entirely consumed with re-learning how to do develop on the web, again. Read “Links: fixing what ain’t broken” in its entirety
It was back in January of this year that the idea for FSSFive — a WordPress theme built on/with Fluid Skinning System (FSS) as a foundation to allow components of Fluid’s Infusion to make the most popular blogging platform on the internet (more) accessible — was born. Or that was the goal. The jury is still out on my effort, which isn’t by any means complete. It was then attitudes concerning deeply engrained personal habits started to be scrutinized. Namely the use of Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) browser resets in my design process.
Essentially all CSS browser resets are, is a bunch of lines of computer code usually inserted at the beginning of the file that handles a webpage’s (or more commonly a website’s) presentation information. And it’s these rules, if you will, that serve to put different web browsers at an equalled point where a designer can start designing from. Because every web browser handles their default inheritance, sizing and spacing issues a bit differently. And it’s this useful technique that puts everything “back” in it’s place. In a consistent manner. Across web browsers.
But as I started to develop FSSFive my thinking began to change. For years I become quite comfortable, meaning I no longer thought at any length about this issue, and used the popular Meyer Reset. Which isn’t a bad thing (this isn’t a criticism of Eric’s “tool,” in fact it is praise, it served me remarkably well for over 5 years!). I just threw it in at the start of any project, as a first step, and “designed” from there without a second thought. Read “CSS resets rediscovered” in its entirety
As it just so turns out today marks the 15th anniversary of my accident. It was August 5th, 1996, when a “catastrophic” automobile accident happened, forcing me to realize just how fragile life really is. Sometimes it takes quite a bit, like nearly dying say, to convince a knuckle-head like me just what he has. And, more importantly, what others don’t. Lessons earned and learned.
Point is, what better way could there be to mark such an occasion than to launch a brand new project? Especially one where it could potentially draw so many lessons from the situation I’ve found my self in ever since. I can’t think of any. (Bear in mind, I’ve not paid that thought any more energy than what I needed to compose the last couple of sentences.) And that’s what this is. My brand new endeavour.
In all honesty, this project isn’t really all that new. Or finished — in a presentational vain, at least (keep reading). I’ve been slowly — language is so powerful, I do mean slowly — working towards today since last October. When I bought this domain and commandeered this web space for precisely this project. Granted I haven’t been working on it solid since. I’ve been biding my time between various other interests, of which this project has been an important part of my focus, but not the exclusive recipient of my attention. I digress.
It’s been a busy year, thus far, and looking to get much busier. Such is life. Read “You just never know…” in its entirety