Tag Archives: Progressive Enhancement

Adaptive web design

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

Mobile first with a twist

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