May 31, 2016

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Canadian pharmacy viagra A school of influential web designers are pioneering ‘Responsive Web Design’ as a way to render content on different types of browser screens. Canadian pharmacy viagra They must fix the fledgling technique’s technical faults before it propagates into the wild. Canadian pharmacy viagra And it is certainly not yet worthy of its name: designers must think beyond the glass of a screen and build experiences that respond to the humans beyond it.

A little while ago, canadian pharmacy viagra renowned web designer Ethan Marcotte wrote an article on the popular web design site A List Apart. This seminal article is titled ‘Responsive Web Design’, canadian pharmacy viagra and has seemingly been very well read and much admired.

Canadian pharmacy viagra ‘Seminal’ because it proposes that sites should challenge many of the established conventions that have been prevalent in contemporary web design: rather than exclusively using a fixed print-like grid, canadian pharmacy viagra for example, canadian pharmacy viagra sites should be more fluid and flexible with respect to screen size. Canadian pharmacy viagra (Of course this is how all web pages used to work in the mid-1990s, canadian pharmacy viagra so the concept’s novelty is probably dependent upon the age of the beholder.)

Canadian pharmacy viagra In case it isn’t obvious, canadian pharmacy viagra there has never been a single screen size upon which web sites should be expected to render: computer screens and browser viewports have always come in a range of sizes. Canadian pharmacy viagra But now, canadian pharmacy viagra the obvious logic goes, canadian pharmacy viagra the big screens are getting bigger, canadian pharmacy viagra the small (ie. Canadian pharmacy viagra mobile) screens more popular, canadian pharmacy viagra and a huge host of new browsing form factors – from tablets to car dashboards – are radically reshaping the web’s diverse physical canvas.

Canadian pharmacy viagra By building sites which can respond to these different screen sizes using open standards, canadian pharmacy viagra the chances of it looking nice on all of, canadian pharmacy viagra say, canadian pharmacy viagra a regular laptop, canadian pharmacy viagra a tablet, canadian pharmacy viagra a games console, canadian pharmacy viagra and a 27″ cinema screen are greatly increased.

Canadian pharmacy viagra The real novelty of Mr Marcotte’s argument is not that you should find and remove all the fixed {width:960px} rules from your stylesheets, canadian pharmacy viagra but that you can use CSS Media Queries to selectively apply styling rules based on certain criteria. Canadian pharmacy viagra This allows you to have a page layout which changes as a function of browser screen size. Canadian pharmacy viagra (The properties available for evaluation in media queries are exclusively related to screen display dimensions and color capabilities.)

Canadian pharmacy viagra Take these two renderings of ‘The Baker Street Inquirer’, canadian pharmacy viagra for example:

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Canadian pharmacy viagra In the narrower example on the right, canadian pharmacy viagra the title decoration changes, canadian pharmacy viagra the menu items rise to the top of the page, canadian pharmacy viagra the images appear in twos instead of threes, canadian pharmacy viagra and so on.

Canadian pharmacy viagra This looks fantastic. Apart from being a lovely piece of graphic design, canadian pharmacy viagra viewers also know that this page will look good in their desktop browser whichever size they have it set at, canadian pharmacy viagra and they won’t have to risk lots of empty space on each side (on a too-large window), canadian pharmacy viagra or lots of left-to-right scrolling (on a too-narrow window) – both concerns when a browser’s viewport doesn’t match a web designer’s assumption.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Six months on, canadian pharmacy viagra the fruits of this article are starting to ripen. Canadian pharmacy viagra The good, canadian pharmacy viagra the great, canadian pharmacy viagra and the brilliant of the web design world obviously read it and took every word of it to heart. Canadian pharmacy viagra Two oft-discussed examples are Simon Collison’s and dConstruct 2010’s web sites: narrow your browser window on both to see the magic happen.

Canadian pharmacy viagra More recently, canadian pharmacy viagra Jeremy Keith is notably flying the responsive flag, canadian pharmacy viagra and has designed a number of sites (and redesigned his own) using a similar approach. Canadian pharmacy viagra Just last week, canadian pharmacy viagra the mighty Happy Cog launched a very attractive new blog that narrows elegantly, canadian pharmacy viagra and the talented Mike Kus (with Think Vitamin‘s redesign) has also joined the party.

Canadian pharmacy viagra So, canadian pharmacy viagra the wheels of evolution turn. Canadian pharmacy viagra Designers are innovating, canadian pharmacy viagra trying each other’s new techniques, canadian pharmacy viagra and pushing this worthy idea onwards. Canadian pharmacy viagra They are influencing each other, canadian pharmacy viagra and in the way these things cascade through imitation, canadian pharmacy viagra influencing the approach that many thousands of developers who look up to them will take when next asked to design or redesign a site. Canadian pharmacy viagra At this rate, canadian pharmacy viagra it will only be a few years before more web sites use media queries than don’t. Canadian pharmacy viagra It’s a smart solution, canadian pharmacy viagra using well-known, canadian pharmacy viagra standards-based technology, canadian pharmacy viagra and users with different screens the world over will undoubtedly be happier.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Sadly, canadian pharmacy viagra this technique is not the revelational panacea that some might present it as. Canadian pharmacy viagra While it copes well with the challenges presented by size-diverse browsers on a desktop, canadian pharmacy viagra for example, canadian pharmacy viagra it is flawed when presented as an single solution to the challenge of the mobile web. Canadian pharmacy viagra A more-or-less explicit tenet of the ‘Responsive Web Design’ school is that contemporary mobile browsers are served neatly by this technique, canadian pharmacy viagra so it deserves to be put under this scrutiny.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Before we go any further, canadian pharmacy viagra and for the avoidance of doubt, canadian pharmacy viagra it is thrilling that the ‘mobile web’ has finally garnered some sort of interest amongst the web design community. Canadian pharmacy viagra For a decade, canadian pharmacy viagra lonely pioneers have been hacking about with little more than monochromatic text on cramped and feeble browsers. Canadian pharmacy viagra Seeing a new wave of talented web artists thinking about the medium is very inspiring – spurred on by the rise and rise of brilliantly capable mobile browsers. Canadian pharmacy viagra Mobile, canadian pharmacy viagra the historically gloomy little corner of the web, canadian pharmacy viagra is ripe to welcome fresh and smart ideas – clever and efficient ways to deliver exciting content to mobile users.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Sadly ‘Responsive Web Design’ is not yet one of them.

Canadian pharmacy viagra To start off with, canadian pharmacy viagra there are some technical and tactical issues. Canadian pharmacy viagra Experienced mobile web designer Bryan Rieger has most notably illustrated these concerns, canadian pharmacy viagra and strategist Jason Grigsby has explored similar points. Their main concerns stem from the facts that:

  • Media queries only affect the styling once the markup and other resources have reached the browser. Canadian pharmacy viagra Whatever the device – whatever the network it’s connected to – the browser will download the entire markup of the page, canadian pharmacy viagra and any (probably large) images in it. Canadian pharmacy viagra Yes, canadian pharmacy viagra a ‘responsive stylesheet’ can resize media or hide it from the user, canadian pharmacy viagra but designers should not presume that they’ve done anything to improve the performance or network utilisation by this sleight of hand. Canadian pharmacy viagra Cellular network usage is free in neither the financial nor performance sense. Canadian pharmacy viagra Ironically, canadian pharmacy viagra Mr Keith’s article about the technique itself has a total size of about 1.6Mb – a payload that no mobile device this side of LTE will sniff at.
  • Media queries are not supported by most of the world’s web browsers. Certainly all WebKit-based browsers handle them well enough, canadian pharmacy viagra and most other contemporary desktop browsers do too. Canadian pharmacy viagra But anything else will struggle: this includes legacy desktop browsers (which certainly don’t seem to concern the web’s great and good) and, canadian pharmacy viagra more seriously, canadian pharmacy viagra most mobile handsets in the market today.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Both issues are present in Mr Marcotte’s initial expression of ‘Responsive Web Design’. Canadian pharmacy viagra Perhaps understandably: while the exposition of technique focusses on the aesthetic of flexible design, canadian pharmacy viagra there is little discussion of performance optimization. Canadian pharmacy viagra Further, canadian pharmacy viagra many of these concerns pale if you’re a designer who lives in a world where everyone has an iPhone 4. Canadian pharmacy viagra Perhaps the article set out to merely present a prototype which the author knew would of course be iterated upon and refined.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Certainly some refinement could be applied to the mathematics, canadian pharmacy viagra which apparently advocates daft rules like {margin-right: 3.317535545023696682%}!

Canadian pharmacy viagra But thankfully none of these concepts are necessarily deal-breakers: tinySrc (created by this author) allows you to have already dynamically-resized images arriving at the browser in response to a static piece of markup. Mr Reiger illustrates that by rethinking the assumptions about which browser is the default (i.e. Canadian pharmacy viagra a basic mobile one) and which receives the conditional styling (i.e. Canadian pharmacy viagra the clever, canadian pharmacy viagra or desktop ones), canadian pharmacy viagra one can mitigate a lot of the problems caused by serving up too many irrelevant resources. Canadian pharmacy viagra That’s probably not entirely what Luke Wroblewski was getting at when he said ‘Mobile First‘, canadian pharmacy viagra but it’s good enough to work.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Hopefully, canadian pharmacy viagra Messrs Marcotte, canadian pharmacy viagra Keith, canadian pharmacy viagra Kus, canadian pharmacy viagra Zeldman et al will take these considerations on board and refine their logic accordingly. Canadian pharmacy viagra Theirs is the work that will be widely aspired to and derived from, canadian pharmacy viagra and this is some basic hygiene that should be encouraged as soon as possible. Canadian pharmacy viagra The practices are not yet best practices – and we should hope that this technique doesn’t become a precedent for playing fast and loose with mobile payloads.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Technical issues aside, canadian pharmacy viagra the primary concern with using ‘Responsive Web Design’ for mobile web sites remains, canadian pharmacy viagra and it is far more fundamental.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Firstly let’s look at the name – or at least the origin from which is was purloined. Canadian pharmacy viagra ‘Responsive Architecture’, canadian pharmacy viagra a term coined by Nicholas Negroponte, canadian pharmacy viagra is a school of thought that says that buildings and structures should be able to react to changes in their environment, canadian pharmacy viagra altering their shape or surfaces accordingly. Canadian pharmacy viagra Indeed this is what ‘Responsive Web Design’ does too: change the browser size, canadian pharmacy viagra and the site within it will respond.

Canadian pharmacy viagra But Mr Marcotte posits that it is also about ‘how physical spaces can respond to the presence of people passing through them’ – in other words, canadian pharmacy viagra that buildings should react to the way in which humans behave, canadian pharmacy viagra and implicitly, canadian pharmacy viagra to what it is that they need or want. Canadian pharmacy viagra This is where the ‘Responsive Web Design’ aspiration falls flat. Canadian pharmacy viagra Nothing about the technique is explicitly related to the human actually using the site, canadian pharmacy viagra nor his or her context.

Canadian pharmacy viagra The problem of course, canadian pharmacy viagra stems from the reliance on media queries as the key input to the layout’s alterations. Canadian pharmacy viagra Complex criteria can be built to segment styling based on width, canadian pharmacy viagra height, canadian pharmacy viagra orientation or color depth – but nothing else. Canadian pharmacy viagra The design is responding to the glass on the front of the gadget that the user has in their hand – not to the flesh and bone beyond it, canadian pharmacy viagra where they are, canadian pharmacy viagra what they are doing, canadian pharmacy viagra and what state of mind they are in.

Canadian pharmacy viagra In the world of mobile, canadian pharmacy viagra this matters. The fact that the user has a small screen in their hand is one thing – the fact that it is in their hand at all is another. Canadian pharmacy viagra The fact that the user may be walking, canadian pharmacy viagra driving, canadian pharmacy viagra or lounging is yet another. Canadian pharmacy viagra In fact, canadian pharmacy viagra it’s quite likely that they really deserve different content and services altogether – or, canadian pharmacy viagra at least, canadian pharmacy viagra a differently prioritized version of the default desktop experience.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Is this too abstract? Too theoretical? Absolutely not. Canadian pharmacy viagra As a commonplace example, canadian pharmacy viagra consider the FourSquare mobile web site and its sister web site. Canadian pharmacy viagra The former, canadian pharmacy viagra of course, canadian pharmacy viagra is designed as a slick and efficient way to check your location in to the service – and not much else. Canadian pharmacy viagra The latter provides a chance to review previous activity in the comfort of a desktop environment.

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Canadian pharmacy viagra Is this responsive? Of course it is – at least in terms of responding to what humans in different environments want to do. Canadian pharmacy viagra The user, canadian pharmacy viagra by specifying which site they want to receive, canadian pharmacy viagra gets a design and an interface that is wholly appropriate to their context, canadian pharmacy viagra not just their screen width. Canadian pharmacy viagra (Sadly, canadian pharmacy viagra visitors with mobile handsets do not get automatically forwarded to the mobile version of the site, canadian pharmacy viagra which would have made the service even more ‘responsive’.)

Canadian pharmacy viagra Consider, canadian pharmacy viagra on the other hand, canadian pharmacy viagra the St Paul’s School website. Canadian pharmacy viagra It looks lovely and exhibits all the hallmarks of the ‘Responsive Web Design’ school. Canadian pharmacy viagra Resizing the browser window demonstrates the page’s fluid grid, canadian pharmacy viagra and on a narrow, canadian pharmacy viagra mobile screen the layout becomes vertical and flows respectably down the page.

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Canadian pharmacy viagra But let us just think about the use cases for this web site. Canadian pharmacy viagra Clearly the desktop site is designed to target prospective parents – St Paul’s is a top-notch fee-paying school in London – and the design, canadian pharmacy viagra menu structure and layout reflect that. Canadian pharmacy viagra The ‘about’ page is first and foremost in the menu, canadian pharmacy viagra followed by a sequence of pages designed to give the reader an insight into the workings and philosophy of the school. Canadian pharmacy viagra One can imagine well-heeled parents poring over the site for hours, canadian pharmacy viagra deciding if it is the place for their child to attend and getting a feeling for the institution.

Canadian pharmacy viagra But a mobile user? Let us think about what a mobile user might want from their interaction with the school’s online presence. Canadian pharmacy viagra Are prospective parents so busy that they research making one of the biggest investments in their lives by spending a few moments on a mobile browser? Well, canadian pharmacy viagra possibly; but it is hard to imagine that reading the school’s lengthy prospectus should top of the list of important mobile use-cases.

Canadian pharmacy viagra If one is accessing this site on a mobile device, canadian pharmacy viagra there are other far more likely reasons. Canadian pharmacy viagra Imagine an existing parent or student keeping abreast of the (well-populated) school news, canadian pharmacy viagra or upcoming calendar of events. Canadian pharmacy viagra This is something they might easily snatch a few moments doing in the car on the school commute, canadian pharmacy viagra say. Canadian pharmacy viagra Or perhaps the user is a prospective parent or visitor who wants to check on the address and location of the school en route, canadian pharmacy viagra or wants to put a call through to the school office.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Has the design responded to these, canadian pharmacy viagra now very different, canadian pharmacy viagra requirements? No. Canadian pharmacy viagra In the mobile display of the site, canadian pharmacy viagra the news and contact pages are still at the bottom of the menu, canadian pharmacy viagra below the admissions information and exhaustive list of school sports. Canadian pharmacy viagra The contact page (once you have reached it) does contain telephone numbers, canadian pharmacy viagra but they have been turned into callable links by the browser’s automatic number detection, canadian pharmacy viagra not the designer’s hand, canadian pharmacy viagra so rather curiously you can also click to call the school’s fax number.

Canadian pharmacy viagra And the location page, canadian pharmacy viagra to get a map and directions to the school? Most of the screen is taken up with an aerial portrait of the school – of arguably marginal help for navigation – and the map itself is only available within a 1.5Mb, canadian pharmacy viagra three-part PDF document. Canadian pharmacy viagra You couldn’t make this up.

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Canadian pharmacy viagra Surely a mobile user deserves and expects a map image embedded in the page, canadian pharmacy viagra or even a link to Google Maps (which, canadian pharmacy viagra incidentally, canadian pharmacy viagra certain mobile browsers will parse to invoke the native map client). Canadian pharmacy viagra Apparently a few of these clever new gadgets have GPS in them.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Responsive to the user’s needs? Barely.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Anyway, canadian pharmacy viagra the purpose of this article is not a hatchet attack on one particular site. Canadian pharmacy viagra It’s merely being used as an example of how using what is currently called ‘Responsive Web Design’ is often nothing of the sort – or, canadian pharmacy viagra at best, canadian pharmacy viagra a single cosmetic tool that needs to be used in conjunction with other, canadian pharmacy viagra mobile-centric ideas and sympathies.

Canadian pharmacy viagra One gets the sense that those promoting and using ‘Responsive Web Design’ in its current form secretly hope that this is all they will have to do to be able to call their sites ‘mobile-ready’ (although whether that is what they commit to their clients, canadian pharmacy viagra of course, canadian pharmacy viagra one cannot say). Canadian pharmacy viagra We should sincerely hope this is not the case. Canadian pharmacy viagra These are smart and insightful individuals: surely they understand that juggling a few pixels around does not amount to designing for different types of user.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Mr Keith in particular appears to understand the dilemma. Canadian pharmacy viagra He points out that ‘I don’t refer to this as mobile optimisation’ and that media queries are not the ‘silver bullet for the mobile context’. Canadian pharmacy viagra Nevertheless, canadian pharmacy viagra the screenshots of his portfolio sites are 480px in width (conveniently the landscape size of an iPhone), canadian pharmacy viagra and he is somewhat disparaging about the idea of ‘the rabbit hole’ of creating a different site for mobile devices.

Canadian pharmacy viagra (Of course that isn’t technically required. Canadian pharmacy viagra A small snippet of server logic would have have been all that was required by St Paul’s to move news and contact to the top of a mobile menu, canadian pharmacy viagra and to replace the PDF link with a Google Maps resource, canadian pharmacy viagra for example.)

Canadian pharmacy viagra But this may give us a clue why so many others seem desperate to will the current implementation of ‘Responsive Web Design’ into being as the sole way to develop services for mobile users: it’s all client-side, canadian pharmacy viagra and requires nothing more complex than a few extra tricks in existing CSS files. Canadian pharmacy viagra It may be that many web designers are daunted by the thought that they may be required to think about mobile device detection and conditional logic on the server-side, canadian pharmacy viagra and are clinging to the hope that they can claim to support mobile users without having to do any, canadian pharmacy viagra well, canadian pharmacy viagra programming.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Sadly for those involved, canadian pharmacy viagra this probably can’t be avoided. Canadian pharmacy viagra It’s not that media queries aren’t an excellent way to resize layouts (of course they are), canadian pharmacy viagra nor that they don’t act as a reasonable proxy for identifying a mobile devices (which is also more or less true for now) and in turn mobile humans.

Canadian pharmacy viagra It’s a more fundamental issue – which is that any site should be ruthlessly scrutinized for ways in which it can behave in better ways for all of its constituencies of users, canadian pharmacy viagra and that the differences between those ways are often going to be more significant than can be papered over with some stretchy images and fluid grids on a conveniently powerful mobile browser.

Canadian pharmacy viagra The real fear is that this subtlety is lost on those disciples who want to rattle off a site design that works on mobile devices as well as desktop browsers. Canadian pharmacy viagra The result of their efforts might look lovely on the client’s iPhone, canadian pharmacy viagra but the speed at which that magic trick was performed will certainly have come at the expense of someone actually sitting down and thinking about what that mobile variant of the experience should actually offer.

Canadian pharmacy viagra The result? We won’t have a mobile web, canadian pharmacy viagra but merely a 320px-wide one. A web for which the humans using it matter less than the width of the glass it is displayed on.

Canadian pharmacy viagra As a postscript, canadian pharmacy viagra an analogy: we are in an age which, canadian pharmacy viagra in many ways, canadian pharmacy viagra resembles that of the birth of broadcast television. Canadian pharmacy viagra The mobile web is a new medium that, canadian pharmacy viagra yes, canadian pharmacy viagra is able to deliver services similar to its precursor, canadian pharmacy viagra but which can also be developed and enhanced in ways that have yet to be dreamt of. Canadian pharmacy viagra Reflowing today’s web sites for mobile devices is a philosophy akin to that of the first broadcast television programs: “let’s stick with what worked before, canadian pharmacy viagra and just put well-dressed radio presenters onto the screen”.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Did that work? Sure it did – as a start. Canadian pharmacy viagra But was it these dull talking heads that made television the greatest medium of the 20th century? Hardly. Canadian pharmacy viagra It was when program makers started to explore the visual capabilities of the their new canvas – and the increasingly demanding expectations of the viewers who expected to see something more interesting on the wooden box they had just spent a lot of money on – that innovation occurred.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Today’s ‘Responsive Web Design’ is a lukewarm response to a similar seismic shift – that of the sedentary web into expectant mobile hands.

Canadian pharmacy viagra Our approaches need to be bolder, canadian pharmacy viagra more structural, canadian pharmacy viagra more experimental, canadian pharmacy viagra and, canadian pharmacy viagra frankly, canadian pharmacy viagra more considerate of the diverse audiences we should all be trying to cater for.

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