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Designers, Please Read:

A List Apart: The Infinite Grid
Viljamis: Prototyping Responsive Typography

I could write so much as a reflection on the first article, and the second is one I have only just seen and half-read, but seeing how much information is covered, I’m bookmarking posting it for my later reference. I won’t bother summarizing either, but hopefully the titles intrigue and you give them some time of day.

Making better use of better tools

I got a lot of milage out of the phrase “this gig wouldn’t be any fun if it were easy” this year.

When I was in my early twenties and just learning carpentry, all of my tools were terrible. My hammer bent nails, none of my saws ever cut in a straight line, and my tape measure always managed to be off by just a little bit once everything was said and done.

Let’s be honest: responsive web design isn’t easy when you’re just getting started with it. It calls for some major changes in both thinking and process. You start out clumsy at first, like with any new tool; maybe you even find yourself cursing it out from time to time. Thing is, once you’ve struggled through it and you stand back to admire what you’ve built: yeah, maybe you can see a couple of seams and maybe you could have done a few things better, but you’ll know those mistakes before they happen next time. When we move on to the next job our tools seem a little lighter, sharper, and more accurate than they did on the last one, because we got better with them.

This year we all started getting the hang of an incredible new tool. Next year we’ll get even better with it.

We’ll probably still do a fair amount of cursing, though.
Mat Marquis, designer/developer, Filament Group, and technical editor, A List Apart

An Ever-Important Article Discussing Responsive Design

A leading image of some website in its various states of Responsiveness
A leading image of some website in its various states of Responsiveness

In [month, year], X% of web traffic came from mobile devices, as of writing this article, that number has grown to a whopping Y%. As businesses focus increasingly on e-commerce, and getting the best ROI for their development costs, the rewards of making your site responsive are more appealing than ever.

Mobile usage since [date]

At this point in the article I should talk about the explosion of the handheld and tablet market, and the overwhelming popularity of Apple products, but throw in a dreadful reminder that a huge portion of users are on “other” devices, all of which have many variations in screen dimensions. I can also mention studies about how many people use both a handheld device and their trusty desktop/laptop when doing the most important thing in the universe, shopping. Accommodating this user behavior – that is admittedly akin to moths banging their heads into the next brightest lightbulb – is imperative if you want to have any success in business and become the next Amazon.

Benefits of making your site Responsive

Now that I’ve overwhelmed you with information about how a lot of different people use the internet and you can’t design for just one ideal scenario, I’ll bring great relief: with a little extra preparation, you can still manage a single site that pleases all. Then I continue to elaborate about how you’ll only have to manage this single site, which works across all platforms, and the only thing you need to do is sprinkle a bit of magic Responsiveness on your code. Hooray, the future of the internet is here! With n-number column grid, your typography will look more beautiful than ever, too.

Use of responsive grid

In order to illustrate the immediate payoff of such a concept, I need to include some kind of column grid or perhaps an image that you can play with by resizing your browser window. This will instantly convince you that you need your site to do this.

If you don’t know about CSS3, LESS, and HTML5 by now, then just throw the terms at your developers and they’ll get all glossy-eyed. If you don’t run on these, then you might as well be working with Windows XP. You can download some frameworks from github and start playing around with it yourself.

Usability will increase 9,000 fold

It might look like three different sites, but don’t worry, your brand will be consistent across all platforms. Resizing images and collapsing a row of navigation into a column (or collapsible menu tray, whoa!) makes your site over 9,000 times more useful to the mysterious collective of mobile device wielding e-customers. A great website experience increases the chance of a repeat visit. You’re going to have so many new regulars with this platform.

A few challenges

It will take some more development time and you’ll have to organize the architecture of your desktop site to make sure it translates well to mobile. Of course, this will also require a lot more resources and testing, but it’s totally worth it – and hey, developers love it.

I should also slip in a suggestion about how different devices suggest different use cases. Jimmy might be looking at your site on his desktop to find some awesome new coupons, because he never gets any emails from his e-commerce subscriptions. Jessica however, could be on her iPhone at the bus stop, in the rain, trying to find your nearest store because in this scenario you sell umbrellas online and in storefronts. Two devices, two use cases. Don’t worry, actual user research is expensive, takes time, and you can pretty much guess at what they want to do with your site.

Final thoughts

Because I write for the web, I don’t know how to intelligently conclude something without saying something like in conclusion, summary, […] to consider, or final thoughts. If I’m writing for TheNextWeb then there should be at least two typos and a grammatical ‘slip’ thrown in, but you’re not here for grammar, you’re here for loads of content, images, links to cool sites, and the latest on Tech.

Whether you decide to make your site responsive is up to you, but if you do, make sure that you plan it well and do loads of testing afterward. You probably won’t do either, and just throw the content into a template you found online. You don’t really need to listen to users, or make sure the content strategy is efficient… as long as things shift around when you drag the corner of your browser window.

About The Author

[Author Name] is a [technical position] manager at [web company], tech writer, and frequent speaker at ____camp. Follow this author on Twitter!