Responsive web design

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

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.

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  • Thank you very much for this presentation. Do you think the motto mobile first will also work with galaxy gear and iWatch ?
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  • I think HTML5 is much more handy for making awesome responsive stuffs.
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  • Suxus Technology | Web Design In Tirunelveli | Tirupur | Trichy | Seo‎
    Suxus Technology is a Tirunelveli based professional web development company providing Web Design In Tirunelveli,Tuticorin,Tirupur,Trichy,Seo.
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  • Great presentation,
    i love your quote : 'Indonesia, poor but beautiful country'
    hahaha yeah that's my country :)
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  • Thank you very much for sharing. Great contribution.
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  • 1. RESPONSIVE WEBDESIGN FRONTEERS / MECHELEN / NOV 2011 These slides 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 @bytte
  • 9. my old-school website is at
  • 10. RESPONSIVE WEBDESIGNPROBLEMS / SEMI-SOLUTIONS / OWN EXPERIENCES here’s what I talked about and what these slides are about
  • 11. here’s a responsive website I made in 2010:
  • 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 now
  • 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 simpleto justify the time and money ittakes to develop a separate mobileversion.” — 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. HTMLSTRUCTURE CSSLAYOUT based on simple principles we all know and stand behind
  • 52. simple, but great results emerged from it simple, but end products are great
  • 53. by
  • 54. by jérôme coupé
  • 55., not sure who made this
  • 56. by
  • 57. by
  • 58., freelance web designer
  • 59.
  • 60. by Mandy Brown & Candi Ligutan
  • 61. Ethan Marcotte, Scott Jehl ea. a new trend setter: 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 DARWINwe 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 changes
  • 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 insects
  • 67. Source: webecoist.comthis octopus scares predators by mimicking the color and shape of its predators’ predators
  • 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 1024most 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?
  • 87. CSS MEDIA QUERIES...WORKS IN ALL BROWSERS? but does it work in all browsers?
  • 88. no
  • 89. not in older versions of internet explorer, but that’s ok, right?
  • 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 stats
  • 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 Riegermake 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 BROKENthe 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?
  • 118. A MOBILE FIRST APPROACH LEADS TOLESS & CLEANER CSS another advantage of mobile first, at least in my experience
  • 119. about a year ago I designed 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, 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. HOW CAN WE MAKERESPONSIVE IMAGES one problem solved, but here’s another one
  • 124. Use desktop-sized images in yourmobile first design & scale down usingCSS.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 themobile version of your website too. 200kb for a 300px wide photo! that’s a minus!
  • 128. “If I hadn’t used media queries, theuser would have seen the desktopwebsite with desktop-sized imagesanyway.” — 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 yourmobile first design & scale down usingCSS. have a heart: we just can’t do it this way
  • 133. there’s many possible solutions yet not one is ideal
  • 134. 2if 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 technique and it’s based on device detection. hmmmm....
  • 138. “How strange it is to think of devicedetection as the most futurefriendly technique for responsiveimages? I find it hard to argue withthe logic.” — JASON GRIGSBY make sure to read Jason’s blog posts on the topic at
  • 139. “At least that’s how I see it for thebook. For your project and usecase, 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, it works and I’m more than ok with it
  • 142. it’s also used—in a modified way as I understand—on
  • 143. <img src=”small.jpg?full=large.jpg” /> here’s how it works, pretty easy huh?
  • 144. small.jpg large.jpgusing javascript and url rewrites the appropriate image is served to the appropriate device
  • 145. small.jpg large.jpgan advantage: as the technique requires 2 images, you can create more detailed images for smaller devices
  • 146. small.jpg large.jpgit’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 scales
  • 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. VIDEOresponsive video will kill the video star
  • 165. I’ve used responsive video on
  • 166. .video { width: 100%;} OK NOT OK! 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 TABLESwe’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 withresponsive design. Just sayin’.” — GARRETT DIMON excellent tweet, couldn’t have said it any better
  • 175. Chris Coyier of 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. DESIGNI 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: