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Topic: Responsive Design

The concept that launched a thousand site redesigns. For years, web designers have coveted print for its precision layouts, lamenting the varying user contexts on the web that compromise their designs. Responsive design advocates that we shift our design thinking to make a virtue of these constraints. Using fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries to embrace the ebb and flow of the web.

  • Can Email Be Responsive?

    by Jason Rodriguez · Issue 395 ·

    Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the popularity of HTML emails. And, like the web before it, the inbox has officially gone mobile, with over 50 percent of email opens occurring on mobile devices. Still, email design is an outrageously outdated practice. (Remember coding before web standards became… standards?) But coding an email doesn’t need to be a lesson in frustration. While email designers still have to build layouts using tables and style them with HTML attributes and—gasp!—inline styles, a number of intrepid designers are taking modern techniques pioneered for the web and applying them to the archaic practice of email design. Jason Rodriguez shows how to apply the principles of responsive web design to the frustrating but essential realm of email design.

  • Look at the Big Picture

    by Lyza Danger Gardner ·

    It’s easy to see that automation can streamline image-optimization for all the varied contexts on the pan-device web. What’s harder to imagine is a future where foregrounding meaningful content in images can be handled by an algorithm. Art direction still requires human intervention, and that’s often a luxury in high-production environments.

  • Content-out Layout

    by Nathan Ford · Issue 392 ·

    Grids serve well to divide up a predefined canvas and guide how content fits onto a page, but when designing for the web’s fluid nature, we need something more responsive. Enter ratios, which architects, sculptors, and book designers have all used in their work to help set the tone for their compositions, and to scale their material from sketch to final build. Designers can apply a similar process on the web by focusing on the tone and shape of our content first, then working outward to design fluid, ratio-based grid systems that invite harmony between content, layout, and screen. Nathan Ford takes the next step toward more sophisticated, content-focused layouts on the web.

  • What We Mean When We Say “responsive”

    by Lyza Danger Gardner ·

    We keep using that word, “responsive,” but do we all mean the same thing by it? The debate continues, as it should, while the word in its web context works its way into our language. But by the time its meaning coalesces, will we even need it anymore?

  • Surveying the Big Screen

    by Mike Pick · Issue 386 ·

    We’ve been designing responsively for more than three years, now, and have the small-screen pattern libraries and portfolios to prove it. But what about larger screens? While we commonly use liquid design for smaller breakpoints, allowing our content to expand and contract as needed, few of us consider what happens beyond a maximum width of 960 pixels or so—which can leave a heap of unused pixels on a contemporary desktop display. Mike Pick explores how to use negative space, scale, density, and layout devices such as grids, modules, and columns to break through the 1024-pixel layout barrier.

  • Designing Offline-First Web Apps

    by Alex Feyerke · Issue 386 ·

    We assume our users are like us—with the latest devices, the most recent software, and the fastest connections. And while we may maintain a veritable zoo of older devices and browsers for testing, we spend most of our time building from the comfort of our modern, always-online desktop devices. But what happens when our users descend into the subway, board a plane, go to live in the country, or just happen to find themselves in the wrong corner of the room? The truth is, offline is a fact of life—but there are ways to design for it. Alex Feyerke tells all.

  • He Ain’t Snowfalling, He’s My Brother

    by David Sleight ·

    Not many newsrooms have the wherewithal to produce their own “Snow Fall,” and that, some say, dooms the NYT’s experiment to becoming a mere blip in the history of periodical web design. But it’s not all about per-article cost-effectiveness. The ambition that drives these efforts is exactly what the publishing business needs.

  • Client Relationships and the Multi-Device Web

    by Matt Griffin · Issue 379 ·

    When you step into the room with a client, you are a visitor from the future. You, web professional, spend your days immersed in the new paradigms of the multi-device web. Yet even for you, the constant change and adjustments that come with living on the internet can feel overwhelming. So how do you think your clients feel? It’s time to shed the vestigial mindsets we’ve inherited from the advertising world—the closed communications and drama of the “big reveal”—and build new systems based on honesty, inclusion, and genuine communication, says Matt Griffin. In this way, our clients will become true partners—rather than confused, anxious bystanders—as we learn to better navigate this strange, evolving digital universe together.

  • Summer Reading Issue

    by ALA Staff · Issue 378 ·

    Presenting the second annual ALA Summer Reading Issue—a deep pool of editor’s picks from the recent archives of A List Apart, sprinkled with some of our favorite outside links. This summer’s picks are arranged in clusters that echo the design process, and like all good summer reading, they travel light. (This issue is also available as a Readlist, suitable for reading on Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Readmill, or other ebook reader.) Dive in!

  • Designing for Breakpoints

    by Stephen Hay · Issue 376 ·

    Text, navigation, and tables, oh, my! What’s a responsive web designer to do? How can you confine your design to as few major breakpoints as possible? Where and when will you sketch minor breakpoints? How should you think about content while sketching? Is it possible to sketch on actual devices, and what are the accessibility implications of doing so? The answers to these and other profound questions will be found in this exclusive excerpt from Chapter 7 of Responsive Design Workflow, Stephen Hay’s new book, available now from New Riders.

  • Hack Your Maps

    by Young Hahn · Issue 373 ·

    Web maps have come a long way. A ubiquitous and critical component of many apps, they’ve also become one of the mobile space’s most successful transplants. The core web map UI paradigm itself—a continuous, pannable, zoomable surface—has even spread beyond mapping to interfaces everywhere. Yet nearly five years since Paul Smith’s landmark article, “Take Control of Your Maps,” web maps are still a blind spot for most web designers. It’s time to integrate maps into our designs in powerful, creative, progressively enhanced new ways. Young Hahn starts us on the journey to map mastery.

  • Font Hinting and the Future of Responsive Typography

    by Nick Sherman ·

    Font hinting has been the source of countless headaches for type designers and users. In the meantime, some of the most fundamental and important elements of typography still can’t be addressed with the web of today. Rather than being seen as a tedious chore whose demise will be celebrated, hinting might actually provide the essentials for truly responsive design, and vastly expand the possibilities of digital typography for designers, publishers, and readers.

  • The Infinite Grid

    by Chris Armstrong · Issue 363 ·

    Grid systems are a key component of graphic design, but they’ve always been designed for canvases with fixed dimensions. Until now. Today you’re designing for a medium that has no fixed dimensions, a medium that can and will shape-shift to better suit its environment—a medium capable of displaying a single layout on a smartphone, a billboard in Times Square, and everything in between. You’re designing for an infinite canvas—and for that, you need an infinite grid system. Discover techniques and guidelines that can help bring structure to your content whatever the screen size.

  • Responsive Comping: Obtaining Signoff without Mockups

    by Matt Griffin · Issue 363 ·

    If you’re making websites, chances are you’ve given some thought to what constitutes a responsive-friendly design process—and you’ve probably found that adding a mockup for every breakpoint isn’t a sustainable approach. Designing in code sounds like the answer, but you may be mystified at where to begin—or feel unmoored and disoriented at the prospect of giving up the approach you’ve long relied on. Enter responsive comping. This new, mockup-less web design process makes it easy to get that Photoshop monkey off your back, and have a fresh new beginning with your old friend the web browser.

  • Mo’ Pixels Mo’ Problems

    by Dave Rupert · Issue 362 ·

    Mobile devices are shipping with higher and higher PPI, and desktops and laptops are following the trend as well. There’s no avoiding it: High-pixel-density, or “Retina,” displays are now becoming mainstream—and, as you’d expect, our websites are beginning to look a little fuzzy in their backlit glory. But before we go off in the knee-jerk direction of supersizing all our sites, we must identify the problems ahead and figure out the most responsible way forward—keeping our users in mind first and foremost.

  • A Case for Responsive Résumés

    by Andrew Hoffman · Issue 353 ·

    Grizzled job hunting veterans know too well that a sharp résumé and near-flawless interview may still leave you short of your dream job. Competition is fierce and never wanes. Finding new ways to distinguish yourself in today's unforgiving economy is vital to a designer/developer's survival. Happily, web standards whiz and mobile web developer Andrew Hoffman has come up with a dandy differentiator that is just perfect for A List Apart readers. Learn how to author a clean résumé in HTML5/CSS3 that scales well to different viewport sizes, is easy to update and maintain, and will never grow obsolete.

  • Responsive Images and Web Standards at the Turning Point

    by Mat Marquis · Issue 351 ·

    Responsible responsive design demands responsive images, images whose dimensions and file size suit the viewport and bandwidth of the receiving device. As HTML provides no standard element to achieve this purpose, serving responsive images has meant using JavaScript trickery, and accepting that your solution will fail for some users. Then a few months ago, in response to an article here, a W3C Responsive Images Community Group formed, and proposed a simple-to-understand HTML picture element capable of serving responsive images. The group even delivered picture functionality to older browsers via two polyfills: namely, Scott Jehl's Picturefill and Abban Dunne's jQuery Picture. The WHATWG has responded by ignoring the community's work on the picture element, and proposing a more complicated img set element. Which proposed standard is better, and for whom? Which will win? And what can you do to help avert an "us versus them" crisis that could hurt end-users and turn developers off to the standards process? ALA's own Mat Marquis explains the ins and outs of responsive images and web standards at the turning point.

  • Dive into Responsive Prototyping with Foundation

    by Jonathan Smiley · Issue 348 ·

    There are hundreds of devices out there right now that can access the full web, as Steve Jobs once put it. They come with different capabilities and constraints, things like input style or screen size, resolution, and form. With all these devices set to overtake traditional desktop computers for web traffic next year, we need tools to help us build responsively. Jonathan Smiley shows how to dive into responsive design using Foundation, a light front-end framework that helps you rapidly build prototypes and production sites.

  • Style Tiles and How They Work

    by Samantha Warren · Issue 347 ·

    How do you involve your client in a successful design process? Many of our processes date back to print design and advertising. It’s time we evolved our deliverables to make clients a more active participant in the process. The style tile is a design deliverable that references website interface elements through font, color, and style collections delivered alongside a site map, wireframes, and other user experience artifacts. Learn how style tiles can align client and designer expectations, expedite project timelines, involve stakeholders in the brainstorming process, and serve an essential role in responsive design.

  • Responsive Images: How they Almost Worked and What We Need

    by Mat Marquis · Issue 343 ·

    With a mobile-first responsive design approach, if any part of the process breaks down, your user can still receive a representative image and avoid an unnecessarily large request on a device that may have limited bandwidth. But with several newer browsers implementing an "image prefetching" feature that allows images to be fetched before parsing the document's body, some of the web's brightest developers are abandoning responsive images in favor of user agent detection, at least as a temporary solution. For us standardistas, UA detection leaves a bad taste in the mouth. More importantly, as the number and kinds of devices continue to grow, UA detection will quickly become untenable—just as browser detection did back in the bad old days before web standards. What's really needed, argues Mat Marquis, is a new markup element that works the way the HTML5 video element works. Sound crazy? So crazy it just might work.

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