Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Get on board with Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is a web development set of techniques that started disseminating a couple of years ago when Ethan Marcotte published his Responsive Web Design article on A List Apart. Responsive web design (RWD) aims to tackle the never ending issue of having a website running on different devices, with different screen sizes and resolutions.

330px-Boston_Globe_responsive_website

When I was starting my career as a software engineer, I remember that for web development, the standard resolution was 800 x 600, and most websites were designed to work for that resolution, because common computing screen was that size. Windows and Internet Explorer (even if web developers now hate IE) made computers ubiquitous. From there, web developers only needed to account for the standard resolution increase, as computer monitors became better.

Then Nokia started to popularize mobile handsets, laptops started flood the markets and computers started to take all sort of forms and sizes, along with their screens. Finally, Apple brought the iPhone, and it was so successful that it changed the industry for good. Now, entire companies, industries and economies are shifting. Mobile Internet access is huge, and smartphones are coming in every direction. Even Windows 8 changed the whole operating system to favour these new connectivity and usability patterns.

Nowadays, we are seeing all screen sizes we can image around us all the time. From the small phone screens, small interactive gadgets, and watches, to laptops, ultrabooks, tablets, mini tablets, and then the full range of massive computer screens and televisions. The list will only keep growing!

Anyway, I’m not the most knowledgeable person on responsive web design. My background is mainly on interactive application development, which I have done mostly with .NET. Truth to be told, I have always felt a bit sceptical about web development. When I was in University, we did websites just for fun or as side assignments, but the real deal was on native application development. Serious programming as we used to joke. That’s where you found real programming challenges. So when I graduated, working on web development was kind of throwing all my education away, or at least, kind of undermining all the efforts to get my bachelor degree in Computer Sciences. That, plus the fact that most of the people I knew that did websites were not engineers.

However, things have changed since then. The world wide web is becoming better, more powerful, and more democratic. The possibilities and potential are increasing, and more and more, native apps rely on Internet connectivity to work, just as a web application does. Web technologies have achieve a similar power than previous proprietary plugins, like Flash and Silverlight. Then, for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, web apps are getting closer to what the ideal experience is supposed to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love working on hardcore interactive native applications. Web apps will never be at the cutting edge of technology, because the web, by nature is way more democratic and requires a lot more consensus from the community. But, I must say, I’m becoming a lot more curious about web development, and I have been playing and learning more and more about it. I have done a few websites in my career, and a lot of prototypes playing around with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I have done quite a lot of web development with ASP.NET building custom content management systems and the like. I’m knowledgeable about different web technologies, patterns (like MVC) and such. But, as a solutions architect, I have to work on web projects, define architectures and integration with online and native systems, so it is in my nature, the nature of my job, and my responsibility to understand responsive web design in a better, more hands on way.

That being said, I’m making 2013 my year to learn RWD and Web Stack technologies as a priority in my agenda!

If you face a similar situation, or are curious, or even the opposite, you are a master of web development and RWD, you might want to stick around and share some RWD thoughts around here.

I’ll leave this here as an introduction for what this year will be in regards to web stack technologies and techniques as RWD. I urge you to get on-board, and if you like, share some thoughts and comments here!

2 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Responsive Web Design is very popular nowadays and also mobile web design. I like your suggestion. I will check them out and apply some.
    Best Regards,

    ReplyDelete