Implementing Responsive Design

In case you hadn’t heard, Tim Kadlec fantastic book Implementing Responsive Design came out today from New Riders. It’s a fantastic and necessary read for any practicing web professional out there and I was honored Tim asked me to write the foreword. With his permission, I have included it below:

A few years back, photography legend Chase Jarvis smartly observed that “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” It was a mildly shocking assertion at the time, but it rings true: the perfect shot is rarely planned. Rather, it sneaks up on you.

Perhaps the light is perfectly accentuating the fall foliage on your late afternoon stroll. Or perhaps your infant daughter just pulled herself up on two legs for the first time. In moments like these, it doesn’t matter that your Leica is sitting on a shelf in the other room or that you left your Rebel in the car—what matters is that you have a camera, however crude, in your pocket and can capture this serendipitous and ephemeral moment.

Riffing on Jarvis’s idea, Stephanie Rieger has made the case that the best browser is the one you have with you. After all, life is unpredictable. Opportunities are fleeting. Inspiration strikes fast and hard.

Imagine yourself as a cancer researcher. You’ve been poring over a mountain of research for months, looking for a way to increase interferon-gamma production in an effort to boost the body’s natural ability to inhibit the development of tumors. Your gut tells you that you’re close to an answer, but it’s just out of reach. Then one morning, while washing the exhaustion off in a nice hot shower, it hits you. Eureka! You think you’ve got it—you just need to refer back to that paper you read last week.

Dripping, you leap from the tub and land on the bath mat. Without even grabbing a towel, you pluck your mobile off the counter and head to the journal’s site, only to find yourself re-routed to a “lite” version of the website that shows you only general information about the publication and prompts you to subscribe.

Your fingers leave wet streaks across the screen as you frantically scroll down the page to find the inevitable link to “View Full Site” and click it. As the screen loads, you find yourself hovering 30,000 feet above a patchwork quilt of a homepage that could only have been designed by committee.

Several minutes of pinching, zooming, and typing later, you finally find the article, only to discover it’s a PDF and nearly impossible to read on your tiny screen. Dejected, you put down the phone and sulk back into the shower, hoping it will wash away your disappointment.

Sadly, browsing the web on mobile is all too often a frustrating (and occasionally dehumanizing) endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be.

In the pages of this very book, my friend Tim clearly outlines the steps you can (and indeed should) take to ensure that the sites you help create offer each user a fantastic experience, tailored to the capabilities of her device and respectful of her time, patience, and data limits. Don’t let his small town charm fool you: Tim knows this stuff inside and out. I learned a ton from this book and I know you will too.

Trust me when I say you need this book. Luckily, you can pick it up from Amazon, Peachpit, and Barnes & Noble.

Happy reading!

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