The Responsive Day Out was a barebones web conference put on by Jeremy Keith et al in Brighton. It had an engaging fast-paced format and served as a great state of the nation on the practical aspects of RWD. I’ve sketched together a few of the points I found most interesting… Sorry, it got pretty long.
Sarah Parmenter (who’s podcast I’m now addicted to) started the day off speaking about how RWD has turned the processes for creating sites on their head and we’re all “winging it” to an extent, especially with designing fluid sites. Fluid is hard: When I did a percentage-based site for Nestlé Foods back in ’07, it was so challenging I never went back!
Sarah’s approach to design deliverables was interesting too; Photoshop stays part of her design process but when it comes to sign-off it’s all about content hierarchies, pattern sets and style guides. I’ve never been a fan of “make it like the PSD” and these days it’s not only missing transitions and interactions but an infinite number of portal sizes too!
This idea of getting away from futile and increasingly irrelevant pixel-percision was shared by Laura Kalbag:, in her talk on maintaining look and feel cross-device, focusing on what should remain the same to give a continuous and recognisable experience no matter how users choose to view the site. She also had one of the best quotes of the day in an effort to encourage people to share RWD failures as well as successes: “If you’re not ashamed of what you did 3 months ago, you’re not keeping up”.
David Bushell also spoke about device-agnosticism, particularly interactions and not relying on device-specifics like swipe or hover. He was one of those that touched on the myopia of designing with particular devices in mind, there are just too many false assumptions made: High pixel-count doesn’t necessarily mean large screen (retina screens), large portal size (Macs) or that the viewer is even near their screens (TVs).
His navigation design patterns struck a nerve as on my most recent project changing constraints meant I had to throw out the designer’s version of the mobile nav altogether and jury-rig a new version in an evening. I’d have liked more time to implement one of those fancy off-canvas solutions though.
Josh Emerson‘s bit on Asset Fonts was also full of the fancy nift. I’ve used iconfonts before, but not well. I’d love to make custom asset fonts a regular part of my development, swapping out hover sprites for ICOmoon. This CSS pattern in particular is so awesome it actually gave me shivers.
Having people in to talk about the nuts and bolts of exemplary enterprise-level Mobile First solutions was a real treat: massive sites done right! Tom Maslen spoke about BBC News and Andy Hume on the Guardian‘s approach. They both take progressive enhancement to the next level, where instead of just adding a bevels or slightly nicer animations they’re putting in sliders, galleries and videos.
As someone with a handful of responsive sites under my belt I’ve got my head around the basics of media queries and adaptive images; the obvious next step from having things look good on mobile is to have things run well on a phone connection too. You know when somethings in the zeitgeist when it’s on A List Apart. Pointing Y-Slow at my blog highlights a load of embarrassing red flags that I didn’t care so much about when I was learning LESS, WordPress and responsive design; sorting that’s next on the list but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In the month since the conference I’ve been energised to check out a bunch of new des/dev podcasts, some new (to me!) front end tools, and ponder processes and tooling at work. I jumped at the chance to go to a workshop with the inimitable Brad Frost, driving force behind This Is Responsive for more of the same RWD juju. It’s good stuff.