Holistic Approach to Web Design

In this presentation I talk about the importance of balancing the useful, usable and desirable qualities of a web site to create a great user experience. Through a content out, mobile first, progressive enhancement approach you can reach the greatest number of potential viewers while ensuring the most appropriate experience for each in the process.

The purpose of the holistic approach is to never lose site of the user and what they are really visiting your site for and that is your content. This approach is built on the ideal of radical inclusion. That is to say that nothing we do as designers or developers should ever prevent the user from accessing our content.

As always I’d like to hear your thoughts on that subject. Enjoy.

Article I wrote for InternetRetailer.com

What Internet retailers should know about responsive web design: InternetReatiler.com

I was asked to write this article in response to a particularly inaccurate article that InternetRetailer.com had run that contain several misleading and just plain incorrect comments about responsive web design. In all fairness, the author of the original article was not a front-end developer and simply quoted others that had poorly represented what responsive is and what it’s responsible for.

The Non-Designer’s Guide to Working with Designers

Seems there are some folks out there that find designers difficult to work with. An old Quora discussion resurfaced recently that asked the question, “Why are designers harder to work with than engineers?” Speaking as a long-time designer, I don’t know what they’re talking about. I do just fine working with designers. What gives?

I hope this post will offer all non-designers (someone that has not been educated in design) the insight needed to make interacting with designers much less difficult. To be fair I’ll offer some advice to designers on how we can help the situation from our side. To begin I’ll need to dispel certain misconceptions non-designers have about what design is, what designers do and how we do it.

Continue reading The Non-Designer’s Guide to Working with Designers

Responsive Design Won’t Fix Your Content Problem

In typical Karen McGrane fashion she makes a clear case for dealing with content first. Not just for responsive sites, but for any site.

Seems like a lot of people are laboring under the mistaken impression that using responsive design means they can make a mobile website without dealing with their content problem. Where’d they get that dumb idea?

Karen McGrane

Before you begin your next responsive redesign, or any redesign for that matter, read Responsive Design Won’t Fix Your Content Problem by Karen McGrane.

Best Practice, Current Convention or Consensual Hallucination?

Given the pace at which things change in the realm of web, when is something a true best practice, merely a current or common convention, or are we all suffering from a “consensual hallucination” as Jeremy Keith says? What was a best practice yesterday may not be tomorrow, or even today for that matter.

Are things moving so fast that best practices don’t really exist any longer or does our use of the term need to change to reflect today’s reality? My goal here is to open up some discussion and thought on how and when we use these terms and how to avoid falling victim to hallucinations.

Continue reading Best Practice, Current Convention or Consensual Hallucination?

7 Mobile First Mistakes to Avoid

There is more than a little written about mobile first design. The problem is that most of what’s written is focused on designing for devices and not the people that use them. Here are 7 common mistakes, or misconceptions, I hear people making when approaching web design from a mobile first perspective.

No. 7: Thinking Mobile First is a Design Pattern

Mobile first is way of thinking about design, development, content, usability and experience. Like I said, much has been written and it’s mostly about mobile first “design.” This often leads to the errant assumption that it’s only about the design. It’s not. It’s really a strategic and philosophical way of addressing the challenges we face in this always connected world we live in today.

The term “mobile first” isn’t helping out either. It seems as though the word mobile more often than not makes people think about mobile devices rather the mobile context. To think mobile first means to consider everything that could be at play for the user. Their device is just one small piece of the puzzle.

Continue reading 7 Mobile First Mistakes to Avoid

Goals, Principles and Patterns, Oh My

A couple years ago I had the good fortune to hear Jeremy Keith give a talk at An Event Apart. During his talk he spoke about three important factors that make up our work – Goals, Principles and Patterns. Unfortunately it seems that all too often many of us only tend to the Goals and Patterns of our work. The WHAT we do and the HOW we do it.

What about Principles? The WHY to our HOW and WHAT. Why do principles seem to get overlooked, neglected or all together forgotten in the day to day of our work? Are they really just not important? Or, is it because they, can at times, make our work more difficult?

Continue reading Goals, Principles and Patterns, Oh My

Q&A: Device Detection with Chris Abbott from DetectRight

Responsive web design is such the hot topic these days and it clearly has it’s proponents and detractors. One common complaint about RWD has to do with the size of site and the impact that has on performance. It’s all too common to find responsive sites sending the same amount of information to mobile devices as they do to desktops. Device detection services and techniques can help us optimize our content and serve the right data to the right device.

At this point you amy be saying, “Isn’t one point of RWD to have a single code base and to deliver the same content to everyone?” The answer is yes and at the same time no. Yes, people are often looking for the same content regardless of what they use to view your site. No, they don’t want that 1800 x 1200 pixel full screen background image sent to their phone.

This is where detection techniques can come in to solve for those problems. Adapting content in a way that provides an optimized but not reduced way. We are not taking anything away because someone is using a smaller device. We simply want to optimize what is sent in order to maintain a good performance and in turn good user experience.

Today I’ve asked Chris Abbott, Mobile Detection and Analytics Expert, from DetectRight to answer some questions about the role of device detection, dispel some misconceptions and how device detection can help in developing optimal web experiences.

Continue reading Q&A: Device Detection with Chris Abbott from DetectRight