Responsive Web Design Ain’t Child’s Play

Sometimes I think I should have had my head read

…before I decided to embark on this responsive web design (RWD) journey. It has been and remains a roller-coaster ride – with no end in sight. I have found it both exciting & frustrating – (in equal measure at times) – and then the “I’m completely overwhelmed” moments! That's not a moan by the way, it's just me saying I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I first thought I'd give it a go.

It began for me around August 2010 when I read Ethan Marcotte’s article on “Responsive Web Design” on the A List Apart website. It coincided with, the company I work for, kicking off a piece of work that would eventually lead to us doing a major overhaul of the front-end UI. Overhauls like this don’t come round very often so Ethan’s article got me thinking…what if we approached the UI rework with responsive in mind.

Something to note: Retro-fitting responsive into an existing site code base – and certainly a large one – should really be avoided if you can. Believe me. It’s tricky.

The rise of mobile has been the “canary in the coal mine”. Kinda saying, “your content could end up anywhere. Anywhere!”. With that in mind, (and not wanting to divert too far off the topic), dare I say that the “Mobile First” strapline could possibly end up being a red-herring when looking towards the future – a future we have no idea how it will turn out. Now please don’t get me wrong. Luke Wroblewski’sMobile First” message has been pivotal – essential to helping us focus on the right things. We owe him a debt of gratitude for that. What I am saying is I believe content still needs to be foremost in our minds – not mobile-first, responsive design, adaptive design, progressive design or any other technique that may emerge – but rather reusable and flexible chunks of content that can go anywhere. I think RWD has really helped us focus in this regard. It’s helped us remain as device-agnostic as possible when pulling our content strategy together.

I think it’s important to say that I have no regrets about embarking on this journey. For all its challenges – highs and lows – if given the chance to consider this approach again, I would have still gone for it.

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