I recently teamed up with Mat Marquis of the Responsive Images Community Group to help integrate responsive images into the WordPress platform. We decided to refactor a plugin that I had built several months ago, hoping that it would lead to a more useable and performant solution.
After months of pull requests, conversations on Slack and help from WordPress’ core team, we’re finally ready to share what we’ve been working on. You can download and install RICG Responsive Images from WordPress’ plugin directory, while keeping track of our development progress on GitHub.
Not long after I started working at the BBC, I fielded a complaint from a screen reader user who was having trouble finding a favorite show via the BBC iPlayer’s home page. The website had recently undergone an independent accessibility audit which indicated that, other than the odd minor issue here and there, it was reasonably accessible.
I called the customer to establish what exactly the problem was, and together we navigated the home page using a screen reader. It was at that point I realized that, while all of the traditional ingredients of an accessible page were in place — headings, WAI ARIA Landmarks, text alternatives and so on — it wasn’t very usable for a screen reader user.
How does one design and develop for the responsive web? A lot of methodologies out there try to tackle this problem, but all of them rely on the same classic website development process. It boils down to the following: design and then develop.
Let’s go nuts and flip this outdated methodology on its head. Before we start flipping things around, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane, just so we know where we’ve come from and where we are now.
There are many options available for prototyping mobile user experiences, but if you need to prototype native apps for mobile devices you should take a look at Proto.io when evaluating potential choices. This solution has many features for designing and prototyping mobile apps, including built-in component libraries for specific devices, great support for gestures and transitions, and an app that allows for easy viewing on actual hardware.
But the first thing to know is that unlike most prototyping tools, Proto.io is a web application, so you'll need an internet connection to do your work. This is a drawback compared to other options likes Axure RP, Blueprint, Justinmind, or iRise. It can have an impact if you plan to work somewhere where Wi-Fi connections don't always live up to their promise, like on a flight, in an airport, or in a hotel.
Static analyzers look at code and find problems before you run it. They do simple checks, like enforcing syntax (for example, tabs instead of spaces), and more holistic checks, like making sure your functions aren’t too complex. Static analyzers also find errors that you can’t find with testing, like instances of == when you meant ===.
Most of us were thrown for a loop when responsive design came into being. We tried to jam it into our existing, pixel-perfect, old-as-the-web-itself processes. It’s been a steep learning curve (and still is). In my previous article “Next-Generation Responsive Web Design Tools: Webflow, Edge Reflow, Macaw” for Smashing Magazine, I didn't have enough space to dive as deep into those tools, as I wanted. So, in this article, I’m going to dive deep into just one of those tools: Adobe Edge Reflow CC.
Edge Reflow is one in an avalanche of tools that have come out that make it possible to visually design a responsive website. What you do with that design is up to you (and the capabilities of the tool). Edge Reflow was created to address how responsive design has changed our web workflows.
I’m a firm believer that the best way to optimize for fast-loading mobile sites is to optimize for everyone. We don’t know when someone is on a non-mobile device but tethered to their phone, or just on awful Wi-Fi.
In a previous article for Smashing Magazine I explained how you can speed up your websites by serving dynamic pages from a reverse proxy like Varnish. If you are new to Varnish then that article is the place to start as I'll be diving straight into configuration details here. In this article I’ll explain how you can benefit from using Varnish even when there are parts of your pages that can’t be cached for long periods, using Edge Side Includes.
There are many parallels between the volatility of the web industry and China’s breakneck rate of change: For one thing, it’s hard to keep a finger on the pulse of either. But add the two together and you get China’s tech scene, a virtual landscape in such constant flux that our only hope of keeping pace is to look as far into the future as we’re able, try to discern what’s coming, and brace for impact.
Make no mistake: The Chinese web is in some ways a different place than the web you’re used to — particularly in two or three crucial respects — and user expectations are not quite the same as they are in the West. In this article, I’ll examine the things all web professionals should know before swan-diving into the Chinese market, including how mobile-only social platforms have become the revolutionary new frontier of Chinese web design, and who’s designing beautiful websites in China today.
Designers are great at producing visual artifacts. We create mockups, images, code and all sorts of other material to document our solutions. But looking only at those artifacts doesn’t account for the actual creative process.
In their article “Documenting Design-In-Process,” John Bassani and Carolyn Barnes highlight a potential reason: We view our design approaches as intuitive and emotional, so we have a hard time developing documented, human-focused design processes.
Editor's Note: Designers could learn how to code, and developers could learn how to design. Sometimes it might not be an option. In this article, the author makes a suggestion to designers without coding skills on how to start crafting code. You might want to take the suggested tool with a grain of salt (or not) but the idea might be worth looking into.