Lately I’ve really been giving a lot of thought (more than usual) to the amount of on-line technology out there and the way in which we interact with it. I maintain that we are just in our infancy when it comes to the Internet. Communication has been around for centuries, even longer, but the Internet is just shy of being only ten years old. OK, OK… I know that it is in fact a lot older but really, other than email and static HTML sites, the Internet of 2001 was a sad user experience.
So, it is for this reason that we are still developing ways in which we interact with this technology and the standards around which we develop and use new technology. It’s for this reason, that I preach standards. It is so frustrating when the tool (the browser, connection speed, scripting language) does not work as it is expected and one must resort to hacks. By comparison, one would never degrade one’s language just because…… Well, I can’t even think of an example… Not having standards is like not having a language at all. If the language that I am using does not have rules (like grammar and spelling) then how am I to be expected to use this language and comanthicate witth itt??? If there are no semantics there is no communication!
There are all kinds of hacks out there aiming to force browsers to all behave themselves but imagine if we just had one unified language without all the translation, not all these dialects that this browser and that mobile client can’t understand. Who knows… maybe in another ten years things will be more standardized (and I’ll be forty!).
Rant aside, there are folks out there who do believe in making a unique, simple and easy to use experience for all users on all browsers. Ethan Marcotte, just wrote a book on a new and emerging idea in web design: Responsive Design. Well, OK, it’s been around for a whiles now but I’m just really picking up on it now – like the masses. I thought that I would post a video that he did at The Future of Web Design conference in NY a couple of months ago. I personally was really taken aback by these simple concepts. Ethan tells us to simply accept the ebb and flow of things and teaches us to design with a more flexible, approach – one that would be suited on a 320px wide Blackberry screen or a wide-screen TV in somebody’s living room. Long live responsive design!