Pocket Sized Design – A Checklist Aside

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The net doesn’t do “age” particularly properly. Any weblog submit or design article various years outdated will get a raised eyebrow—heck, most individuals I meet haven’t learn John Allsopp’s “A Dao of Net Design” or Jeffrey Zeldman’s “To Hell With Unhealthy Browsers,” each as related to the net right now as once they had been first written. In the meantime, I’ve received books on my cabinets older than I’m; most of my favourite movies got here out earlier than I used to be born; and my iTunes library is riddled with music that’s many years, if not centuries, outdated.

(No, I don’t get invited to many events. Why do you ask oh I get it)

So! It’s most likely straightforward to take a look at “Pocket-Sized Design,” a stunning article by Jorunn Newth and Elika Etemad that simply turned 10 years outdated, and instantly discover the place it’s starting to point out its age. Written at a time when few websites had been standards-compliant, and even fewer nonetheless had been mobile-friendly, Newth and Etemad had been urging us to consider life past the desktop. And once I first re-read it, it’s straightforward to chuckle on the factors that really feel like they’re from one other age: there’s loads of discuss of screens which are “solely 120-pixels huge”; of inputs pushed by stylus, quite than contact; and of utilizing the now-basically-defunct handheld media kind to your CSS. Appears a bit quaint, proper?

And but.

Wanting previous just a few of the small print, it’s exceptional how properly the article’s aged. Trendy customers could (or could not) manually “flip off in-line picture loading,” however they could select to make use of a cell browser that dramatically compresses your pictures. We could scoff on the concept of somebody looking with a stylus, however handheld online game consoles are impossibly widespread in terms of looking the net. And whereas there’s loads of pleasure in our trade for the newest variations of iOS and Android, working on the newest {hardware}, many of the net’s progress is occurring on cheaper {hardware}, over slower networks (PDF), and by way of slim knowledge plans—so sure, 10 years on, it’s nonetheless true that “downloading to the gadget is prone to be [expensive], the processors are gradual, and the reminiscence is restricted.”

Within the face of all of that, what I really like about Newth and Etemad’s article is simply how wise their options are. Moderately than suggesting slimmed-down cell websites, or investing in some gadget detection library, they take a decidedly standards-focused method:

Linearizing the web page into one column works greatest when the underlying doc construction has been designed for it. Structuring the doc in line with this logic ensures that the web page group is smart not solely in Opera for handhelds, but additionally in non-CSS browsers on each small units and the desktop, in voice browsers, and in terminal-window browsers like Lynx.

In different phrases, by desirous about the wants of the small display screen first, you possibly can layer on extra complexity from there. And when you’re listening to shades of cell first and progressive enhancement right here, you’d be proper: they’re treating their markup—their content material—as a basis, and gently layering types atop it to make it accessible to extra units, extra locations than ever earlier than.

So, no: we aren’t utilizing @media handheld or show: none for our small screen-friendly types—however I don’t assume that’s actually the purpose of Newth and Etemad’s essay. As a substitute, they’re placing ahead a course of, a framework for designing past the desktop. What they’re arguing is for a really device-agnostic method to designing for the net, one which’s as related right now because it was a decade in the past.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même selected.

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