Time for a Responsive Web: 11 Responsive Design Resources

Posted: June 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Web Design | No Comments »

This may come as a surprise coming from a designer, but I am done with mobile websites. It’s time we get away from creating two entirely separate designs — one for desktop browsers and one for mobile sites. If we really want a web that is accessible across all devices, we need to put aside technology that divides.

I’m ready to admit that responsive web design is not for everyone. There will always be a few niche situations that call for desktop-​​only delivery of content. These should be outliers, though. In the vast majority of cases, website users want to simply get on your site, get the information, and move on to their next point of interest. But, we seem to have bought into the cumbersome, problematic process of detecting mobile browsers and forwarding mobile users to a separate site.

This is counterproductive on many levels:

  • Two separate designs must be maintained and updated. They can easily fall out of sync or out of date.
  • Not all content is generally available to mobile users compared to desktop users.
  • Often, two distinct sets of content must be maintained.
  • User-​​agent detection doesn’t always work, so the wrong site gets delivered.

What Are My Options?

You have three ways to attack the problem:

  1. Stick with the separate mobile site, since this is likely where you’re currently at right now anyway.
  2. Design for flexibility, but don’t create a mobile-​​unique experience.
  3. Design a responsive website that adapts based upon screen size.

The last option is my personal favorite and there are lots of tools available today to help you design a site that responds to users, but delivers the same content.

What Changes with a Responsive Web Approach?

Mostly you’re going to have to dump any web technology that doesn’t work on a mobile browser. This means that some jQuery and all Flash probably won’t work anymore for you. Minimalism becomes the primary methodology, and you’re going to have to think in terms of keeping your payload light. Avoid those 1MB PNG files, for example (small tear… they’re just so pretty!).

Tools for a Responsive Web Design

Building responsive websites can be a significant challenge, because it always starts with the site visitor and their needs. There is no one-​​size-​​fits-​​all approach, and if you’re the designer, you’re probably going to have a hard time selling this concept to your clients who want a glossy, flashy, graphic-​​heavy website that is tailored for each and every browsing device. You don’t have to give up creative designs, though. After all, this is about site architecture, not content.

The following are some tools that I’ve pulled together to get you well on your way to designing sites that are responsive to users, so you can get away from this dualistic approach of building and maintaining two separate sites. Whether you have a WordPress site, some other CMS, or just want to take your design methodology towards responsiveness, these tools will get you on the right track and open your mind to some new ways to handle responsiveness.All of these themes and tools are free.

Responsive WordPress Themes

If you’re like me, you’re managing websites running on a CMS like WordPress. Instead of a redesign, consider starting with one of these base themes and modifying it to fit your design and brand needs. The themes below are free, but don’t forget to check out premium themes that may get you a lot closer to your desired aesthetics and responsive functionality.

Renova

I like this responsive theme because it’s so easy to modify. And, it’s already stripped down, so it’s a lot easier to start adding my own brand.

Get ItDemo


Yoko

Another minimalist design that incorporates images that resize based upon the screen size. It’s simple and easy to modify.

Get ItDemo


Buttercream

Getting away from a minimalist design, this is an excellent example of a responsive theme with lots of character.

Get ItDemo


Design Tools

If you need some baseline tools for building your own responsive website, these will get you on the right track. Most of these are geared toward a pre-​​built system that you can use as a starting point for fast deployment of your site.

Gridless

A slick system for responsive sites, Gridless is a great bare-​​bones set of files that’s ready to go. There’s literally a blank index.html file to start with, linking to the appropriate CSS and JS files, and that’s it. The designs are very responsive and backwards compatible as well.

Get ItDemo


Get Skeleton

If you want to start with a solid set of CSS and HTML compliant files, Get Skeleton is a really nice place to start. Just start adding content. It doesn’t get much easier and Get Skeleton performs well on older browsers.

Get ItDemo


Adapt.js

So, maybe you don’t want to start over with a template like Gridless or Get Skeleton. Adapt.js is a very small JS file that checks the width of the screen — even after a resize such as rotating the screen — and delivers the content as needed. The advantage is that you can style for any screen size, allowing you to make adjustments for any number of mobile devices and screen widths.

Get ItDemo


Testing

So you’ve got your design ready, how can you be sure it’s going to work? Here are a few testing tools that you can use to make sure your design functions responsively in the real world.

Responsive

Just type in the URL and see how the design reacts to various screen sizes. It’s easy and device agnostic.

Use It


W3C MobileOK Checker

The source of all things HTML, W3C is home base for validation testing, and their MobileOK checker makes it easy to make sure your responsive design works and will be supported.

Use It


Test iPhone

It’s pretty straightforward — if you want to test how your site will work on an iPhone, this is a great little site. You have to actually type in the browser of the iPhone, but it does a great job of emulating the interface.

Use It


iPadPeek

Like Test iPhone, iPadPeek lets you test how iPads will interpret your design.

Use It


Opera Mini Simulator

Opera Mini is a very popular browser on very small phones and is used almost exclusively in developing areas of the world (it’s also in a number of well-​​developed countries as well). It’s always worth testing your design on this device, especially if you’re using any JavaScript.

Use It

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Interest in Pinterest Reaches a Fever Pitch [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: April 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Marketing and SEO | No Comments »

Could Pinterest be the silver bullet for retailers on social media?  Pinterest is clearly resonating with online consumers in a big way.  To put it simply, customers who find a product via Pinterest are more likely to purchase it than those who find the product via other social networks.

SEE ALSO: 10 Video Tips for Businesses on Pinterest

Pinterest is hot. In fact, in March 2012 the site served up 2.3 billion page impressions to over 4 million unique visitors a day.

Who are these people? Why do Pinterest users respond so strongly to products that are pinned? This infographic from Tamba breaks down the stats, explaining why Pinterest is so powerful with its consumption-friendly audience.

Shared from Mashable.com

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Is Google Play Ready for Prime Time?

Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Fun, Marketing and SEO, Techy | Tags: , , | No Comments »

n March 2012, Google made a bold move with the creation of a new digital content service called Google Play. Google Play combines the Android Market, Google Music, Google Movies, and Google books into one service which can be accessed from the web and from any Android-powered device.

From a long-term perspective, Google Play is meant to be part of the unifying force behind the company’s mobile strategy. In August 2011, Google acquired Motorola Mobility in order to boost the Android ecosystem, and just a few days ago Google announced plans to build and sell Android-based tablets directly to consumers rather than through their hardware manufacturing partners. (Google has already tested the waters of hardware sales to customers with the Nexus One back in 2010.) It’s clear that Google wants to move away from the name “Android” and begin to brand all of their mobile distributed services under one clear name.

What’s not clear is why they chose that name.

Android users were familiar with term “Android Market” and knew what it stood for easily (even with Google Music, Google Books, etc. as standalone apps within the market). However, the name “Google Play Store” — or is it just “Play Store”? — feels just as rushed as Google Play’s launch. The Android Market is one of the operating system’s major features, because your apps and downloaded files were synced across your Android device. None of that changes with Google Play, but the re-branding may make it more confusing for newer Android users.

The Google Play Store wasn’t the only name change — Google Music, Google Movies, and Google Books are now called Google Play Music, Google Play Movies, and Google Play Books. On devices, this is shortened to Play Music, Play Movies, Play Books, and there are also new icons for each of these apps.

Google Play’s launch is also centered mostly around US Android tablet and smartphone users. The full suite of Google Play apps are available here in the States, but a full global roll-out is still pending. Users in the UK and Canada have access to the Play Store, Play Movies, and Play Books. Australia has access to the Play Store and Play Books, and Japan has access to the Play Store and Play Movies. Every other country in the world just has the Play Store, which puts the entire Google Play ecosystem on pause until implementation in other countries is fully complete. (There’s a thread on Google+ about the Google Play roll-out that has well over 260 comments about this.)

The same goes for Google Play on Google TV. Google Play Books, Google Play Movies, and Google Play Music are said to be available on the Google Play Store on Google TV, but that’s not the case across all Google TV devices (namely, the Logitech Revue). Google Play Music is available for Google TV, but not the other two services. This may be part of Google’s plan to completely phase out support for the Revue (perhaps in anticipation for a newer, better Google TV set-top box), but for now, Revue users will only be able to use Google Play Music.

Google is moving full force with marketing Google Play, and has even given the service prominence in their ubiquitous navbar, which is present across a majority of Google’s services. Including Google Play front and center for users (along with the bright red “New” superscript) is a little blatant, but doing so would make users who are unfamiliar with the service take notice.

There’s no doubt that Google Play is a step in the right direction for Google with regards to strengthening their mobile brand and readying their digital media hub for their upcoming line of tablets. And, like any of Google’s products or services, this is only the beginning. However, they will still have to go a long way to ensure current users that Google Play is more than the sum of its parts.

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Breaking Down 50 New Google Search Changes

Posted: April 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Marketing and SEO | No Comments »

Every month, Google makes tons of tiny changes to the way search works. It shares them in company blog posts that present a list of carefully scripted bullet points with mysterious code names in an inscrutable order.

The company never comments on the changes beyond what they say in these announcements. But it’s always informative to spread the puzzle pieces out on the table and see what Google is up to. Here’s what changed in March.

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As always, there are tons of items in this month’s search quality highlights. This month, there are 50. Some of them are minor, some are redundant, and some you just don’t need to worry about. But here’s a breakdown of the interesting changes.

Search Quality

If Google doesn’t work tirelessly to improve the quality of search results, its competitors can catch up. As Google Fellow Ben Gomes told ReadWriteWeb recently, the hard problems in search quality have to do with understanding the user’s intentions. Learning to interpret synonyms is a big step there.

Google’s search results often suggest synonyms for words in a user’s query, and some of last month’s updates turn down the aggressiveness of those. Google is also “eliminating duplicate logic” for synonyms in cases when no further suggestions are needed.

Other quality changes include better detection of people’s names and improved identification of quality image results. Google is also bringing its preferences for page freshness to other kinds of queries beyond just news.

Google also refreshed the Panda algorithm adjustments designed to suppress spammy sites. It never elaborates much on those changes beyond tweets like this:

Panda refresh rolling out now. Only ~1.6% of queries noticeably affected. Background on Panda: goo.gl/mTKCH

Search Speed

We learned from Google Search Project Manager Johanna Wright that speed is the unsung hero of search. Users don’t notice speed, they just get used to it. When something slows them down, they get frustrated. So Google often changes search features to make them faster, even if users won’t notice.

google_caffeine_graphic_LIGHT.jpg

Last month, Google reduced the number of back-end server calls needed for auto-complete, a search feature built purely for speed. It also improved language detection for auto-completing queries.

Another change improves results for people who use the Google search box to navigate to websites, which a surprisingly high number of people do all the time.

Social Search

Google’s recent incorporation of social network signals into search has freaked some people out, especially the fact that it uses Google+ in situations where other social networks would be more helpful.

Well, last month, without making a big fuss, Google launched a change with the code name “Prof-2″ that “improves the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in our index from more than two-hundred social sites.”

Google also improved the personalization signals in social search (but won’t elaborate further), and it rolled out the +1 button in search for more countries and domains.

googleplusgood6.jpg

Universal Search

Google’s Universal Search brought images, videos, maps and more alongside webpages in search results. Now Google provides direct answers to questions, too, instead of just linking to a website with the answer. It even does complex math. Google improved the accuracy of its short answers to questions by relying on semantic data from Freebase.

googleempirestate.jpg

This month brought improvements to other kinds of rich search results Google provides. Mobile searches for Android and iOS apps now include icons, ratings, prices and download buttons. The Russian Hockey League (KHL) and UEFA Champions League both display live scores in search now, and Google launched a feature to find tennis scores, too.

Privacy

There’s no huge privacy news this month, but the two privacy-related changes are noteworthy. Google now signs users out on all machines whenever they change their password, eliminating the chance of staying logged in by mistake. The SafeSearch algorithm was also tuned this month, making it more precise and adding new ways of making unwanted adult content less likely to appear.

 

 

Article from Read Write Web

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BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 (2011) : Irina Werning – Photographer

Posted: January 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Photography, Web Detective | No Comments »

Please check this out.

This is the most incredible example of a photographer executing a project I have seen.

BACK TO THE FUTURE 2 (2011) : Irina Werning – Photographer.

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NEW Windows 8 – Coming Mid-Late 2012

Posted: January 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Techy | No Comments »

Microsoft released the early version of Windows 8 on a prototype tablet last week. Those of you who would like to taste and experience the all new Windows 8, you can download the Developer Preview, which is currently in pre-beta version. The developer version shows off the current stage of the OS. It is available for free download, and comes in three different packages:

(1) 64-bit version – Only the OS
(2) 32-bit version – Only the OS
(3) 64-bit version with developer tools

Windows 8

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On Screen Media

Posted: January 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Web Detective | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

I, myself have been unscrupously billed by a company called On-Screen Media for a rolling contract where there was no reminder before-hand about the auto renewal and who need 12 months notice for termination of the contract.   If you do a search you will always find someone else who has either had a similar problem or run in with a particular service or company. If we all stand together we can usually find a solution without getting any expensive lawyer involved or going down the route of taking a company to court. A lot of disgruntled customers with on screen media here over at the what consumer forum.

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BBC upgrades iPlayer for your TV, PS3 users first to get it

Posted: August 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy | No Comments »

The BBC has announced the launch of a brand new version of its, now famed, BBC iPlayer which has been redesigned specifically for your TV.

In the past, use of the iPlayer on the television, often through the PlayStation 3 or a connected TV, although popular, has been stifled by an interface that could prove a little clunky. The new version of the iPlayer should bring a whole new level of control and the custom-built TV interface should allow for an easier transition from scheduled TV to on-demand.

The new iPlayer design will also deliver a simplified TV-friendly UI which allows for familiar channel flicking, whilst there’s also a vastly improved search function.

Daniel Danker, BBC’s general manager, Programmes & On Demand said:

“BBC iPlayer has been tremendously successful. With today’s announcement, we’re transforming iPlayer in its most natural home: right on the living room TV. By creating a product that’s as simple and intuitive as flicking through TV channels, the BBC is bringing on demand television to mainstream audiences across the UK.

“Last week, Ofcom reported that 10% of TV sets sold in the UK are internet ready. But BBC iPlayer is already available on over 300 connected TVs and blu-ray disc players, which has resulted in a 5x growth of iPlayer on TV over the last 6 months alone. At this rate of growth, in the next few years we could well see over half of iPlayer use directly on the living room TV.”

This move should do a great deal to increase the use of the service, as it’s a lot more likely that the iPlayer for TV will be used to browse for shows rather than just looking up specific programmes that have been missed. It is also in line with the growing trend for people to watch programmes away from scheduled television broadcasts.

The new TV-friendly iPlayer will be launching initially on Sony’s PlayStation 3, with further rollout to the 300-odd connected TVs coming in the next few months; turning catch-up TV into a “complete connected TV experience”.

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Website security indicators – Google Chrome

Posted: June 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Detective | No Comments »

Website security indicators – Google Chrome.

A highly useful page for users of Google Chrome. This page provides the security info needed when visiting any page on the internet.

Users of the Google Chrome browser will see an icon to the left of the web page address (the url). Clicking this will give the user valuable information in their decision to enter information of a sensitive nature, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers.

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Lorempixum – placeholder images for every case

Posted: June 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Techy, Web Design, Web Detective | Tags: | No Comments »

This is a pretty cool tool for all you web designers/developers out there.

Ever struggled to find an appropriate placeholder image? And when you do find one you then have to crop it to the right dimensions.

Well this site at Lorempixum.com takes all the work out of it. It’s a placeholder image generator, you choose the size of the image and a theme, you can then copy and paste the image to your site.

Alternatively, just put this custom url in your code like this:

<img src=”http://lorempixum.com/400/200″ />

to get your FPO / dummy image.

via lorempixum – placeholder images for every case.

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