Guus Bosman

software engineering director

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Responsive Web Design

This highly readable book introduces Response Web Design, a name coined by the author Ethan Marcotte for creating pages that work well on different devices, be it mobile phones, tablets or desktops.

Responsive web design combines several existing techniques. From an engineering perspective response web design is not revolutionary but the implications for design are important. The book touches on both aspects -- it explains how the technology works (things like CSS3 media selectors and fluid layouts) and has some good discussions on when and why to use responsive web design. The book walks through the creation of a "robot-or-not" blog, and demonstrates the design decisions and implementation nicely.

Two different approaches for mobile experience

There are two different ways of thinking about creating a good experience on mobile devices. At the one hand some designers say that mobiles devices are so different that they require an entirely different way of navigating and content, often served from a separate URL (such as This is the approach advocated by Jakob Nielsen.

At the other hand there's the school that believes that using techniques like response web design it is possible to serve various clients from one and the same HTML/CSS layout. This approach is really about having a single code-base to serve all types of client.

This book tends to favor of the second approach, but discusses the pro's and con's of both and ultimately right points out that the answer is: "it depends". There's a good discussion on the context of mobile:

"Relying upon all-too-convenient terms like "mobile" and "desktop" is no substitute for conducting the proper research into how your audience accesses your site: not only the devices and browsers they use, but how, where, and why they use them."

A short book

The book is short -- 150 small pages -- and an easy read. Highly recommended. This is the second book I read from A Book Apart, and I enjoy their series. Short, to-the-point books that quickly bring you up to speed. Next on my list is their CSS3 for Web Designers.

English for work
Ethan Marcotte

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