Since it's conception, Tocco has been about creating a commanding web presence; one that will effectively adapt with any available interface while always maintaining an optimum user experience. We take this very seriously around here and it's driven our desire and motivation to explore more sustainable development methods. First things first; What we do know is that it's reasonably close to fact that, when it comes to website layouts vs screen size, one size does not fit all. What we don't know is what screen size our user is viewing from. And so begins the discussion as to the most effective way to tackle this issue.
Adaptive web design is not a new concept. Screen-size specific versions of a site can be created (most commonly deskop, tablet, mobile) designed to work at those screen sizes. This technique of adaption seems at it's very core to be an after-the-fact reaction to current technology, leaving no room for future adaptation unless additional versions are added along the way. At the rate that technology is spitting out new ways to view the internet, this method is potentially already antiquated serving more as a temporary bandaid to the problem rather than solving it. As creators, we ultimately want to be free from too many restraints, perhaps even in a place where pixel size doesn't matter. The solution we found, was simple and involved taking the device out of the equation altogether.
Enter Responsive Web Design, in all of it's 'logically-obvious' glory, sent on a mission to blow my mind and turn traditional site structure completely inside out. Using this technique meant the question of, "Which device do I build for?" or "Which resolution should be my primary focus?" becomes irrelevant. We're building for the user - not for the device. Ethan Marcotte's idea of removing all constraints from a traditionally structured website, short of a few guidance break-points here and there, all the while allowing content to 'flow' naturally makes perfect sense. And since the web is by it's own nature set up to be responsive, then why haven't we been doing this all along? Most likely, the future arrived quicker than imagined. And left staggering at only a few steps in the right direction with adaptive design, we at Tocco have embraced Responsive Web Design with open hearts.
Maintaining the responsive design factor as a high-profile forethought throughout the entire process can be tricky. Designing multiple layouts to work with different size ranges makes aesthetic sense, but only if everything in-between and beyond works too. The cutoff points between the three major device type screen sizes are quickly becoming insignificant, and at this point, really can only be seen as blurry guidelines. When executed correctly, and from the ground up (see Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski), the desired results are entirely achievable (dConstruct2012.org, RichSpillberg.com, EthanMarcotte.com). View a responsive design on any screen size and it's structure will respond accordingly in ways others don't. Ethan has taught us to simply un-learn many of the conventional structural coding techniques and instead, allow the web to act naturally. Allow the content to flow, and the website to spread it's wings as desired within, so to speak.
Our cognitive approach to every site is now shaped tremendously by this theory, and we intend to remain students of it's potential. Lessons learned, as well as forward strides made on this new path of discovery are already abundant and in time, we will master the art of Responsive Web Design. In a sense, we feel as though we are to respond. Respond to an industry by giving it what it needs, allowing for limitless growth and a field of new ideas. Whereas adapting to the device is a strategic game of catch-up with Technology, responding to the needs of the Internet makes a whole lot more self-sustainable and realistic sense.
What does it mean to “start over”? Are we ever really starting from scratch, or is it that everything we have done up to that point was just to get us to where we are at that particular moment...the moment where we begin again? I would like to think that the second option, the bigger picture scenario does exsist. Not necesssarily spirtually, emotionally, or metaphysically, but rather, socially.
Neil Degrasse Tyson talks about "The Most Astounding Fact", that when he looks up into the nights sky, and thinks about the ingredients that make up everything that we know, he realizes that not only is he inside the universe, but the universe is inside of him. If we equate this same notion to the world around us, societies, civilizations, history, what is essentially the sum of all of our experiences, we realize that not only are we a part of all of those things, but those things are a part of all of us and have helped to mold us into this person that we’ve become. These influences often blindly lead us to study science, audition for roles, or write a novel, but it isn’t until we percieve these influences that we may harness them, study them, question them, and possibly choose to throw them out, so that they may be used (or not used) for the greater good.
It is this perception that has brought us to this point. The work to be done here at TC is much larger than us and bigger than anything we’ve set out to accomplish thus far. By looking to our pasts, gathering knowledge from our peers, and making the concious decision to stir up mutiny on the ship that is “influence”, we may truly begin to make a positive impact on society, and thus, within ourselves.