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Brief overview of responsive web design, how to test any site

Responsive web design emphasizes the use of mobile browsers, disintermediating the idea that consumers must download third party apps to use a site in a mobile environment.

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Responsive web design

If you’ve been considering overhauling your company’s website, or if you’ve been to a tech conference in the last year, you’ve heard the phrase “responsive web design,” and if you’ve read other blogs, many have claimed they are “responsive” which does not mean it talks to the user, has a chat function, or allows for better communication.

No, responsive web design (RWD) implies that a web site is written with a particular coding language that (in layman’s terms) allows for a site to adapt to the device on which the site is being viewed, resizing automatically and altering navigation to suit the device rather than develop a third party app that users have to waste time downloading and forgetting to use.

The coding language lives by the theory that mobile devices come first and since mobile browsers are so limited in what they can do, design should center around that idea first, given the rise of mobile devices. When sites are not developed with W3C CSS3 (RWD), mobile browsers degrade the experience, can be slow to load, and users have to pinch the screen and pan around to zoom in and out to use the site which is not ideal, so RWD reshuffles the site automatically, knowing the size of that browser screen and making for a better browsing experience and not requiring users to download an app.

How to test any site for responsiveness

You’ve heard recently that so and so site is “responsive” and you go view it on your iPhone and get annoyed that you still have to zoom in and out, scroll all over the place, and your mobile experience is still heavy and slow.

Enter “The Responsinator” wherein you enter any URL and it will show you exactly how any website will present itself on the most common devices (iPhones, Androids, Kindle, iPad). If each size has a different layout (as pictured above), it is automatic because it is responsive, but if you see the corner of a website, it is not responsive (as pictured below). Responsinator can also help site owners and developers to see on which devices a site does not look or function properly.

Responsive web design is not yet common, and is not a coding language understood by all developers, so as a business professional, it is unrealistic to expect your designer to whip up a responsive site overnight. The biggest implication of RWD is the doing away with requiring people to download apps for a smooth experience, when they could simply experience a mobile site in their regular browser. Responsinator helps you test any site for responsiveness, especially your own, and while some industries will struggle with responsiveness because of the complex nature of what must be displayed on a site (calculators, retail search, real estate IDX), consumers will ultimately demand a more seamless mobile experience, and responsive web design is the beginning of answering that demand.

Here are some sites to test on The Responsinator to give you a feel for the difference responsiveness makes to the mobile experience (special note: RWD is very, very new, so just because a site is not yet responsive is not a reflection of the quality of the site or the company running it):

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Justin Avery

    March 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    A nice overview of the responsinator.

    There are a few other tools which achieve similar functions, some a with less options but others with customisable options.

    Regardless of these knd of tools available I you are going to go down the responsive path you need to test on the devices themselves. There is no substitute for the real thing when it comes to the interactive tests (is this button big enough, is the target click link large enough for a thumb, does my colors/images look good on the device etc)

  2. Pingback: Take a page from MTV: reevaluate your web design - AGBeat

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Tech News

This phishing simulator tests your company’s (lack of) readiness

(TECHNOLOGY) Phishero is a tool which tests your organization’s resistance to phishing attacks. Pro tip: Most companies aren’t ready.

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phishing simulator

In the wake of any round of cyberattacks, many organizations question whether they’re prepared to defend themselves against things like hacking or other forms of information theft. In reality, the bulk of workplace data thievery comes from a classic trick: phishing.

Phishing is a catch-all phrase for a specific type of information theft which involves emailing. Typically, a phishing email will include a request for sensitive data, such as a password, a copy of a W-4, or an account’s details (e.g., security questions); the email itself will often appear to come from someone within the organization.

Similar approaches include emailing a link which acts as a login page for a familiar site (e.g., Facebook) but actually stores your account information when you sign in.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to test your business’ phishing readiness.

Phishero, a tool designed to test employee resistance to phishing attacks, is a simple solution for any business looking to find any weak links in their cybersecurity.

The tool itself is designed to do four main things: identify potential targets, find a way to design a convincing phishing scheme, implement the phishing attack, and analyze the results.

Once Phishero has a list of your employees, it is able to create an email based on the same web design used for your company’s internal communications. This email is then sent to your selected recipient pool, from which point you’ll be able to monitor who opens the email.

Once you’ve concluded the test, you can use Phishero’s built-in analytics to give you an at-a-glance overview of your organization’s security.

The test results also include specific information such as which employees gave information, what information was given, and pain points in your current cybersecurity setup.

Phishing attacks are incredibly common, and employees – especially those who may not be as generationally skeptical of emails – are the only things standing between your company and catastrophic losses if they occur in your business. While training your employees on proper email protocol out of the gate is a must, Phishero provides an easy way to see how effective your policies actually are.

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Tech News

Domino’s asks Supreme Court to take up web accessibility case

(TECHNOLOGY) Domino’s is going all the way to the top to ask the Supreme Court to decide if ADA applies to their (and your) website.

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accessibility

As long as your company is following the rules and regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), customers with disabilities should be able to access your brick-and-mortar store. The ADA ensures that stores have parking spots, ramps, and doors wide enough for folks in wheelchairs.

But does the ADA also extend to your business’s website? That’s a question that the Supreme Court may soon have to answer.

As an increasing number of services and opportunities are found online in this day and age, it’s quickly becoming a question that needs answering. Several New York wineries and art galleries, Zillow, and even Beyoncé have been sued because their websites were unusable for people who are blind.

In 2016, Domino’s Pizza was sued by a blind customer who was unable to order a pizza on Domino’s website, even while using the screen reading software that normally help blind people access information and services online. The Ninth Circuit Court ruled that Domino’s was in violation of the ADA and that the company was required to make their sites and apps accessible to all. Three years later, Domino’s is petitioning SCOTUS to take on the case.

Domino’s argues that making their sites and apps accessible would cost millions of dollars and wouldn’t necessarily protect them or any other company from what their lawyer called a “tsunami” of further litigation.

That’s because the ADA was written before the internet had completely taken over our social and economic lives. While the ADA sets strict regulations for physical buildings, it has no specific rules for websites and other digital technologies.

The Department of Justice apparently spent from 2010 to 2017 brainstorming possible regulations, but called a hiatus on the whole process because there was still much debate as to whether such rules were “necessary and appropriate.”

The Domino’s case proves that those regulations are in fact necessary. UsableNet, a company that creates accessibility features for tech, reports that there were 2,200 court cases in which users with disabilities sued a company over inaccessible sites or apps. That’s a 181 percent increase from the previous year.

While struggling to buy tickets to a Beyoncé concert or order a pizza may seem like trivial concerns, it’s important to consider how much blind people could be disadvantaged in the modern age if they can’t access the same websites and apps as those of us who can see. Christopher Danielsen from the National Federation of the Blind told CNBC that “If businesses are allowed to say, ‘We do not have to make our websites accessible to blind people,’ that would be shutting blind people out of the economy in the 21st century.”

If the Supreme Court decides to take the case, it could set an important precedent for the future of accessibility in web design.

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Tech News

Slack video messaging tool for the ultra lazy (or productive) person

(TECHNOLOGY) Courtesy of a company called Standuply, Slack’s notable lack of video-messaging options is finally addressed.

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slack video updates

Slack — the popular chat and workflow app — is still going strong despite its numerous technical shortcomings, one of which is its notable lack of native video or audio chat. If you’re an avid Slack user, you might be interested in Standuply’s solution to this missing feature: video and audio messaging.

While it isn’t quite the Skype-esque experience for which one might hope when booting up Slack, Standuply’s video messages add-on gives you the ability to record and send a video or audio recording to any Slack channel. This makes things like multitasking a breeze; unless you’re a god among mortals, your talking speed is significantly faster than your typing, making video- or audio-messaging a viable productivity move.

The way you’ll record and send the video or audio message is a bit convoluted: using a web browser and a private Slack link, you can record up to five minutes of content, after which point the content is uploaded to YouTube as a private item. You can then use the item’s link to send the video or audio clip to your Skype channel.

While this is a fairly roundabout way of introducing video chat into Slack, the end result is still a visual conversation which is conducive to long-term use.

Sending video and audio messages may feel like an exercise in futility (why use a third-party tool when one could just type?) but the amount of time and energy you can save while simultaneously responding to feedback or beginning your next task adds up.

Similarly, having a video that your team can circle back to instead of requiring them to scroll through until they find your text post on a given topic is better for long-term productivity.

And, if all else falls short, it’s nice to see your remote team’s faces and hear their voices every once in a while—if for no other reason than to reassure yourself that they aren’t figments of your overly caffeinated imagination.

At the time of this writing, the video chat portion of the Slack bot is free; however, subsequent pricing tiers include advanced aspects such as integration with existing services, analytics, and unlimited respondents.

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