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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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Google chrome: The anti-cookie monster in 2022

(TECH NEWS) If you are tired of third party cookies trying to grab every bit of data about you, google has heard and responded with their new updates.

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3rd party cookies

Google has announced the end of third-party tracking cookies on its Chrome browser within the next two years in an effort to grant users better means of security and privacy. With third-party cookies having been relied upon by advertising and social media networks, this move will undoubtedly have ramifications on the digital ad sector.

Google’s announcement was made in a blog post by Chrome engineering director, Justin Schuh. This follows Google’s Privacy Sandbox launch back in August, an initiative meant to brainstorm ideas concerning behavioral advertising online without using third-party cookies.

Chrome is currently the most popular browser, comprising of 64% of the global browser market. Additionally, Google has staked out its role as the world’s largest online ad company with countless partners and intermediaries. This change and any others made by Google will affect this army of partnerships.

This comes in the wake of rising popularity for anti-tracking features on web browsers across the board. Safari and Firefox have both launched updates (Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Safari and the Enhanced Tracking Prevention for Firefox) with Microsoft having recently released the new Edge browser which automatically utilizes tracking prevention. These changes have rocked share prices for ad tech companies since last year.

The two-year grace period before Chrome goes cookie-less has given the ad and media industries time to absorb the shock and develop plans of action. The transition has soften the blow, demonstrating Google’s willingness to keep positive working relations with ad partnerships. Although users can look forward to better privacy protection and choice over how their data is used, Google has made it clear it’s trying to keep balance in the web ecosystems which will likely mean compromises for everyone involved.

Chrome’s SameSite cookie update will launch in February, requiring publishers and ad tech vendors to label third-party cookies that can be used elsewhere on the web.

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Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

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computer vision recreates recipe

Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

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Xiaomi accidentally sent security video from one home to another

(TECH NEWS) Xiaomi finds out that while modern smart and security devices have helped us all, but there are still plenty of flaws and openings for security breeches.

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Xiaomi home device

The reason for setting up security cameras around your home is so the photos can get streamed to your neighbor’s device, right?

Okay, that’s obviously not why most (if any) of us get security cameras, but unfortunately, that scenario of the leaked images isn’t a hypothetical. Xiaomi cameras have been streaming photos to the wrong Google Home devices. This was first reported on Reddit, with user Dio-V posting a video of it happening on their device.

Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics company that has only recently started to gain traction in the U.S. markets. While their smartphones still remain abroad, two of Xiaomi’s security cameras are sold through mainstream companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon for as low as $40. Their affordable prices have made the products even more popular and Xiaomi’s presence has grown, both nationally and abroad.

To be fair, when the leaked photos surfaced, both Google and Xiaomi responded quickly. Google cut off access to Xiaomi devices until the problem was resolved to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Meanwhile, Xiaomi worked to identify and fix the issue, which was caused by a cache update, and has since been fixed.

But the incident still raises questions about smart security devices in the first place.

Any smart device is going to be inherently vulnerable due to the internet connection. Whether it’s hackers, governments, or the tech companies themselves, there are plenty of people who can fairly easily gain access to the very things that are supposed to keep your home secure.

Of course, unlike these risks, which involve people actively trying to access your data, this most recent incident with Xiaomi and Google shows that your intimate details might even be shared to strangers who aren’t even trying to break into your system. Unfortunately, bugs are inevitable when it comes to keeping technology up to date, so it’s fairly likely something like this could happen again in the future.

That’s right, your child’s room might be streamed to a total stranger by complete accident.

Granted, Xiaomi’s integration mistake only affected a fraction of their users and many risks are likely to decrease as time goes on. Still, as it stands now, your smart security devices might provide a facade of safety, but there are plenty of risks involved.

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