CSS Day and Responsive Design Workflow

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

I’ve just returned from a few days in Amsterdam, where I was fortunate enough to be part of the first (and only?) CSS Day, an event organised by the team behind Mobilism and Fronteers, who are consummately professional and deserve huge congratulations and thanks for all their work. The conference had the aim of diving deep into CSS through each of the eight speakers discussing a module (or modules) of the CSS spec. My chosen subject was Animations and Transitions; my slides are online now, video should follow shortly.

The day before the conference I gave a whole-day workshop on Responsive Web Design, teaching design and development approaches and — more importantly — a new workflow more adapted to the demands of the new way of working. I was helped hugely in this by the fact that I’d recently finished reading Stephen Hay’s new book, Responsive Design Workflow.

Disclaimers: I received this book for free from the publisher; I know Stephen (mostly from online); and he recently gave my own new book a very nice review. With all that you could question my impartiality, but while I don’t claim to be free from bias, it’s very lucky indeed that this is a great book in its own rights and I don’t have any conflict about recommending it.

The book is broken into eleven chapters, ten of which each cover a step in the new process that Stephen uses. Highly detailed wireframes are out, as are static Photoshop designs, being replaced by more content-led phases: a content inventory, rough content-led wireframes with breakpoint graphs, early stage markup, and lots of rapid prototyping.

Next the book goes on to detail new approaches to design, starting with designing in the browser and creating automated screenshots, and moving on to creating style guides and pattern libraries. All of this is carefully considered, and makes perfect sense in the light of the different way we have to work in order to put responsive design at the heart of our builds.

It must be stressed that this book is not about the responsive workflow, but a responsive workflow; one that Stephen has adopted in the projects on which he works. At times the book becomes very detailed in describing some of the software and processes he uses, which may not be relevant to the way you work; but he makes clear that this is not going to work for everybody, and that you should be planning your own way to suit the particular methods of your organisation.

And that’s what makes this a very important book: it’s a considered, detailed, cogent examination of the shortcomings of the way we work and a proposal for a better way. Even if you think every step he proposes is unsuitable for you (which I find highly unlikely) you’ll at least be forced into considering an alternative, because these problems are real and require a solution.

It’s also clearly and informally written, with plenty of grace, wit and insight. It leaves me quite envious.

2 comments on
“CSS Day and Responsive Design Workflow”

  1. Indeed it was one of the most interesting conferences I’ve been to lately.
    I attended your workshop. Enjoyed it very much; highly informative and funny at times. Same goes for your presentation.

  2. Thanks Jan, I really appreciate that.