Adaptive Web Design
When I’m being tossed hither and thither by the waves, I affix my gaze on the one thing that helps me get my bearings and make sense of what’s happening: the philosophy of progressive enhancement.
Fault tolerance makes it possible to browse an HTML5-driven website in Lynx and allows you to experiment with CSS3 features without worrying about breaking Internet Explorer 6. Understanding fault tolerance is the key to understanding progressive enhancement.
PDF is like tethering it to a giant anchor: It can’t go anywhere easily or quickly. And anything you want to do with it requires a great deal of effort. When your content is rendered in HTML, however, it can travel hither and thither with the greatest of ease. It weighs little, it works on any device that can access the Web, and the content reflows to meet the user’s needs. For free.
I’ve been amazed at how often those outside the discipline of design assume that what designers do is decoration—likely because so much bad design simply is decoration. Good design isn’t. Good design is problem solving.
Content is the foundation of design. It’s why you’re building a website in the first place. It needs to be the starting point of your design work and needs to be central to every design decision you make.
If you look at how our relationships with computers, and thereby the Web, are evolving, you’ll see that looking at the past actually helps us prepare for the future.