Working with mobile first mentality

This has been the biggest issue for some time now. How I want to execute it. All one stylesheet or separate ones and have the server load it depending on what it is given. Each one has its own drawbacks and perks to it. Reading about mobile design these last three days has slowly opened my eyes into what the next few years will be like when it comes to web design.

Years ago when the iPhone first made its début to the world the only thing I was thinking about was how everybody would interact and view things.

My first mobile experience was with a Sony Ericsson phone. Boy was that a mistake on my part. The way everything was laid out made it almost unbearable to really try to do anything. Navigation was decent but still took forever to get to the link I wanted to ‘click’ and go to. Using the buttons to pseudo scroll up, down and sideways was not easy. Make one mistake and often times I would have to start over. Sites took longer than I wanted to load but there really wasn’t an option to use a wifi connection with the phone.

Thinking back on those experiences with how mobile phones rendered pages it has given me some ideas on how I like seeing navigation and how to implement it. Navigation is the key when it comes to any site. Being able to know what to look for without having to look makes for a great web experience. What I mean by that is that the end-user should not have to look around the entire site’s page to find why they were looking for. A perfect example of this is just about any shopping site. The search form is one of the first things that has some emphasis to it without us really knowing.

A good study I would love to see is how many people visit a shop site and don’t use the search form. Mind you this is for fairly newcomers that I’m thinking of instead of repeat customers. Maybe one day.

Trying to view a site on a really small screen made me wonder how things would change in the future. Yeah, I like to sometimes think like that. With touch screens becoming more and more popular the next stage is of course is being able to cater to that little market. True, that demographic is small at the moment but in the next few years it will only see an increase.

Mobile first design was first coined a few years ago but has recently been what I feel is the newest standard for most sites. One of the things I have come to hate about it is scale.

Let me elaborate on what I mean. I am one of those people who likes to view a site with the browser expanded to take up the entire screen. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. One of the methods I have seen when it comes to creating a responsive site is creating break points. Usually what that means is that when a person resizes the browser the site adjusts to that new size. I don’t like it. Yeah it does have its advantages but it also has some drawbacks that I, personally, don’t like.

The biggest one really being the loss of certain elements. In Windows 7 you have the ability to set a program to take up half the screen and another to use the other if you want. I like doing this when I am comparing cameras, computer parts or just about anything I’m shopping for. I, like most people, love a really good deal so what better way than comparing two sites at the same time? Well, when the window gets fitted to the new size the responsive aspect takes over. Often times it doesn’t effect it much since some of the sites I browse often have a min-width of about 700 pixels and my monitor is wide enough to handle it. Sorry, geek speak.

One thing I found really interesting is that most new smartphones don’t listen to the

handheld

property when using a media query. A little strange since most mobile devices are handheld devices.

Options and decisions. One file or several. I still can’t decide. I may just have to use several ones while using server requests to help. It would be pointless to use AJAX since the page loads once on any device and people don’t resize their browser window and can’t do it on any mobile device unless they change the orientation but that has no adverse effect and shouldn’t. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Mobile web design: here I come!

Twenty-thirteen in April

At least that is the plan from the development blog on core. I updated my trunk version on my desktop which I use primarily for testing and will be using for all my theme and plugin development needs.

The one thing that just about everybody noticed from the get-go was the color usage. Vibrant and a good color scheme as well. The one thing I don’t like is the way it presents itself on wider screens. Part of that reason is the content doesn’t take up much real estate and is centered. When I’m using my 22 inch monitor it does look really strange to see a band of color stretching from left to right.

The focus on this theme is post-formats. I’ve wanted to experiment with that for some time now ever since I learned about them. The best part about it is that with 3.6 launching the focus is also post-formats. Themes should be pretty interesting to see on how they style each one should they choose to. I have a few ideas on how I want my theme to look once I’m done – whenever that is. I’m tempted to just do text and call it a day; do it all in one file.

Looking over the files for the theme and I notice a few different things from previous bundled themes. One of the first things that I noticed is how few lines of code there are on the index file. Only thirty-eight lines and of those seventeen are comment/documentation. I still have several other files to look over and read to get more familiar with the theme.

I am tempted to create a child theme and use it on my personal site. So many ideas! I still have to take several pictures for the theme I’m creating so I can submit it to the WordPress repository. I think the challenge there will be keeping up to date and maintaining the theme as up to date as I possibly can.

Twenty-thirteen has a lot of promise and a lot of potential to it and I think it can derive some really cool themes down the road with a few tweaks here and there.

I hate not finding the right documentation

I really do. Recently I was trying to see if I could help anybody out with their WordPress questions and came across the sub-forum of localhost installs. I figure why not? I once had issues trying to figure out why I couldn’t see the pages.

The issue that was on the plate was a server 500 error. I’ve had quiet a few of those and to this day I don’t like seeing them. Simple thing meaning that the server isn’t configured properly. At least that was the solution after I read the title and posted. I read the first reply which was simple with a link to how to install WordPress on a local machine with different software. I checked it out to see some of the documentation and lo and behold it was a little out of date.

The link to the tutorial was an expired domain. Needless to say it was pretty useless. Hoping to see a tutorial I found nothing but an outdated documentation for something useful. At least I think it is useful. Now part of me wants to create a quick tutorial on how to install the most current version of XAMPP ( 1.8.1 currently ) on a Windows 7 computer. While it is simple since they have been gracious enough to include an executable file for simpletons like myself they also have documentation on how to install without the installer for the more adventurous types out there.

At the same time I feel like it will be an almost moot point in that it is extremely easy to just click a few buttons and call it a day. I hate debating simple things like that sometimes but when it comes down to it some people really don’t know what they are doing. I was like that at one point.

I can remember trying to set up my testing environment and trying to use DreamWeaver almost two years ago when I was taking online courses. It felt like a huge ordeal to get it to work properly until I finally read part of the instructions that made sense to me. As it turned out I was using the wrong directory in DreamWeaver.

One more reason I deterred from using any WYSIWYG editors. I like being able to see the code I am typing. Takes me back to when sites were done using tables where now they are using sections, articles and divisions but I’m getting sidetracked.

I’m tempted to find who is responsible for that page that was linked so that I can report the broken link and see about putting in my own steps to creating a localhost and installing WordPress on it to test and hack. In the mean time I just have to take screenshots of every step taken or find a way to create a screencast for future users.