RWD, connectivity, thoughts

This week has been a great week for reading on the web. There have been good old fashioned blogging back and forths going on between Ethan and Luke (who posted here and here), with Peter-Paul chiming in as well. It has also been a week where the idea of Offline First came out and received quite a bit of attention.

All of this interests me as I am in the world of responsive every day now. Working on Editorially means that not only am I testing regularly on different devices, but it also means I am thinking a lot about experience and what that experience looks like in various types of situations. In addition to this, we just launched STET, another responsive experience for users. We quickly got feedback after launch about issues with FOUT happening on the site. This happened in the lead up to Ethan and Luke talking about screen sizes and Paul Irish doing a survey on how to best handle FOUT on slow connections.

With all of this, I realize that my thoughts on how to handle all the challenges of the various devices along with connectivity speed is changing. I am no longer bothered by FOUT, because for a slow connection, getting the content is better than seeing nothing for a varied period of time. I also understand that in many situations, the user may have lagging connectivity or disrupted connectivity, but the job of our application is to let them know when there may be problems, so that the work is not lost and we are communicating well. That is the job of any application that relies on a good connection to work: to make sure users know when something may not work because connectivity is a bit up in the air.

Much of the talk this week reminds me of the assumptions we sometimes make about our users. Now that I work on something where I see feedback continually from the people using the application, I realize that many of my assumptions are just plain wrong. And yet, while we discuss features or changes to the application, I often fall back on those assumptions and have to be jolted out by something said by someone else in the discussion or just remind myself that I’m assuming again (and we all know what that does). It is hard to put yourself in a different frame of mind, but with all the talk about these things, that is a must. It is something I am still working on, remembering that, for the most part, not everyone is like me or wants to do what I do how I do it.

This week has been a great one on the web for thinking, for debating, for talking, for reading, and I, for one, am so glad. I love to see the smart people in the industry letting us all in on their thoughts. It makes me think more as I am writing code about what I am doing, what am I assuming, and how can I make sure I serve the people using the application well.

Many thanks to Mandy Brown for taking a look at this as a draft.