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On Problems

I was part of a discussion with an esteemed friend of mine recently. My argument being that responsive design is great and that we should consider using it on our own pages.

His view of things was that as long as there is no problem with how we currently do things then we shouldn’t come up with a solution.

This premise that every change in how we do things needs to be triggered by a problem that needs solving to me is a very depressing thought. Of course it’s very easy to come up with all kinds of problems that suit pretty much any solution (to stay in the terminology). But I don’t think that is what he has in mind as he probably wouldn’t let “pages as we build them now are not as good as they could be” count.

Where my philosophy differs is that things do not have to be broken in order to try to make them better. I don’t think Mercedes would claim there is a problem with their cars. Still they aim to make them better with every iteration. The same should be the case for the web sites we build.

When I sit down to build a website I try to build the best website possible. That’s called quality. Good enough is boring. I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing if my professional life would consist of waiting for problems to arise and then fix them.

What’s great about what I’m doing is that there’s inspiration all the time. Sometimes it’s almost too much. Things are moving and getting better. And technologies are still evolving in a medium that’s still in it’s early days. People are coming up with new techniques all the time. Some are useless. Some are just not a good idea (why would I want to build an iPhone icon with CSS for example?). But it is good this is happening because inbetween there are great ones. This makes the web better in general.

To look at the example of media queries and Jon Hicks in particular, it is easy to say “oh, I’ve used media queries a long time ago” (I’ve done that here on this blog ) or “this could have been done using floats”. The point is doing so doesn’t make this less inspiring to people. It doesn’t make it less of a good idea.

I think media queries are a great step forward. Not a solution but an innovation. And one that makes sense as well. It would be narrow minded to ignore the bigger picture of how the web is changing to be at home on a much wider scale of devices. And if you absolutely have to think in negatives in order to to something positive, here’s a problem:

Websites as we build them now don’t work well on devices that are not a desktop or laptop computer.

[update:] I got Mr. HIcks’ first name wrong in my post. I just corrected the mistake. Apologies to Jon Hicks, mistakes like these shouldn’t happen.