Mobile Responsive Design for Non-Developers

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I compiled information catered for web producers, technical project managers, SEO managers and webmasters to help faciliate a foundational understanding of the latest website trend: Mobile Responsive Design.  I know there are many options for revamping a website, and I am most fond of this one.

What is Mobile Responsive Web Design?

Simply defined, responsive web designs (RWD’s) use CSS3 to resize JavaScript websites to optimally render on various mobile or desktop devices. These frameworks use flexible images and 12 proportion-based grids to design page elements. Everything in the grid layout will dynamically resize to a wide range of screen resolutions and devices. You always tell if you are on a mobile responsive site by horizontally minimizing the window size. If the elements on the page relatively shift or disappear, you are likely on a responsive page.

What is a Flexible Grid?

Flexible (or fluid) grids happen when CSS3 prefixes are used to define regions in a layout.  Elements such as margins, padding, rows, columns and spacing on the page are defined as proportions, not rigid percentages. All sizing becomes relative to other page elements.   Once these prefixes are combined with media queries, everything comes together.

What’s a CSS3 Media Query?

Media queries allow websites to collect information about the device or browser being used to access the website, and then use the information to apply the proper CSS style.  Different browser types or screen resolutions can be conditionally targeted using this list of W3 media queries.

What is Twitter Bootstrap?

The most common responsive styleguide used is Twitter Bootstrap (created by Twitter’s developer team).  Bootstrap is an open-source, front-end toolkit used by developers and designers to support their projects.  It is built on LESS (a cleaner CSS stylesheet language), works with HTML5 and supports custom jQuery plugins.  There are many widgets available on bootstrap, which facilitates rapid prototyping.  Many sites on Twitter Bootstrap tend to look alike, due to the lack of customization abilities.

Bootstrap 2 is designed to be desktop first, mobile also.  Anything we want to render on mobile needs a specific media query, or the desktop version will show.  For example: Bootstrap uses pixels: every nested element or component on the page needs sizing requirements defined to render correctly for each type of screen.  There was recently an update to Bootstrap 3, which changed the style guide to be mobile first.  Problem is, to upgrade to Bootstrap 3, one must rewrite some html.

What is Foundation?

The other front-end RWD in the game is Zurb’s Foundation.  Foundation v5 also runs on a grid system, although the code looks a bit different from Boostrap.  Foundation is mobile first, which means anything not specified with a media query will be considered mobile.  Less people use this framework, so there will inherently be less support, tutorials and user forums available online.  There are a very limited amount of UI elements compared to Bootstrap, which may require more front-end design skills.

Some perks to using Foundation involve a lighter JavaScript footprint.  The framework uses smaller files, which likely will speed up the site.  Foundation also uses Zepto, not jQuery.  This is a more efficient JavaScript library which will decrease load time and bandwidth usage for users.  IE compatibility is an issue with Zepto, so be sure to analyze your traffic when choosing what framework to use.

What risks may I encounter by switching over to one of these?

Site speed is an issue with responsive design.  Minifying JavaScript elements can help solve it, but prepare for some issues when transitioning your site over to this framework.  For my own responsive WordPress site, I was able to decrease load time using W3 total cache.

Designing a website without a static design phase might also present some stylistic issues, so be sure to plan your comps around that.  Design more elements and fewer layouts, reliant on HTML.

Sites presenting large amounts of data tables may also encounter some problems, because large numbers of rows and columns will be a challenge for mobile.  There is no work-around for this yet, but there are several responsive table options available, ready to attach to your markup.

How can I learn more about RWD?

I really enjoy taking Codecademy courses.  I used my free membership to familiarize myself with the fundamentals of HTML5 and CSS.  They offer a short beginner level course aimed to teach the user how to design their own AirBnb page.  I highly recommend taking the course, so you can also learn the fundamentals behind the Bootstrap framework.

GOOD LUCK!

West Malaysia with Kate and Jenny!

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I had such a fantastic and random time with two friends of mine, Kate and Jenny.  We met in the hostel, and I decided to head with them over to Penang.  I could tell right away they would be a fantastic time, since they were so quick to share all of their travel stories with me.  We hopped on a bus and got to our budget hostel.

Within 2 minutes of lying in bed, a mouse started crawling on Jenny!  EWEWEWEW! Long story short, we ended up having to stay there anyways.  It was far too late to get a new place, and management seemed rather apathetic to our concerns.  We named that place “Mouse Manor”.  So damn gross.

In the morning, we went to our new spot. The pod beds reeked of moth balls and bug spray.  “Poison Pod”.  Even worse!  But clean and all live things were dead.  We went to a hookah joint and had an amazing pricy dinner over at a nearby Italian spot.  Those girls know how to fine dine!  They both are in marketing, and plan on moving over to Australia for a year or two.  So excited for them!

I was having so much fun with them, I decided to join them for the Perhetian islands.  We had to take a mini bus there, and the driver was NUTS!  He sped so badly that he got pulled over.  The bumps in the road caused me to get thrown out of my seat (no seatbelt option).  Not cool.  We called this one “Manic Mini bus”.  And the ferry was no better; dudes were speeding like crazy on the choppy waters!

We finally got to our spot in Long Beach, and it was great.  No air conditioning and the power was out from 9:30-6.  I had to sleep with a mosquito net and I was forced to go outside.  LOL.  I even got a tan!  We ate at the same place every day and night, and really enjoyed everything we had.  They ended up so red!  I used an umbrella and lots of sunscreen to shield myself from that mess.

It was so great to unplug for a while, and trust some strangers to give me a good time!  I was sad to see them go, and Malaysia just wasn’t the same without them or Debbie.  I made the decision to end my trip early so I can get back in the workforce.  I miss it so much!

I left early to Singapore!  I’ll be here until I head over to Japan.  Will keep you all updated.

xx

Debbie visits! Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Semporna, Sepilok and Kuala Lumpur

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I have had the most fantastic time with Debbie in Malaysia!  We covered so much land in her 10 days here.  I’m sure you can tell by the title that we jumped around often.  My favorite thing about this girl is she always gets me out of my comfort zone.  She talked me into Tough Mudder, and this time around she talked me into scuba diving!

I wish I had more time to write it all out, but I will try my best to summarize.  We started off in East Malaysia and spent the night in a hotel in Kota Kinabalu.  We did some shopping and prepared for a night bus over to where we planned on going diving.  I think we ate cat tail at the rest stop’s food shack.  NOT REAL.

Scuba diving was amazing!  We did a Discovery Dive, where we had an instructor accompany us the whole time.  The Malaysian Islands are famous for diving, and we took advantage of the ocean wildlife.  We saw so many beautiful fish during our 3 hours underwater: green turtles, mantis shrimp, jellyfish, clown fish, rock fish, fluorescent corals and sea urchins.  AMAZING!  It’s a whole other world down there, and I am addicted.  So thankful to have had the opportunity to do this.

I ended up knowing a scuba instructor there, Audrey.  We met in KK, and had a dance party in a hostel dorm the night I got to Malaysia (before Debbie arrived).  She happened to work at the Scuba place we were staying at, so we got to reunite in Sandakan!  We all went out for seafood dinner, gin and karaoke with the locals.  Too fun.

The next day, we went to the jungle.  We had to take a bus over to Uncle Tan’s, a nature camp in inland East Malaysia.  There is a significant malaria risk here, and dengue fever… neither of which I am protected against.  This meant 3 different types of mosquito repellent, and patches.  Oh, and layers…. lots of sweaty layers.

Our camp was very basic, and located in the rain forest.  Yes, it did rain on us.  We had a small hut with mattresses on the ground, mosquito nets and no walls or doors.  We spent the night there, and got to see some ‘special wildlife’: orangutans, crocodiles, gibbon monkeys, kingfishers, flying cranes and huge spiders (in our room).  Luckily we didn’t see any jungle rats, but we put our food and toiletries in a special bucket just in case.

A huge issue in Malaysia is deforestation, which I saw firsthand.  They are rapidly cutting down trees and killing wildlife to make palm oil, a very lucrative industry.  It was sad to see miles and miles of farms and factories, knowing what permanent damage has been done to the world for them.

We caught a plane to Kuala Lumpur, a modern city in West Malaysia.  We stayed at Reggae Mansion, a super corporate party hostel… although we didn’t have much party left in us.  We spent most of our energy and time shopping in markets, eating amazing Malaysian food and chatting with new friends.  We did navigate the public transportation system and make it over to the Batu Caves and some temples.  Debbie was attacked by a monkey twice for her water bottle!  Those things are so scary!  I’m glad she is OK, and I think I have never laughed that hard in my damn life.

I know part of this has to do with my amazing company, but this has definitely been the highlight of my trip so far.  I was really bummed to see Debbie leave last night, but we will reunite in Boulder when I get back.  I’m sure she will find some activity for us to do which will involve me getting a sunburn or losing the keratin in my hair.  HAHA.  I trust her judgement!  She is one of the most positive people I know.

I am leaving to Penang with 2 new friends today.  I have 2 weeks left in Malaysia before heading over to Japan, and I plan on making the best of it and embracing every day as it comes.  I’ve never been happier, and I’m so glad I came out here to clear my head.

Sorry for any sloppy grammar, I will fix it up when I am not paying 6 ringit an hour to use a shoddy computer.  <3

Ubud = Heaven

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I am so glad I made the decision to visit Bali.  I only spent 6 days there, but Ubud is now one of my favorite places in the world.  Yoga shops, clean food, beautiful temples, cheap accommodations and lovely beaches.  This area is def catered towards middle aged, upper class women.  That typically translates to lots of exercise options and boutiques.  Into it.

Best Guesthouse Ever

I stayed at the most beautiful guesthouse. Lilacita Inn.  It was a bit of a walk down a side street to get to the place, but well worth it.  The family that lived in the compound was awesome, and very hospitable.  The artwork in and around my room was gorgeous.  Breakfast was served every morning on my private balcony, facing a garden.  The garden had cats, dogs, lizards and birds to keep me entertained.

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My new friend Sapphire (roommate from my hostel in Seminyak) joined me for 2 days in Ubud.  We visited cafes, restaurants and did a tour.  My fave dish was steamed veggies with a peanut sauce. Deelish!  It’s called Gado gado.  Must try!  I also enjoyed lots of carrot juice and fresh fruits.

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Day Trippin’

We went on a day trip to see some of the temples around Ubud, rice terraces, a volcano and a coffee plantation.  I had a great time walking through the jungle to see the ancient buildings, although it was hot as a BITCH.  The volcano was barely visible due to lots of clouds, so that was a bust.

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Our whole trip ended up only costing us $15 each!  So awesome.  We had a private tour guide/driver for the whole day.  Compared to other agencies charging $80 for a group tour, this was a definite WIN.

20140321-130025.jpgThe coffee plantation was surprisingly awesome!  Look up weasel coffee.  Yeah, that’s a thing. We enjoyed cat poop coffee with one of the most beautiful views I have had the pleasure of enjoying in Asia.

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What else has been going on?

Unfortunately, my second pair of running shoes on this trip have been stolen.  The taxi driver took them out of my bag before returning it to me from the trunk.  I didn’t notice until he drove off.  Words cannot describe my frustration on this one.  I filed a claim through travel insurance, and I am optimistic they will reimburse the loss.  Fingers crossed!

I have slowly started to read my philosophy book, AntiFragile.  I think this is going to be a long, slow read.  It’s quite difficult to grasp compared to the other books I have read on this trip.  I think it will really change the way I look at things, and people. It’s one of those books that takes 20 minutes to digest a paragraph.  Once you take the time, you start to apply the philosophy towards all these other parts of life, and everything just shifts.

You know what PTSD is?  This author discusses the opposite effect: traumatic or stressful events causing resilience in people or systems.  He attempts to define the word antifragile, which he attempts to separate from the concept of robustness.  Antifragile things grow stronger with mistakes or change, and actually thrive from it.  Resilient things stay the same and never change, while fragile things break.  Wall Street’s financial structure= Fragile; Silicon Valley= Antifragile.  The book doesn’t really have anything to do with people or relationships as much as systems in business/environments and being able to better gauge risks.

Aaaand just a little bit of emo here

Being on this trip has really taught me a lot about myself.  I learned plenty about being assertive, and speaking my mind.  You can get really screwed over in Asia if you don’t stand up for yourself.  Like REALLY screwed over.  I also have learned lots about how to meet new friends, and identify my biases and stereotypes towards others.  I’ve become much more authentic and open as a result.  Fake smiles in the office again are going to be hard.  I’ll let you know how that goes!

I have been shocked at how this vacation has strengthened and weakened some of my relationships back home.  At first, it was like a slap in the face when friends wouldn’t respond to my messages or return my calls.  I have learned to accept that sometimes people grow apart, or just aren’t meant to be in my life in the long run.  Expectations are the first step towards resentment, so letting go of the good and bad ones is crucial if I plan to have healthy relationships.  Hindsight is always 20/20, and lots of those relationships didn’t have too much depth to them anyways.

I’ll leave you with another quote:

The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for.

 

3 Amazing Nights in Seminyak, Bali

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I am in heaven in Bali!  This is one of my favorite places by far.  The people I have met so far have been amazing. I made a few friends instantly in my hostel and we have eaten and explored this city together.  It’s very much catered to women here, with fancy boutiques and vegan restaurants littering the neighborhood.  With so many high end yoga and juicing shops around, I feel like I am right back in California!

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Given the abundance of healthy restaurants in Bali, I have stayed away from Indonesian food… but I did try one vegetarian dish.  My diet here has consisted of super healthy meals, and I feel my waistline going back to normal.  Things got a bit intense in the last couple countries given the lack of healthy, affordable options.

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I attended private Pilates classes here at a studio called Art of Body.  I have learned so much about my form and posture.  The tips I have learned there will surely save me from future injury.  It was quite the humbling experience for me to be called a beginner, since I consider myself at intermediate level.  I communicated my ego hit to the instructor, and he was quite supportive.  We went back to the basics of Pilates: lateral breathing, bridges, back bends and the reformer machine.

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I have gone to the same Greek restaurant 3 days in a row, and gotten friendly with the manager.  Last night they had a live band and show.  I had such a good time enjoying my night with new friends.  Really good vibes all around.

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Today I am headed over to a homestay in Ubud, Bali.  I plan on staying there for four nights before I head over to Kota Kinbalu, Malaysia.  Very excited!