course notes 2015/16

adaptive design planning

Nov 18th 2015

loop by Cento Lodigiani ©
animated gif © Cento Lodigiani

Today, we can no longer design any site without considering carefully the many different devices and screensizes affecting layout and presentation. A good responsive design will allow the content to adapt to the viewport, be that a computer or TV, and mobile.

Ethan Marcotte

ethan marcotte

It is now over five years ago that the wonderful Ethan Marcotte coined the term “responsive web design“, or RWD, via his article on A List Apart. Though there have been great developments with more tools and debates in different approaches – this article is still the perfect introduction to the topic :)

Let’s read Ethan’s original article and study his beautiful example:
rwd demo→ read ‘Responsive Web Design’ → view final demo

Brad Frost


While there are many clever web designers and developers who discuss mobile in depth – Brad Frost is someone whose writing, speaking and work you should definitely follow. Brad has been collecting and discussing a lot of responsive design aspects and his blog posts always offer food for thought.

As the digital landscape continues to become more complex, it’s essential for us to start thinking beyond the desktop and embrace the unpredictability of the future. Mobile is forcing us to rethink the content we create and the context in which people interact with our products and services. This session will cover how to change our thinking and start acting differently in order to create more future-friendly experiences.


rwd icon

online testing tools

more excellent slides

While these slides go with talks and workshops which go back a few years by now, their content and discussion of how to design responsively remains relevant.

RWD: the specs behind the sex
Bruce Lawson @ UX Sofia, 7 June 2012

Fashionably flexible responsive web design
Andy Clarke, slides from workshop at New Adventures, January 2013

The web native designer
Andy Hume & Paul Lloyd: slides from talk at Talk Web Design, January 2012, Greenwich Uni

Adaptive Systems for Multiple Devices
Simon Collison: slides from Hull Digital, November 2010

adaptive layout

mini project

fountain pen

Time to get stuck in and test your understanding of a RWD approach, mobile first, of course :)
This is one typical interview/application task to test your skills. Given the mockups of a page design, including different layouts according to screen size – produce the CSS to present the content accordingly, working your way up from the smallest to the largest layout.

↓ download source files (includes mockups)

Quick tip: Focus on all details of the smallest layout first, and ensure a complete design before moving onto the rest. Going back and forth between the different views can cost a lot of time…

to do list

  1. complete the CSS to reflect all layouts given
  2. upload your final result and leave your link in the comments below
  3. submit your final project folder as ZIP via email to: prisca [AT]
    subject title: “RWD pen – [your name]

As always, feel free to comment below if you have any questions :)


  1. L u n g

    Dec 9th 2015

    RWD PEN _ Final Result

  2. Alana

    Dec 9th 2015