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An Event Apart: The map & the territory

At An Event Apart – Austin 2013, Ethan Marcotte shared his thoughts on how our conversation about enhancing the web incorrectly centers around the map (people from different locations) instead of around the territory (people of similar demographics). Here are my take-aways from the talk:

  • Responsive design consists of three things: a fluid grid, flexible images, and media queries
  • A fluid grid is defined as target ÷ context = result. This is a formula for translating a fixed width layout (from Photoshop) to a fluid, percentage-based layout on the web.
  • We should be designing a layout system – just like Samantha Warren said in her talk.
  • We should use media queries to defend the integrity of our design.
  • The map is not the territory – meaning all people in one particular locale have widely different access to the web.  A physical location on the map can’t be easily categorized as having the same access to computers/internet.
  • Because the map is not the territory we need to design for reach (meaning faster loading websites)
  • In Africa, there are a majority of people who only have access to the internet from a mobile-device.
  • In fact, among minorities, the poor, and the developing world; mobile-only internet access is the main-stay.
  • Moreover, the developing world will soon overtake the developed world when it comes to mobile-use.
  • The biggest take-away for me: As a web designer, I need to craft mobile experiences that ensures  that people who might feel like second-rate citizens do not also have a second-rate web browsing experience on the only device they can access the web on: their mobile device.

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