It's finally happened. After almost a year of waiting, a team of web designers, web developers, an agency and many talented others have been working with a well-known newspaper to launch the much-anticipated and new Boston Globe website.
Why is this big news? Because the new Boston Globe isn't an ordinary newspaper website. For the first time, Responsive Web Design has finally got a poster child to call its own.
Responsive web design has come a long way in just 1.3 years. Back at the end of May 2010, Ethan Marcotte famously (at least to us web designers) published his seminal article on A List Apart, aptly titled 'Responsive Web Design'. The article introduced a new paradigm to web design - a revolutionary but not destructive or disruptive one - stating that websites should be inherently flexible to their constraints. This thinking wasn't necessarily new, but it was so well considered and logical in both its theory and methodology that I and many others stood up and noticed. Since then, many of us have adopted it as the new norm when creating websites for clients.
However, as with any new and groundbreaking idea, it was always a working concept. Since its inception, RWD always needed a big backer. A name big enough that people beyond our small community/industry would notice and think 'well, that's a good idea'. A website big enough that when people viewed their other favourite websites on their multiple devices, they would notice that the Globe's experience just 'fit'. No pinching, no zooming, no squinting required. They could view the Globe site on their iPad, their iPhone, their Android, Android tablet, or - if they so desired - on their 13 year old Apple Newton, and for each device, the viewing/reading/browsing/subscribing experience responded and adapted to the device - not the other way around.
The point is, responsive web design, however practical and logical it is from a service provider's perspective, needed a live and in-the-wild example to prove its real worth. The new poster child that is the Boston Globe represents in plain view just how useful, applicable and cost-effective a well-made & responsively designed website can be.
A tour of the new BostonGlobe.com from jeff moriarty on Vimeo.
I'm lucky enough to have clients who have understood the application and benefits of using responsive web design in their projects from the onset. And, judging by the fantastic output of http://mediaqueri.es, many others do too. However, the majority of companies and businesses out there are likely to need a little bit more persuading as to why designing with this approach is the best way forward. Thankfully, our jobs have just been made all the easier thanks to Ethan and that A-Team who designed and built the new http://bostonglobe.com