From time to time I’m asked a deceptively complex question: “How do I get started with responsive web design (or web design, in general)?” On the surface it seems like a pretty simple question. I’m tempted to tell them to do what I did. But, like many people in our field, that’s a long, drawn-out—and certainly not direct—path that I don’t necessarily recommend. Or maybe they’re expecting one perfect—and short—book they can read (more on that later). Or perhaps even a local event or industry conference to attend… to see if they’ll even like it.
Unfortunately, like a lot of things worthwhile, it’s not as easy to get started as you might have hoped. It’s even more challenging to keep up once you actually get going in the right direction. Momentum is a powerful force to keep you headed in the right direction, but it’s good to have some handy references to get you started. So I’ve started the process of collecting a growing list of online resources for reading about, listening to, watching videos on, learning about, fostering community around, and ultimately keeping up with the fast-paced topic of responsive web design (and web design, in general).
So here goes. I’ve broken it down into the following categories: books, blog articles, podcasts, presentation slides, and fostering community. I’m still looking for additional good examples to fit in the fostering community category. Your suggestions are much appreciated.
Responsive Web Design Resources – Books
Here’s a short list of books that I’ve found incredibly useful for responsive web design. Some are good references to refer back to while you’re in the middle of a project and others are just good foundational guides to get you started. A few of them are available as handy (and cheap) eBooks in a variety of digital formats (ePub, Mobi, PDF, etc.). If you’ve got time to read just one, definitely go with Ethan’s original “yellow book.”
- Ethan Marcotte – Responsive Web Design (this is a quick-read guide by “A Book Apart”)
- Lyza Danger Gardner & Jason Grigsby – Head First Mobile Web
- Tim Kadlec – Implementing Responsive Design
- Luke Wroblewski – Mobile First (another micro-published guide by “A Book Apart”)
- Smashing Magazine (various authors) – The Mobile Book
Responsive Web Design Resources – Blog Articles
Sometimes a good long blog article does the trick. And since reading is so much fun, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these articles as much as I do.
- Ethan Marcotte’s original article on A List Apart
- Treehouse – Beginner’s Guide to Responsive Web Design
- Dave Rupert – 8 steps to gettin’ flexy in responsive web design
- Brad Frost – Creating a Mobile-First Responsive Web Design (and demo site)
- Lyza Gardner – The EMs have it: Proportional Media Queries FTW!
- Michael Gilbert – The Five Stages of Responsive Web Design
- Michael Gilbert – Responsive Web Design – The Basics
- Michael Gilbert – Mobile-First Responsive Web Design
Responsive Web Design Resources – Podcasts
Or maybe you prefer the terms “netcast,” “webcast,” or even “Internet radio.” You get the idea. Here are a few carefully curated podcast episodes dealing with the topic of responsive web design (and other topics along the way). I’ve linked the individual episodes as well as the home page of each podcast.
- The Big Web Show (Jeffrey Zeldman) – Episode #9: Responsive Web Design with Ethan Marcotte
- The Web Ahead (Jen Simmons) – Episode #29: Smart Responsive Web Design Implementation with Scott Jehl
- Shop Talk Show (Dave Rupert, Chris Coyier) – Episode #35: With Brad Frost
- Fresh Squeezed Mobile (Breaking Development) – Episode #20: Responsive Web Design and Diamonds with Brad Frost and Episode #2: Implementing Responsive Design
- Boagworld Show (Paul Boag, Marcus Lillington) – Episode S2E7: Real Life Responsive Design with Ethan Marcotte
Responsive Web Design Resources – Presentation Slides
It was tough to reduce this list to just a few key presentations, but I think this is a good “starter set” for the topic. It’s not really the same as seeing the presentation live or even listening to a synchronized audio track to go along with the slides, but I still think they’re useful. The Jason Grigsby one is perhaps my favorite in this set.
- Bryan Rieger – Rethinking the Mobile Web
- Yiibu – Pragmatic Responsive Design
- Jason Grigsby – Mobile First Responsive Web Design
- Stephen Hay – Style Guides Are the New Photoshop
Responsive Web Design Resources – Fostering Community
I was originally going to call this category conferences, but I think fostering community is more fitting. The idea here is to get out there and be amongst your peers. You don’t have to be the one on stage (I rarely am these days), but it’s good wholesome fun (and healthy) to surround yourself once in a while with others in your tribe.
- Meetups on Web Design (fill in your location for local results)
- Lanyrd Events – Responsive Web Design
- Artifact Conference (in Austin, TX and Providence, RI)
- Web Design and Development for Beyond the Desktop (in various U.S. cities)
Okay, that’s enough for now. I’m sure you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by that long list already. Don’t feel obligated to go through each and every one of them in order. Pick and choose a few that interest you and then go from there. If you consume only one of these, please make it Ethan Marcotte’s original article on A List Apart. Who knows… you might just get interested enough (like I did) to jump in and give it a try!