Future-Friendly Web Design for Libraries

presented by
Michael Schofield


Card Catalog

An old picture of a librarian lounging on the card catalog.
A widescreen monitor reading 'This is not the web' An apple iphone An apple iphone with the words 'this is not the web'

The m.library Workload

A graphic illustrating double the development time to maintain a separate mobile website.
2 x Work / 1 x $$$ = sad librarian
and probably a terrible website


This graphic illustrates the drive and folly behind developing and having to maintain multiple presences on theweb.

Design Ethically

Libraries on the Web are bought by taxes and tuition

  • Developing for specific platforms targets only the handful that own the device.
    • Developing for enough platforms to be inclusive is costly.
  • Designing for specific screens--for instance, a desktop website and a mobile website--will inevitably miss the mark.

It is a disservice if a library pursues a web strategy that inevitably caters to less than the majority of its patrons.
It is wasteful if a library pursues a web strategy that requires substantial retrofitting or a redesign more than once a year.

Seek Ubiquity

A picture of Luke Wroblewski sitting zen-like among a huge device lab.

Future Friend.ly #FFLY

Future Friendly

Future Friend.ly #FFLY

  1. Anticipate disruption.
  2. Laser Focus s i m p l i f y
    Focus your library service before your patrons do it for you.
  3. COPE: Create once, publish everywhere
    • Separating content from presentation allows for reuse.
  4. Responsive Web Design
Get your content ready to go anywhere because it's going to go everywhere.

Brad Frost

Key Concepts: Fluidity

Responsive Grids

Wait! What's a grid? Review

Twitter Bootstrap's 12-Column Fluid Grid

Rapidly Layout Your Site ( ... this is awesome )

Twitter Bootstrap's 12-Column Fluid Grid

High Calorie Grids

Out-of-the-Box Grids are Bloated

... but Invaluable

<div class="row">
<div class="eightcol first">
	<div class="carousel">
		<!--Put your slides here-->

<div class="fourcol last">
	<aside class="welcome">

What is a Fluid Grid?

Luke Wroblewski's Model of Fluidity
.wrap { 
	margin: 0 auto;
	width: 90%;
	max-width: 1140px; /* <= not necessary, if you're brave */
.onecol    { width: 5.801104972%;  }       
.twocol    { width: 14.364640883%; }       
.threecol  { width: 22.928176794%; }       
.fourcol   { width: 31.491712705%; }       
.fivecol   { width: 40.055248616%; }       
.sixcol    { width: 48.618784527%; }       
.sevencol  { width: 57.182320438000005%; } 
.eightcol  { width: 65.74585634900001%; } 
.ninecol   { width: 74.30939226%; }        
.tencol    { width: 82.87292817100001%; }  
.elevencol { width: 91.436464082%; }       
.twelvecol { width: 99.999999993%; }       

.onecol, .twocol, .threecol, .fourcol, .fivecol, .sixcol, 
.sevencol, .eightcol, .ninecol, .tencol, .elevencol, .twelvecol { 
	position: relative;
	float: left; 
	margin-left: 2.762430939%;

.first { margin-left: 0; }

.last {	float: right; }

One Site for All Screens

Except there are way more small screens ....

  • 56% of American adults owns a smartphone.
  • 31% of them use their phones for the majority of their access to the web. (source )
  • Preference among all age groups is shifting away from dekstops and latops toward mobile devices (source)
Most of my thoughts about mobile are tied up into the promise of RWD.
Amanda Goodman
UX Librarian

This Makes Sense

  1. Low barrier of entry. While tedious and painful, it's not too difficult to retrofit an existing site with a grid.
  2. DRY content <= biggie

Steal from Colleagues

Key Concepts: Mobile First

A infographic of a smartphone leading to a tablet leading to a desktop monitor.

The commmitment to a mobile-first design means removing technological barriers to library access.

  • Consider the lowest common denominator: a small screen with a painfully slow 3G connection at peak time.
  • Don't worry: while mobile-first is about simplification, it isn't about penalizing the patron with the retina macbook.

Progressive Enhancement yahtzee!

Mobile-First Makes for Better Content

... which is good, because mobile patrons can be a little picky

  • 71% of people expect mobile sites to load as fast or faster (really!? - yep) than stationary desktops
  • 74% will abandon your site if it takes more than 4 seconds to load.
  • Mobile browsers will choose not to load content that is too large.
  • Blackberries will not load websites larger than 3MB (Error 413: Entity too large)
  • Many international data plans are pay per kilobyte
  • Unlimited data in the U.S. is endangered. Design Accordingly

Anatomy of a Mobile-First Stylesheet

@media only screen and (min-width: /* your breakpoint */ ;) {
	/* your styles */

Embrace the Cascade

  1. Load your base (mobile) styles first. Keep them light-weight. Hover effects aren't necessary.
  2. Load subsequent styles for increasingly larger devices in media queries.
  3. Common breakpoints are 30.062em (large mobile screens, e.g. iPhone 5 in Landscape), 48em (Tablets and small laptops), 64.3em (some desktops, but most often those old square monitors), 77.5em + (large[-ish] / widescreen).

Wait this is latin

The Cascade Review

Cascading Style Sheet

body {
	width: 100px;
	width: 20%;
	width: -999999999999px;
	width: 98%; /* <= bottom of the cascade */

Breakpoints Review

Target a device by its screen size

This way ..., it's kind of a lot

Base Styles Here

/* ====================
 * Large Phones, Small Tablets
 * ==================== */
@media only screen and (min-width: 30.062em) { /* Styles */} 

/* ====================
 * Tablets and Small Laptops
 * ==================== */
 @media only screen and (min-width: 48em) { /* Styles */ }

/* ====================
 * Desktops and Laptops
 * ==================== */ 
@media only screen and (min-width: 64.3em) { /* Styles */ }

/* ====================
 * Large Screens
 * ==================== */
@media only screen and (min-width: 77.5em) { /*Styles */ }

... or target dense pixel devices Neat = )

/* ====================
 * Retina Displays
 - This applies to the retina iPhone (4s) and 
 - iPad (2, 3) along with other displays with 
 - a 2x resolution. 
 * ==================== */
@media only screen and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),
only screen and (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),
only screen and (mix-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5) { /* Styles */ } 		

So, where was I ... ?

Oh Yes!

/* ====================
 * Mobile 1st Stylesheet!
 * ==================== */
.embrace-the-cascade {
	tip: write your most light-weight, basic
	styles at the top of your CSS. Be simple. You
	want them to load fast for mobile. Hover effects
	are unnecessary. 

/* ====================
 * Large Phones, Small Tablets
 * ==================== */
@media only screen and (min-width: 481px) { 
.embrace-the-cascade {
	tip: keep everything else inside media
	queries. You can get fancier as the screens get

/* ====================
 * Tablets and Small Laptops
 * ==================== */
 @media only screen and (min-width: 768px) { 
.embrace-the-cascade {
	tip: I usually load my grid at this point.
 } /* Are you getting it? */

What about Internet Explorer 8? sigh


A polyfill ... is a piece of code (or plugin) that provides the technology that you, the developer, expect the browser to provide natively.

Remy Sharp

Fake it with Javascript but fake smartly

The vocabulary around mobile-first design is oriented around weight. As in, the more code you write the heavier your library's website. If you make your users carry a brick, it is inevitable that many will drop it.

Good Performance is Good Design

Key Concepts: Performance

Best Really Good Practices

The main thing is ease-up off the server

  • Limit the Number of HTTP Requests

<!-- Stylesheets (CSS)
--> <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="styles.css" media="all">

<!-- Javascript (JS)
--> <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.2/jquery.min.js">

<!-- Media
--> <img src="icon.jpg" alt="huge icon">	

Quick Fixes

  • Follow Chris Coyier's 1-2-3 Rule of CSS
  • Use Web Type and Common CDNs
  • Turn all static graphics into a Sprite! (Sprite Cow)

Every little image is a chance to fail that's being kind of dramatic but you get me

<nav class="menu">
		<li> <img src="icon.jpg"> Books </li>
		<li> <img src="icon.jpg"> Databases </li>
		<li> <img src="icon.jpg"> Ask a Librarian </li>

Take Advantage of Modern Browsers

Shadows instead of graphics

-webkit-box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px #333;
-moz-box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px #333;
box-shadow: 2px 2px 4px #333; 

Gradients instead of graphics

background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #006699 0%, #50afdf 100%); /* FF3.6+ */
background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #006699 0%,#50afdf 100%); /* Chrome, Safari */
background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #006699 0%,#50afdf 100%); /* Opera 11.10+ */
background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #006699 0%,#50afdf 100%); /* IE10+ */
background: linear-gradient(to bottom, #006699 0%,#50afdf 100%); /* Eventual Standard */

Transitions Instead of JS, .GIFs, or FLASH

.switch {
	transition: left .2s ease;
.toggle-bg input:checked~.switch { left: -1px; }
.toggle-bg input~:checked~.switch { left: 41px; }

/* This lives at http://codepen.io/michaelschofield/ - 
but it isn't very impressive =/ */

Sprites are Good, but Icon Fonts are Gold

An icon font is a dingbats-like font where vector graphics replace usual characters - like the letter c.



@font-face {
    font-family: 'GlyphishRegular';
    src: url('css/font/glyphish/glyphish-webfont.eot');
    src: url('css/font/glyphish/glyphish-webfont.eot?#iefix') format('embedded-opentype'),
         url('css/font/glyphish/glyphish-webfont.woff') format('woff'),
         url('css/font/glyphish/glyphish-webfont.ttf') format('truetype'),
         url('css/font/glyphish/glyphish-webfont.svg#GlyphishRegular') format('svg');
    font-weight: normal;
    font-style: normal;
h1.icon {font-family: 'GlyphishRegular';}

<h1 class="icon">abcde</h1>

The Joy of Cooking Semantic HTML and CSS

  • The point is that complex designs that once relied on many graphics, are additional requests from a server, can be paired down to just one - the call to your CSS.
  • Use javascript to enhance the experience or replicate modern CSS with polyfills for older browsers look at your analytics, because you might just want to pull a Google and drop IE8 altogether.
  • The elephant in the room?

Resolution Independence

The Retina Problem

Out of focus Christmas Lights

Looking Sharp!

  • The knee-jerk reaction to retina was to make design graphics "@2x" Twice as big as they would be displayed. Not simple math: a 300px wide image is 120KB. At 600px wide? 406KB
  • Inevitably pixels will be even more densely packed, making @2x graphics fuzzy.
“Because it looks pretty” is not a good enough reason to send a 1MB image over 3G—or, god forbid, something like the EDGE network.

Dave Rupert

Responsive Images

No Easy Solutions

Javascript and Headaches

The ubiquity of the web challenges the library's mission to be accessible to its community

  • Anticipate weird web-ready devices and make fluid content
  • Be accessible to the widest array possible users and design mobile-first.
  • Build a virtual library that first performs well and only second looks great.

BE Future Friend.ly #FFLY

Future Friendly