Make Smarter: Mobile Web Design, Online Learning, and the 960 Grid

Slim pickings in the Make Smarter department this month, mostly because I’ve been more swamped than usual lately. But I did stumble across a few nuggets worth mentioning.

We have been looking at smart phone apps of late, and our conclusion is that it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to write native apps for these devices in almost all use cases. It isn’t cost effective to write an application once for Android in Java (or cross compiled to Java), again in Objective C and pray it makes it through the fickle Apple app store review, and again for the web, since as a government entity we shouldn’t make apps that only “rich” smart phone owners can take advantage of. That’s three different code bases and 3x the support costs. 4 if you want to toss in Blackberry (ew), 5 if the Windows phone platform coming out later this year isn’t utter drek. We couldn’t afford that even when we had money.

But what we can do is create web apps with an alternate style sheet for mobile browsers and be able to hit almost everything from one code base. So I’m planning on pouring over this excellent Six Revisions article on Mobile Web Design Best Practices. It goes over different platforms, layout options, design - it’s very, very good. When you’re ready for geolocation and coding for mobile platforms, check out this series of articles by IBM.

Nettuts+ had a very thorough article on mastering the 960 grid system. The 960 grid system is a CSS grid designed to make page layout a lot easier. CSS frameworks aren’t for everybody. I know I’ve tried this and Blueprint.css and neither one has stuck with me. After working through this tutorial I may try 960 with the next project I have needing a complex layout.

If you’re into graphic design, the Libre Graphics Meeting was held in May and videos are now online. The talks are extremely diverse, but if graphic design peaks your interest even slightly you’ll find something here worth watching.

Finally, Lifehacker has a great post on where to get the best free education. It’s a good resource roundup and includes a couple of sites I haven’t checked out yet.