I had the opportunity to re-present my talk (Rebuilding a university homepage to be “responsive”. Twice. In less than a year.) from last fall’s HighEdWeb national conference at this year’s Michigan regional conference in Flint, MI. The majority of the presentation is the same, but it includes updated data from the RWD directory and some interesting stats from the BCS bowl game in January.
Let’s be honest. Google has made their feelings perfectly clear when it comes to feeds. Feedburner has been languishing for years. They were working on a half-baked new interface only for it to disappear. They deprecated its API. It’s obvious the service is no longer actively supported, and with the recent sun-setting of Google Reader, I have no faith it will stick around much longer. So rather than wait for that to happen, I decided to move on now.
Sometimes (read a lot of times) we have to put carousels on our sites. And even though we’ve shown numbers that they’re not effective, we end up adding them anyway. So in an ongoing effort to find ways to reduce the impact on performance, we look for simple to implement ways to cut down on the number of images loaded.
In a previous post I wrote about moving from Wordpress to Jekyll where I was ultimately hosting this site in GitHub Pages. While that setup was great, and an easy way to get started, I wanted to have a little more freedom to play with plugins and additional/custom functionality. To that end I migrated the system into Octopress and reverted to hosting with the same server from which I was running the previous Wordpress install. I had waited to cancel the hosting service just in case I decided to do this.
Yesterday Luke Wroblewski asked the interwebs about the average size of a RWD site. While I obviously can’t speak to the wider range of RWD sites, I do happen to maintain a list of HigherEd RWD sites. The numbers that I track are by no means the whole story when it comes to performance, but I find them interesting.
Carousels. That gem of a web feature that clients love, and many developers hate. One thing is certain, they are the darling of HigherEd. In fact, they’re loved so much, I’ve been assigned many times to retroactively add them to sites that have already been live for years. This led me ask how much are users really interacting with the carousels. To answer this question I added tracking to to the main feature on ND.edu as well as four other Notre Dame sites with carousels, three of which are static, and one that automatically slides the features. Here’s what I’m tracking:
- Number of times the feature is switched by users
- Total feature clicks
- Total clicks per position
I’m also tracking interactions such as how many times the feature is switched using arrows vs. the dots (pagination), but that’s not the focus of this article.
My holiday vacation project this year was to migrate this blog off Wordpress into a system that better fits my brain. After quite a bit of research I decided on Jekyll. I decided to move off Wordpress because I often found myself fighting with the admin and editor just to do simple things. I was fine working in the HTML view, but I prefer the simplicity of writing in Textile or Markdown.
So why Jekyll?
In the early days of RWD, it became evident that we could not (and should not) tie our breakpoints to the widths of popular devices. I’d like to think this is a fairly popular view these days. This is partially due to the influx of internet capable devices all with differing screen sizes and resolutions. Though a majority of these are phones and tablets, this also includes gaming consoles. In September, Anna Debenham wrote an article on A List Apart titled “Testing Websites in Game Console Browsers” where she wrote about the emergence of browsers in popular gaming consoles and the variety of input types that comes with them.
I had the privilege of presenting at HighEdWeb again this year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One of the highlights was the keynote by Adam Savage of Myth Busters fame. Even though the keynote and following Q&A session was long by typical standards, everyone seemed disappointed when it came to an end. And quite an explosive end at that. Adam closed with a video montage of some of the best explosions from Myth Busters.
Two things up front. I love stats, and I love Gaug.es. I love Gaug.es so much, I have it open as a tab 100% of the time on both my development machine and my iPad. What I don’t love is using Gaug.es on my iPad. There are two small issues that bug me while on the iPad.
- I can’t drill-down to the browser detail in the Technology section
- The layout is fixed-width and doesn’t work well in portrait
Like I said, small issues. As we developers tend to do, I decided to write a little hack to fix these issues.