Responsive

Brutalist Web Design

The term brutalism is often associated with Brutalist Architecture, however it can apply to other forms of construction, such as web design.

[…]

The term brutalism is derived from the French béton brut, meaning “raw concrete”. Although most brutalist buildings are made from concrete, we’re more interested in the term raw. Concrete brutalist buildings often reflect back the forms used to make them, and their overall design tends to adhere to the concept of truth to materials.

A website’s materials aren’t HTML tags, CSS, or JavaScript code. Rather, they are its content and the context in which it’s consumed. A website is for a visitor, using a browser, running on a computer [or mobile device] to read, watch, listen, or perhaps to interact. A website that embraces Brutalist Web Design is raw in its focus on content, and prioritization of the website visitor.

Brutalist Web Design is honest about what a website is and what it isn’t. A website is not a magazine, though it might have magazine-like articles. A website is not an application, although you might use it to purchase products or interact with other people. A website is not a database, although it might be driven by one.

They list the following principles:

Container-Adapting Tabs With "More" Button

This looks like an excellent, accessible starting point for the priority navigation pattern:

Or the priority navigation pattern, or progressively collapsing navigation menu. We can name it in at least three ways.

There are multiple UX solutions for tabs and menus and each of them have their own advantages over another, you just need to pick the best for the case you are trying to solve. At design and development agency Kollegorna we were debating on the most appropriate UX technique for tabs for our client’s website…

We agreed it should be a one-liner because the amount of tab items is unknown and narrowed our options down to two: horizontal scroll and adaptive with “more” button. Firstly, the problem with the former one is that horizontal scroll as a feature is not always visually obvious for users (especially for narrow elements like tabs) whereas what else can be more obvious than a button (“more”), right? Secondly, scrolling horizontally using a mouse-controlled device isn’t a very comfortable thing to do, so we might need to make our UI more complex with additional arrow buttons. All considered, we ended up choosing the later option[.]

Responsive Design for Motion, a.k.a. "prefers-reduced-motion" Media Query

WebKit now supports the prefers-reduced-motion media feature, part of CSS Media Queries Level 5, User Preferences. The feature can be used in a CSS @media block or through the window.matchMedia() interface in JavaScript. Web designers and developers can use this feature to serve alternate animations that avoid motion sickness triggers experienced by some site visitors.

To explain who this media feature is for, and how it’s intended to work, we’ll cover some background. Skip directly to the code samples or prefers-reduced-motion demo if you wish.

A Priority+ Navigation With Scrolling and Dropdowns

Exposing long navigation menus on small screens is tricky. Hamburger menus are everywhere, although often discouraged. Displaying “just enough” navigation at every breakpoint can feel like an impossible task. This is especially true for template developers needing to accommodate an arbitrary number of menu items.

The Priority+ design pattern seeks to display as many items as possible given an arbitrary screen width, while making the rest accessible via a single click. I’ll go over the implementation I worked on at Goshen College that includes both dropdown menus and horizontal scrolling, which I’ve yet to find in the wild:

The "Optimal Image Format" for Each Browser

Perhaps you’ve heard about the WebP image format? And how it’s a pretty good performance win, for the browsers that support it? Well that’s only for Blink-based browsers, at the moment. Estelle Weyl’s article Image Optimization explains the best image format for each browser:

Browser Optimal image format
Chrome WebP
IE 9+ / Edge JPEG-XR
Opera WebP
Safari JPEG-2000

And you can serve these formats through the <picture><source type=""> syntax.

Couple that complexity with the complexity of responsive images, and it really seems like outsourcing image delivery to a dedicated service seems like the way to go. At least above a certain scale.

Fluid Type on CodePen Blogs

It became more popular to “go fully responsive” with layouts, where widths were largely in percentages, so that you get to use as much room is available at any given screen size. To a point, anyway.

You can also “go fully responsive” with typography, in a sense. There are a number of Pens by Mike Riethmuller that tackle things like fluid type size, fluid modular scale, and even fluid vertical rhythm.

It’s worth reading up on Mike’s technique here, but a distilled Sass version is like:

Code language: Sass

@function strip-unit($value) {
  @return $value / ($value * 0 + 1);
}
 
@mixin fluid-type($min-vw, $max-vw, $min-font-size, $max-font-size) {
  $u1: unit($min-vw);
  $u2: unit($max-vw);
  $u3: unit($min-font-size);
  $u4: unit($max-font-size);
 
  @if $u1 == $u2 and $u1 == $u3 and $u1 == $u4 {
    & {
 
      font-size: $min-font-size;
      @media screen and (min-width: $min-vw) {
        font-size: calc(#{$min-font-size} + #{strip-unit($max-font-size - $min-font-size)} * ((100vw - #{$min-vw}) / #{strip-unit($max-vw - $min-vw)}));
      }
 
      @media screen and (min-width: $max-vw) {
        font-size: $max-font-size;
      }
    }
  }
}
 
$min_width: 320px;
$max_width: 1200px;
$min_font: 16px;
$max_font: 24px;
 
$mod_1: 1.2; // mobile
$mod_2: 1.5; // desktop
 
html {
  @include fluid-type($min_width, $max_width, $min_font, $max_font);
}
 
h1 {  
  font-size: $mod_1*$mod_1*$mod_1*$mod_1 *1rem; 
  @include fluid-type($min_width, $max_width, $mod_1*$mod_1*$mod_1 *$min_font, $mod_2*$mod_2*$mod_2 *$min_font);
}
h2 {  
  font-size: $mod_1*$mod_1*$mod_1 *1rem; 
  @include fluid-type($min_width, $max_width, $mod_1*$mod_1*$mod_1 *$min_font, $mod_2*$mod_2*$mod_2 *$min_font);
}
h3 { 
  font-size: $mod_1*$mod_1 *1rem;
  @include fluid-type($min_width, $max_width, $mod_1*$mod_1 *$min_font, $mod_2*$mod_2 *$min_font);
}