Book review: Implementing Responsive Design, building sites for an anywhere everywhere web
“Only an arrogant man would believe he could plan a city; only an unimaginative man would want too.”
– John Kay

These are the words that greet you when you open Tim Kadlec’s book “Implementing Responsive Design, building sites for an anywhere everywhere web.” When I picked up this book I already knew about web design and coding practices but nothing on responsive design; not five chapters in, I not only knew more on both, my very way of thinking of web design was changing. I understood why he chose that quote as the first of many chapter openers, because you will see just how arrogant and unimaginative the old way of web design is.

Let’s be honest, the internet is not just accessed from computers anymore. Devices like tablets, smart phones, E-readers, and even game consoles can connect to it. This requires a site that can adapt and change depending on the device that loads it; this is the very definition of Responsive Design and where Time Kadlec’s book comes in. Be advised, though the book does spend the first few chapters explaining the different tools needed and how they fit into the design process, it does not teach you web design or coding. This being so, it’s a good idea to know a little of both before picking up this book.You don’t have to be a master coder but you will need to at least be able to understand what he is talking about.

Even with this caveat, it is still a very accessible book, and this is one of its strengths. The book focuses more on theory than practice, the “what’s”and “whys” more than the “how’s. ”It does this by using a tutorial site called “Not another Sports site.” You’re encouraged to work along but it’s not required.The code is used to help you understand what is being discussed but not to teach you how it should be done. This leads to another element of the book I found most helpful; because there are a multitude of ways to implement your design choices, not everything works for every situation. This being so, you have to chose which method works best for each one.

Every chapter focuses on a specific aspect of the design and covers the different methods that can be implemented, explaining what they are, how they work, where they fit in, and their pros and cons. It would be easy to just say what needs to be done and how to do it,  but the author realizes the flawed thinking in this, opting for a more opened ended method, supplying the reader with the information they will need to make their own decisions. Ultimately that is what this book does; it teaches you Responsive Web Design and its tools, but not how to do it. The “How” is left up to the reader and this is one reason this book is a breath of fresh air.

With the ever changing face of design it is important that we, as designers, keep an eye and ear open to new practices and theory’s to keep pace. One of the best ways to achieve this is to never feel we know everything and to seek out new knowledge.In the case of Responsive Design, Tim Kadlecs book fits the bill. Combining theory with practical application in a way that is easily accessible, his book provides an excellent resource in understanding this new web design theory.


By Harrison Collins
Published September 13, 2013