2013 was a big year for responsive design. In fact, if you read around the Web a bit you might hear that 2013 was the "Year of Responsive Design". That might be true — around the turn of last year, there were major sites coming out with responsive designs, like Time Magazine or Mashable (and frankly, thousands of others). If nothing else, 2013 was the year of responsive design going mainstream, even becoming something designers and consumers just expect to see. That's pretty hot.
2013 was also a big year for responsive tools: Foundation 4 came out in February, Bootstrap 3 came out in August and Foundation 5 came out just a few weeks ago. Yahoo! got in the game in May with the release of Pure, and the team at Thoughtbot has continued to push Bourbon Neat. There were new plugins, polyfills and practices that became popular in 2013. In general, building responsive sites has never been easier or had more powerful tools.
So let's prognosticate a bit: what should we expect to see in 2014 in responsive Web design?
Smarter Responsive Design
2014 will be a year full of a much better and deeper understanding about how we build and optimize sites for any device. Responsive sites have always suffered from varying degrees of optimization issues, but we're getting a bit better about the tools now, and best practices are starting to emerge and standardize. Things like the now ubiquitous "hamburger" nav icon and off-canvas panels are becoming relatively common and genuinely work well responsively.
Device capability detection, selective loading of assets and media, better optimization for device speed and hardware. These are all going to be better explained and much easier to implement with new tools and plugins.
Greater Device Agnosticism
Device classes have always been hard to pin down, but the stereotypical mobile-tablet-desktop paradigm is going to completely fall apart in 2014. We already have devices that fall neatly between what we commonly consider to be a phone and a tablet, or tablet and desktop. But now we also have wearable computing (watches, heads up displays ... who knows, maybe we'll see the long-rumored Apple watch). There's also smart TVs and other home media appliances that are Web-enabled.
We'll see responsive design move even further into truly device-agnostic design. That means we can plan for devices that don't exist yet more cleanly, as well as take better advantage of specific capabilities and constraints.
It would hardly be us if we didn't talk about what's to come for frameworks, like Foundation. The area we see with lots of opportunity in 2014 are complex tools with many components and means of input, as well as trickier data models to display. So far responsive design has been used in large part for marketing or content sites, not complex apps. To get the ball rolling, we're rebuilding all of our Product Design Apps to be responsive and built on Foundation. Our plans include placing a number of Web-app centric components and plugins in Foundation. That will make building a complex app as straight-forward as creating a marketing site or simple content page.
2014 is going to be a big year in responsive design. So with that, we want to welcome you to the New Year!