The Web is constant

The Web is constant

The Web is constant presented by Nathan Ford (@nathan_ford) at The Web Is 2014. Nathan discussed his design processes and how we could use them within our teams. Here's what I learned from his talk.

Constant change

The Web is constantly changing, things are constantly viewed, constantly questioned, constantly updated. The Web is a new beast over old design which has not yet been defined and people keep bringing new things.

It is scary and we should be afraid, in fact we should run.

Three structures

Nathan explained the three structures to his process which are the team, project and design.


  • A project can be doomed at the start without the right team.
  • A client often waits ages to see anything.
  • A client might feel something seems wrong, a designer might say the client is wrong - It's hard!

We should bring the client in earlier during the process and not at the end.

Find a champ

Find someone who is informed and can deal with stakeholders, build a process with a team that has no surprises. Always keep everything exposed to everyone and get no blame.


Wicked problems - Massive messy problems hard to define and tricky to solve, websites are hard to reduce to a single design brief.

  1. Not done better - It's never finished so measure by improvements.
  2. Try everything - If you don't know then try everything.
  3. Not fail, learn - Every step should lead towards learning.
  • Adapt agile principles for your team so that they work.
  • Communication is key, make everything shareable.
  • User stories should be used and written by the client, help them write them if needed but they must be in control.
  • Don't force it, if a process doesn't work then don't stick with it

Always review sprints, get everything into a limited prototype as soon as you can. This brings the pain forward and you learn at the start.

Nathan's responsive design process

To design content to always look it's best you must remember your one constant, the content. If you don't have content then make it up but keep it relevant, this can even help push the client into writing their content quicker.

  • Work the content up.
  • Create a simple grid at both viewport and content levels.
  • Start adding basic styles and colours. Feel free to use different measurements for different elements:
    • VW & VH for headings.
    • PX for media queries.
    • % for margins and paddings
    • EM & EX for typography.
  • Use max width on content blocks and not wrappers and containers.

Think about what was learned from early web design, sites change all the time and the content evolves. Design must be able to change as everything we do can be outdated a few years later.

Our workflow should be in-line with how the web works, constant change - Our content lives on, how about our design?

Gridsetapp report

In 2013 Gridset released a report on the state of responsive.

Nathan Ford presents the Web is constant.
Nathan Ford presents the Web is constant.