The next chapter of responsive web design

Responsive web design has been a hot topic for the last couple of years. And why not? The ingredients of a flexible grid, flexible images and media queries are a powerful recipe to help us serve websites to screens of varying sizes.

But we should not stop there. To be truly responsive, we must meet our users where they are. Truly responsive sites adapt themselves not only to the screen size of a device, but also to its broader capabilities and settings. Our sites should handle screens of any size. But they should also handle multiple screens, or no screen at all. And they need to handle still more. Black and white displays? Bring it on. No audio? No problem. No JavaScript, CSS, or even image support? Sure thing. Slow mobile connection? Serve a lightweight version of the site. Unusual input devices? It's all the same to us.

How do we get there? I see five basic building blocks: semantics, accessibility, focus, media queries, and efficiency.

1. Semantics

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