Ade Oshineye: Identity, Responsiveness, and the Future of the Web

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Ade Oshineye was talking about at Whisky Web II, these are my notes from his talk.

Note: I've put my own, fairly heavy, editorial slant on parts of these notes.

Why did responsive web design start?

10 years go the web was sitting in front of a desk with a keyboard and mouse, a big monitor on a large box computer plugged into a network connection. Then came devices with small screens and low bandwidth.

Now the most popular vision of responsive design is width based media queries. Still loading all the assets on all devices and just width based adaption. Resizing the browser is the easiest way to test responsive but it's not a substitute for actual devices. There are more dimentions we don't respond to.


  • Width
  • Orientation
  • Bandwidth
  • Latency
  • Resolution/DPI
  • Line length
  • Image size
  • Number of columns
  • Touch
  • Stylus
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Browsers

Plurality of devices

We have lots of devices - an iPad isn't just an iPad, there are number of different versions.

Touch isn't just mobile, touch screens now have keyboard and mouse attached.

Mobile doesn't just mean iPhone. Tablet doesn't just mean iPad.

Plurality of contexts

We don't know how people will want to use our websites. Mobile context is typically one eyeball and one thumb but people tried to treat tablets in the same way which didn't work - tablet context tends to be two hands and one sofa (or bed).

Native vs. web is like spoons vs. knives. People will use both for different reasons.

Webviews are embedded web browsers within apps - such as twitter. You have no control over what the viewport size will be on the same device. Typically they have no context such as cookies and logged in status.

App -> web -> app. People don't think about how this journey works and lose status. Deeplinking to content within apps from web pages, some app/operating system combinations intercept links and can trigger linking to the content in the app from the web and vice versa.

Identity: we have to re-authenticate every time we switch between contexts. People are using 'forgot password' links to login.

Email: if you know what a user has then why send them mails advertising these same things.

Identity propagation

If you are signed into Google in the browser or on the device it pre-populates the login field for you. If a site already knows it's you then why not log you in? Social logins work on this principle as you are usually logged into the social network.

Mobile only user?

People are misunderstanding mobile first to be build a mobile site first and then build the 'real' desktop site. An increasing number of users are mobile only, they'll never see the 'real' desktop site. You can't give people a cut down mobile experience.

Multiple devices and contexts

We can't even begin to predict what devices will be used and in what context so we shouldn't think about things in this term.

Future guesses

  • Typography
  • Sites > apps (websites work everywhere)
  • Native + web combinations
  • Deep links (native apps become part of the web)
  • Identity in devices and browsers
  • Respond to context not features


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