Canton web designer confronts new challenges as smartphones, ipads, social networking change rules of the game
Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 6:36 am

CANTON -- Designing for the Web has always been a balance between the seemingly limitless potential of the medium and the limitations imposed by devices that are used to access information.

The recent explosion of smartphones, and tablet computers, such as the iPad, have altered the canvasses on which designers create their layouts.

The viewing area of an iPhone, Blackberry or Android is a fraction of the space available on a standard desktop monitor, while the iPad’s viewport is somewhere in between. On top of this, some of these devices switch from portrait to landscape view depending upon how the users orient them.

The challenge of creating consistent web pages in the face of these obstacles is being taken up by Gilbert Web Design, a newly created company whose owner has been involved with the Internet since he oversaw the installation of the first dedicated data line in a North Country school more than 10 years ago.

Gilbert Stankiewicz sees the transition from desktop computer to mobile device as an opportunity to explore a market that will see mobile phones overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide by 2013, according to Gartner Research. The key concept is something called “Responsive Web Design.”

In brief, responsive web pages adjust their presentations to suit the devises they are being viewed on. Page layout for a viewer using a laptop differs from the layout presented to a smartphone user, which, in turn, differs from what a tablet users sees. These adjustments are made instantly, without any actions taken by the visitors to the site.

To see the idea in action, visit the company’s site http://gilbertwebdesign.net using a variety of devices. “I’ve viewed the site using an iPhone, an iPad, a Blackberry, a Kindle Fire, and many desktop browsers and the layout adjusts on the fly beautifully. There is no need to develop a separate app for mobile or tablet. This is all accomplished within a single design,” said Gilbert.

In addition to designing for mobile devices, Gilbert Web Design has a solid background in creating sites that employ Drupal, the hugely popular Content Management System (CMS). Drupal is an open source platform that is deployed on millions of sites that require a social networking component with ease of maintenance and robust performance.

“Urban Jules is built on Drupal. (http://urbanjules.com) Jules updates her blog regularly, adds random thoughts and scribbles as well as maintaining an art portfolio with little assistance from me. Visitors can add comments on her writings or can send a private email. The design is very flexible and easily maintained,” says Gilbert. “This holiday season, we were able to quickly add a shopping component to the site so that Jules could sell her hand-crafted greeting cards.”

Gilbert has also helped a local non-profit, YESeleven, develop an email marketing campaign, whereby the directors can send information to over 400 people who signed a petition of support on the web site. While visiting the site, http://yeseleven.org, supporters can make a tax-deductible contribution using the secure service provided by PayPal.

You can contact Gilbert through the company’s web site where you can also view some recently completed projects. If you are planning a new site or are considering a redesign of an existing site, you might want to be sure your web pages are “Responsive” enough to handle the challenges to come.