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Being responsive

By December 2013, I hope to have completed a complete re-design of this website in a way that will make it 100% mobile-friendly. Stay tuned!

If you look at my website – or for that matter this blog – via a tablet or ‘smart phone’ then you’ll soon come to realise that there’s a bit of a problem. Good as this website may look when viewed via a desktop computer, it’s positively horrible on mobile devices and near impossible to use.

The last time I redesigned this website was back in August 2009. Since then, the use of mobile phones and tablets has become a commonplace way to access websites and it won’t be long before more people access this website via a mobile device than via a desktop computer.

Technology is changing and so must this website. That’s why I am currently working on making this website responsive. That means that the website will work just as well for the person logging-on via their desktop PC as it would for the person accessing the site via a tablet device or mobile phone.


Responsive Web Design (RWD) became the buzz-word of 2012. It’s ideals are noble but its execution is challenging. As websites are progressively turned-over, forward-thinking government agencies and companies are using RWD in developing the next version of their websites. A RWD website is easy to pick: by shrinking and enlarging the browser window, the elements should rearrange themselves in such a way as to make the website work for all users. Good examples of responsive websites are A List Apart, the Australian Museum, Humaan, Coles and the Victorian Department of Environment & Primary Industries (my employer).

In addition to making the website responsive, I am also attempting to make the website accessible. That means that the website works just as well for those with a disability as for those without. For instance, the blind use screen-readers to ‘see’ websites. In order for those to work, the website must make perfect sense with all of its styling removed. My aim is to enable my website to meet A Standard with a longer-term goal of AA Standard.

I am currently in the process of developing the new design and I hope to have it rolled-out to the core parts of my website and my blogs no later than December 2013. The specialised parts of my website (such as Plant Evolution, The Story of Flowers etc) will be progressively rolled-over in 2014.

The re-design has come with a number of technical challenges, including:

In order to achieve all of this and ensure that I create a website that is modern and attractive in a design sense, I have had to make a decision to stop supporting Internet Explorer 7 (I stopped supporting IE6 years ago). In any case, that browser’s time is up and there are very few users on IE7 these days.

Stay tuned for a brand new website coming to this space soon!



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