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Making the Internet and its Content Accessible for More People

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By: Anton McClure;
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Tags: General; Internet;

Mobile devices are bringing the Internet to more people than ever before. Here's ways we can improve their online experience.

Image from pxfuel. Free for commercial use.
Image from pxfuel. Free for commercial use.

The Internet has changed since the 90s and early 2000s, where most people passively viewed content, while some people made websites in plain HTML. Most of these people used the same screen size. Smartphones and tablets, which don't all have the same screen size, are now more popular than laptops and desktops, and mobile device use is still growing. Because of this growth, many web designers have begun redesigning sites to have a "responsive" design.

What is Responsive Design

Responsive design will make your website look good on various screen sizes without a lot of effort, avoiding unnecessary resizing, scrolling (especially horizontal scrolling), zooming, and panning. Using a responsive design for your website comes with its benefits, such as:

  • You don't need to maintain a mobile and non-mobile version of your site.
  • You can make changes easier.
  • Your site's user experience will be better on more screen sizes.
  • Your site's SEO will be better than a website that doesn't look good on mobile devices.

Upgrading My Site

The static site generator quickly proved its inability to scale. It frequently used 100% CPU for most of the time while running, and updating content was problematic. If there was a problem during rendering, the only solution was re-rendering the entire site, temporarily slowing down the web, email, and other servers in the process.

As a result, I began working on a rewrite of the old generator as more cleanly-written PHP scripts, along with implementing additional security measures to ensure safety and security for the website and its users. The increase in performance means better page load times, along with other benefits.

The website generated as a result used a spaghetti of CSS code, no JavaScript, and had more focus on terminals rather than the actual devices people were using to browse the site. Starting as 841 bytes, it quickly grew as features and styling got added. The content did not scale well on smaller displays, such as phones and tablets, without several workarounds.

Using the open-source Bootstrap and Jquery frameworks, with the help of Start Bootstrap, I was able to give my website the redesign it deserved, making it look better on phones and tablets, along with desktops and laptops in the process.

Making Improvements Using Open-Source

The MIT license is one of the most permissive licenses available, making it possible to use open-source code without having a viral license, such as the GPL or AGPL, applied to all of your source code and dependencies.

For sites using a proprietary CMS, such as AntonMcClure.com, using non-permissive code can have disastrous effects. Using one GPL or AGPL component makes the entire program GPL or AGPL. If GPL, your source code will need to be made public if you distributed the program to anyone. If AGPL, you will need to be made public regardless of if you are distributing the program. If you plan on selling the program, the GPL and AGPL will require you to give away its source code, meaning competitors can now get access to your source code.

My new CMS utilizes MIT-licensed code to create a great user experience without negatively affecting the rest of the codebase. As a result, my website's design and CMS platform are better off, with proven reliable tools used more and more to its full potential.

Since I am not a professional web designer, the availability of such tools became a huge help when making my website, and hopefully, it's the same for you and your sites.

Additional Steps

There's more to a good web experience than just using a responsive design. Your site must load fast for its users. Using a CDN such as the one I use with my website, Cloudflare, has many benefits for your websites, such as increased performance and reliability, DDoS protection, decreased latency, and so on.

More importantly, your site also needs to be secure. As mentioned in Is DNSSEC Adoption Worth It: DNS is not secure. Fortunately DNSSEC isn't difficult to set up. I use Cloudflare for this as well, following some unfortunate downtime that followed trying to use self-hosted bind9 for DNS.

Cloudflare also has support for HTTP/3, utilizing the open-source QUIC Internet transport protocol brings many well-needed fixes in HTTP/2, some of which were from HTTP/1.1 and HTTP 1.0, while removing unnecessary complexity, and improving overall speed and reliability. Since QUIC uses UDP rather than TCP, it won't have TCP limits restricting what all the protocol would be able to do, such as TCP's issue of lost packets when switching between cell towers on mobile data. Many of the top browsers already have access to QUIC. Some browsers such as Chrome, however, require the feature to be enabled manually as an experimental feature.

I suggest giving these features a try, and see if you like them. Hopefully, your website sees the same benefits from their use.

The Future of the Internet

Smartphones and mobile Internet connections made it possible for billions of people to have reliable access to the Internet. We need to make sure that our websites and web content will be easily accessible by these groups of people. By utilizing tools such as CDNs and better protocols, we can create better web applications and better website designs, making the Internet as a whole a better place for everyone.


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