Una is calling it the new responsive. A nod to the era we were most certainly in, the era of responsive design. Where responsive design was fluid grids, flexible media, and media queries, the new responsive is those things too, but slotted into a wider scope: user preference queries, viewport and form factor, macro layouts, and container styles.
I like the thinking and grouping here and I kinda like the name. It alludes to an evolution and extension of responsive web design rather than a rejection and replacement.
This isn’t the first crack at identifying and naming a shift between eras. Back in 2018, Jen Simmons was doing a talked called “Everything You Know About Web Design Just Changed” where she identified that responsive design was a major shift in how we did layout on the web. And yet, it was firmly defined in an era where layout tools like flexbox and grid didn’t even exist. Now, they do exist, and with them a bevy of other new features that bring more capable graphic design to the web. She called it Intrinsic Design.
I almost like Intrinsic Design more now than I did in 2018, because now, if we attempt to lump in
@container queries, the name makes more intuitive sense. We (hopefully will soon) make styling choices based on the intrinsic size of elements. We make styling choices based on the intrinsic nature of the individual users we serve. We make styling choices off the intrinsic qualities of the browser.
I wouldn’t say either of the terms have really caught on though. It’s hard to make a name stick. That little burst of ideating around CSS4 sure didn’t go anywhere.
If we follow some musical genres such as “Nu Metal”, maybe “Web Nu-point-oh”.
“Nu Web” sounds weird, also because “nu” means “naked” in French and I would say we’re seeing rather dressed up stuff nowadays, but if we cycle back to stripped bare websites in the future, that might just make enough sense.
In the end, it doesn’t even matter: Intrinsic is ideal.
Since these features are about customization or reacting to changes “the adaption era” seems fitting to me. JS is adapting to it’s role, CSS grows in complex functionality year by year and people adopt this new ever changing ruleset more and more into their websites. Everything and everyone adapts… Except e-mails, that stuff cost me 2 weeks of work recently.
“Intrinsic design” is the most descriptive, and communicates the true nature of the design modality. The challenge with the name is the term “intrinsic” is not immediately understandable, but then “responsive” also wasn’t immediately understandable until it became part of web nomenclature.
We need a name for this post- or neo- or next-stage responsive world, and “Intrinsic” comes from one of the most authoritative people in the community. “The New Responsive” is understandable today, but anchors our thinking in the past when we need to develop new mental models.
To the question of how we establish new nomenclature for our community, the answer is it happens when influencers start using it as if it’s already an established term. One such influencer would be CSS Tricks, so the power is in your hands Chris!
I’ve been calling it Responsive websites (like in the talk I gave at Halfstack last year) since it’s no longer just the design that’s responsive, but with
prefers-reduced-motionand other user preference queries, it really is the entire site that now responds to the user.
I’d propose: Fluid Design – coming from fluid typography but also encompassing the flexible nature of recent, not only container queries and intrinsic options, but also live changes like prefers-color-scheme. Everything is in motion, like a fluid :)
It’s still responsive, isn’t it?
You have new features that allow your design to respond to new things, and you have new tools to do it, sure.
But you describe it yourself as “an evolution and extension of responsive web design”, which is exactly what it is.
It’s also the philosophy of the web itself, the living standard – we generally don’t replace or “2.0” the features of the web; we evolve them.
People aren’t going to ask, “is your website NEW responsive”, and asking of your website is “intrinsic” certainly doesn’t make any sense. They will probably still ask, “is your website responsive”, and you can describe how.
It already didn’t mean just one thing, so that hasn’t really changed.
Who are we helping by renaming it now?
Looking at the first picture in this article, maybe, Eye Design? (Could be iDesign but you know…).
Eye sounds like I in Intrinsic.