Responsive Design Trends & The New Usability
Until then, I'll just point out how swiftly this word has moved in using Google Trends. Each chart below is a normalized historical trend for search terms fed into Google, which prevents direct comparison, but otherwise paints a picture for me to color in with my personal perception of design vocabulary through the ages. And if you catch on the fact that I mean "decade" when I say "ages", then you are prepared for the Technological Singularity (hope Posterous upgrades to direct-neural-interfaces so we can all look back and bio-chemically simulate the sensation of laughter).
The Original Usability
Since the beginning of time, at least as Google Trends is concerned, there has always been "Web Usability". It was the nomenclature often during my education in programming. Unfortunately, it seems time has not been kind to the term as web designers and developers have likely grown into connoisseurs of interfaces and started to abandon the term for more specific vocabulary.
The Old Usability
After Web 2.0 started to take hold and companies realized that they were their websites, the discipline of "User Experience" started to take off. It encapsulated not only usability in interfaces, but the holistic approach to everything the user touches. Even at my work, my manager once asked for a "user experience" document when speaking in lofty tones about requirements. While it has its roots in the 90s, the trend indicates it really took off in the last 5 years as a desirable discipline applied routinely to the web and business.
The New Usability
Newly minted in 2011, and lacking even a Wikipedia article to define it for the masses, "Responsive Design" is an up-and-coming term that has been embraced by Googlers. Everyone's mobilizing to share techniques on mobile! I am personally excited to finally have a name for anything I do and I hope it keeps going up.
Hopefully, Responsive Design will continue on to bigger and better things, and we'll look back on it as a precursor to future greatness just like other big names in 2011: Grammy-Winner Rebecca Black and Poet Laureate Charlie Sheen. #winning