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Issue № 408

  • UX for the Enterprise

    by Jordan Koschei · · 10 Comments

    Enterprise UX often involves navigating cumbersome processes, ancient technology, and clients skeptical of design’s value. Yet Fortune 500 companies are often the ones most in need of well-designed internal tools. Jordan Koschei takes us through common problems lurking in global organizations—and how we can improve people’s lives by giving internal tools the same attention as consumer interfaces.

  • Cultivating the Next Generation of Web Professionals

    by Georgy Cohen · · 4 Comments

    One of the most meaningful and lasting ways we can impact the future of the web is through the values and attitudes we instill in the next generation of web workers. Through informal mentoring, classroom outreach, internships, and more, we can offer support and opportunities to those new to digital professions. Georgy Cohen suggests practical ways to connect with students and welcome them wholeheartedly into the web community.

Issue № 407

  • The $PATH to Enlightenment

    by Olivier Lacan · · 19 Comments

    Web designers and developers are often scared of using the command line, but we don’t need to be. It’s actually a simple—and useful—set of tools that can speed up your work and improve your life. One of the most important concepts in the command line is $PATH. Olivier Lacan explains why—and how to get comfortable following the Path in your work.

  • Responsive Images in Practice

    by Eric Portis · · 56 Comments

    When we design responsively, our content elegantly and efficiently flows into any device. All of our content, that is, except images. For years, we’ve catered to users with the highest-resolution screens by sending giant images to everyone. No longer. Eric Portis takes us through the new picture element and other attributes to let us mark up multiple, alternate sources. Find out how to use responsive images now: send the best image for each context, cut down on page weight, and speed up performance.

Issue № 406

  • Axiomatic CSS and Lobotomized Owls

    by Heydon Pickering · · 59 Comments

    Managing flow content can get unwieldy—too many class selectors can become a specificity headache, nested styling can get redundant, and content editors don’t always understand the presentational markup. Heydon Pickering offers an unexpected option for handling cascading styles more efficiently: a variation on the universal selector.

  • The Specialized Web: Working with Subject-Matter Experts

    by Amanda Costello · · 9 Comments

    Content strategists often rely on the specialized knowledge of subject-matter experts (SMEs) to get the job done. But that job isn’t always straightforward; it’s complicated by different perspectives, communication styles, and project goals. Amanda Costello shows us how people skills—and the right mindset—can lead to better collaboration with SMEs and a smoother process from start to finish.

Issue № 405

  • Training the CMS

    by Eileen Webb · · 25 Comments

    Launching a site powered by lovingly crafted content models is a joy. But what happens in the weeks that follow, as authors start entering new content into the CMS? If you want to keep your well-structured content intact and on strategy, a training PDF won’t cut it. Let Eileen Webb show you what will: getting editorial guidelines where your authors need them most—in the CMS itself.

  • Collaborative User Testing: Less Bias, Better Research

    by Alla Kholmatova · · 8 Comments

    We all want user research that provides reliable guidance for our teams. But bias is tricky—it’s often introduced unknowingly. How can we be sure that the results of guerrilla user research sessions are as impartial as possible? Alla Kholmatova has the answer: getting more collaborative in how we plan, lead, evaluate, and analyze our user research.

Issue № 404

  • Before You Hire Designers

    by Mike Monteiro · · 17 Comments

    If you’re thinking of working with a designer for your next web project and aren’t sure where to begin, Mike Monteiro has you covered. His new book, You’re My Favorite Client, walks you through the entire process of finding, hiring, and working with a designer from a manager’s perspective. In this excerpt from Chapter 2, Mike lays out the first steps for figuring out just what kind of designer you need in the first place—and how you’ll find the right candidates for the job.

Issue № 403

  • Client Education and Post-Launch Success

    by Drew Thomas · · 16 Comments

    Our jobs don’t end when we flip the switch at launch. It’s our responsibility, in fact, to follow through and make sure the tools we build are used to their fullest potential—by taking the time to educate and train our clients. Drew Thomas demonstrates how teaching our clients to understand, wield, and embrace their new websites and digital strategies makes good business sense for everyone involved.

  • CSS Audits: Taking Stock of Your Code

    by Susan Robertson · · 11 Comments

    A CSS audit helps to organize code and eliminate repetition for speedier sites. Susan Robertson shows us how to sleuth out potential trouble spots, along with offering tips on tools, documentation, and ways to keep our codebases lean well into the future.

Issue № 402

  • Git: The Safety Net for Your Projects

    by Tobias Günther · · 20 Comments

    Are you one server outage away from losing the past week of work? Are you dealing constantly with buggy code, spending hours of time figuring out where errors were introduced? Tobias Günther thought this was just the way coding worked, until he started using Git for version control—and began to see huge improvements in workflow. Today he’ll walk you through the organized, approachable, and completely sane world of Git as he’s learned it. Your next project will thank you.

  • Running Code Reviews with Confidence

    by Emma Jane Hogbin Westby · · 17 Comments

    Where does code review factor into your process? Don’t make it an afterthought, or avoid it altogether; Emma Jane Hogbin Westby shows us how code reviews can be done constructively and painlessly in this walkthrough. Even if you aren’t using Git to store your code, the principles here will make for an objective, consistent feedback process—and an even better end product.

Issue № 401

  • Dependence Day: The Power and Peril of Third-Party Solutions

    by Scott Fennell · · 7 Comments

    “Third party or DIY?” It’s a question we’ve all faced—but do you know how to answer it? Scott Fennell walks you through a better decision-making process for determining whether to stay in-house or look beyond your walls. Hint: it’s all about assessing the risks and opportunities on both sides.

  • One Step Ahead: Improving Performance with Prebrowsing

    by Santiago Valdarrama · · 31 Comments

    We want faster websites, and browsers are helping us get there—searching for patterns, analyzing behaviors, and guessing where users might click next. But we know our sites and users best, and we can use that insight to proactively nudge browsers along. Predictive browsing queues up resources before users even ask for them, creating a faster, more seamless experience. Santiago Valdarrama looks at the benefits and costs of three prebrowsing techniques at our disposal.

Issue № 400

  • How We Read

    by Jason Santa Maria · · 15 Comments

    When you read, you filter text through your experiences and past conversations. You put words into context. You interpret. So how can we use typography to welcome readers and convince them to sit with us through this process? A List Apart alum Jason Santa Maria explains in this excerpt from Chapter 1 of On Web Typography, his new book from A Book Apart.

Issue № 399

  • Gardens, Not Graves

    by Allen Tan · · 4 Comments

    The stream is great for showing timely, scannable content. But solely organizing by reverse chronology leads to a dire loss of context. What can we do to make content easier to understand for those coming across it for the first time? Allen Tan explores methods for turning our untended archives into lively, flourishing spaces.

  • Radio-Controlled Web Design

    by Art Lawry · · 18 Comments

    Tabs, modal overlays, hidden navigation: we’ve developed many patterns to help us design for mobile screens. But these patterns tend to show and hide content using JavaScript—which can come with its own challenges. Art Lawry explores techniques for reducing that dependency on JavaScript using an unlikely tool: radio buttons.

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For this example, we're going to build a Grunt task that takes a screen shot of the pages we're building (similar to Wraith, but far less advanced). There are multiple parts to make this work, so let's break it down. First, we will write a PhantomJS script that renders each page. Second, we make a NodeJS function that calls this script. Finally, we make a GruntJS task that calls that Node function. Fun!

Overwhelmed by Code

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Why Responsive Images Matter

Building enormous websites means us shifting the burden of our mistakes onto every single user that visits our site. It’s us saying that we’re willing to build something that isn’t for some users, because that’s most comfortable for us—no different from “best viewed in Internet Explorer 5.5” or “best viewed at 600x800,” but much more costly.

The Couch Cone of Silence

About five years ago, I bought a cushy couch for my office. (Okay, yes, I did get the model that could flatten into an emergency nap station, but let’s just say that I plan for contingencies—it sounds more professional that way.) Our projects required a lot of office-to-office visiting to discuss situations in person, and eventually, said couch (and therefore, my office) became a veritable beacon, attracting anyone looking for an excuse to decompress. Such is the life of a one-couch, 50-chair business.

Learning to Be Flexible

As a freelancer, I work in a lot of different code repos. Almost every team I work with has different ideas of how code should be organized, maintained, and structured. Now, I’m not here to start a battle about tabs versus spaces or alphabetical order of CSS properties versus organizing in terms of concerns (positioning styles, then element layout styles, then whatever else), because I’m honestly not attached to any one system anymore.