A List Apart

Menu

The Articles

Issue № 406

  • Axiomatic CSS and Lobotomized Owls

    by Heydon Pickering · · 49 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 · · 4 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 · · 26 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.

Issue № 398

  • Kids 4–6: “The Muddy Middle”

    by Debra Levin Gelman · · 5 Comments

    Full of knowledge and creativity but not yet quite able to read, kids from ages 4 to 6 occupy a “muddy middle” for designers—they’re too old for toddler games, but too young for most apps and games made for “big kids.” Learn how to understand this group in this excerpt from Deb Gelman’s book, Design for Kids, out now from Rosenfeld Media.

Issue № 397

  • Structuring a New Collaborative Culture

    by Rosie Manning · · 5 Comments

    Collaboration is crucial in creative ventures, yet building a culture that allows it to flourish can be tricky—particularly in traditional, hierarchically minded organizations. But with a little tweaking, any space has the potential to become a hotbed of connected thinking. As Rosie Manning learned recently, true collaboration thrives in an environment built on trust, openness, and flexibility.

  • Persuasion: Applying the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Design

    by Victor Yocco · · 5 Comments

    Persuasion isn’t a slick ad pitch or a campaign promise. It’s inherent to the content, style, and delivery of our messages, for better or for worse. Everything we say, do, and design has an impact on how our message is perceived—so why not put that power to work for you on the web? Victor Yocco shows us how to incorporate a deeper understanding of the psychological underpinnings of persuasion into our designs, allowing us to better reach—and win—the hearts of our users.

Recent Columns

Rian van der Merwe on A View from a Different Valley

How to Do What You Love, the Right Way

You can find work where you do what you love, even without making a huge career zig-zag. Start now by doing what you love some of the time, and it will help you get to a place where you can do what you love most of the time.

Nishant Kothary on the Human Web

The Politics of Feedback

We’re obsessive about collecting input from a wide range of potential users and stakeholders. But with such an onslaught of feedback, there’s always a risk of having your motivation and faith in humanity sucked right out of you. Sometimes, you just need calm critique from the few people who really get you. So which kind of feedback is best? The answer is both.

Recent Blog posts

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.

Personalizing Git with Aliases

Part of getting comfortable with the command line is making it your own. Small customizations, shortcuts, and time saving techniques become second nature once you spend enough time fiddling around in your terminal. Since Git is my Version Control System of choice (due partially to its incredible popularity via GitHub), I like to spend lots of time optimizing my experience there.

Beyond You

In client work, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our work lives beyond ourselves. Sometimes that means making sure the CMS can handle clients’ ever-changing business needs, or making sure it continually teaches its users. For clients with an internal development team that will be taking over after you, it means making sure the design system you create is flexible enough to handle changes, yet rigid enough to maintain consistency.

Routines Aren’t the Enemy

I recently read Greg Smith’s piece on Bocoup's blog about how they think about time tracking, including all the fascinating data about how your brain works to solve problems. It interested me a lot, since I've been thinking about not just how I track projects, but also how I structure my day as a freelancer.