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Issue № 417

  • Initiation to Code

    by Alice Mottola · · 8 Comments

    The best person to mentor junior developers turns out to be: you. Mentoring can be a powerful tool for guiding and nurturing new hires, but it also benefits you—and your organization—by encouraging collaboration and curiosity in your everyday work. Alice Mottola offers guidance (and a little agile structure) for approaching the mentoring process—and shows how it can build better code and better engineers.

  • Let Links Be Links

    by Ross Penman · · 16 Comments

    The notion of the web as an application platform has never been more popular. Single-page frameworks like Ember and Angular make it easy to create complex applications that offer richer, more robust experiences than traditional websites can. But this benefit comes at a cost. Ross Penman tells us what we can do about it.

Issue № 416

  • 80/20 Practitioners Make Better Communicators

    by Katie Kovalcin · · 6 Comments

    Approaches that are either too general or too specific can easily overwhelm practitioners—and derail budgets. Fresh from recent experiences with two large-scale redesigns, Katie Kovalcin suggests that flexibility and open communication can transform all team members into what she calls “80/20 practitioners,” creating a more effective balance of time and resources.

  • Pluralization for JavaScript

    by Tingan Ho · · 12 Comments

    Getting plurals right in localization is a tricky prospect—each language has its own rules, and exceptions within those rules. How can we scale our websites and apps to respond to our global audience? Tingan Ho shows us how MessageFormat lessens some common pain points in the pluralization process.

Issue № 415

  • Quantity Queries for CSS

    by Heydon Pickering · · 46 Comments

    In responsive design, we think a lot about space, especially in the context of screen sizes. But the amount of content or the number of elements is bound to affect space, too, just as unpredictably—and if we don’t want our designs to dictate our content, we need new ways to make our design aware of changing content quantities. Heydon Pickering walks us through a new idea for creating style breakpoints for quantities of HTML elements.

  • Stopping the Infighting About Digital Standards

    by Lisa Welchman · · 7 Comments

    Organizations that struggle with their digital presence often do so because they haven’t established proper governance. But good governance is worth pursuing: clear policies and processes can answer questions, empower teams, and enable web strategies to shine. In this excerpt from Chapter 5 of Managing Chaos, Lisa Welchman explains the importance of digital standards—what they are, why they matter for governance, and how to start documenting them for your stakeholders.

Issue № 414

  • The Specialist-Generalist Balance

    by Garin Evans · · 9 Comments

    Specialists? Generalists? It’s not a question of which is better, but about finding the right mix for your team and your work. Specialists offer valuable expertise, but over-reliance on specialization isn’t always good for workflow—too many niches can lead to silos, bottlenecks, and poor communication. Garin Evans recommends that, instead, we build teams that play off the best traits of specialists and generalists, encouraging collaboration and innovation as we go.

  • A New Way to Listen

    by Indi Young · · 6 Comments

    Empathy can have an enormous impact on how we work. By learning to better understand others—what they think, how they feel, what guides their decisions and behaviors—we add balance, clarity, and depth to our business practices. In this excerpt from Chapter 4 of Practical Empathy, Indi Young explains how listening intently can lay the groundwork for developing empathy.

Issue № 413

  • Reframing Accessibility for the Web

    by Anne Gibson · · 43 Comments

    If you’ve been treating “people with disabilities” as an edge case for your websites, consider this a reckoning. Web accessibility means that everyone can use the web. The job of a web designer isn’t to question the configurations, devices, and tools that users bring to the table; it’s to rise to the challenge of making a site work for anyone who wishes to use it. Anne Gibson makes the case for site testing, inclusivity, and a better way of thinking about people online.

  • The Role of the Web, an Excerpt from Understanding Context

    by Andrew Hinton · · 1 Comment

    What place am I in? By giving us the ability to link to anything at any time, the web complicated this question and changed our concept of context. In this excerpt from Chapter 2 of his new book, Understanding Context, Andrew Hinton explores why that happened, and how our resulting “place confusion” affects the way we perceive and use the web.

Issue № 412

  • A Vision for Our Sass

    by Felicity Evans · · 21 Comments

    Sass is a powerful tool in helping us wrangle complex stylesheets. Yet it has its headaches—including troublesome nesting of CSS selectors, code duplication, and tight coupling—that result in messy outputted CSS. Universal standards aren’t a viable answer, as the Sass spec continues to quickly change and grow. Felicity Evans holds that the problem isn’t Sass itself, but the way we use it. In this article, she champions a set of tenets that offers guidelines on how to work with Sass and evaluate new features and techniques.

  • Live Font Interpolation on the Web

    by Andrew Johnson · · 6 Comments

    We all want to design great typographic experiences—while serving users on a huge array of devices. But today’s type is inflexible and doesn’t scale. We can solve this problem by making webfonts more systemized and context-aware, and live web font interpolation—the modification of a font’s design in the browser—can help us get there. Andrew Johnson points the way.

Issue № 411

  • The Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results

    by Ida Aalen · · 30 Comments

    We’ve all fallen into territorial arguments about what content belongs on a site’s homepage. It’s the most important part of your website, after all—or is it? Ida Aalen shows us how to circumvent these turf wars with the Core Model approach, starting with a workshop to get everyone on the same page about what really counts as important—to your users. By identifying the core elements of your website as a team, you’ll make those smaller decisions about page design and content placement a lot faster, and without getting political about it.

  • From Empathy to Advocacy

    by Lyle Mullican · · 3 Comments

    As designers, we’ve devoted considerable attention to the concept of empathy. But how do we ensure that empathy for our users translates into actionable steps that then guide our design decisions and behaviors? Lyle Mullican explores how we can go beyond listening to our users, and start advocating on their behalf.

Issue № 410

  • Tweaking the Moral UI

    by Christina Wodtke · · 133 Comments

    Even at the most welcoming and trusting of conferences, a code of conduct is a necessity. Codes of conduct let people know that organizers are willing to protect participants and solve problems—a way of improving the user experience for our whole community. Here, Christina Wodtke attests to the inclusive power of codes of conduct—and what we need to do to see them adopted across the industry.

  • Conference Proposals that Don’t Suck

    by Russ Unger · · 4 Comments

    Conference proposals seem simple enough: throw your thoughts into a text form on a website, keep them within the suggested word limit, and hit send with high hopes of winning over organizers. But there’s much more to a successful conference proposal than meets the eye, and Russ Unger is here to walk through the steps involved with getting your germ of an idea into a polished state that will impress any committee.

Issue № 409

  • Planning for Performance

    by Scott Jehl · · 11 Comments

    We should build websites that are not merely responsive, but sustainable, globally accessible, and, well, responsible, as Scott Jehl suggests in his new book, Responsible Responsive Design. Our approaches to responsive websites need to consider ever-changing devices, limited networks, and unexpected contexts. In this excerpt from Chapter 3, Scott discusses page load times and the responsible delivery of code.

Issue № 408

  • UX for the Enterprise

    by Jordan Koschei · · 23 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 · · 6 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.

Recent Columns

Lyza Danger Gardner on Building the Web Everywhere

WAI-finding with ARIA Landmark Roles

Between the intricacies of documentation and the risk of wielding too much power over the browser, WAI-ARIA can be daunting. For the dev uncertain on how to fold accessibility best practices into their daily workflow, Lyza Gardner sets out to summarize one category of roles—the landmark roles. They help user agents map out the territories on a page so the user can navigate them with greater ease, and they’re a great place to start getting familiar with ARIA’s part in assistive technology.

Laura Kalbag on Freelance Design

The Illusion of Free

The number of predictions that algorithms can make about us from even minimal data is shocking. Although we’re offered privacy settings that let us control who of our friends sees what, all our information and behavior tends to be fair game for behind-the-scenes tracking. We simply don’t know everything that’s being done with our data currently, and what companies might be able—and willing—to do with it in the future. Laura Kalbag believes it’s time to locate the exits.

Recent Blog posts

Accepting Our Lack of Control

Accepting the “ebb and flow of things” is as challenging today as it was 15 years ago. Susan Robertson explores what it means to accept our lack of control on the web and shares how she acknowledges this in her work—from the CSS she writes, to the conversations she has with team members.

Coming May 6: Sass Talk

To preprocess or not to preprocess? ALA: On Air will cover just that—live on May 6. Featuring Rachel Andrew, Lyza Danger Gardner, Jeff Lembeck, and Susan Robertson, “Sass Talk” will discuss when, how, and whether to use Sass, taskrunners, and other tools.

15 Years of Dao

15 years have passed since we published John Allsopp's “A Dao of Web Design.” Join us as we take a look back at John's piece and consider what it means for the web today.

On Our Radar: Self-Centered Edition

It's all about us this week at ALA. From steps to sleep to social activities, we're counting every kind of personal data you can think of. But what's all that data add up to? How could we look at it—and ourselves—differently? In this week's On Our Radar, we ask ourselves—and our self—the tough questions.