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Issue № 420

  • Meta-Moments: Thoughtfulness by Design

    by Andrew Grimes · · 1 Comment

    Does the internet ever stop you in your tracks? Does it sometimes make you pause and think about what you’re doing? Andrew Grimes calls such moments meta-moments. He walks us through why meta-moments are occasionally necessary and how we might build them into the experiences we design.

  • Approaching Content Strategy for Personalized Websites

    by Colin Eagan · · 4 Comments

    Experience management systems are making it easier than ever to customize content for your visitors—but are you using your newfound personalizing powers for good (or for creepy)? Colin Eagan shows that personalization can be done, thoughtfully, using the same tools you would apply to any content strategy conundrum: by asking why, being deliberate, and putting users first.

Issue № 419

  • Building Nonlinear Narratives for the Web

    by Senongo Akpem · · 9 Comments

    The web operates in ways that can conflict with our traditional view of what a “story” is. Content is chunked, mixed, and spread across channels, devices, and formats. How do we understand story lines, characters, interactions, and the role of the audience, given this information sprawl? Cue nonlinear narratives—Senongo Akpem guides us past basic “scrolly-telling” to immersive, sometimes surprising experiences.

  • Do Androids Dream in Free Verse?

    by Joscelin Cooper · · 2 Comments

    From ATMs to Siri to the button text in an application user interface, we “talk” to our tech—and our tech talks back. Often this exchange is purely transactional, but newer technologies have renegotiated this relationship. Joscelin Cooper reflects on how we can design successful human-machine conversations that are neither cloying nor overly mechanical.

Issue № 418

  • What Really Matters: Focusing on Top Tasks

    by Gerry McGovern · · 51 Comments

    Every piece of web content is important—or so every stakeholder insists. But what happens when dozens, even hundreds, of different tasks battle for space on your homepage and in your navigation? It’s time to make some hard choices about what does and doesn’t belong. Gerry McGovern demonstrates how to zero in on the tasks that matter most to your users.

  • Standardization and the Open Web

    by Jory Burson ·

    How do web standards become, well, standard? Although they’re often formalized through official standards-making organizations, they can also emerge through popular practice among the developer community. If both sides don’t work together, we risk delaying implementation, stifling creativity, and losing ground to politics and paralysis. Jory Burson sheds light on the historical underpinnings of web standardization processes—and what that means for the future of the open web.

Issue № 417

  • Initiation to Code

    by Alice Mottola · · 10 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 · · 17 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 · · 7 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 · · 31 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.

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For some, Facebook’s Instant Articles is a sign that the traditional web stack is incapable of giving users a first-class reading experience. But the sluggish performance of the web isn’t due to an inherent flaw in the technology. That particular problem originates between the seat and the keyboard, where builders make choices that bloat their sites. For Mark Llobrera, Instant Articles is a sign that we need to prioritize performance like we actually mean it.

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Being your own boss is awesome. You’re the sovereign of your fate—and with that autonomy comes responsibility for making your business thrive. Your time management skills are more important than ever as you continue to get your to-dos checked off. The thing is… if you get an unexpected call from a friend, can you get away from that tyrannical boss of yours to do something unplanned? Are you able to schedule time with friends or family without feeling that you’re falling behind on work? If you can’t afford to take time to strengthen your connections with others, you’re at risk of being the monarch (and the serf) of an impoverished kingdom, indeed.

Recent Blog posts

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15 years ago this month, a plucky ALA staffer wrote “Much Ado About 5K,” an article on a contest created by Stewart Butterfield that challenged web designers and developers to build a complete website using less than 5K of images and code. As one group of modern web makers embraces mobile-first design and performance budgets, while another (the majority) worships at the altar of bigger, fatter, and slower, the 5K contest reminds us that a byte saved is a follower earned.

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Content-First Design

Video game designers start with the story. What would our work look like if we did too? Steph Hay advocates for a content-first approach to design and walks through how to start prototyping your content.

Context Makes Our Devices

When it comes to new devices, context is everything. Smartphones and tablets gained popularity because they were useful in situations where our laptops weren't. Will smartwatches do the same? Anthony Colangelo looks at the context of these new devices and how they might reach their full potential.