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Issue № 405

  • Training the CMS

    by Eileen Webb · · 36 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 · · 22 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 · · 8 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 · · 19 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 · · 6 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.

Issue № 396

  • Living up to Your (Business) Ideals

    by Geoff DiMasi · · 15 Comments

    We all want to do work that matches our values—that lets us live up to our ideals for the world. But we also want to keep the lights on, make payroll, and maybe even grow. How can we design our agencies, studios, or freelance businesses to do both? Geoff DiMasi says the answer is in establishing a vision for your work, and directly tying that vision to the way you evaluate prospective clients and projects—and he’s here to help you get started.

  • Prototyping Your Workflow

    by Mark Llobrera · · 9 Comments

    Atomic design. HTML wireframes. Style tiles. We’re all trying to adapt our processes, deliverables, and techniques to meet the challenges of the fast-moving, multi-device web. But replacing your workflow in one fell swoop is probably impossible—and who’s to say someone else’s guidelines will work for your team, anyway? Learn how Mark Llobrera’s team let go of the idea of the perfect workflow, and embraced a more iterative approach to process change instead.

Recent Columns

Rachel Andrew on the Business of Web Dev

Looking Outside

Partners in a small, close leadership team—such as in a family business—often know each other’s minds very well, and agree on most things. That’s great to keep things running smoothly (though sometimes there’s awkwardness when business disagreements intrude on home life). On the other hand, it can also lead to stagnation. Rachel Andrew is finding that an outsider’s perspective can help when partners can’t quite see eye to eye—or when they agree too much.

Antoine Lefeuvre on The Web, Worldwide

Designing for Post-Connected Users — Part 1, the Diagnostic

How sustainable is a model where social networks take a central role in our daily routine? Antoine Lefeuvre believes there’s growing awareness that social networking tools don’t necessarily bring out the best in us. While we do want and appreciate tools that let us engage with others and do things together, we’re getting tired of the high price in attention and stress.

Recent Blog posts

Prioritizing Structure in Web Content Projects

New content projects present a classic chicken-and-egg problem: should we start with the words, or focus on the structure they’ll take? There are benefits and challenges either way, but Eileen Webb has recently become a believer that starting with structure creates a better workflow for developers, designers and content creators alike.

A List Apart: On Air

Ready for something new? We're excited to announce ALA: On Air, community-focused events where our readers can get to know our authors, staff, and others who are shaking up our industry. Mat Marquis shares all the details, and has specifics on our first event, Designing for Performance, coming up on February 26.

Style Guide Generator Roundup

Ready to use a style guide generator for your next project? Susan Robertson did the research and shares a number of options to try out, depending on your workflow. If you haven't created a style guide before, hopefully one of these tools will make generating your first one just a bit easier.

Thoughtful Modularity

What can we learn from the Mars rover about building the web? Anthony Colangelo describes NASA's new modular approach to mission planning, and suggests a similar strategy for our work on the web. The details of our work may change, but building with thoughtful modularity can help us reap the benefits of the future.

Pinpointing Expectations

In my work as a front-end developer, I’ve come to realize that expectations, and how you handle them, are one of the most integral parts of a project. Expectations are tricky things, especially because we don’t talk about them very much.

The Core Model: Links and Resources

My recent article on the core model was an attempt to sum up two things that I could go on about forever. The Norwegian Cancer Society (NCS) redesign project started in January 2012, and we’re still working together. The core model was created by Are Halland in 2006, and we’re still working on that too! In other words, there is a lot more to say both about that project and the model.