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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 · · 5 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 · · 22 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 · · 62 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 · · 67 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 · · 37 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.

Recent Columns

Mark Llobrera on Professional♥︎Amateurs

Instant Web

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.

Rachel Andrew on the Business of Web Dev

On Being King of a Shrinking Castle

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

15 Years Ago in ALA: Much Ado About 5K

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.

On Our Radar: What Engineers Look Like

If you were too buried in work this week to read the internet, don’t worry: the staff of A List Apart read it for you. Catch up with this week’s On Our Radar, featuring our new favorite Instagram account, Mozilla’s latest mission, Twitter bots, and more.

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.