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Issue № 383

  • Sustainable Web Design

    by James Christie · · 45 Comments

    Do you know your website’s carbon footprint? Or how to lower it? Emissions standards have been set for the automotive, construction, and telecommunications industries, yet the internet’s carbon footprint is growing out of control: a whopping 830 million tons of CO2 annually—larger than that of the entire aviation industry. At least 40 percent of that falls partially under the responsibility of people who make websites. It’s time for web designers to do our part. James Christie explains how to slim our obese websites and simultaneously attack our industry’s carbon footprint, using methods that conveniently dovetail with good business practice and future-friendly design.

  • The Web Runs on Electricity and We’re Running Out

    by Dorian Peters · · 20 Comments

    It’s a humbling thought, but as web professionals, nothing we create actually exists when the power goes out. As we increase the number of devices in our world, planning for a connected web of things in hopes that the poor will be liberated, education will be free, and our fridges will tell us we’re out of lettuce, we fail to acknowledge that we scarcely have enough fossil fuels to maintain the current state for long. Web designers need to be part of the solution—and the situation is more hopeful than you may think. Dorian Peters shows how we can exercise the surprising power that lies in seemingly small designerly decisions to help our industry not only survive, but create positive impact worldwide.

Issue № 382

  • Interviewing Humans

    by Erika Hall · · 6 Comments

    The humble one-on-one interview is the basic unit of ethnographic research. The price is right for even the most cash-strapped team, and with practice (plus a few principles) you can gain the knack for it—even if “researcher” is the one title that doesn’t appear on your business card. The great myth is that you need to be a good talker. But conducting a good interview is actually about shutting up. Learn to coax good data from willing humans in our excerpt from Erika Hall’s new book, Just Enough Research.

Issue № 381

  • Connected UX

    by Aarron Walter · · 26 Comments

    Your inbox overflows with customer emails suggesting features and improvements. Instead of benefiting, you feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable deluge. You conduct usability tests, user interviews, and competitive analyses, creating and sharing key insights. Yet within months, what you learned has been lost, forgotten, or ignored by someone in a different department. What if you could sift, store, and share all your customer learning in a way that breaks down silos, preserves and amplifies insights, and turns everyone in your organization into a researcher? MailChimp’s user experience director Aarron Walter tells how his team did it. You can, too.

  • Seeing the Elephant: Defragmenting User Research

    by Lou Rosenfeld · · 10 Comments

    Silos: good for grain, awful for understanding customer behavior. Just as we favor the research tools that we find familiar and comfortable, large organizations often use research methods that reflect their own internal selection biases. As a result, they miss out on detecting (and confirming) interesting patterns that emerge concurrently from different research silos. And they likely won’t learn something new and important. IA thought leader Lou Rosenfeld explains how balance, cadence, conversation, and perspective provide a framework enabling your research teams to think across silos and achieve powerful insights even senior leadership can understand.

Issue № 380

  • Getting to Flow

    by Breandán Knowlton · · 5 Comments

    When design and client cultures truly come together, magical and memorable projects emerge. These magic projects aren’t random, though—they happen when you reach a state of flow. The beautiful part is, you can get both yourself and your client into a flow state more often by doing three things: enabling immediate feedback, balancing capability and challenge, and setting clear goals with visible progress. Breandán Knowlton shows you how.

  • Defining a Vision: Making Sure Your Work Matters

    by Russ Starke · · 2 Comments

    When an architect designs a structure, he or she can be fairly sure the work will endure for decades, maybe even centuries. Here on the web, we’re not so lucky. Knowing how temporary digital creations can be, how can we ensure our work matters? By defining the organization's vision. This isn’t just about solidifying a mission statement, though. Russ Starke shows you how to help organizations create a detailed story of their future success—and how that story can serve as a compass for both the company and its customers.

Issue № 379

  • Following Through with Post-Launch Strategy

    by Aaron Mentele · · 18 Comments

    Design studios have traditionally worked on a “launch and dash” model: we study a client’s business problem; address it in design, UX, and content strategy; inject templates into a CMS; take the money, and run. But while we’ve spent years refining our web and UX practices, we’ve never paid much attention to what happens months after we deliver a site. If we truly want to help the client whose conversions are going flat, it’s time to embrace post-launch strategy—and stop thinking of it as a bundle of shameful SEO tricks that are disconnected from our work. Aaron Mentele shares how his small boutique studio hired a digital strategist, and the benefits that have accrued to the studio as well as its clients.

  • Client Relationships and the Multi-Device Web

    by Matt Griffin · · 40 Comments

    When you step into the room with a client, you are a visitor from the future. You, web professional, spend your days immersed in the new paradigms of the multi-device web. Yet even for you, the constant change and adjustments that come with living on the internet can feel overwhelming. So how do you think your clients feel? It’s time to shed the vestigial mindsets we’ve inherited from the advertising world—the closed communications and drama of the “big reveal”—and build new systems based on honesty, inclusion, and genuine communication, says Matt Griffin. In this way, our clients will become true partners—rather than confused, anxious bystanders—as we learn to better navigate this strange, evolving digital universe together.

Issue № 378

  • Summer Reading Issue

    by ALA Staff · · 10 Comments

    Presenting the second annual ALA Summer Reading Issue—a deep pool of editor’s picks from the recent archives of A List Apart, sprinkled with some of our favorite outside links. This summer’s picks are arranged in clusters that echo the design process, and like all good summer reading, they travel light. (This issue is also available as a Readlist, suitable for reading on Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Readmill, or other ebook reader.) Dive in!

Issue № 377

  • Designing for Services Beyond the Screen

    by Andy Polaine · · 16 Comments

    You redesign the website for an airline, but who is designing the check-in machines, the CRM systems used by call center staff, the print materials, or the policies the cabin crew must adhere to? Like it or not, these channels are part of the overall user experience. Your website or mobile app might be great on its own, but customers experience services in totality, and base their judgments on how well everything works together. Learn to design beyond the screen. By creating visual and tangible artifacts that can be experienced and tested, you can build a bridge between business and design.

  • Don’t Poke the Bear: Creating Content for Sensitive Situations

    by Kate Kiefer Lee · · 6 Comments

    Delivering bad news is hard, but it’s part of life and business. We notify customers when we’re out of a product they want to buy, and we send warnings when people violate our companies’ terms of service. God forbid we have to send a system alert because our database was hacked, affecting every one of our users. But these things happen to the best of us. Can you be the bearer of bad news in a way that respects your customers? Learn how to create empathetic content for tricky situations, and shape your internal culture to foster human values of support, respect, and empathy.

Issue № 376

  • Designing for Breakpoints

    by Stephen Hay · · 26 Comments

    Text, navigation, and tables, oh, my! What’s a responsive web designer to do? How can you confine your design to as few major breakpoints as possible? Where and when will you sketch minor breakpoints? How should you think about content while sketching? Is it possible to sketch on actual devices, and what are the accessibility implications of doing so? The answers to these and other profound questions will be found in this exclusive excerpt from Chapter 7 of Responsive Design Workflow, Stephen Hay’s new book, available now from New Riders.

Issue № 375

  • The Design of Code: Organizing JavaScript

    by Anthony Colangelo · · 29 Comments

    Well-designed code is much easier to maintain, optimize, and extend, making for more efficient developers. Three high-level, language-agnostic aspects of code design are key to achieving this nirvana: system architecture, maintainability, and reusability. All three may be attained via the module pattern, whose extensible structure lends itself to a solid system architecture and a maintainable codebase. Anthony Colangelo shows how to craft our code into well-organized components that can be reused in projects to come.

  • Writing Testable JavaScript

    by Rebecca Murphey · · 27 Comments

    As our JavaScript takes on more and more responsibilities, we need a reliable codebase—one that is thoroughly tested. Integration tests focus on how the pieces of an application work together, but don’t tell us whether individual units of functionality are behaving as expected. That’s where unit testing comes in. And we’ll have a hard time writing unit tests until we start writing testable JavaScript. Rebecca Murphey explains how to save time in the long run by writing cleaner application code and testing, testing, testing.

Issue № 374

  • Even Better In-Browser Mockups with Node.js

    by Garann Means · · 13 Comments

    Designing in the browser has all sorts of benefits, like producing more accurate, comprehensive results and removing the extra step of converting from image file to markup and CSS. But even sites designed in a browser still require pasting in content, faking interactions with the server, and creating placeholder JavaScript that isn’t usable on the live site. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go from just designing layouts and interactions to designing the whole client side of the application during the same process? We can, says Garann Means in the first of two articles explaining how Node.js can streamline your design process.

  • Node at Work: A Walkthrough

    by Garann Means · · 19 Comments

    In “Even Better In-Browser Mockups with Node.js,” Garann Means explained why Node.js makes designing applications easier and more efficient, and how to get started. Now it’s time to see your new design process in action. In this walkthrough, we’ll build a feature for a mock art store, complete with live demo and GitHub repository. Follow along at home (or in your cubicle) and you’ll have a mockup that mimics the interactions it will have with its production server precisely on the client—without the need for hard-coded data or temporary workarounds.

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