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Issue № 353

  • Building Books with CSS3

    by Nellie McKesson · · 22 Comments

    While historically, it's been difficult at best to create print-quality PDF books from markup alone, CSS3 now brings us the Paged Media Module, which targets print book formatting. "Paged" media exists as finite pages, like books and magazines, rather than as long scrolling stretches of text, like most websites. With a single CSS stylesheet, publishers can take XHTML source content and turn it into a laid-out, print-ready PDF. You can take your XHTML source, bypass desktop page layout software like Adobe InDesign, and package it as an ePub file. It's a lightweight and adaptable workflow, which gets you beautiful books faster. Nellie McKesson, eBook Operations Manager at O'Reilly Media, explains how to build books with CSS3.

  • A Case for Responsive Résumés

    by Andrew Hoffman · · 33 Comments

    Grizzled job hunting veterans know too well that a sharp résumé and near-flawless interview may still leave you short of your dream job. Competition is fierce and never wanes. Finding new ways to distinguish yourself in today's unforgiving economy is vital to a designer/developer's survival. Happily, web standards whiz and mobile web developer Andrew Hoffman has come up with a dandy differentiator that is just perfect for A List Apart readers. Learn how to author a clean résumé in HTML5/CSS3 that scales well to different viewport sizes, is easy to update and maintain, and will never grow obsolete.

Issue № 352

  • Publication Standards Part 1: The Fragmented Present

    by Nick Disabato · · 16 Comments

    ebooks are a new frontier, but they look a lot like the old web frontier, with HTML, CSS, and XML underpinning the main ebook standard, ePub. Yet there are key distinctions between ebook publishing's current problems and what the web standards movement faced. The web was founded without an intent to disrupt any particular industry; it had no precedent, no analogy. E-reading antagonizes a large, powerful industry that's scared of what this new way of reading brings, and they're either actively fighting open standards or simply ignoring them. In part one of a two-part series in this issue, Nick Disabato examines the explosion in reading, explores how content is freeing itself from context, and mines the broken ebook landscape in search of business logic and a way out of the present mess.

  • Publication Standards Part 2: A Standard Future

    by Nick Disabato · · 13 Comments

    The internet is disrupting many content-focused industries, and the publishing landscape is beginning its own transformation in response. Tools haven’t yet been developed to properly, semantically export long-form writing. Most books are encumbered by Digital Rights Management (DRM), a piracy-encouraging practice long since abandoned by the music industry. In the second article of a two-part series in this issue, Nick Disabato discusses the ramifications of these practices for various publishers and proposes a way forward, so we can all continue sharing information openly, in a way that benefits publishers, writers, and readers alike.

Issue № 351

  • Responsive Images and Web Standards at the Turning Point

    by Mat Marquis · · 42 Comments

    Responsible responsive design demands responsive images, images whose dimensions and file size suit the viewport and bandwidth of the receiving device. As HTML provides no standard element to achieve this purpose, serving responsive images has meant using JavaScript trickery, and accepting that your solution will fail for some users. Then a few months ago, in response to an article here, a W3C Responsive Images Community Group formed, and proposed a simple-to-understand HTML picture element capable of serving responsive images. The group even delivered picture functionality to older browsers via two polyfills: namely, Scott Jehl's Picturefill and Abban Dunne's jQuery Picture. The WHATWG has responded by ignoring the community's work on the picture element, and proposing a more complicated img set element. Which proposed standard is better, and for whom? Which will win? And what can you do to help avert an "us versus them" crisis that could hurt end-users and turn developers off to the standards process? ALA's own Mat Marquis explains the ins and outs of responsive images and web standards at the turning point.

Issue № 350

  • Say No to Faux Bold

    by Alan Stearns · · 22 Comments

    Browsers can do terrible things to type. If text is styled as bold or italic and the typeface family does not include a bold or italic font, browsers will compensate by trying to create bold and italic styles themselves. The results are an awkward mimicry of real type design, and can be especially atrocious with web fonts. Adobe's Alan Stearns shares quick tips and techniques to ensure that your @font-face rules match the weight and styles of the fonts, and that you have a @font-face rule for every style your content uses. If you're taking the time to choose a beautiful web font for your site, you owe it to yourself and your users to make certain you're actually using the web font , and only the web font ,  to display your site's content in all its glory.

  • Application Cache is a Douchebag

    by Jake Archibald · · 47 Comments

    We're better connected than we've ever been, but we're not always connected. ApplicationCache lets users interact with their data even when they're offline, but with great power come great gotchas. For instance, files always come from the ApplicationCache, even when the user is online. Oh, and in certain circumstances, a browser won't know that that the online content has changed , causing the user to keep getting old content. And, oh yes, depending on how you cache your resources, non-cached resources may not load even when the user is online. Lanyrd's Jake Archibald illuminates the hazards of ApplicationCache and shares strategies, techniques, and code workarounds to maximize the pleasure and minimize the pain for user and developer alike. All this, plus a demo. Dig in.

Issue № 349

  • Tinker, Tailor, Content Strategist

    by Rachel Lovinger · · 6 Comments

    What does content strategy mastery look like? As in any field, it comes down to having master skills and knowing when to apply them. While there are different styles of content strategy (from an editorial and messaging focus to a technical and structural focus), the master content strategist must work with content from all angles: messaging architecture and messaging platforms; content missions and content management. Above all, she must advocate for multiple constituents, including end users, business users, stakeholders, and the content vision itself. Rachel Lovinger shares the skills that go into achieving CS mastery.

  • Content Modelling: A Master Skill

    by Rachel Lovinger · · 15 Comments

    The content model is one of the most important content strategy tools at your disposal. It allows you to represent content in a way that translates the intention, stakeholder needs, and functional requirements from the user experience design into something that can be built by developers implementing a CMS. A good content model helps ensure that your content vision will become a reality. Lovinger explains how to craft a strong content model and use it to foster communication and align efforts between the UX design, editorial, and technical team members on your project.

Issue № 348

  • Getting Clients

    by Mike Monteiro · · 17 Comments

    Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, his new book from A Book Apart, released today, is packed with knowledge you can't afford not to know. A List Apart is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 2 of Design Is a Job.

  • Dive into Responsive Prototyping with Foundation

    by Jonathan Smiley · · 28 Comments

    There are hundreds of devices out there right now that can access the full web, as Steve Jobs once put it. They come with different capabilities and constraints, things like input style or screen size, resolution, and form. With all these devices set to overtake traditional desktop computers for web traffic next year, we need tools to help us build responsively. Jonathan Smiley shows how to dive into responsive design using Foundation, a light front-end framework that helps you rapidly build prototypes and production sites.

Issue № 347

  • Artistic Distance

    by Paul Burton · · 13 Comments

    Pimpin’ ain’t easy; neither is self-critique. If you are passionate about what you create, it is impossible to completely disassociate yourself from your work in order to objectively evaluate and then improve it. But the ability to achieve "artistic distance" that is, to attain a place that allows you to contemplate your design on its own merits, will enable you to improve your own work immeasurably and, ultimately, to cast off the immature shackles of ego. Learn to let your work shine by letting go of it. Acquire the knack of achieving artistic distance.

  • Style Tiles and How They Work

    by Samantha Warren · · 27 Comments

    How do you involve your client in a successful design process? Many of our processes date back to print design and advertising. It’s time we evolved our deliverables to make clients a more active participant in the process. The style tile is a design deliverable that references website interface elements through font, color, and style collections delivered alongside a site map, wireframes, and other user experience artifacts. Learn how style tiles can align client and designer expectations, expedite project timelines, involve stakeholders in the brainstorming process, and serve an essential role in responsive design.

Issue № 346

  • The Best Browser is the One You Have with You

    by Stephanie Rieger · · 24 Comments

    The web as we know and build it has primarily been accessed from the desktop. That is about to change. The ITU predicts that in the next 18–24 months, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most popular way to access the web. If these predictions come true, very soon the web—and its users—will be mostly mobile. Even designers who embrace this change can find it confusing. One problem is that we still consider the mobile web a separate thing. Stephanie Rieger of futurefriend.ly and the W3C presents principles to understand and design for a new normal, in which users are channel agnostic, devices are plentiful, standards are fleeting, mobile use doesn’t necessarily mean “hide the desktop version,” and every byte counts.

  • For a Future-Friendly Web

    by Brad Frost · · 17 Comments

    It is time to move toward a future-friendly web. Our current device landscape is a plethora of desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablets, feature phones, smartphones, and more, but this is just the beginning. The rapid pace of technological change is accelerating, and our current processes, standards, and infrastructure are quickly reaching their breaking points. How can we deal with increasing device diversity and decreasing attention spans? Brad Frost of futurefriend.ly explains how, while this era of ubiquitous connectivity creates new challenges, it also creates tremendous opportunities to reach people wherever they may be.

Issue № 345

  • Future-Ready Content

    by Sara Wachter-Boettcher · · 16 Comments

    The future is flexible, and we're bending with it. From responsive web design to futurefriend.ly thinking, we're moving quickly toward a web that's more fluid, less fixed, and more easily accessed on a multitude of devices. As we embrace this shift, we need to relinquish control of our content as well, setting it free from the boundaries of a traditional web page to flow as needed through varied displays and contexts. Most conversations about structured content dive headfirst into the technical bits: XML, DITA, microdata, RDF. But structure isn't just about metadata and markup; it's what that metadata and markup mean. Sara Wachter-Boettcher shares a framework for making smart decisions about our content's structure.

  • Audiences, Outcomes, and Determining User Needs

    by Corey Vilhauer · · 12 Comments

    Every website needs an audience. And every audience needs a goal. Advocating for end-user needs is the very foundation of the user experience disciplines. We make websites for real people. Those real people are able to do real things. But how do we get to really know our audience and find out what these mystery users really want from our sites and applications? Learn to ensure that every piece of content on your site relates back to a specific, desired outcome , one that achieves business goals by serving the end user. Corey Vilhauer explains the threads that bind UX research to content strategy and project deliverables that deliver.

Issue № 344

  • Every Time You Call a Proprietary Feature “CSS3,” a Kitten Dies

    by Lea Verou · · 36 Comments

    Any -webkit- feature that doesn’t exist in a specification (not even an Editor’s draft) is not CSS3. Yes, they are commonly evangelized as such, but they are not part of CSS at all. This distinction is not nitpicking. It’s important because it encourages certain vendors to circumvent the standards process, implement whatever they come up with in WebKit, then evangelize it to developers as the best thing since sliced bread. In our eagerness to use the new bling, we often forget how many people fought in the past decade to enable us to write code without forks and hacks and expect it to work interoperably. Lea Verou explains why single-vendor solutions are not the same as standards and not healthy for your professional practice or the future of the web.

  • The Vendor Prefix Predicament: ALA’s Eric Meyer Interviews Tantek Çelik

    by Tantek Çelik, Eric Meyer · · 27 Comments

    During a public meeting of the W3C CSS Working Group, Mozilla web standards lead Tantek Çelik precipitated a crisis in Web Standards Land when he complained about developers who misunderstand and abuse vendor prefixes by only supporting WebKit’s, thereby creating a browser monoculture. Tantek’s proposed solution, having Mozilla pretend to be WebKit, inflamed many in the standards community, especially when representatives from Opera and Microsoft immediately agreed about the problem and announced similar plans to Mozilla’s. To get to the bottom of the new big brouhaha, exclusively for A List Apart, our Eric Meyer interviews Tantek on Mozilla’s controversial plan to support -webkit- prefixed properties.

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