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Issue № 361

  • Testing Websites in Game Console Browsers

    by Anna Debenham · · 22 Comments

    Today’s game consoles may offer subpar web experiences with little browser choice, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. More than one in eight internet users in the UK, US, and France—and nearly one in four American teens—uses a game console to get online. As more console makers offer internet-capable devices—and as smart TVs continue to enter the market—now is the time to plan how our sites will adapt to these new contexts. Learn how to test your web content on phone consoles; handheld consoles like Sony PSP and Nintendo DS; and TV consoles like Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, and Microsoft Xbox 360.

  • What Ate the Periodical? A Primer for Web Geeks

    by David Sleight · · 14 Comments

    We’ve all heard about the painful transition newspapers and magazines are going through. Two decades after the arrival of the web, the search for durable, profitable business models that make sense in the digital age goes on. And it isn’t going well. Advertising, subscriptions, and data-as-service have failed. Now is the time for web developers, designers, and digital strategists of all stripes to lead experiments with making (and saving) money from the things technology and the web are good at.

Issue № 360

  • Findings from the Survey, 2011

    by ALA Staff · · 11 Comments

    At A List Apart, we are perpetually and ever more deeply curious about the lives and livings of people who make websites. It is a curiosity many of you share. Each year, when we post our Survey For People Who Make Websites, thousands of you take time to complete it. The resulting data presents a living picture of the businesses, backgrounds, and aspirations of professional web workers most everywhere. Presenting the findings of the 2011 survey. Dive in boldly, find out how your situation compares to others’, and keep building respect for this most elegant of professions.

Issue № 359

  • Usable yet Useless: Why Every Business Needs Product Discovery

    by Rian Van Der Merwe · · 5 Comments

    Brasília is a remarkable, bizarre city. An architectural gem built to be Brazil’s “shiny citadel,” it’s now known as a violent, crime-ridden, and congested city—because the architects who designed it weren’t thinking about the millions of people who would live there. This myopia echoes across today’s web landscape as well, where we see monuments erected not for their users, but for the people who built them—and the VCs who are scouting them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Rian van der Merwe shows us how to discover before we build.

  • Being Real Builds Trust

    by Steph Hay · · 28 Comments

    Tons of products and services are the best, easiest, simplest, smartest things ever. They also all increase profits, decrease costs, and save you time. And as a result, they all sound the same. These kinds of qualifiers overrun our content because we’re constantly looking around at what everyone else is doing, rather than being honest about who we are. But trust inspires confidence, and it’s confidence that compels decision-making. Steph Hay shows us how to win customers by being real with our content.

Issue № 358

  • Learning to Love the Boring Bits of CSS

    by Peter Gasston · · 27 Comments

    The future of CSS gives us much to be excited about: On the one hand, there’s a whole range of new methods that are going to revolutionize the way we lay out pages on the web; on the other, there’s a new set of graphical effects that will allow on-the-fly filters and shaders. People love this stuff. Magazines and blogs are full of articles about them. But if these tools are the show ponies of CSS, then it’s time to give some love to the carthorses of the language. Learn why “boring bits” like selectors, units, and functions will be revolutionary to the way we work—albeit in humble, unassuming ways.

  • Everything in its Right Pace

    by Hannah Donovan · · 15 Comments

    The real-time web started as something we did because we could. Technological advancements like more efficient ways to retrieve large amounts of data, the cloud, and the little computers we now carry around in our pockets made it just a really sexy problem to solve. Successful experiments turned into trends, and those trends are now becoming unquestioned convention. But does the always-on, pull-to-refresh design of Twitter and Facebook make sense your product? Hannah Donovan explores whether real time is the right choice—and how we can instead consider pace.

Issue № 357

  • Beyond Usability Testing

    by Devan Goldstein · · 2 Comments

    To be sure we're designing the right experience for the right audience, there's no substitute for research conducted with actual users. Like any research method, though, usability testing has its drawbacks. Most importantly, it isn't cheap. Fortunately, there are other usability research methods at our disposal. The standouts, expert review and heuristic evaluation, are easy to add to a design and development process almost regardless of budget or resource concerns. Explore these techniques, learn their advantages and disadvantages, and get the low-down on how to include them in your projects.

  • Product Management for the Web

    by Kristofer Layon · · 5 Comments

    Whether we prototype, write, design, develop, or test as part of building the web, we're creating something hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of people will use. But how do we know that we're creating the right enhancements for the web, at the right time, and for the right customers? Because our client or boss asked us to? And how do they know? Enter product management for the web, bridging the gap between leadership and customers on one side, and the user experience, content strategy, design, and development team on the other. Learn to set priorities that gradually but steadily make your product (and the web) better.

Issue № 356

  • ALA Summer Reading Issue

    by ALA Staff · · 2 Comments

    Presenting the ALA Summer Reading Issue—our favorite articles from 355 issues of A List Apart. You can also read them all as an epub on your Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Readmill, or other e-book reader.

Issue № 355

  • Improvising in the Boardroom

    by Matt Griffin · · 5 Comments

    Stop over-preparing for client pitch meetings. Approach them the way musicians approach improvisation: open your ears and listen. Matt Griffin tells how to forget the slideshows, be genuine, the person that you are every day in your job, and win the clients you should win.

Issue № 354

  • Agreements = Expectations

    by Greg Hoy · · 18 Comments

    Every client/vendor relationship is based on a set of expectations, whether they're stated or not. A lot can go unsaid or unspecified for any project, large and small. Not being specific can lead to disagreements, quarrels, and high blood pressure. But, it doesn't have to be this way. Greg Hoy says that while due diligence is important, being vague is a must. Yes, you read that right.

  • Facilitating Great Design

    by Kevin M. Hoffman · · 6 Comments

    Imagine the most fulfilling, collaborative design meeting you've ever had. Hours seemed to fly by, and those hours were productive. Political and mental barriers melted away and in their place were innovative ideas, or realistic solutions for complex problems. For several shining moments the team worked as one; the conversation or the activity was equally fun and productive, and you left the room feeling smart and empowered. It's highly likely that someone in that meeting was a facilitator, either by design or by accident. Kevin M. Hoffman leads us through what it takes to facilitate great design.

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 · · 34 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.

Recent Columns

Matt Griffin on How We Work

Being Profitable

So you own a business. It’s the best job you’ve ever had, and it will be forever—as long as the business stays viable. That means understanding when it's profitable, and when you may have to make some adjustments. Don’t worry—it doesn’t require an accounting degree and it won’t turn you into a greedy industrialist.

Laura Kalbag on Freelance Design

I Don’t Like It

The most dreaded of all design feedback is the peremptory, “I don’t like it.” Rather than slinking back to the drawing board, it’s important to get clarity on what the client is reacting to. Guiding this conversation can turn a show-stopper into a mutual win.

Recent Blog posts

Valediction

When I first met Kevin Cornell in the early 2000s, he was employing his illustration talent mainly to draw caricatures of his fellow designers at a small Philadelphia design studio. Even in that rough, dashed-off state, his work floored me. It was as if Charles Addams and my favorite Mad Magazine illustrators from the 1960s had blended their DNA to spawn the perfect artist.

My Favorite Kevin Cornell

After 200 issues—yes, two hundred—Kevin Cornell is retiring from his post as A List Apart’s staff illustrator. Tomorrow’s issue will be the last one featuring new illustrations from him.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Not too long ago, I had a few rough days in support of a client project. The client had a big content release, complete with a media embargo and the like. I woke up on the day of the launch, and things were bad. I was staring straight into a wall of red.

Ten CSS One-Liners to Replace Native Apps

Håkon Wium Lie is the father of CSS, the CTO of Opera, and a pioneer advocate for web standards. Earlier this year, we published his blog post, “CSS Regions Considered Harmful.” When Håkon speaks, whether we always agree or not, we listen. Today, Håkon introduces CSS Figures and argues their case.

Longform Content with Craft Matrix

Jason Santa Maria recently shared some thoughts about pacing content, and my developer brain couldn’t help but think about how I’d go about building the examples he talked about. The one fool-proof way to achieve heavily art-directed layouts like those is to write the HTML by hand. The problem is that content managers are not always developers, and the code can get complex pretty quickly. That’s why we use content management systems—to give content managers easier and more powerful control over content.