A List Apart



Susan Robertson

Susan Robertson is a front end developer working with Fictive Kin who focuses on CSS, style guides, responsive, and accessibility. In the past, she has worked with clients such as FiftyThree, Imprint, Cloud Four, and worked for Editorially, The Nerdery, and Cambia Health. When not actually writing code, she can be found writing about a wide variety of topics on her own site as well as contributing to A List Apart and The Pastry Box. When not staring at a screen, she reads comics and novels, cooks lots of yummy food, and enjoys her Portland neighborhood.

Contributions by Susan Robertson

  • Writing to Think

    It's true, writing about your work can be tough. Putting your thoughts out there for everyone to see—and comment on—can be intimidating. But, as Susan Robertson shows, it's a great way to clarify your thinking on tough problems, and can lead to new opportunities in the process.

  • Stop Cringing and Embrace the Unknown

    We all have those moments when we're asked to do something new and we cringe. It's tempting to just stick with what we know, but pushing through those moments of uncertainty is how we learn.

  • Building to Learn

    Whether you're just getting started on the web, or trying to pick up a new framework, Susan Robertson has a radical idea: build something that interests you. Sure, there are courses and tutorials out there to walk you through it, but a project you're actually excited about will help you solidify those skills and make them easier to recall when you need them most.

  • Developing Empathy

    Everyone talks a lot about empathy, but distilling that theory-driven talk into practices for our day-to-day work can seem daunting. Susan Robertson shows how she's been able to practice empathy for users as a developer.

  • Practicing Empathy With Teams

    We talk a lot about having empathy for our users, but what about having empathy for each other? Susan Robertson describes how, as a developer, she practices empathy with her teammates.

  • Sass Talk

    Sass. Less. Compass. Grunt. Gulp. If you’re overwhelmed by tools like preprocessors and taskrunners—not to mention all the complex setup advice out there—you might be wondering: can we even write vanilla CSS anymore? In this event from Wednesday, May 6, 2015, we asked a panel of developers to share their stories, strategies, and case studies.

  • Accepting Our Lack of Control

    Accepting the “ebb and flow of things” is as challenging today as it was 15 years ago. Susan Robertson explores what it means to accept our lack of control on the web and shares how she acknowledges this in her work—from the CSS she writes, to the conversations she has with team members.

  • Don’t Forget About Contrast

    That old monitor you've got lying around? Time to put it to work. Susan Robertson reminds us of how important it is to test our designs on older screens and ensure the things we build work well for everyone.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Learning to be Accessible

    I’m trying to be learn more about accessibility these days. Thinking about it more, reading about it some, and generally being aware as I write code what I should and shouldn't do in that arena.

  • Overwhelmed by Code

    There is a constant pressure to learn new things and keep up with all the latest ideas: new frameworks, new platforms, new ideas of how to write code, they just keep coming out. In addition, the ebb and flow of what is desired from a front-end developer keeps changing. It used to be that knowing CSS and HTML was enough, then jQuery came along, then responsive techniques, then Node.js and then Angular, Ember, etc., etc., etc. That list, right there, it tires me out.

  • Learning to Be Flexible

    As a freelancer, I work in a lot of different code repos. Almost every team I work with has different ideas of how code should be organized, maintained, and structured. Now, I’m not here to start a battle about tabs versus spaces or alphabetical order of CSS properties versus organizing in terms of concerns (positioning styles, then element layout styles, then whatever else), because I’m honestly not attached to any one system anymore.

  • Routines Aren’t the Enemy

    I recently read Greg Smith’s piece on Bocoup's blog about how they think about time tracking, including all the fascinating data about how your brain works to solve problems. It interested me a lot, since I've been thinking about not just how I track projects, but also how I structure my day as a freelancer.

  • Getting Started With CSS Audits

    This week I wrote about conducting CSS audits to organize your code, keeping it clean and performant—resulting in faster sites that are easier to maintain. Now that you understand the hows and whys of auditing, let’s take a look at some more resources that will help you maintain your CSS architecture. Here are some I’ve recently discovered and find helpful.

  • CSS Audits: Taking Stock of Your Code

    Issue 403 · 

    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.

  • Creating Style Guides

    Issue 393 · 

    A style guide, also referred to as a pattern library, is a living document that details the front-end code for all the elements and modules of a website or application. It also documents the site’s visual language, from header styles to color palettes. In short, a proper style guide is a one-stop guide that the entire team can reference when considering site changes and iterations. Susan Robertson shows us how to build and maintain a style guide that helps everyone from product owners and producers to designers and developers keep an ever-changing site on brand and on target.

Browse Authors

  1. Ida Aalen
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  4. Dean Allen
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