A List Apart



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Susan Robertson

Susan Robertson is a freelance front-end developer who focuses on CSS, style guides, responsive design, and accessibility. Clients include FiftyThree, Imprint, Cloud Four, and others. When not writing code, Susan 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 CSS on Growing Teams

    A clear process—based on communication, code reviews, and documentation—will help your team write strong, modular CSS together.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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

    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
  2. Senogo Akpem
  3. Amin Al Hazwani
  4. Lea Alcantara
  5. Dean Allen
  6. John Allsopp
  7. Pär Almqvist
  8. Joe Alterio
  9. Brian Alvey
  10. Stephen Anderson
  11. Rachel Andrew
  12. Jake Archibald
  13. Chris Armstrong
  14. Lance Arthur
  15. Faruk Ateş
  16. Peter Balogh
  17. Artas Bartas
  18. Johanna Bates
  19. Dan Benjamin
  20. Scott Berkun
  21. David Berlow
  22. Tobias Bernard
  23. Mark Bernstein
  24. Carrie Bickner
  25. Kate Bingaman-Burt
  26. Mark Birbeck
  27. Alex Bischoff
  28. Niklas Bivald
  29. Margot Bloomstein
  30. Jason Blumer
  31. Nate Bolt
  32. Jina Bolton
  33. Scott Boms
  34. Bert Bos
  35. Maurizio Boscarol
  36. Mark Boulton
  37. Cennydd Bowles
  38. Douglas Bowman
  39. Wayne Bremser
  40. Harry Brignull
  41. Ryan Brill
  42. Mike Brittain
  43. Mandy Brown
  44. Tim Brown
  45. Sunni Brown
  46. Tiffany B. Brown
  47. Marlene Bruce
  48. Laura Brunow Miner
  49. Carlos Bueno
  50. Jory Burson
  51. Paul Burton
  52. Jim Byrne
  53. Marcos Caceres
  54. Jeffery Callender
  55. Lachlan Cannon
  56. Michael Cardenas
  57. Norm Carr
  58. Ryan Carson
  59. Lawrence Carvalho
  60. Meghan Casey
  61. Elizabeth Castro
  62. Dan Cederholm
  63. Tantek Celik
  64. Steve Champeon
  65. Caio Chassot
  66. Hui Jing Chen
  67. Jack Cheng
  68. Kevin Cheng
  69. Dana Chisnell
  70. James Christie
  71. Joe Clark
  72. Chris Clark
  73. Josh Clark
  74. Andrew Clarke
  75. Josh Cleland
  76. Curt Cloninger
  77. Geri Coady
  78. Scott Jason Cohen
  79. Michael Cohen
  80. Georgy Cohen
  81. Anthony Colangelo
  82. Brad Colbow
  83. Simon Collison
  84. Angela Colter
  85. Marie Connelly
  86. Craig Cook
  87. Patrick Cooney
  88. Joscelin Cooper
  89. Stacey Cordoni
  90. Kevin Cornell
  91. Amanda Costello
  92. Jim Coudal
  93. Abby Covert
  94. Nick Cox
  95. Chris Coyier
  96. Brian Crescimanno
  97. Jeff Croft
  98. Shaun Crowley
  99. Nathan Curtis
  100. Liz Danzico
  101. Anil Dash
  102. Justin Dauer
  103. Glenn Davis
  104. Anna Debenham
  105. David Demaree
  106. Meg Dickey-Kurdziolek
  107. Shane Diffily
  108. Geoff DiMasi
  109. Nick Disabato
  110. Hannah Donovan
  111. Nandini Doreswamy
  112. Rory Douglas
  113. Seth Duffey
  114. Colin Eagan
  115. Jeff Eaton
  116. James Edwards
  117. J. David Eisenberg
  118. James Ellis
  119. Jessica Enders
  120. Bjørn Enki
  121. Elika Etemad
  122. Felicity Evans
  123. Garin Evans
  124. Christopher Fahey
  125. Todd Fahrner
  126. Dug Falby
  127. Derek Featherstone
  128. Scott Fennell
  129. Andrew Fernandez
  130. John Ferrara
  131. Daniel Ferro
  132. Alex Feyerke
  133. Nick Finck
  134. Richard Fink
  135. Detlev Fischer
  136. Jonathan Follett
  137. Shoshannah L. Forbes
  138. Nathan Ford
  139. Clinton Forry
  140. Dean Frickey
  141. Daniel M. Frommelt
  142. Brad Frost
  143. Lyza Gardner
  144. Steven Garrity
  145. Peter Gasston
  146. Anne Gibson
  147. John Gladding
  148. Porter Glendinning
  149. Kevin Goldman
  150. Brian Goldman
  151. Devan Goldstein
  152. Aimee Gonzalez-Cameron
  153. Jeff Gothelf
  154. R. Stephen Gracey
  155. Adam Greenfield
  156. Brandon Gregory
  157. Matt Griffin
  158. Patrick Griffiths
  159. Andrew Grimes
  160. John M. Grohol
  161. Tobias Günther
  162. Aaron Gustafson
  163. Andy Hagans
  164. Young Hahn
  165. Erika Hall
  166. Kristina Halvorson
  167. Naz Hamid
  168. Jessica Harllee
  169. Cyd Harrell
  170. Matthew Haughey
  171. Stephen Hay
  172. Steph Hay
  173. Julia Hayden
  174. Dominique Hazaël-Massieux
  175. Val Head
  176. Christian Heilmann
  177. Hal Helms
  178. Ben Henick
  179. Alan Herrell
  180. Graham Herrli
  181. Lisa Herrod
  182. Whitney Hess
  183. Perry Hewitt
  184. Jenny Lam / Hillel Cooperman
  185. Andrew Hinton
  186. Tingan Ho
  187. Craig Hockenberry
  188. Robert Hoekman Jr.
  189. Andrew Hoffman
  190. Kevin M. Hoffman
  191. Lara Hogan
  192. Emma Jane Hogbin Westby
  193. Anthony Holdener
  194. Ryan Holsten
  195. Molly E. Holzschlag
  196. Sara Horton
  197. Ross Howard
  198. Greg Hoy
  199. Belinda Hulin
  200. Bill Humphries
  201. Lachlan Hunt
  202. Mark Huot
  203. Ryan Irelan
  204. Makiko Itoh
  205. Ida Jackson
  206. Charlotte Jackson
  207. Denise Jacobs
  208. Bob Jacobson
  209. Troy Janisch
  210. Scott Jehl
  211. Neil Jenkins
  212. Leslie Jensen-Inman
  213. L. Michelle Johnson
  214. Andrew Johnson
  215. Bronwyn Jones
  216. Glenn Jones
  217. Colleen Jones
  218. Natalie Jost
  219. Jonathan Kahn
  220. Laura Kalbag
  221. Chris Kaminski
  222. Harvey Kane
  223. Avinash Kaushik
  224. Jeremy Keith
  225. Scott Kellum
  226. Sally Kerrigan
  227. Alla Kholmatova
  228. Kate Kiefer Lee
  229. Crawford Kilian
  230. Andrew Kirkpatrick
  231. Greg Kise
  232. Erin Kissane
  233. Martin Kliehm
  234. Breandán Knowlton
  235. Thierry Koblentz
  236. Peter-Paul Koch
  237. Cameron Koczon
  238. Michelle Kondou
  239. Mattias Konradsson
  240. Jordan Koschei
  241. Nishant Kothary
  242. Jason Kottke
  243. Katie Kovalcin
  244. Scott Kramer
  245. Una Kravets
  246. Michael Krisher
  247. Eric Krock
  248. Andrew Kuhar
  249. Olivier Lacan
  250. Keith LaFerriere
  251. wk lang
  252. Wren Lanier
  253. Simon St. Laurent
  254. Art Lawry
  255. Kristofer Layon
  256. Tina Lee
  257. Sharon Lee
  258. Antoine Lefeuvre
  259. Jeff Lembeck
  260. Inayaili León, de
  261. Debra Levin Gelman
  262. Matthew Levine
  263. Donna Lichaw
  264. Håkon Wium Lie
  265. Colin Lieberman
  266. Dave Linabury
  267. Margit Link-Rodrigue
  268. Caren Litherland
  269. Mark Llobrera
  270. Ian Lloyd
  271. Paul Lloyd
  272. Sue Lockwood
  273. Michael Lopp
  274. Rachel Lovinger
  275. Michael Lovitt
  276. Daniel Ludwin
  277. Jenn Lukas
  278. Erin Lynch
  279. Patrick Lynch
  280. Kelsey Lynn Lundberg
  281. Chris MacGregor
  282. Jeffrey MacIntyre
  283. Dougal MacPherson
  284. Søren Madsen
  285. Dennis A. Mahoney
  286. Dan Mall
  287. Rosie Manning
  288. Ethan Marcotte
  289. Matty Mariansky
  290. Mat Marquis
  291. Samuel Marshall
  292. Lisa Maria Martin
  293. John Martz
  294. Mehdi Maujood
  295. Cassie McDaniel
  296. Justin McDowell
  297. Gerry McGovern
  298. Karen McGrane
  299. Randall Snare and Elizabeth McGuane
  300. Nellie McKesson
  301. Drew McLellan
  302. Mica McPheeters
  303. Pete McVicar
  304. Timothy Meaney
  305. Garann Means
  306. Shawn Medero
  307. Tim Meehan
  308. Aaron Mentele
  309. Erika Meyer
  310. Eric Meyer
  311. Justin Mezzell
  312. Bojan Mihelac
  313. Robert Miller
  314. Robin (roblimo) Miller
  315. David F. Miller
  316. Chris Mills
  317. Wilson Miner
  318. Craig Mod
  319. Cameron Moll
  320. Mike Monteiro
  321. Peter Morville
  322. Trenton Moss
  323. Alice Mottola
  324. Lee Moyer
  325. Lyle Mullican
  326. Rebecca Murphey
  327. Brendan Murray
  328. Timothy Murtaugh
  329. Rachel Nabors
  330. Sarah B. Nelson
  331. Mark Newhouse
  332. Jorunn D. Newth
  333. Paul Novitski
  334. Matthew O'Neill
  335. George Oates
  336. Brandon Oelling
  337. Brandon Olejniczak
  338. George Olsen
  339. Ross Olson
  340. Mark Otto
  341. Nick Padmore
  342. Sarah Parmenter
  343. Rick Pastoor
  344. Dana Pavlichko
  345. Alan Pearce
  346. Jason Pearce
  347. Shane Pearlman
  348. Ross Penman
  349. Nathan Peretic
  350. Yesenia Perez-Cruz
  351. Dorian Peters
  352. Veronica Picciafuoco
  353. Mike Pick
  354. Jack Pickard
  355. Heydon Pickering
  356. Andy Polaine
  357. Christophe Porteneuve
  358. Joshua Porter
  359. Eric Portis
  360. Kevin Potts
  361. Derek Powazek
  362. Shelley Powers
  363. Till Quack
  364. Whitney Quesenbery
  365. Peter Quinsey
  366. Jim Ramsey
  367. Aza Raskin
  368. Jim Ray
  369. Our Gentle Readers
  370. Aaron Rester
  371. Sam Richard
  372. Stephanie Rieger
  373. Nick Rigby
  374. Matt Riggott
  375. Daniel Ritzenthaler
  376. Christopher Robbins
  377. Stuart Robertson
  378. Susan Robertson
  379. Rich Robinson
  380. D. Keith Robinson
  381. Jason Rodriguez
  382. Marco Rogers
  383. Mike Rohde
  384. Pepi Ronalds
  385. Stewart Rosenberger
  386. Lou Rosenfeld
  387. Chris Ross-Gill
  388. Dave Rupert
  389. Andy Rutledge
  390. Richard Rutter
  391. Joseph Ryan
  392. Gian Sampson-Wild
  393. Jason Santa Maria
  394. Cédric Savarese
  395. Sbritt
  396. Alex Schmidt
  397. Christopher Schmitt
  398. Adam Schumacher
  399. Erin Scime
  400. Paul Sciortino
  401. Thomas Scott
  402. Ryan Seddon
  403. Tomer Sharon
  404. Al Shaw
  405. Dave Shea
  406. Peter K Sheerin
  407. Robbie Shepherd
  408. Eric Shepherd
  409. Sophie Shepherd
  410. Nick Sherman
  411. David Sherwin
  412. Daniel Short
  413. Orr Shtuhl
  414. Kim Siever
  415. Amber Simmons
  416. Michael Slater
  417. David Sleight
  418. Kristin Smaby
  419. Jonathan Smiley
  420. Paul Smith
  421. Tim Smith
  422. Jonathan Snook
  423. Eric Sol
  424. Sara Soueidan
  425. Paul Sowden
  426. ALA Staff
  427. Ruth Stalker-Firth
  428. Russ Starke
  429. Alan Stearns
  430. Hallvord R.M. Steen
  431. Joe Di Stefano
  432. Bob Stein
  433. Krista Stevens
  434. Walter Stevenson
  435. Noah Stokes
  436. Elliot Stokes
  437. Greg Storey
  438. Brian Suda
  439. Rob Swan
  440. Allen Tan
  441. Tyler Tate
  442. Olivier Thereaux
  443. Drew Thomas
  444. Emmanuel King Turner
  445. Dan Turner
  446. Russ Unger
  447. Nick Usborne
  448. Santiago Valdarrama
  449. Marc van den Dobbelsteen
  450. Rian van der Merwe
  451. Bobby van der Sluis
  452. Roel Van Gils
  453. Jeffrey Veen
  454. David Verba
  455. Lea Verou
  456. Corey Vilhauer
  457. Sergio Villarreal
  458. Casper Voogt
  459. Sophia Voychehovski
  460. The W3C
  461. The W3C QA Group
  462. Sara Wachter-Boettcher
  463.   waferbaby
  464. Aarron Walter
  465. Denice Warren
  466. Samantha Warren
  467. Dan Webb
  468. Eileen Webb
  469. Rose Weisburd
  470. Yoav Weiss
  471. Lisa Welchman
  472. Mike West
  473. Brian Williams
  474. Christina Wodtke
  475. Carolyn Wood
  476. Jeremy Wright
  477. Tim Wright
  478. Luke Wroblewski
  479. Mark Wyner
  480. Victor Yocco
  481. Indi Young
  482. Nicholas Zakas
  483. Jack Zeal
  484. Jeffrey Zeldman
  485. Ping Zhu