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