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Issue № 338

Dark Patterns: Deception vs. Honesty in UI Design

by Harry Brignull20 Comments

Deception is entwined with life on this planet. Insects deceive, animals deceive, and of course, we human beings use deception to manipulate, control, and profit from each other. It’s no surprise, then, that deception appears in web user interfaces; what is surprising is how little we talk about it. All the guidelines, principles, and methods ethical designers employ to design usable websites can be subverted to benefit business owners at the expense of users. Study the dark side so you can take a stand against unethical web design practices and banish them from your work.

Expanding Text Areas Made Elegant

by Neil Jenkins28 Comments

An expanding text area is a multi-line text input field that expands in height to fit its contents. Commonly found in both desktop and mobile applications, such as the SMS composition field on the iPhone, it’s a good choice when you don’t know how much text the user will write and you want to keep the layout compact; as such, it’s especially useful on interfaces targeted at smartphones. Yet despite the ubiquity of this control, there’s no way to create it using only HTML and CSS, and most JavaScript solutions have suffered from guesswork, inaccuracy, or a lack of elegance "¦ until now.

More from A List Apart

Columnists

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.

From the Blog

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.

Ten Years Ago in ALA: Dynamic Text Replacement

Ten years ago this month in Issue 183, A List Apart published Stewart Rosenberger’s “Dynamic Text Replacement.” Stewart lamented text styling as a “dull headache of web design” with “only a handful of fonts that are universally available, and sophisticated graphical effects are next to impossible using only standard CSS and HTML.” To help ease these pains, Stewart presented a technique for styling typography by dynamically replacing text with an image.