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Issue № 369

Building better experiences—from forms that work for both humans and machines to designs that adapt to real-world conditions.

Environmental Design with the Device API

by Tim Wright · 17 Comments

Real-world factors like low batteries and weak signal strength can turn even the most expertly crafted digital experience into a frustrating clustercuss. These factors are beyond your control, and, until recently, there was nothing you could do about them. Now there just may be. Tim Wright explains how to begin improving your users’ experiences under constantly shifting (and sometimes quite dreadful) conditions, via environmental design thinking and the Device API.

Your Website has Two Faces

by Lyle Mullican · 11 Comments

Your website must serve human and robot masters. An interface that reflects too much of a system’s internals will confuse human users; but if data doesn’t conform to a specific structure, it’s likely to confuse the machines that need to use it. How can your designs serve these very different masters? Jon Postel's Robustness Principle, although usually applied to low-level protocols like TCP, offers a clue to designing experiences that meet human and machine needs with equal grace. Lyle Mullican explains.

More from A List Apart

Columnists

Ask Dr. Web with Jeffrey Zeldman

If Ever I Should Leave You: Job Hunting For Web Designers and Developers

At the start of your career, you’re excited to have any job—but at some point you wonder if there’s a better job out there for you. Is it youthful restlessness, or are you learning to recognize the warning signs of career stagnation? There’s no sure-fire way to tell—but if you’ve stopped growing or feeling any passion for the work, it’s probably time to let go. So how do you find a better job without making it worse with your current colleagues and in your bank account? Jeffrey Zeldman has some tried-and-true tips to make your transitions smoother.

From the Blog

Love Your CMS. (No, Really!)

Content Management Systems—can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em! If selecting and configuring the best CMS for your team’s needs leaves you feeling adrift, worry not. ALA: On Air returns on August 25 with a group of practiced professionals who will take you through customization, traditional versus “headless” CMSes, design, backend UX, and more.

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.