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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

Rian van der Merwe on A View from a Different Valley

Why?

Little kids have an endless supply of Why! Why is everything the way it is? Why do people do the things they do? We grownups don’t pester each other with a relentless stream of why?, and that’s mostly good. But kids could teach us to ask why when it needs to be asked: why are only some people able to build lives they love and find fulfilling work? Does everyone truly have the same chance, or do some of us start the game already a few rolls of the dice ahead? In order to grow, we have to ask the hard questions.

From the Blog

Context Makes Our Devices

When it comes to new devices, context is everything. Smartphones and tablets gained popularity because they were useful in situations where our laptops weren't. Will smartwatches do the same? Anthony Colangelo looks at the context of these new devices and how they might reach their full potential.

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.