A List Apart

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


Lyza Danger Gardner on Building the Web Everywhere

How do we get it done, now?

Every new standard has to start small, and we’ll always need to choose which API to back and which to pass over.

From the Blog

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.

On Our Radar: Each Button, a Special Snowflake

What grabbed our attention this week? We’re glad you asked. We’re digging the new design standards being shared by 18F and USDS; reading up on accessibility in design (and the notorious PDF!); learning to run better meetings; noodling around with responsive typefaces; and championing better ways to read the comments. Also, somebody likes raccoons. We think. We think that's what they meant.