A List Apart


Topic: HTML

Proper document markup. Separating structure from presentation and behavior. The lowercase semantic web. Building accessible, cross-platform, cross-browser pages. Using web standards correctly. HTML evolves into a language built for applications, not just documents. New semantics. Responsive images and other conundrums. Canvas and accessibility. Audio, video, and fallbacks. The politics of HTML: WHAT WG and the W3C.

  • Instant Web

    by Mark Llobrera ·

    For some, Facebook’s Instant Articles is a sign that the traditional web stack is incapable of giving users a first-class reading experience. But the sluggish performance of the web isn’t due to an inherent flaw in the technology. That particular problem originates between the seat and the keyboard, where builders make choices that bloat their sites. For Mark Llobrera, Instant Articles is a sign that we need to prioritize performance like we actually mean it.

  • Standardization and the Open Web

    by Jory Burson · Issue 418 ·

    How do web standards become, well, standard? Although they’re often formalized through official standards-making organizations, they can also emerge through popular practice among the developer community. If both sides don’t work together, we risk delaying implementation, stifling creativity, and losing ground to politics and paralysis. Jory Burson sheds light on the historical underpinnings of web standardization processes—and what that means for the future of the open web.

  • WAI-finding with ARIA Landmark Roles

    by Lyza Danger Gardner ·

    Between the intricacies of documentation and the risk of wielding too much power over the browser, WAI-ARIA can be daunting. For the dev uncertain on how to fold accessibility best practices into their daily workflow, Lyza Gardner sets out to summarize one category of roles—the landmark roles. They help user agents map out the territories on a page so the user can navigate them with greater ease, and they’re a great place to start getting familiar with ARIA’s part in assistive technology.

  • Let Links Be Links

    by Ross Penman · Issue 417 ·

    The notion of the web as an application platform has never been more popular. Single-page frameworks like Ember and Angular make it easy to create complex applications that offer richer, more robust experiences than traditional websites can. But this benefit comes at a cost. Ross Penman tells us what we can do about it.

  • Quantity Queries for CSS

    by Heydon Pickering · Issue 415 ·

    In responsive design, we think a lot about space, especially in the context of screen sizes. But the amount of content or the number of elements is bound to affect space, too, just as unpredictably—and if we don’t want our designs to dictate our content, we need new ways to make our design aware of changing content quantities. Heydon Pickering walks us through a new idea for creating style breakpoints for quantities of HTML elements.

  • Planning for Performance

    by Scott Jehl · Issue 409 ·

    We should build websites that are not merely responsive, but sustainable, globally accessible, and, well, responsible, as Scott Jehl suggests in his new book, Responsible Responsive Design. Our approaches to responsive websites need to consider ever-changing devices, limited networks, and unexpected contexts. In this excerpt from Chapter 3, Scott discusses page load times and the responsible delivery of code.

  • Responsive Images in Practice

    by Eric Portis · Issue 407 ·

    When we design responsively, our content elegantly and efficiently flows into any device. All of our content, that is, except images. For years, we’ve catered to users with the highest-resolution screens by sending giant images to everyone. No longer. Eric Portis takes us through the new picture element and other attributes to let us mark up multiple, alternate sources. Find out how to use responsive images now: send the best image for each context, cut down on page weight, and speed up performance.

  • Axiomatic CSS and Lobotomized Owls

    by Heydon Pickering · Issue 406 ·

    Managing flow content can get unwieldy—too many class selectors can become a specificity headache, nested styling can get redundant, and content editors don’t always understand the presentational markup. Heydon Pickering offers an unexpected option for handling cascading styles more efficiently: a variation on the universal selector.

  • Breaking Stuff

    by Laura Kalbag ·

    Designers may do CSS, but not JavaScript. Some may do JavaScript, but draw the line at git. Some may be willing to use git with a graphical interface, but not with Terminal. When we get out of our comfort zone, it’s great to have a safety net so we can learn without breaking stuff too badly.

  • One Step Ahead: Improving Performance with Prebrowsing

    by Santiago Valdarrama · Issue 401 ·

    We want faster websites, and browsers are helping us get there—searching for patterns, analyzing behaviors, and guessing where users might click next. But we know our sites and users best, and we can use that insight to proactively nudge browsers along. Predictive browsing queues up resources before users even ask for them, creating a faster, more seamless experience. Santiago Valdarrama looks at the benefits and costs of three prebrowsing techniques at our disposal.

  • Radio-Controlled Web Design

    by Art Lawry · Issue 399 ·

    Tabs, modal overlays, hidden navigation: we’ve developed many patterns to help us design for mobile screens. But these patterns tend to show and hide content using JavaScript—which can come with its own challenges. Art Lawry explores techniques for reducing that dependency on JavaScript using an unlikely tool: radio buttons.

  • Accessibility: The Missing Ingredient

    by Andrew Hoffman · Issue 395 ·

    If economics is “the dismal science,” accessibility has long been the least loved branch of web design and development—and the least specified client requirement. Type and grids (especially the flexible variety) have fans aplenty. CSS, Sass, and frameworks draw huge, passionate crowds. But even die-hard front-enders and dedicated followers of best practices seem to wilt in the face of today's greatly improved accessibility techniques. As a result, while most of us have kept up with the emerging methods, technologies, and challenges of multi-device design and development, essential and well supported specs like WAI-ARIA remain woefully under-implemented. Even the best of us seem to consider accessibility something to be done at the end of the job. Andrew Hoffman explains the advantages and necessity of an “accessibility first” approach.

  • Start Coding with Wireframes

    by Matt Griffin ·

    As a designer or UX pro, you’ve long suspected you ought to learn to code, but where to start? How about making your next wireframe responsive? When you build wireframes with simple code, you create a deliverable that can be reused while you become more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the web.


    by Karen McGrane ·

    Arguing for “separation of content from presentation” implies a neat division between the two. The reality, of course, is that content and form, structure and style, can never be fully separated. Anyone who’s ever written a document and played around to see the impact of different fonts, heading weights, and whitespace on the way the writing flows knows this is true. Anyone who’s ever squinted at HTML code, trying to parse text from tags, knows it too.

  • Digital Publishing and the Web

    by The W3C ·

    Electronic books are on the rise everywhere. For some this threatens centuries-old traditions; for others it opens up new possibilities in the way we think about information exchange in general, and about books in particular. Hate it or love it: electronic books are with us to stay.

  • Improving UX Through Front-End Performance

    by Lara Hogan · Issue 371 ·

    Adding half a second to a search results page can decrease traffic and ad revenues by 20 percent, says a Google study. For every additional 100 milliseconds of load time, sales decrease by 1 percent, Amazon finds. Users expect pages to load in two seconds—and after three seconds, up to 40 percent will simply leave. The message is clear: we must make performance optimization a fundamental part of how we design, build, and test every site we create—for every device. Design for performance; measure the results.

  • Responsive Comping: Obtaining Signoff without Mockups

    by Matt Griffin · Issue 363 ·

    If you’re making websites, chances are you’ve given some thought to what constitutes a responsive-friendly design process—and you’ve probably found that adding a mockup for every breakpoint isn’t a sustainable approach. Designing in code sounds like the answer, but you may be mystified at where to begin—or feel unmoored and disoriented at the prospect of giving up the approach you’ve long relied on. Enter responsive comping. This new, mockup-less web design process makes it easy to get that Photoshop monkey off your back, and have a fresh new beginning with your old friend the web browser.

  • Mo’ Pixels Mo’ Problems

    by Dave Rupert · Issue 362 ·

    Mobile devices are shipping with higher and higher PPI, and desktops and laptops are following the trend as well. There’s no avoiding it: High-pixel-density, or “Retina,” displays are now becoming mainstream—and, as you’d expect, our websites are beginning to look a little fuzzy in their backlit glory. But before we go off in the knee-jerk direction of supersizing all our sites, we must identify the problems ahead and figure out the most responsible way forward—keeping our users in mind first and foremost.

  • Learning to Love the Boring Bits of CSS

    by Peter Gasston · Issue 358 ·

    The future of CSS gives us much to be excited about: On the one hand, there’s a whole range of new methods that are going to revolutionize the way we lay out pages on the web; on the other, there’s a new set of graphical effects that will allow on-the-fly filters and shaders. People love this stuff. Magazines and blogs are full of articles about them. But if these tools are the show ponies of CSS, then it’s time to give some love to the carthorses of the language. Learn why “boring bits” like selectors, units, and functions will be revolutionary to the way we work—albeit in humble, unassuming ways.

  • ALA Summer Reading Issue

    by ALA Staff · Issue 356 ·

    Presenting the ALA Summer Reading Issue—our favorite articles from 355 issues of A List Apart. You can also read them all as an epub on your Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Readmill, or other e-book reader.