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Topic: Workflow & Tools

  • You Can’t Do Everything

    by Rachel Andrew ·

    In any given day I can find myself reading up on a new W3C proposal, fixing an issue with our tax return, coding an add-on for our product, writing a conference presentation, building a server, creating a video tutorial, and doing front end development for one of our sites. Without clients dictating my workload I’m in the enviable position of being able to choose where to focus my efforts. However, I can’t physically do everything.

  • Hack Your Maps

    by Young Hahn · Issue 373 ·

    Web maps have come a long way. A ubiquitous and critical component of many apps, they’ve also become one of the mobile space’s most successful transplants. The core web map UI paradigm itself—a continuous, pannable, zoomable surface—has even spread beyond mapping to interfaces everywhere. Yet nearly five years since Paul Smith’s landmark article, “Take Control of Your Maps,” web maps are still a blind spot for most web designers. It’s time to integrate maps into our designs in powerful, creative, progressively enhanced new ways. Young Hahn starts us on the journey to map mastery.

  • See What I Mean

    by Kevin Cheng · Issue 370 ·

    We’re pleased to share an excerpt from Kevin Cheng’s new book, See What I Mean: How to Use Comics to Communicate Ideas, available now from Rosenfeld Media.

  • The Future is Unevenly Superdistributed

    by David Sleight ·

    Tools that give users ever more control over formatting, timeshifting, and sharing will continue to proliferate. This steady growth runs directly counter to the simple, one-to-many broadcast model enjoyed by many publishers in the past.

  • Designing Contracts for the XXI Century

    by Veronica Picciafuoco · Issue 366 ·

    A design contract is like a business card—it comes from the same desk, and bears the same creative mark. But it’s also the business card you hate handing out: a folder of legal gibberish with terrible formatting that reminds the client of everything that could possibly go wrong before the work has even started. If we want to address the readability problems unique to our era—and improve communication with our clients—then it’s time we fix the language, layout, and typesetting of our contracts. And who better than designers to do it? Veronica Picciafuoco shows how modernizing your contract to match your carefully crafted brand can also help you reach an agreement faster, and even strengthen your position when negotiating.

  • 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.

  • Testing Websites in Game Console Browsers

    by Anna Debenham · Issue 361 ·

    Today’s game consoles may offer subpar web experiences with little browser choice, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. More than one in eight internet users in the UK, US, and France—and nearly one in four American teens—uses a game console to get online. As more console makers offer internet-capable devices—and as smart TVs continue to enter the market—now is the time to plan how our sites will adapt to these new contexts. Learn how to test your web content on phone consoles; handheld consoles like Sony PSP and Nintendo DS; and TV consoles like Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3, and Microsoft Xbox 360.

  • Agreements = Expectations

    by Greg Hoy · Issue 354 ·

    Every client/vendor relationship is based on a set of expectations, whether they're stated or not. A lot can go unsaid or unspecified for any project, large and small. Not being specific can lead to disagreements, quarrels, and high blood pressure. But, it doesn't have to be this way. Greg Hoy says that while due diligence is important, being vague is a must. Yes, you read that right.

  • Building Books with CSS3

    by Nellie McKesson · Issue 353 ·

    While historically, it's been difficult at best to create print-quality PDF books from markup alone, CSS3 now brings us the Paged Media Module, which targets print book formatting. "Paged" media exists as finite pages, like books and magazines, rather than as long scrolling stretches of text, like most websites. With a single CSS stylesheet, publishers can take XHTML source content and turn it into a laid-out, print-ready PDF. You can take your XHTML source, bypass desktop page layout software like Adobe InDesign, and package it as an ePub file. It's a lightweight and adaptable workflow, which gets you beautiful books faster. Nellie McKesson, eBook Operations Manager at O'Reilly Media, explains how to build books with CSS3.

  • Getting Clients

    by Mike Monteiro · Issue 348 ·

    Co-founder of Mule Design and raconteur Mike Monteiro wants to help you do your job better. From contracts to selling design, from working with clients to working with each other, his new book from A Book Apart, released today, is packed with knowledge you can't afford not to know. A List Apart is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 2 of Design Is a Job.

  • Style Tiles and How They Work

    by Samantha Warren · Issue 347 ·

    How do you involve your client in a successful design process? Many of our processes date back to print design and advertising. It’s time we evolved our deliverables to make clients a more active participant in the process. The style tile is a design deliverable that references website interface elements through font, color, and style collections delivered alongside a site map, wireframes, and other user experience artifacts. Learn how style tiles can align client and designer expectations, expedite project timelines, involve stakeholders in the brainstorming process, and serve an essential role in responsive design.

  • Building Twitter Bootstrap

    by Mark Otto · Issue 342 ·

    Bootstrap is an open-source front-end toolkit created to help designers and developers quickly and efficiently build great stuff online. Its goal is to provide a refined, well-documented, and extensive library of flexible design components created with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for others to build and innovate on. Today, it has grown to include dozens of components and has become the most popular project on GitHub, with more than 13,000 watchers and 2,000 forks. Mark Otto, the co-creator of Bootstrap, sheds light on how and why Bootstrap was made, the processes used to create it, and how it has grown as a design system.

  • Getting Started with Sass

    by David Demaree · Issue 340 ·

    CSS' simplicity has always been one of its most welcome features. But as our sites and apps get bigger and become more complex, and target a wider range of devices and screen sizes, this simplicity, so welcome as we first started to move away from font tags and table-based layouts, has become a liability. Fortunately, a few years ago developers Hampton Catlin and Nathan Weizenbaum created a new style sheet syntax with features to help make our increasingly complex CSS easier to write and manage, and then used a preprocessor to translate the new smart syntax into the old, dumb CSS that browsers understand. Learn how Sass ("syntactically awesome style sheets") can help simplify the creation, updating, and maintenance of powerful sites and apps.

  • A Modest Proposal

    by Nathan Peretic · Issue 330 ·

    Comedy is easy, proposals are hard. Even the toughest creative pros cringe when it’s time to put one together. Yet doing so is essential if you want to keep your doors open. A compelling proposal requires more than a jumble of clichés and a nervous estimate of costs. It needs structure, organization, and joie de vivre. Fortunately, you can provide that structure, no matter how complicated the final proposal needs to be. Learn the key questions every client needs answered, and how to use them as the basis of a proposal that convinces your client you’re the right team for the job.

  • Modern Debugging Tips and Tricks

    by Tiffany B. Brown · Issue 328 ·

    Making sure that your site works as expected in different browsers and devices can challenge even the most savvy web worker. Join Tiffany B. Brown as she explains error thowing and handling, code injection, and mobile debugging using JavaScript.

  • Rapid Prototyping with Sinatra

    by Al Shaw · Issue 324 ·

    If you’re a web designer or developer, you're well acquainted with prototyping. From raw wireframing to creating interfaces in Photoshop, designers map out how sites will work before they create them. Over the past few years, the protoyping process has changed significantly. With browser makers generally agreeing on web standards and the rise of tools such as Firebug and WebKit’s web inspector, we can sometimes skip Photoshop and go straight to the browser. Plus, JavaScript frameworks like jQuery let us play with browser events with only a few lines of code. But what if we need to do even more? As websites increasingly become web apps, we now need to prototype backend functionality, too. Learn how Sinatra, a so-called “micro” web framework, helps you create real (albeit simple) web apps extremely fast, letting you prototype flows and behavior you may want to integrate into a final product.

  • Testing Content

    by Angela Colter · Issue 320 ·

    Whether the purpose of your site is to convince people to do something, to buy something, or simply to inform, testing only whether they can find information or complete transactions is a missed opportunity: Is the content appropriate for the audience? Can they read and understand what you’ve written? Angela Colter shows how to predict whether your content will work (without users) and test whether it does work (with users). While you can't test every sentence on your site, you don’t need to. Focus on tasks that are critical to your users and your business. Learn how to test the content to find out if and where your site falls short.

  • Get Started with Git

    by Al Shaw · Issue 317 ·

    Version control: It isn’t just for coders anymore. If you’re a writer, editor, or a designer who works iteratively on the web and you want to reshuffle or combine pieces of your work quickly and efficiently, version control is for you, too. Al Shaw shows us how easy it is to install, set up, and work with Git—open-source, version control software that offers you much, much, more than just “undo.”

  • JavaScript Minification Part II

    by Nicholas C. Zakas · Issue 310 ·

    Variable naming can be a source of coding angst for humans trying to understand code. Once you're sure that a human doesn't need to interpret your JavaScript code, variables simply become generic placeholders for values. Nicholas C. Zakas shows us how to further minify JavaScript by replacing local variable names with the YUI Compressor.

  • Stop Forking with CSS3

    by Aaron Gustafson · Issue 308 ·

    You may remember when JavaScript was a dark art. It earned that reputation because, in order to do anything with even the teensiest bit of cross-browser consistency, you had to fork your code for various versions of Netscape and IE. Today, thanks to web standards advocacy and diligent JavaScript library authors, our code is relatively fork-free. Alas, in our rush to use some of the features available in CSS3, we've fallen off the wagon. Enter Aaron Gustafson’s eCSStender, a JavaScript library that lets you use CSS3 properties and selectors while keeping your code fork- and hack-free.

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