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Topic: Workflow & Tools

  • 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.

  • Better JavaScript Minification

    by Nicholas C. Zakas · Issue 304 ·

    Like CSS, JavaScript works best and hardest when stored in an external file that can be downloaded and cached separately from our site's individual HTML pages. To increase performance, we limit the number of external requests and make our JavaScript as small as possible. JavaScript minification schemes began with JSMin in 2004 and progressed to the YUI Compressor in 2007. Now the inventor of Extreme JavaScript Compression with YUI Compressor reveals coding patterns that interfere with compression, and techniques to modify or avoid these coding patterns so as to improve the YUI Compressor's performance. Think small and live large.

  • Letting Go of John Hancock

    by Bjørn Enki · Issue 297 ·

    Because clients expect everything to be faster, better, and simpler, web professionals must take an instant, foolproof, paperless, modern approach to how clients approve proposals and sign contracts. Implementing an instantaneous contract agreement helps to get projects off the ground, attract clients on tight timelines, and prevent potential delays. All it takes is a little PHP and some PDF magic.

  • Content Templates to the Rescue

    by Erin Kissane · Issue 287 ·

    As an industry, we’ve learned to plan our sites to achieve business goals and meet human needs while shipping on time and delivering compelling user experiences. Alas, despite all the sweat we pour into strategy sessions and GANTT charts, we still have to coax content out of our subject matter experts and get it onto every page of the site. This is where the strongest hearts grow frail, and even seasoned developers reach for Advil or something stronger. But help, in the form of content templates, is on the way. Seize the power.

  • Advanced Debugging With JavaScript

    by Chris Mills, Hallvord R.M. Steen · Issue 277 ·

    JavaScript debuggers help find and squash errors in code. To become an advanced debugger, you'll need to know about the tools available to you, the typical JavaScript debugging workflow, and code requirements for effective debugging. In this article, using a sample web application, Steen and Mills share advanced techniques for diagnosing and treating bugs.

  • Getting Real About Agile Design

    by Cennydd Bowles · Issue 273 ·

    Agile development was made for tough economic times, but does not fit comfortably into the research-heavy, iteration-focused process designers trust to deliver user- and brand-based sites. How can we update our thinking and methods to take advantage of what agile offers?

  • Walking the Line When You Work from Home

    by Natalie Jost · Issue 263 ·

    Working from home as a freelance contractor or remote employee can be a great thing, particularly if you live alone. But what if you have a spouse and/or children at home with you while you work? Every work environment offers distractions, but those who work from home with their families face a unique set of issues—and need equally unique ways of dealing with them.

  • Collaborate and Connect with Subversion

    by Ryan Irelan · Issue 262 ·

    Managing subcontractors and distributed projects is easy and fun. No wait, that's a lie. Luckily, a good version control may be just what you need to keep your projects on track.

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