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Topic: Workflow & Tools

  • 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.

  • I Wonder What This Button Does

    by Mike West · Issue 220 ·

    We've all lost work to file overwrites and other minor disasters. There are remedies — and as Mike West explains, you don't have to have awe-inspiring technical skills to take advantage of them.

  • Sketching in Code: the Magic of Prototyping

    by David Verba · Issue 261 ·

    The rise of Ajax and rich internet applications has thrown the limitations of traditional wireframing into painful relief. When you leave the world of page-based interactions, how do you document all but the simplest interactions? Flowcharts and diagrams don’t work. Prototyping saves the day by focusing on the application and conveying its "magic." Prototypes can help you sell a decision that is fundamentally or radically different from the client’s current solution or application. Sit a stakeholder down in front of a working prototype and show him or her why your approach is compelling.

  • Creating More Using Less Effort with Ruby on Rails

    by Michael Slater · Issue 257 ·

    The "why" of Ruby on Rails comes down to productivity, says Michael Slater. Web applications that share three characteristics, they're database-driven, they're new, and they have needs not well met by a typical CMS, can be built much more quickly with Ruby on Rails than with PHP, .NET, or Java, once the investment required to learn Rails has been made. Does your web app fall within the RoR "sweet spot?"

  • Frameworks for Designers

    by Jeff Croft · Issue 239 ·

    Frameworks like Rails, Django, jQuery, and the Yahoo User Interface library have improved web developers' lives by handling routine tasks. The same idea can work for designers. Learn how to harness the power of tools, libraries, conventions, and best practices to focus creative thought and energy on what is unique about each project.

  • You Are Not a Robot

    by Jonathan Kahn · Issue 239 ·

    Are we not (wo)men? Cut us and we bleed. Present us with a problem and we solve it—using judgement, experience, and the ability to generalize. Learn why machines will never be able to do our jobs, and how knowing that fact can build respect for the profession.

  • Avoid Edge Cases by Designing Up Front

    by Ben Henick · Issue 228 ·

    By the time they reach the coding stage, many web projects are a tangle of exceptions -- and that can make standards-based development a nightmare. Better planning may be exactly what you need to avoid markup derangement or, even worse, a dysfunctional product.

  • In Defense of Difficult Clients

    by Rob Swan · Issue 227 ·

    Challenging clients: avoidable pain or necessary stepping stone to enlightenment? Rob Swan considers the benefits of un-perfect clients.

  • Educate Your Stakeholders!

    by Shane Diffily · Issue 237 ·

    Who decides what's best for a website? Highly skilled professionals who work with the site's users and serve as their advocates? Or schmucks with money? Most often, it's the latter. That's why a web designer's first job is to educate the people who hold the purse strings.

  • Stand and Deliver

    by David Sleight · Issue 237 ·

    You've got thirty seconds to sell your work to the well dressed nemesis who's paying you. Handle the next few moments gracefully, and the project will be one you can be proud of. Flub an answer, and you can kiss excellence goodbye. Are you prepared? Can you deliver?

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