Standardization and the Open Web

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.