№ 139: Every Time We Touch—Josh Clark, author of “Designing For Touch”

Author Josh Clark on The Big Web ShowTOUCH introduces physicality to designs that were once strictly virtual, and puts forth a new test: How does this design feel in the hand? Josh Clark’s new book, Designing For Touch, guides designers through this new touchscreen frontier, and is the launchpad for today’s Big Web Show conversation.

In a fast-paced, freewheeling conversation, Josh and I discuss why game designers are some of our most talented and inspiring interaction designers; the economy of motion; perceptions of value when viewing objects on touchscreen versus desktop computer; teaching digital designers to think like industrial designers (and vice-versa); long press versus force touch; how and when to make gestures discoverable; and much more.

Sponsored by DreamHost and BrainTree. Big Web Show listeners can save 15% when ordering Designing For Touch at abookapart.com with discount code DFTBIGWEB. Discount valid through the end of January 2016.


Big Web Show Episode № 139
Big Medium
Designing For Touch

Responsive times two: essential new books from Ethan Marcotte & Karen McGrane

Responsive Design times two! New books from the geniuses, Ethan Marcotte and Karen McGrane.

IT WAS the early 2000s. The smoke from 9/11 was still poisoning my New York.

Karen McGrane was a brilliant young consultant who had built the IA practice at Razorfish while still in her early 20s, and was collaborating with my (now ex-)wife on some large, exciting projects for The New York Public Library. Ethan Marcotte was a Dreadlocks-hat-sporting kid I’d met in Cambridge through Dan Cederholm, with whom he sometimes collaborated on tricky, standards-based site designs. The first edition of my Designing With Web Standards was in the can. I figured that, like my previous book, it would sell about 10,000 copies and then vanish along with all the other forgotten web design books.

Nothing happened as I expected it to. The only thing I got right besides web standards was the desire to some day work with Karen, Ethan, and Dan—three dreams that, in different ways, eventually all came true. But nothing, not even the incredible experience of working with these luminaries, could have prepared me for the effect Ethan and Karen and Dan would have on our industry. Even less could I have guessed back then the announcement it’s my pleasure to make today:

Ethan Marcotte’s Responsive Design: Patterns and Principles and Karen McGrane’s Going Responsive are now available in our A Book Apart store.

It was thrilling to bring you Ethan and Karen’s first industry-changing A Book Apart books. Being allowed to bring you a second set of absolutely essential works on responsive design from these two great minds is a gift no publisher deserves, and for which I am truly grateful.

Building on the concepts in his groundbreaking Responsive Web Design, Ethan now guides you through developing and using design patterns so you can let your responsive layout reach more devices (and people) than ever before.

Karen McGrane effortlessly defined the principles of Content Strategy for Mobile. She’s helped dozens of teams effectively navigate responsive projects, from making the case to successful launch. Now, she pulls it all together to help you go responsive—wherever you are in the process.

Ebooks are available immediately and paperbacks ship next week. Buy Responsive Design: Patterns and Principles and Going Responsive together and save 15%! (Learn more.)

Save “Save For Web”

TWENTY years or so ago, Adobe Photoshop was, as its name suggests, primarily a tool for professional commercial photographers. Strange though it may seem for a company that now sells its software via a “Cloud” subscription service, the web was not at all on Adobe’s radar in those days. “Save For Web” was not even a widely held concept, let alone a Photoshop menu option.

This vacuum created an opportunity for independent developers and designers. Which is how the very talented Craig Hockenberry of Iconfactory and I came to release Furbo Filters, an indie shareware product that let designers prepare images for the web. It did a few other things as well, such as offering garish, psychedelic treatments you could apply to any image—not unlike the far more expensive (and also far, far more developed) Kai’s Power Tools. (And you know what they say: if you’re old enough to remember Kai’s Power Tools, there’s a Drop Shadow in your closet. But I digress.) Some of you may have used DeBabelizer to manage your web color palettes in those days when Adobe and Photoshop ignored the web. Some may even have used Furbo Filters.

Then Adobe created a “Save For Web” option (in Photoshop 5.5), and Furbo Filters’s beautiful market was gone in a moment. All that remains as a memento of that time and that product is the domain name furbo.org, which is where Craig keeps his blog.

I was reminded of this during a workplace discussion about the seeming disappearance of “Save For Web” from modern Photoshop.

To be clear, “Save For Web” still exists in Photoshop CC 2015. But it has been rather awkwardly deprecated, as revealed through both UX (“Save For Web” no longer appears in the part of the interface where we’ve been trained to look for it for the past twenty years) and language: when we stumble onto “Save For Web” hiding under Export, after not finding it where we expect it, we’re presented with the words “Save For Web (Legacy),” clearly indicating that the feature is no longer a recommended part of today’s workflow.

Adobe explains: “Because Save for Web is built on the former ImageReady product (now discontinued), the code is too antiquated to maintain and develop new features.” (If Furbo Filters and DeBabelizer didn’t resurrect dead brain cells for some of you, I bet “ImageReady” did. Remember that one? Also, how scary is it for me that half the tools I’ve used in my career only exist today as Wikipedia entries?)

Instead of Save For Web, we’re to use Export: Export As…, which Adobe has built on its Generator platform. Stephen Nielson, writing on Jeff Tranberry’s blog for Adobe, explains:

Adobe Generator is a new, modern, and more efficient platform for exporting image assets from Photoshop. We have been building new capabilities on top of this platform for the past two years, including the new Export As and Device Preview features. The Generator platform allows us to build new, streamlined workflows and incorporate more efficient compression algorithms like PNGQuant into Photoshop.

The new Export As workflows are a complete redesign of how you export assets out of Photoshop. Export As has new capabilities like adding padding to an image and exporting shapes and paths to SVG. We also introduced the Quick Export option, which allows you to export an entire document or selected layers very quickly with no dialog.

Going forward, we will no longer develop new features in Save for Web, which is why it now is labeled as “Legacy”. Don’t worry; no features have been removed from it and we know there are critical workflows that still require Save for Web. However, Save for Web does not support, for example, new Artboard documents.

—Jeff Tranberry’s Digital Imaging Crawlspace, “Save for Web in Photoshop CC 2015

While I believe the Export As function is built on newer code, and I get that Adobe is committed to it, after months of use, I still spend a tremendous amount of time searching for Save For Web whenever I use Photoshop. And when I make myself use Export As, I still don’t feel that I’m getting the speed, power, and options I loved and came to depend on in Save For Web. This is a subjective reaction, of course, and “users hate change” is not a truth to which designers are immune—but I’ve yet to meet a designer who prefers the new tool and doesn’t feel confused, frustrated, and bummed out about the switch.

What I’m saying is, Craig, let’s talk.

sh: /usr/bin/lockfile: No such file or directory


Mysterious error message after updating to El Capitan: sh: /usr/bin/lockfile: No such file or directory


[I]n El Capitan B4, Apple decided to stop shipping Procmail, and with it, lockfile. It wasn’t deprecated and then removed… it was unceremoniously sent to the bit bucket. So, as of B4, scheduling in El Capitan broke.

Shirt Pocket Watch: Oh yeah? Well, lock *this*!

An Infrastructure For Websites

Josh KoenigJOSH KOENIG of the Pantheon website management platform is my guest in Episode № 138 of The Big Web Show (“Everything Web That Matters.”)

Josh & I discuss how the industry is evolving, how smartphones are driving web growth, the connection of the web to real life (and the notion that there’s less and less of a meaningful distinction between the two), the idealism of the early web, why technology doesn’t solve human problems, why truly revolutionary change occurs only when new technologies fade into the background, and a future in which the back-end grunt work of website creation is automated.

Josh Koenig is a Co-Founder and Head of Product for Pantheon, the website management platform for WordPress and Drupal. Prior to that he was a founder at Chapter Three, a web consultancy based in San Francisco. Josh has been involved in building the internet with Open Source and Free software for nearly two decades.

Sponsored by Braintree.


https://pantheon.io – Pantheon
https://twitter.com/outlandishjosh – @outlandishjosh
https://www.outlandishjosh.com – outlandishjosh.com (Josh’s blog)
https://pantheon.io/team/josh-koenig – cringeworthy bio on Pantheon site
https://medium.com/swlh/the-nine-states-of-design-5bfe9b3d6d85 – The Nine States of Design

Share Our Space (Apart)

Studio friend J. Hische in the big red chair at A Space Apart.CALLING ALL small design and tech firms in NYC: get a private office from $2K/month in our shared design space.

A Space Apart at 148 Madison Avenue (the Remsen Building) has private offices to lease in beautiful NoMad. Rub elbows with your favorite web, interaction, and type designers and publishers in clean, well-equipped design space in historic building with fast internet. Includes shared conference area access plus one or more private offices for your company, starting at $2K/month.

A Space Apart is located in a chic (but not trendy) creative neighborhood, convenient to Madison Square Park, Chelsea, Flatiron, Koreatown, Gramercy, Murray Hill, Grand Central, Penn Station, Ace and Roger hotels, and all New York subways. Professionally appointed shared design space includes:

  • Furnished office space including ergonomic Herman Miller chairs, glossy desks; one room has a couch
  • High Speed Internet Access (our own wires & network)
  • Full use of large & small conference areas
  • Printer, Scanner
  • Mail
  • High-profile business address
  • Kitchen area with espresso machine and designer mini-fridge
  • Cleaning service
  • Immediate move-in

Share space with Happy Cog HQ, A List Apart, An Event Apart, A Book Apart, Monkey Do design studio, and Nick Sherman type designer. Past studio mates include Byte Dept, Danilo Black, Font Bureau, Been.com, and The Great Discontent.

Contact me @zeldman to schedule a tour.

Designing For Touch

Designing For Touch, by Josh Clark, new from A Book Apart

DESIGN’S future is in your hands. Designing For Touch by Josh Clark (foreword by Brad Frost) guides you through the new frontier in design.

I’ve been a fan of Josh Clark’s since before he was “Josh Clark”—back when he invented Couch to 5K, and gave it away with no strings (or copyrights or trademarks or patents, Lord help us) attached. And I’ve followed Josh’s career as an interaction design consultant, public speaker, and author. Guy’s got it all: intelligence, perspective, and the ability to not just communicate, but persuade. He’s a down-to-earth futurist with old-fashioned showmanship. And all that Josh Clark goodness has found its way into his new book.

Josh genuinely wants designers to not only keep up with the touchscreen but also to reimagine it. Designing For Touch will teach novice and seasoned designers alike about ergonomic demands (and rules of thumb), layout and sizing for all gadgets, an emerging gestural toolkit, and tactics to speed up interactions and keep gestures discoverable. You’ll get the know-how to design for interfaces that let your users touch—stretch, crumple, drag, flick—information itself. And the inspiration to take touch to the next level.

Our little publishing company proudly presents Designing For Touch by Mister Josh Clark. Go get your hands on it.

Zen & The Art of iTunes Failure 

REBUILDING iTunes library from scratch over two days got app working again. Fine use of lazy weekend.

Had to sacrifice all custom playlists dating back to 2002, including An Event Apart playlists and delivery room mix from Ava’s birth.

Playlists still exist on old iPod but can’t be copied from it back to iTunes. (All software I’ve tried freezes & fails.)

Playlists still exist as code snippets inside .itl file in old iTunes folder, but numerous trials prove iTunes can’t launch from that folder any more. Thus I can’t temporarily launch from old folder, export playlists, switch back to safe new folder, and import them, thereby saving them.

And iTunes can’t import old .itl files. I Googled. I tried anyway.

13 years of custom playlists. From before, during, and after my marriage. Including one my daughter called “princess music” and danced to when she was three. Gone.

But, really, so what? Over time we lose everything. This loss is nothing. Attachment is futile. Always move forward, until you stop moving.

The Law is an Ass: Digital Law & Web Design with Heather Burns

Heather BurnsDIGITAL LAW specialist Heather Burns is my guest on today’s Big Web Show. Heather is a “recovering web designer,” the author of The Web Designer’s Guide to the Consumer Rights Directive, and the founder of a monthly ebulletin with digital law and policy news you need to know.

She explains: “While I am not a lawyer, the legislators who create digital laws are not internet users, much less designers or developers. Therein lies the problem. I view my work on digital law and policy as an attempt to build a bridge between the two parties.”

Heather and I discuss laws governing transactions on the web, including the birth of the EU cookie law (all 27 versions of it); the slow pace of government versus the lightning speed of change on the web; and why web design and development a seat at the legislative table.

Enjoy Big Web Show № 137: The Law is an Ass—Digital Law & Web Design with Heather Burns.

The Big Web Show features special guests and topics like web publishing, art direction, content strategy, typography, web technology, and more. It’s everything web that matters.