ALA 373: Hack Your Maps, Grow Your Design Business

ala373

WE INTRODUCE new web design skills and share design business growth strategies in Issue No. 373 of A List Apart for people who make websites:

Hack Your Maps

by YOUNG HAHN

Ever taken apart a digital map? Worked with a map as a critical part of your design? Developed tricks, hacks, workarounds, or progressive enhancements for maps? Walk through a design process to implement a modern-day web map. Let’s make maps part of the collective conversation we have as designers.

Growing Your Design Business

by JASON BLUMER

If you want to grow in a sustainable, satisfying way, then you need to pay attention to how you’re growing, not just how much. After all, a bigger company isn’t necessarily a better one. Let’s look at four common pitfalls of growth in the design industry, and how to avoid them.


Illustration by Kevin Cornell for A List Apart.

Big Web Show: Monkey Do!

IN EPISODE No. 86 of The Big Web Show, I interview Monkey Do studio’s Michael Pick and Tim Murtaugh.

Mike, Tim, and I discuss the A List Apart redesign, responsive images and type, CSS Zen Garden, organic design processes, the future of CMS systems, designing a food truck app, and more.

TIM MURTAUGH has been building web sites since 1997 and specializes in delivering standards-based HTML5/CSS templates. His eye for design and serious affinity for clean code allow him to painlessly integrate his templates into larger systems without sacrificing user experience or aesthetics. Tim started in the non-profit world, moved on to start-ups, shifted to an agency, upgraded to publishing, and from thence: Monkey Do. Tim can be found on Twitter at @murtaugh.

MICHAEL PICK approaches web design from the perspective of both art director and front-end developer. He primarily creates clean and concise design systems for websites, but is also known to get his hands dirty with Flash, HTML/CSS, and JavaScript development. Over the years he has worked as a cog in a large agency, an in-house art director, and a humble freelancer, and has picked up a few awards along the way. He holds a BD in Communication Design from NSCAD in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Mike tweets as @mikepick.

This episode of The Big Web Show is sponsored by Shutterstock.com. Get 30% off any package with discount code “BIGWEBSHOW3.”

Third-party metadata, honest web aesthetics

IN ISSUE No. 72 of A List Apart for people who make websites:

“Like”-able Content: Spread Your Message with Third-Party Metadata

by CLINTON FORRY

Spread your content and control its appearance on Facebook and Twitter. Use third-party metadata tools (Facebook OG, Twitter Cards) without feeling dirty.

Material Honesty on the Web

by KEVIN GOLDMAN

Kevin Goldman forecasts increased longevity for our work and our careers if we apply the principles of material honesty to our digital world.


Illustration by Kevin Cornell for A List Apart

ALA 371: Performance is All

IMPROVE UX through front-end performance, and front-end performance through symbol fonts, in Issue No. 371 of A List Apart:

Improving UX Through Front-End Performance

by LARA SWANSON

Adding half a second to a search results page can decrease traffic and ad revenues by 20 percent, says a Google study. For every additional 100 milliseconds of load time, sales decrease by 1 percent, Amazon finds. Users expect pages to load in two seconds—and after three seconds, up to 40 percent will simply leave. The message is clear: we must make performance optimization a fundamental part of how we design, build, and test every site we create—for every device. Design for performance; measure the results.

The Era of Symbol Fonts

by BRIAN SUDA

Welcome to the third epoch in web performance optimization: symbol fonts. Everything from bullets and arrows to feed and social media icons can now be bundled into a single, tiny font file that can be cached and rendered at various sizes without needing multiple images or colors. This has the same caching and file size benefits as a CSS sprite, plus additional benefits we’re only now realizing with high-resolution displays. Discover the advantages and explore the challenges you’ll encounter when using a symbol font.

More From A List Apart

As Always…

Illustration by Kevin Cornell

A List Apart 5.0 – Highlights From The First Ten Days

A List Apart 5.0 - illustration by Kevin Cornell

ON JANUARY 25, for the fifth time since 1998, we overhauled A List Apart, the periodical for people who make websites. In addition to its traditional well-vetted articles, the new 5.0 model sports fresh streams of content in a responsive format designed by Mike Pick and Tim Murtaugh. If you are just joining us, here are some of the highlights from the first ten days:

Issue No. 368

  • A List Apart 5.0 – an A List Apart article by JZ. A tour of strategic highlights, a glimpse into the design process, and a promise of things to come.
  • What We Learned in 2012, shared by some of A List Apart’s authors and readers.
  • More Articles – hundreds of illuminating insights into the design, development, and content arts.

Columns

We’ve introduced opinion columns by some of the smartest people we know in this industry. They’ll appear between issues at the rate of one or two per week.

  • Looking Beyond User-Centered Design – an A List Apart column by Cennydd Bowles: “To treat design as a science is to retreat to the illusory safety of numbers, where designers are mostly seen as agents of skewing the odds in your favor. This can start a race to the bottom…”
  • Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River – an A List Apart column by Derek Powazek: “Welcome to Fertile Medium, an advice column for people who live online. Each edition, I’ll take a question from you about living and building social spaces online, and do my best to answer.”
  • Windows on the Web – an A List Apart column by Karen McGrane: “It’s time to stop imagining that smartphones, tablets, and desktops are containers that each hold their own content, optimized for a particular browsing or reading experience. Users don’t think of it that way. Instead, users imagine that each device is its own window onto the web.”

Blog

Thanks and Praise

Illustration by Kevin Cornell for A List Apart

A List Apart Issue No. 367: Apple’s Vexing Viewport

In A List Apart Issue No. 367, Peter-Paul Koch, Lyza Danger Gardner, Luke Wroblewski, and Stephanie Rieger explain why Apple’s new iPad Mini creates a vexing situation for designers and developers who create flexible, multi-device experiences.

Each week, new devices appear with varying screen sizes, pixel densities, input types, and more. As developers and designers, we agree to use standards to mark up, style, and program what we create. Browser makers in turn agree to support those standards and set defaults appropriately, so we can hold up our end of the deal. This agreement has never been more important.

That’s why it hurts when a device or browser maker does something that goes against our agreement—especially when they’re a visible and trusted friend of the web like Apple. Read Vexing Viewports and contribute to the discussion.

This issue of the magazine also marks the departure of Jason Santa Maria as creative director after seven years of brilliant design and support.

Jason’s elegant redesign of A List Apart and its brand in 2005, together with the master stroke of bringing in Kevin Cornell as illustrator, brought the magazine new fame, new readers, and new respect. Over seven great years, his attention to detail, lack of pretension, and cheerful, can-do attitude has made working on ALA a pleasure. Jason was also a key member of the strategic team that envisioned ALA’s upcoming content expansion—about which, more will be revealed when the site relaunches in January.

Jason will continue at ALA as a contributing writer and as designer of A Book Apart (“brief books for people who make websites”), of which he is also a co-founder.

ALA No. 366: better design through translation; better contracts through design

IN ISSUE No. 366 of A List Apart for people who make websites:

Designing Contracts for the XXI Century

by VERONICA PICCIAFUOCO

What’s the ugliest part of client/designer relations? Why, the contract, of course. Redesign yours to reach better, faster, more amiable and more equitable business agreements.

Translation is UX

by ANTOINE LEFEUVRE

While good localization boosts conversion rates, bad or partial translation may ruin a user experience, giving people an uneasy feeling about the whole company. If we care equally about all our users, it’s time we learn what it takes to get it right.


Illustration by Kevin Cornell for A List Apart

Content Strategy for Mobile three ways from Sunday

IT’S A Karen McGrane world! Today, as A Book Apart unveils Karen McGrane’s amazing new Content Strategy for Mobile, the entirety of A List Apart Issue No. 364 is dedicated to Karen and her vision for future-friendly web content:

Uncle Sam Wants You (to Optimize Your Content for Mobile)

Thirty-one percent of Americans who access the internet from a mobile device say that’s the way they always or mostly go online. For this group, if your content doesn’t exist on mobile, it doesn’t exist at all. The U.S. government has responded with a broad initiative to make federal website content mobile-friendly. Karen McGrane explains why this matters—and what you can learn from it.

Your Content, Now Mobile

Making your content mobile-ready isn’t easy, but if you take the time now to examine your content and structure it for maximum flexibility and reuse, you’ll have stripped away all the bad, irrelevant bits, and be better prepared the next time a new gadget rolls around. This excerpt from Karen McGrane’s new book, Content Strategy for Mobile, will help you get started.

Help Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

Fifteen percent of sales of Karen McGrane’s Content Strategy for Mobile and other A Book Apart books sold today will go to the Red Cross in its effort to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.

In Search of a Genuine Web Aesthetic & Designing For High Density Displays

IN A VERY special issue of A List Apart for people who make websites, Paul Robert Lloyd asks us to put the “design” back in “responsive design” and seek out a genuine web aesthetic. And Dave Rupert shares ways to be thoughtful, not knee-jerk, about high-pixel-density displays, in Mo’ Pixels Mo’ Problems.


Illustration by Kevin Cornell for A List Apart

Duty Now For Future: A List Apart No. 361

IN ISSUE No. 361 of A List Apart for people who make websites: Envision better business models for digital newspapers and magazines in What Ate the Periodical? A Primer for Web Geeks by David Sleight. Then test your site in game console browsers and prepare for devices that haven’t been invented yet in Anna Debenham’s aptly titled Testing Websites in Game Console Browsers. Happy testing, designing, and strategizing!