A List Apart: a change is gonna come, I can feel it

TODAY, TWO invaluable contributors to A List Apart move on, and a new member joins our ranks:

Aaron Gustafson (@aarongustafson), author of Adaptive Web Design (the clearest, most beautiful explanation of progressive enhancement I’ve ever read) and nearly a dozen brilliant A List Apart articles, has been a technical editor at A List Apart for six exciting and formative years.

Daniel Mall (@danielmall) has written three great ALA articles and served as A List Apart technical editor almost as long as Aaron.

Both gentlemen have had a profound and lasting impact on the nature and quality of A List Apart’s content. With the publication of today’s ALA issue, both gentlemen move on.

Aaron is the founder of Web Standards Sherpa (“journeying towards best web practices”) and Easy Designs LLC; co-founder of Retreats 4 Geeks; and manager of The Web Standards Project.

Dan is a former interactive designer for Happy Cog’s Philadelphia studio, former design director at Big Spaceship in Brooklyn, co-founder of Typedia and swfIR, and singer/keyboard player for contemporary-Christian band Four24. I can’t tell you what he is doing next — he has sworn me to secrecy — but trust me, it will be awesome.

Over a long career marked by extraordinary collaborators, Aaron and Dan are two of the smartest, and most talented people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. They are also friends. This isn’t goodbye, fellas.

JOINING US today as technical editor is Mat Marquis (@wilto). He marks his entrance into A List Apart’s world via this morning’s stunning article, Responsive Images: How They Almost Worked and What We Need.

Mat is a designer-slash-developer working at Filament Group in Boston. Mat is a member of the jQuery Mobile team, an active member of the open source community, and enjoys a complicated relationship with the now-defunct HTML5 “dialog” tag.

Welcome, Wilto!

SXSW love me long time

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST Interactive (“SXSWi” or simply “South by” to its friends) has somewhat brazenly announced that I will be the first inductee in its new Hall of Fame. The induction will take place during the 2012 Interactive Awards presentation in March of next year. There will be flowers and virgins. Well, flowers.

SXSW Interactive features five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology. Founded in 1995—the same year I started this website—the Austin, TX-based interactive festival attracts tens of thousands annually.

I hope this announcement will not negatively affect attendance.

A Design Apart: Q&A with Jeffrey Zeldman | On Redesigns and the Inseparable Link Between Design and Content

REDESIGNS REQUIRE STRATEGY, otherwise they are merely reskinning. We don’t do reskinning. We do strategic redesigns that help the people who use your website achieve their goals. Strategic redesign starts with research. The notion that a design is ‘dull’ and needs to be ‘freshened up’ by a ‘burst of creative inspiration’ reveals a lack of understanding of, and disrespect for, design.

via A Design Apart: Q&A with Jeffrey Zeldman | Sparksheet.

An interview with Jeffrey Zeldman

WALT DISNEY AND ME, a typical day, running Happy Cog, building An Event Apart, what’s next for A Book Apart, and more: DIBI, the design/build conference, presents An interview with Jeffrey Zeldman for your pleasure.

(I swear it’s a coincidence the last two posts have begun with inset photos of yours truly.)

Letter of the Month

Hi Jeffrey,

Back in 2004 we had been running Headscape for three years. Things were going well but personally I was a little dissatisfied with my career. I just wasn’t as excited about the web as I had been and was lacking a new challenge and direction.

Anyway, we won a new client that was particularly concerned about accessibility and so I realised I had to brush up my skills in this area. I decided to see if I could find a book on the subject. Bizarrely I ended up buying Designing With Web Standards. I am not sure why I thought it was going to be about accessibility but for some reason I did. Anyway when it arrived from Amazon I quickly discovered that although it did touch on accessibility it was about so much more.

I remember what I now refer to as a pivotal moment in my web career. I was sitting in bed reading your book. I knew nothing really about CSS (other than for setting fonts/colours and I couldn’t see what was wrong with the old way of doing things). However as I read, it was like a slow realisation. I remember vividly turning to my wife and saying “This book is amazing. I am going to have to relearn everything I know about building websites”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On one hand the enormity of what you were suggesting was overwhelming but on the other hand it was just the injection I needed in my own career.

I reached the end of the book and made a decision. I was going to move the whole of Headscape across to standards based design. Not only that was I was going to do it as soon as possible. By 2005 we had made the transition and have never looked back.

So far this is probably not dissimilar to other stories you have heard. However, it doesn’t stop there. I obviously started to follow your blog and you mentioned you were coming to speak in the UK at @Media 2005. For me this was too good an opportunity to miss. I wanted to see this guy who had turned our business upside down. Myself and my cofounders at Headscape booked on the conference.

I had never attended a conference before. In fact I had never spoken to another web designer outside of those I had worked alongside. It is therefore hardly a surprise that @Media blew me away. Yourself and the other speakers were so inspirational. In particular I remember Jeremy Keith’s amazing talk on Javascript.

However, the moment that changed everything for me (yes again) was right at the beginning of the conference. Patrick asked various bloggers in the audience to stand up as he mentioned each of their sites. I was overwhelmed by the sense of community and the knowledge in the room. It left me desperate to be apart of that. I left the conference and started building boagworld.com the very next day.

I guess my point is this. If I hadn’t bought your book by accident we would never have attended @Media and if I had never done that I would never have founded boagworld.com. Boagworld has transformed Headscape and brings in approximately 90% of our new business. You have helped our business grow, reinvigorated my own passion for the web and allowed me personally to do things (such as travel the world) that I would have only dreamed of.

That deserves my thanks.

Thank you.

Paul Boag [Web Strategist, Broadcaster, Author & Rabble Rouser]

Nominations open for the 2011 .net Awards

SUGGEST YOUR FAVORITE sites, apps and people and celebrate the best of the web.

Nominations for the 13th .net Awards are now open at www.thenetawards.com. We want you to help us find 2011’s best of the web and there are 16 categories to choose from. This year there’s a renewed focus on emerging talent with new Awards including the Young Designer, Young Developer and Brilliant Newcomer Awards – presented in association with Happy Cog.

Last year the Awards clocked up more than 95,000 votes, and winners included Ravelry (beating Facebook and Twitter as Best Community Site!), Modernizr (Open Source App of the Year) and Typekit (Web Application of the Year). The mighty Jeffrey Zeldman, meanwhile, scored a hat-trick, bagging awards as Standards Champion and for Design Agency of the Year and Video Podcast of the Year (for The Big Web Show, co-hosted with Dan Benjamin).

netmagazine.com/news/nominations-open-2011-net-awards

Jeffrey Zeldman’s Awesome Internet Design Panel at SXSW

WE KICKED OFF WITH a discussion on web platforms, perhaps the most widely-changing aspect of the web in the past 18 months. Zeldman began with a story about his efforts to check in to his upcoming flight to SXSW from a taxi cab in New York. He entered his details into his airline’s mobile app and clicked the ‘log in’ button, only to be taken to their desktop website which required Flash to log in, which inevitably, his iPhone didn’t support. How did this kind of user experience failure occur? …

“Moving on, the panel began to discuss publishing. The advent of plugins like Readability and a new product Roger Black is working on called TreeSaver allow readers to specify how they want to see content, and the advent of web standards means that content is generally separated from presentation, to the benefit of the reader. Zeldman made the point that the entire platform is for content, which makes it odd when some products are designed with the content being the last thing in mind.”

“The paywall quickly came up and the overwhelming ethos from the panel was “if you have exclusive great stuff, people will pay for it”. Dan Mall suggested that traditional publishers didn’t understand alternative modes of publishing and were attempting to price them at the same rate as their paper-and-ink versions. Mandy Brown joked that many publishers saw the iPad as their saviour, just like they did with the CD-ROM back in the 90s. She also made the point that despite its web-savvy audience, the A Book Apart project’s sales were 75% print. …

Jeffrey Zeldman’s Awesome Internet Design Panel (13/03 @ 5PM)


Paul MacInnes is the editor of the Guardian Guide and Matt Andrews is a client side web developer at the Guardian. Full coverage of SXSW 2011 at guardian.co.uk/sxsw

Big Web Show #28: Finding Your People

In Episode No. 28 of The Big Web Show, Dan Benjamin and I talk about what we’re thankful for, awards, visibility, public speaking (and why you should do it), Pub Standards, meetups (and why you should start or join one), and how to make a change in your career and the industry.

Help deserving web designers find fame.

THE UNDER-KNOWN HAVE EVERYTHING going for them except recognition. Let’s do something about that. Name talented web designers who deserve wider attention. Include at least one URL and a Twitter-length comment as to why their work merits wider study. Post to this thread. Thanks.