ALA 289: Redesign yourself

In Issue No. 289 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: 90% of web design is redesign. The hardest redesigns are the ones you do for yourself. In this special issue, we look at how two of the great ones handled the challenge of redesigning their own sites.

Erskine Design Redesign

by SIMON COLLISON

In a mere two years, Erskine Design grew from two people working at home into a full-fledged agency of eight, working with major clients. Their website needed to better reflect their achievements, abilities, and team strengths. They also sought to improve the quality of data collected during client inquiries. Simon Collison explores the agency’s thought processes, and the decisions they made as their own client.

Redesigning Your Own Site

by LEA ALCANTARA

Redesigning your freelance website is an exercise in masochism. There are no colleagues to share the pain: It’s just you. As the designer who wrote The Art of Self-Branding, freelancer Lea Alcantara knew her site had to be just right. People were bound to scrutinize any update to the design, and she couldn’t afford to damage her credibility. Follow her process and decide for yourself if she succeeded.

[tags]design, redesign, self-branding, webdesign, alistapart[/tags]

ALA 288: Access & semantics

In Issue No. 288 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: Margit Link-Rodrigue advises us to integrate accessibility with front-end development instead of treating it as an afterthought—an item on a checklist. And Joe Clark analyzes why some forms of writing resist being expressed as semantic HTML.

A List Apart, for people who make websites.

Unwebbable
by JOE CLARK
It’s time we came to grips with the fact that not every “document” can be a semantic “web page.” Some forms of writing just cannot be expressed in HTML—or they need to be bent and distorted to do so. But for once, XML can help. Joe Clark explains.
The Inclusion Principle
by MARGIT LINK-RODRIGUE
To make accessible design an organic element of front-end development, we must free our thinking from the constraints we associate with accessible design and embrace the inclusion principle. Margit Link-Rodrigue tells us how.

[tags]alistapart, semantics, accessibility, design, webdesign, markup, XML, link-rodrigue, joeclark[/tags]

HTML 5: nav ambiguity resolved

AN EMAIL from Chairman Hickson resolves an ambiguity in the nav element of HTML 5.

One of the new things HTML 5 sets out to do is to provide web developers with a standardized set of semantic page layout structures. For example, it gives us a nav element to replace structures like div class="navigation".

This is exciting, logical, and smart, but it is also controversial.

The controversy is best expressed in John Allsopp’s A List Apart article, Semantics in HTML 5, where he worries that the new elements may not be entirely forward-compatible, as they are constrained to today’s understanding of what makes up a page. An extensible mechanism, although less straightforward, would offer more room to grow as the web evolves, Allsopp argues.

We’re pretty sure Ian Hickson, the main force behind HTML 5, has heard that argument, but HTML 5 is proceeding along the simpler and more direct line of adding page layout elements. The WHAT Working Group Mr Hickson chairs has solicited designer and developer opinion on typical web page structures in order to come up with a short list of new elements in HTML 5.

nav is one of these elements, and its description in the spec originally read as follows:

The nav element represents a section of a page that links to other pages or to parts within the page: a section with navigation links. Not all groups of links on a page need to be in a nav element — only sections that consist of primary navigation blocks are appropriate for the nav element.

The perceived ambiguity was expressed by Bruce Lawson (AKA HTML 5 Doctor) thusly:

“Primary navigation blocks” is ambiguous, imo. A page may have two nav blocks; the first is site-wide naviagtion (“primary navigation”) and within-page links, eg a table of contents which many would term “secondary nav”.

Because of the use of the phrase “primary navigation block” in the spec, a developer may think that her secondary nav should not use a

Chairman Hickson has resolved the ambiguity by changing “primary” to “major” and by adding an example of secondary navigation using nav.

Read more

  • Web Fonts, HTML 5 Roundup: Worthwhile reading on the hot new web font proposals, and on HTML 5/CSS 3 basics, plus a demo of advanced HTML 5 trickery. — 20 July 2009
  • Web Standards Secret Sauce: Even though Firefox and Opera offered powerfully compelling visions of what could be accomplished with web standards back when IE6 offered a poor experience, Firefox and Opera, not unlike Linux and Mac OS, were platforms for the converted. Thanks largely to the success of the iPhone, Webkit, in the form of Safari, has been a surprising force for good on the web, raising people’s expectations about what a web browser can and should do, and what a web page should look like. — 12 July 2009
  • In Defense of Web Developers: Pushing back against the “XHTML is bullshit, man!” crowd’s using the cessation of XHTML 2.0 activity to condescend to—or even childishly glory in the “folly” of—web developers who build with XHTML 1.0, a stable W3C recommendation for nearly ten years, and one that will continue to work indefinitely. — 7 July 2009
  • XHTML DOA WTF: The web’s future isn’t what the web’s past cracked it up to be. — 2 July 2009

Translations

Beep

For the third edition of Designing With Web Standards, I’ve brought in a co-author: the brilliant and talented Mr Ethan Marcotte.

Mr Ethan Marcotte

Mr Marcotte is a web designer/developer who “works for Airbag Industries as a Senior Designer, swears profusely on Twitter, and is getting married to an incredible lady.” He is also a technical editor and contributing author to A List Apart, and the co-author of several fine books about the intersection between great code and fine design. Then there’s the fact that I dig him. I dig the hell out of him. I love him like a younger, sweeter, funnier brother.

That’s important because I don’t add a co-author to any book, let alone this book, lightly. In asking Ethan to help me bring the awesome to this substantially revised and rewritten edition, I chose not only on the basis of expertise and writing ability, but also on sheer karma.

In his new role, Ethan joins a SuperFriends™ line-up including technical editor Aaron Gustafson (Twitter), another honey of a guy, and truly one of the smartest, most innovative, and most knowledgeable voices in web standards, and editor Erin Kissane (Twitter), whose mastery of the subtlest details of voice consistency alone makes her the finest editor I have ever been blessed to work with. Behind it all, there’s Michael Nolan (Twitter), New Riders’ sagely seasoned acquisitions editor and a designer and author himself, who first took a chance on me as an author back in nineteen ninety humph.

Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition is coming this year to a bookstore near you. I thank my brilliant crew for making it possible. Onward!

[tags]EthanMarcotte, beep, unstoppablerobotninja, airbag, alistapart, CSS, design, webstandards, webdesign, designingwithwebstandards, DWWS, 3rdedition, DWWS3e, writer, writers, authors[/tags]

ALA 285: Database design, team building

Michael Lopp shares lessons on how to separate office politics from truth when leading a team, and Lyle Mullican explains how the key to faster, more empowering user experience may begin in better database design, in Issue No. 285 of A List Apart, for people who make websites.

[tags]A List Apart, alistapart, database, design, team, building, leading, michael lopp, lyle mullican, webdesign, webdevelopment, development[/tags]

ALA 282: Life After Georgia

In Issue No. 282 of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites:

  • Can we finally get real type on the web?
  • Does beauty in design have a benefit besides aesthetic pleasure?

Real Fonts on the Web: An Interview with The Font Bureau’s David Berlow

by DAVID BERLOW, JEFFREY ZELDMAN

Is there life after Georgia? We ask David Berlow, co-founder of The Font Bureau, Inc, and the first TrueType type designer, how type designers and web designers can work together to resolve licensing and technology issues that stand between us and real fonts on the web.

In Defense of Eye Candy

by STEPHEN P. ANDERSON

Research proves attractive things work better. How we think cannot be separated from how we feel. The next time a boss, client, or co-worker scoffs at the notion that beauty is an important aspect of interface design, point their peepers here.

A List Apart explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.

[tags]alistapart, type, typography, realtype, truetype, CSS, beauty, design, aesthetics[/tags]

ALA Survey Findings Up!

The annual A List Apart survey for people who make websites is the only public source of data on the shifting salaries, titles, job skills, and work satisfactions of full- and part-time, staff and freelance web professionals.

This year’s survey findings, culled from answers provided by over 30,000 ALA readers, are now up for your pleasure on a specially designed website. We’ve sliced and diced the data, making sense of complex interrelationships, and displaying the results in miniature CSS masterworks by Mr Eric Meyer. (More about the CSS.)

This year’s findings paint a clearer picture of the distinctions between full-time and freelance web professionals: how you work, what you earn, and what you love about the job. Interestingly, too, despite the brutality of a global recession that was already in full swing when we offered the survey, most respondents revealed a surprisingly high level of job security, satisfaction, and confidence in the future.

See for yourself. Read the findings.

Comments off. Please comment on ALA.

[tags]alistapart, aneventapart, webdesignsurvey, survey, forpeoplewhomakewebsites, surveyfindings, findings, meyerweb, css, jobskills, titles, webdesign, webdesigners, webdevelopment, webdevelopers, IA, UX, editors, writers, webmasters[/tags]

A List Apart 280

In Issue No. 280 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: Embrace imperfection in design; nurture great content through community building.

Coaching a Community

by LAURA BRUNOW MINER

A key to running successful “social networking sites” is to remember that they’re just communities. All communities, online or off, have one thing in common: members want to belong—to feel like part of something larger than themselves. Communicating effectively, setting clear and specific expectations, mentoring contributors, playing with trends, offering rewards, and praising liberally (but not excessively) can harness your members’ innate desires—and nurture great content in the process.

The Elegance of Imperfection

by DAVID SHERWIN

Asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and the suggestion of a natural process: these attributes of elegant design may seem relevant only to a project’s aesthetics. But the most successful web designs reflect these considerations at every stage, from idea to finished product. Bring heart to the experiences you create by infusing them with intelligence that transcends aesthetics and reflects the imperfection of the natural world.

Comments off.

[tags]alistapart, webdesign, community, social networking, design[/tags]

ALA 279: liquid grids, solid social structures

In Issue No. 279 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: Liquefy your grids and socialize your web apps.

Fluid Grids

by ETHAN MARCOTTE

How awesome would it be if you could combine the aesthetic rigor and clarity of fixed-width, grid-based layouts with the device- and screen size independence and user-focused flexibility of fluid layouts? Completely awesome, that’s how awesome. And with a little cunning and a tad of easy math, ALA’s Ethan Marcotte gets it done. We smell a trend in the offing.

The Elements of Social Architecture

by CHRISTINA WODTKE

While our designs can never control people, they can encourage good behavior and discourage bad. In this excerpt from Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web 2nd Edition, Christina Wodtke tells us how to make products that delight people and change their lives by remembering the social in social architecture.

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[tags]christinawodtke, ethanmarcotte, grids, gridbaseddesign, design, socialnetworking, webapps, alistapart[/tags]

ALA No. 277: design, debug, details

In Issue No. 277 of A LIST APART, for people who make websites: Hallvord R. M. Steen and Chris Mills share the lowdown on Advanced Debugging with JavaScript, and Kevin Potts reveals the secrets of successful designers who keep their eye on The Details That Matter.

P.S. You can now follow A List Apart on Twitter.

Comments off.

[tags]alistapart, design, debugging, debugger, chrismills, hallvordsteen, kevinpotts[/tags]