Ten years into the web standards revolution, e-mail client support for standards remains sketchy. A new group is doing something about it. Launched today, The Email Standards Project “works with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in email.”
But it does much more. Already the project uses a WaSP-style CSS test to judge the standards compliance of major e-mail clients from AOL to Yahoo! Mail and report on how they did. There’s also a blog and a list of things you can do to help promote standards awareness and persuade e-mail software makers to improve their support.
We have what we think is a special issue of A List Apart for people who make websites.
Every responsible web designer has theories about how best to serve type on the web. In How to Size Text in CSS, Richard Rutter puts the theories to the test, conducting experiments to determine the best of all best practices for setting type on the web. Richard’s recommendation lets designers reliably control text size and the vertical grid, while leaving readers free to resize text.
And in Understanding Web Design, I explain why cultural and business leaders mistake web design for something it’s not; show how these misunderstandings retard critical discourse and prevent projects from reaching their greatest potential; and provide a framework for better design through clearer understanding.
Plus, from October 2001, we resurrect Typography Matters by Erin Kissane, the magazine’s editor, who is currently on sabbatical.
Apple.com has never lacked for panache. It has always looked more stylish, more elegant, more beautifully designed than most business sites. The site’s combination of utility, seduction, and understated beauty is practically unique—in keeping with the company’s primary point of product differentiation.
But while its beauty and usability have always run ahead of the pack, its underlying source code has not always kept pace. Now the online Apple Store’s inside is as beautiful as its exterior—and as far ahead of the mainstream in web development as a company like Apple needs to be.
One day, all sites will be built like this. View Source for an inspiring glimpse of how semantic and accessible even a grid-based, image-intensive, pixel-perfect site can be.
And next time your boss, client, or IT director annoyingly proclaims that you can’t have great looks and good markup, point them at store.apple.com. Who knows? They might buy you an iPhone or MacBook as a token of thanks.
Opinions are no longer being solicited, but you can read the 101 comments that were shared before we closed the iron door.
One track continues to rule. It rules because you don’t have to decide where to go and what to miss. But it also rules because the conversations in the hallways and pubs can be centered around the same sessions. There’s no “ah, I missed that one because I saw ______ instead”. There’s a complete shared experience between all attendees, and that’s a very good thing.
Slides from the powerful and incredibly useful talk by Luke W. “I walked through the importance of web forms and a series of design best practices culled from live site analytics, usability testing, eye-tracking studies, and best practice surveys. Including some new research on primary and secondary actions, and dynamic help examples.”
Luke W: “Liz Danzico’s talk at An Event Apart dissected seven often-cited information architecture rules and highlighted counter examples that exposed why these rules might be better suited as design considerations.”
Dwayne Oxford: “It’s difficult to walk away from an event like this without a fresh perspective on CSS and the DOM, a head-full of elegant design techniques, and enough inspiration to catapult our work to the next level.”
In Issue No. 244 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, father of CSS Håkon Wium Lie advocates real TrueType fonts in web design, while Iconfactory’s Craig Hockenberry (developer of Twitterific) describes in detail how to optimize websites for iPhone.
Web content is mostly text. Web interfaces are text-based. Design consists chiefly in arranging text to aid communication—guiding readers to the words and experiences they seek. Better typography means better web experiences. Improving typography without resorting to image or Flash replacement and their attendant overhead is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Will browser makers rise to Håkon’s challenge?
Apple’s iPhone is the new frontier in interface design, offering rich computing experiences while dumping established techniques like mouse use and copy-and-paste. Its browser component, by contrast, pretty much provides a normal desktop experience via the standards-compliant Safari browser and small but high-resolution screen. For the most part, then, designing web content for the iPhone simply means designing web content. Ah, but there are tricks that can help your site more smoothy accommodate Apple’s new device. Some can even improve the web experience for all users.
Craig Hockenberry seems to have found them all, and he shares what he knows in a two part series that begins in this issue. I have known Craig since 1996; we collaborated on web-oriented Photoshop filters before Adobe figured out the web. He is a brilliant, funny, and modest man, and now you can get to know him, too.
Both articles are bound to produce thought and argument. Both are at least somewhat controversial. I love them both, and admire both writers. It is a pleasure to share this issue with you.
This issue of A List Apart was produced by Andrew Fernandez, technical-edited by Aaron Gustafson and Ethan Marcotte, art directed by Jason Santa Maria, and illustrated, as always, by the amazing Kevin Cornell. Krista Stevens is acquisitions editor. Erin Kissane edits the magazine.
Danged if Eric Meyer hasn’t launched a product. Eric Meyer’s CSS Sculptor, created in collaboration with WebAssist, makes it drop-dead easy to create standards-compliant, two- and three-column CSS layouts in Adobe Dreamweaver.
As a close friend of Eric Meyer’s, I found out about the product yesterday.
It’s a template-driven, “choose, then customize” application. CSS Sculptor includes 30 of the most common web page layouts—fixed-width, liquid, elastic, and combinations thereof—coded the way Eric Meyer would code them.
Once you choose a layout, you can change any aspect of it, including page width and browser window position. Add background images to any component. Rename elements and restyle at will. Additional columns can be added to the left or right of the main content area; headers and footers can be included or omitted with a click.
A nifty tree view visualizes how your style sheet is working, and lets you quickly select and edit any component of your layout. CSS Sculptor even creates a fully customizable print style sheet for every design—automatically. That’s cool.
I test-drove CSS Sculptor yesterday. It’s powerful and fun to use. I can see this application appealing to three audiences:
The power coder who knows CSS inside, outside, and backward, and will never cease hand coding—but wouldn’t mind working faster by off-loading some of the more tedious tasks of CSS layout development.
The professional designer who wants to use CSS, but is daunted (and sometimes frustrated) by the complexities of advanced CSS layout.
The non-full-time web person, responsible for maintaining their organization’s website in addition to other responsibilities, who believes in web standards and accessibility but will never be a CSS Jedi. Now you don’t have to be.
CSS Sculptor is compatible with Dreamweaver CS3 and Dreamweaver 8 on Windows and Macintosh. It will retail for $149.99 but is can be had for $99.99 through 6 September 2007. I don’t get anything for telling you about it except the warm glow of sharing.