Live today from 3:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern Time, I’m this week’s guest on “Design Matters with Debbie Millman,” the leading internet talk radio show on the “challenging and compelling canvas of today’s design world.”
If you listen live today at 3:00 pm ET, you can use a call-in number to participate in the show.
Voted “Most Popular Podcast” by the readers of if! Magazine, “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” is an opinionated internet talk radio show with over 150,000 listeners. Previous guests have included Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister, and Ellen Lupton.
The show is produced in the Empire State Building in NYC.
The WCAG Samurai Errata for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 are published as an alternative to WCAG 2. “You may comply with WCAG 2, or with these errata, or with neither, but not with both at once.” Published 26 February 2008. Read the intro first.
Free Mac OS X application lets you share files fast. Drag any file or folder onto the Dockdrop dock icon, then choose how you want to send it. Dockdrop uploads it and puts a URL for your upload on the clipboard, ready for pasting into an email, chat program or website.
An Event Apart, the design conference for people who make websites, kicks off its 2008 season with An Event Apart New Orleans, a monster, 19-hour, two-day creative session. Join us April 24–25 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside for two intense, 9.5-hour-long days of learning and inspiration, featuring twelve of your favorite web design authors.
See Dave Shea, co-author, Zen of CSS Design, explore what makes sites flexible visually, experientially, and code-wise.
See Jeff Veen, design manager, Google, explore how new thinking, born of creating the latest generation of web apps, is being infused into design practices.
See Robert Hoekman Jr., author, Designing the Obvious, perform slam-bang, on-the-spot usability reviews of sites submitted by our live audience on the fly.
See Cameron Moll, author, Mobile Web Design, uncover the differences between good and great design.
See Andy Clarke, author, Transcending CSS, explain how comic books inspire his award-winning web layouts.
See Stephanie Sullivan, co-author, Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS3, explore practical, standards-based approaches and techniques to some of today’s toughtest design challenges.
See Aarron Walter, author, Building Findable Web Sites, explain “findability bliss through web standards SEO”
See Brian Oberkirch, Publisher, Like It Matters, review, catalog, dissect, and champion small design victories that daisy chain to create a delightful overall user experience.
See Jason Santa Maria, designer, Happy Cog, share techniques for maintaining individuality and brand distinction in a world of generic templates and design sameness.
See An Event Apart co-founder Eric Meyer, author, CSS: The Definitive Guide, present two new talks that shed brilliant light on the darkest corners of CSS.
As for me, I’ll be doing two new sessions on the whatness of web design (what it is, what it ain’t, and why it matters) and the whereness of web standards (as in, where we are with them).
It’s the longest, biggest, densest, hardest, coolest show we’ve ever done, and we’re doing it where Louis learned to blow his horn. Join us if you can.
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.
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.
If you develop green technologies, you dream of selling your idea to Al Gore. If you run a design agency, you fantasize about winning AIGA as a client. Originally founded as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA sets the agenda for design as a profession, an art, and a political and cultural phenomenon. In the world of design, at least in the U.S., there is nothing higher.
When AIGA approached Happy Cog to redesign their site, we figured we had no chance at all. With nothing to lose, we spoke bluntly.
We told them they had fifteen years of great content that nobody could find. We suggested that an emerging class of designers who needed what AIGA had to offer did not know AIGA and could not connect with its web presence. The site could do more, and had to do more, to reach these users. We said AIGA’s site above all others should make brilliant use of typography. It should be a joy to read—and it was not.
I reckoned AIGA would hire a more obviously design-focused shop. “Designy design” agencies is how I think of such places, and I mean no disrespect by it. AIGA would, I figured, shrug off our fairly harsh words and choose someone more agreeable. Instead, they hired us.
Months of intense collaboration later, Happy Cog’s redesign of AIGA has launched. We junked the old structure, flattened the hierarchy, and surfaced the content. We gave the site’s years of brilliant writing by the likes of Ellen Lupton and Steven Heller an appropriately readable home—one that demonstrates what web typography can achieve.
And to make the site as inspirational as it is educational, we introduced a second narrative to the user experience: dynamically chosen selections from AIGA’s design archives visually intrude at the top of every page, inviting designers to dive into the archives whenever they seek refreshment.
AIGA’s Ric Grefé, Denise Wood, Liz Danzico, and Kelly McLaughlin guided us throughout the process. They are brilliant collaborators. Chicago’s Thirdwave created the robust and sophisticated back-end architecture required to support our detailed and unusual design requirements.
Thousands of pages of old content, none of it semantically marked up, and none of it structured to match our new requirements, have been fairly seamlessly integrated into the new design. Naturally there are still some bugs (not to mention validation hiccups) to work out. AIGA, Thirdwave, and Happy Cog will be working to patch these little bumps in the days ahead.
I creative directed the project, but its quality is purely due to the incredible team that worked on it:
Registration is now open for An Event Apart Boston 2007. Enjoy two amazing days of design and code plus meals, a party, and a bag of swag for a mere $795 (reg. $895) while early bird savings last. Attend for as little as $745 with a discount code exclusively for zeldman.com readers.
Learn by day, party by night
On An Event Apart’s website, you’ll now find a detailed schedule describing the presentations with which our superstar speakers hope to entertain and enlighten you. From “Web Standards Stole My Truck!” to “Redesigning Your Way out of a Paper Bag,” it’s two stimulating days of best practices and fresh ideas in design, usability, accessibility, markup and code.
Lest you be overwhelmed by learning too much too soon, we’ll help you unwind (and do a little networking) at the Opening Night Party sponsored by Media Temple. You might even win a prize, courtesy of Adobe, New Riders, or Media Temple.
Our Boston Events page also includes notes to help you book your hotel room at a specially negotiated discount price.
Located in beautiful and historic Back Bay, the Boston Marriott Copley Place provides in-room, high-speed internet access; laptop safes and coolers; 27-inch color TV with cable movies; luxurious bedding and linens, and more. Best of all, it’s the site of the conference. You can walk out of your room and into the show!
Save more with discount code
During the early bird period, the price for this two-day event is $795. But you can nab an extra $50 off with this discount code exclusively for zeldman.com readers:
Just enter AEAZELD in An Event Apart’s shopping cart to enjoy those savings immediately. During our early bird period, you’ll pay just $745 for the two days and everything that comes with them.
After February 26, 2007, when the early bird savings ends, the price goes up to $895, and you’ll pay $845 with the discount. Still pretty good for two days with some of the sharpest minds and greatest talents in web design. But why pay more? Book An Event Apart Boston as soon as you can.
Unlimited creativity, limited seating
An Event Apart Boston will be the best conference Eric Meyer and I have yet put together. It will also be this year’s only East Coast Event Apart. Don’t miss it.
Join Eric and me, along with Steve Krug, Andrew Kirkpatrick, Molly Holzschlag, Cameron Moll, Dan Cederholm, Ethan Marcotte, and Jason Santa Maria, for what we modestly believe may be the most exciting and enlightening show in modern web design.
Hurry! Seating is limited and early bird savings end Feb. 26, 2007.
So you think you know all about whitespace. You may be surprised. Mark Boulton, type expert to the stars, shows how micro and macro whitespace push brands upscale (or down) and enhance legibility in print and online.
For designers who find web standards as easy to grasp as a buttered eel, Craig Cook shows how to stop the hurting and turn on the understanding. Learn how web standards work, and why they are more than simply an alternative means of producing a visual design.
Standardistas adore the Mozilla Firefox browser for its advanced support of web standards. (How good is it? The Web Standards Project considered declaring victory and closing shop when Netscape Corp. announced in 1999 that it would heed our advice and dump its non-compliant software in favor of the Gecko rendering engine that powers Firefox today.)
Though Firefox and related Mozilla browsers deserve credit for their unsurpassed handling of everything from the Document Object Model to MIME types, Firefox’s way with text leaves much to be desired, as the following screen shots show. Indeed, if reading is mostly what you do on the web, and if accurate typography makes reading more of a pleasure and less of a strain, then Apple’s Safari is superior to Firefox.
Lucida, Test One: with genuine italics
Zeldman.com is designed to be read in Lucida Grande, and the site originally listed “Lucida Grande” first in its style sheet. Alas, Lucida Grande lacks true italics. Fortunately, Lucida Sans has them. In a version of our style sheets used to capture the following screen shots, we’ve listed Lucida Sans first, Lucida Grande second, and substitutes thereafter. Both browers handle the site like a dream—but it is only a good dream in Safari. Open the screen shots in tabs:
In Firefox, why does the text “now in its second edition. I can’t” display midway between roman and bold, and why is it so poorly antialiased? Apparently, Firefox bungles roman text that follows italics.
In Firefox, why doesn’t hyphenation work? My gosh, people, it’s nearly 2007. IE5/Mac supported hyphenation.
Lucida, Test Two: using a font that lacks italics
Remember: Lucida Grande does not have italics; Lucida Sans does. But as Test One showed, Firefox can’t handle Lucida Sans correctly. So we’ve revised the style sheet. With Lucida Grande listed first in the style sheet, and Lucida Sans deleted, Safari still trounces Firefox. The experience of reading text is smoothly beautiful in Safari, much less so in Firefox.
Both browsers fake the italics. But Firefox does the job crudely: a child could tell that its “italics” are faked. (Firefox slants the roman text.) By contrast, Safari fakes its italics so well (by substituting a true italic from the next available listed font that contains one) that only graphic designers and type hounds will realize that the font they’re viewing contains no true italics. See reader comments for delicious details.
In Firefox, hyphenation still does not work.
It’s worth pointing out that these tests were done on Macintosh computers, which are known for their superior handling of text, and that Lucida is not some strange face chosen to prove a point. It is the default font in Mac OS X (not to mention on apple.com). Moreover, Lucida Sans Unicode, the first Unicode encoded font, shipped with Windows NT 3.1 and comes standard with all Microsoft Windows versions since Windows 98.
When I showed a friend and fellow designer these simple tests as I was working on them, he asked if I had reported “the bug” to the makers of Mozilla. But as I count it, there are multiple, overlapping Firefox bugs happening here—too many to fit into a bug-report form. I suspect that the problems have to do with Mozilla’s reliance on its cross-platform display environment. If you scuttle what an individual operating system does well in favor of what a cross-platform environment does poorly, you get what we’re seeing here. It’s not good enough.
Inferences for best practices
If your content will sometimes include italicized text, you naturally want to specify a font that contains italics. That’s just common sense. Unfortunately, as our screen shots have shown, common sense works against you here, because Firefox, although superior to other browsers in many ways, handles text like a drunken fry-cook.
When you specify the font that contains genuine italics (as we did in Test One), Firefox mishandles the roman text that abuts italicized words. When you replace that font with one that contains no italic (Test Two), Firefox fakes the italics crudely, but overall display and legibility are better than the unusable results of Test One.
Obviously there are fewer problems if you limit your website to Verdana and Georgia, but more constraints on typography are not what the web needs.
Discussion is now closed. Thanks to all who shared.