15 June 2004 10 am | 7 pm est

In a triple issue of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites:

Dynamic Text Replacement

by Stewart Rosenberger

Let your server do the walking! Whether you’re replacing one headline or a thousand, Stewart Rosenberger’s Dynamic Text Replacement automatically swaps XHTML text with an image of that text, consistently displayed in any font you own. The markup is clean, semantic, and accessible. No CSS hacks are required, and you needn’t open Photoshop or any other image editor. Read about it today; use it on personal and commercial web projects tomorrow.

Dynamically Conjuring Drop-Down Navigation

by Christian Heilmann

Got content? Got pages and pages of content? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could offer your readers a drop-down menu providing instant access to any page, without having to sit down and program the darned thing? By marrying a seemingly forgotten XHTML element to simple, drop-in JavaScript, Christian Heilmann shows how to do just that. There’s even a PHP backup for those whose browsers lack access to JavaScript. Turn on, tune in, drop-down.

Creating Liquid Layouts with Negative Margins

by Ryan Brill

Two- and three-column, liquid page designs with header and footer are easy to dash off using old-school HTML table layout methods. Designing them in CSS is trickier, and can sometimes even require you to structure your page’s content elements in a specific (and undesirable) order. Negative margins to the rescue! Ryan Brill whips up two quick CSS layouts to demonstrate the power of negative thinking.

New publishing schedule

Note for compulsive calendar watchers: A List Apart has always published on Fridays, but we now publish on Tuesdays instead. Discuss amongst yourselves.

7 June 2004 9 am | 12 noon est

In today’s Report:
Best of the Moll
Blogs We Love. Number 423 in a series.
Daddy Dada.
A study in contrasts
Do not adjust your television.
The sixteen year gap
Crawling from the wreckage.

Best of the Moll

Of late, for pleasure, I often find myself turning to Cameron Moll’s Authentic Boredom. On the strength of its useful how-to articles alone, Moll’s blog is worth any web or graphic designer’s time. The author knows his subject, approaches it in fresh ways, and writes in an engagingly natural voice. The site would repay your time even if it were lacking in visual distinction.

But I keep returning to it mainly because I just like looking at it.

The layout is simple and uncluttered yet it is also ornate, filled with small touches that create a strong sense of “place” and visual brand identity. Call it Minimal/Gothic.

It looks like other blogs, yet it looks only like itself. It subtly echoes elements of other designers’ work (for instance, its design alludes to Todd Dominey’s What Do I Know and Shaun Inman’s personal site) yet it achieves its own visual “voice.”

Which is no easy thing to do when creating a site whose structure necessarily resembles the structure of thousands of others. All blogs present the latest content and a means of viewing older content; most use two columns because a two-column format just works; most have simple navigational menus at the top or side, again because such formatting simply works. To achieve originality under such circumstances is no mean feat.

The site’s monochromatic color scheme makes article-specific visual elements pop in a way that is cunning, helpful, and pleasurable: cunning because it teases you into reading instead of scanning; helpful because the small visual elements guide you through the reading experience; pleasurable if you have a working pair of eyes.

The little inset demo graphics not only guide you by demonstrating what is being discussed, they also reward you for having read thus far — like little bon bons or puppy treats.

Experiencing good design is a lot more fun than reading about it, so do yourself a favor.


My wife is six months pregnant, yet I am the one who seems hormonally strung-out and mentally challenged. I can’t remember names, dates, or what we were just talking about. Small frustrations feel like insurmountable obstacles; the most calculated or hackneyed story lines provoke a deep emotional response. I can sit through Notting Hill and not mind it. In the baby store, a tiny bottle of baby shampoo imprinted with a tiny teddy bear logo makes me burst into happy idiot tears.

Every day some baby-related task presents itself. Many are medical. I’m getting check-ups for things I never checked before. Today The Wife and I went for skin cancer screenings (we’re fine). I’m sitting there in my little paper gown, answering the doctor’s questions about moles and blotches and blackheads, and I quote the opinion of my OB/GYN.

I mean my chiropractor but it comes out “my OB/GYN.”

About sums it up.

A study in contrasts

In response to reader requests, I’ve adjusted this site as follows: the default setting is now higher in contrast; an optional “darker” setting provides even more contrast; and an optional “lighter” setting reproduces the low-contrast former default setting. All three settings are available on the updated contrast-o-meter page. Most browsers will show the changed styles immediately, but a few require you to manually load and refresh the style sheets.

The sixteen year gap

There are 16 years of my life that I can barely remember. On this date eleven years ago, propelled by a power greater than myself, I began crawling up out of the abyss.

Previously in The Daily Report...

Ninth anniversary
This site is nine years old. Soon they’ll let us take off the bib.
The Andy Kaufman Effect
On the web, nobody knows you’re not the dog you pretend to be.
Hot socks from Reboot
Three favorites from the May 1st Reboot. These sites might stimulate your creativity.
Blog This
Now anyone, at virtually any experience level, can own and manage an attractive and standards-compliant personal site. With input from Adaptive Path and Stopdesign, Blogger reinvents itself (and we lend a hand).