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22. Aug 2014
This week's sponsor: Need
<p><a href="http://synd.co/1uTwv3W">Need</a> is a curated retailer and lifestyle magazine for men. Featuring exclusive items from the world&#8217;s top designers.</p> <p><a href="http://synd.co/1uTwv3W">Check out Volume 9.</a></p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/77K8q-cIghE" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
21. Aug 2014
W3C Invites Implementations of HTML Canvas 2D Context
The HTML Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of HTML Canvas 2D Context. This specification defines the 2D Context for the HTML canvas element. The 2D Context provides objects, methods, and properties to draw and manipulate graphics on a canvas drawing surface. Learn more about the HTML Activity.[mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
21. Aug 2014
Predefined Counter Styles Draft Published
The Internationalization Working Group has published a Working Draft of Predefined Counter Styles. This document describes numbering systems used by various cultures around the world and can be used as a reference for those wishing to create user-defined counter styles for CSS. Learn more about the Internationalization Activity.[mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
19. Aug 2014
Dependence Day: The Power and Peril of Third-Party Solutions
<p>“Why don’t we just use this plugin?” That’s a question I started hearing a lot in the heady days of the 2000s, when open-source <abbr title="Content Management Systems">CMSes</abbr> were becoming really popular. We asked it optimistically, full of hope about the myriad solutions only a download away. As the years passed, we gained trustworthy libraries and powerful communities, but the graveyard of crufty code and abandoned services grew deep. Many solutions were easy to install, but difficult to debug. Some providers were eager to sell, but loath to support. </p> <p>Years later, we’re still asking that same question—only now we’re less optimistic and even more dependent, and I’m scared to engage with anyone smart enough to build something I can’t. The emerging challenge for today’s dev shop is knowing how to take control of third-party relationships—and when to avoid them. I’ll show you my approach, which is to ask a different set of questions entirely. </p> <h2>A web of third parties</h2> <p>I should start with a broad definition of what it is to be third party: If it’s a person and I don’t compensate them for the bulk of their workload, they’re third party. If it’s a company or service and I don’t control it, it’s third party. If it’s code and my team doesn’t grasp every line of it, it’s third party. </p> <p>The third-party landscape is rapidly expanding. Github has grown to almost <a href="https://github.com/about/press">7 million users</a> and the WordPress plugin repo is approaching <a href="https://wordpress.org/plugins/">1 billion downloads</a>. Many of these solutions are easy for clients and competitors to implement; meanwhile, I’m still in the lab debugging my custom code. The idea of selling original work seems oddly&hellip;old-fashioned. </p> <p>Yet with so many third-party options to choose from, there are more chances than ever to veer off-course. </p> <h2>What could go wrong?</h2> <p>At a meeting a couple of years ago, I argued against using an external service to power a search widget on a client project. “We should do things ourselves,” I said. Not long after this, on the very same project, I argued in favor of a using a third party to consolidate <abbr title="Really Simple Syndication">RSS</abbr> feeds into a single document. “Why do all this work ourselves,” I said, “when this problem has already been solved?” My inconsistency was obvious to everyone. Being dogmatic about <em>not</em> using a third party is no better than flippantly jumping in with one, and I had managed to do both at once! </p> <p>But in one case, I believed the third party was worth the risk. In the other, it wasn’t. I just didn’t know how to communicate those thoughts to my team.</p> <p>I needed, in the parlance of our times, a <em>decision-making framework</em>. To that end, I’ve been maintaining a collection of points to think through at various stages of engagement with third parties. I’ll tour through these ideas using the search widget and the RSS digest as examples. </p> <h2>The difference between a request and a goal</h2> <p>This point often reveals false assumptions about what a client or stakeholder wants. In the case of the search widget, we began researching a service that our client specifically requested. Fitted with ajax navigation, full-text searching, and automated crawls to index content, it seemed like a lot to live up to. But when we asked our clients what <em>exactly</em> they were trying to do, we were surprised: they were entirely taken by the typeahead functionality; the other features were of very little perceived value. </p> <p>In the case of the RSS “smusher,” we already had an in-house tool that took an array of feed URLs and looped through them in order, outputting <em>x</em> posts per feed in some bespoke format. They’re too good for our beloved multi-feed widget? But actually, the client had a distinctly different and worthwhile vision: they wanted <em>x</em> results from their array of sites in total, and they wanted them ordered by publication date, not grouped by site. I conceded. </p> <p>It might seem like an obvious first step, but I have seen projects set off in the wrong direction because the end goal is unknown. In both our examples now, we’re clear about that and we’re ready to evaluate solutions. </p> <h2>To dev or to download</h2> <p>Before deciding to use a third party, I find that I first need to examine my own organization, often in four particular ways: strengths, weaknesses, betterment, and mission. </p> <h3>Strengths and weaknesses</h3> <p>The search task aligned well with our strengths because we had good front-end developers and were skilled at extending our CMS. So when asked to make a typeahead search, we felt comfortable betting on ourselves. Had we done it before? Not exactly, but we could think through it. </p> <p>At that same time, backend infrastructure was a weakness for our team. We had happened to have a lot of turnover among our sysadmins, and at times it felt like we weren’t equipped to hire that sort of talent. As I was thinking through how we might build a feed-smusher of our own, I felt like I was tempting a weak underbelly. Maybe we’d have to set up a cron job to poll the desired URLs, grab feed content, and store that on our servers. Not rocket science, but cron tasks in particular were an albatross for us. </p> <h3>Betterment of the team</h3> <p>When we set out to achieve a goal for a client, it’s more than us doing work: it’s an opportunity for our team to better themselves by learning new skills. The best opportunities for this are the ones that present challenging but attainable tasks, which create <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/incremental_games/comments/1xiiyp/mechanics_of_incremental_games_3_reward_frequency/">incremental rewards</a>. <a href="http://www.edutopia.org/blog/video-games-learning-student-engagement-judy-willis">Some researchers</a> cite this effect as a factor in gaming addiction. I’ve felt this myself when learning new things on a project, and those are some of my favorite work moments ever. Teams appreciate this and there is an organizational cost in missing a chance to pay them to learn. The typeahead search project looked like it could be a perfect opportunity to boost our skill level. </p> <h3>Organizational mission</h3> <p>If a new project aligns well with our mission, we’re going to resell it many times. It’s likely that we’ll want our in-house dev team to iterate on it, tailoring it to our needs. Indeed, we’ll have the budget to do so if we’re selling it a lot. No one had asked us for a feed-smusher before, so it didn’t seem reasonable to dedicate an <abbr title="Research and Development">R&amp;D</abbr> budget to it. In contrast, several other clients were interested in more powerful site search, so it looked like it would be time well spent. </p> <p>We’ve now clarified our end goals and we’ve looked at how these projects align with our team. Based on that, we’re doing the search widget ourselves, and we’re outsourcing the feed-smusher. Now let’s look more closely at what happens next for both cases.</p> <h2>Evaluating the unknown</h2> <p>The frustrating thing about working with third parties is that the most important decisions take place when we have the least information. But there are some things we can determine before committing. Familiarity, vitality, extensibility, branding, and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are all observable from afar. </p> <h3>Familiarity: is there a provider we already work with?</h3> <p>Although we’re going to increase the number of third-party <em>dependencies</em>, we’ll try to avoid increasing the number of third-party <em>relationships</em>. </p> <p>Working with a known vendor has several potential benefits: they may give us volume pricing. Markup and style are likely to be consistent between solutions. And we just know them better than we’d know a new service. </p> <h3>Vitality: will this service stick around?</h3> <p>The worst thing we could do is get behind a service, only to have it shut down next month. A service with high vitality will likely (and rightfully) brag about enterprise clients by name. If it’s open source, it will have a passionate community of contributors. On the other hand, it could be advertising a shutdown. More often, it’s somewhere in the middle. Noting how often the service is updated is a good starting point in determining vitality. </p> <h3>Extensibility: can this service adapt as our needs change?</h3> <p>Not only do we have to evaluate the core service, we have to see how extensible it is by digging into its API. If a service is extensible, it’s more likely to fit for the long haul. </p> <p>APIs can also present new opportunities. For example, imagine selecting an email-marketing provider with an API that exposes campaign data. This might allow us to build a dashboard for campaign performance in our CMS—a unique value-add for our clients, and a chance to keep our in-house developers invested and excited about the service.</p> <h3>Branding: is theirs strong, or can you use your own?</h3> <p>White-labeling is the practice of reselling a service with your branding instead of that of the original provider. For some companies, this might make good sense for marketing. I tend to dislike white-labeling. Our clients trust us to make choices, and we should be proud to display what those choices are. Either way, you want to ensure you’re comfortable with the brand you’ll be using.</p> <h3>SLAs: what are you getting, beyond uptime?</h3> <p>For client-side products, browser support is a factor: every external dependency represents another layer that could abandon older browsers before we’re ready. There’s also accessibility. Does this new third-party support users with accessibility needs to the degree that we require? Perhaps most important of all is support. Can we purchase a priority support plan that offers fast and in-depth help? </p> <p>In the case of our feed-smusher service, there was no solution that ran the table. The most popular solution actually had a shutdown notice! There were a couple of smaller providers available, but we hadn’t worked with either before. Browser support and accessibility were moot since we’d be parsing the data and displaying it ourselves. The uptime concern was also diminished because we’d be sure to cache the results locally. Anyway, with viable candidates in hand, we can move on to more productive concerns than dithering between two similar solutions. </p> <h2>Relationship maintenance</h2> <p>If someone else is going to do the heavy lifting, I want to assume as much of the remaining burden as possible. Piloting, data collection, documentation, and in-house support are all valuable opportunities to buttress this new relationship. </p> <p>As exciting as this new relationship is, we don’t want to go dashing out of the gates just yet. Instead, we’ll target clients for piloting and quarantine them before unleashing it any further. Cull suggestions from team members to determine good candidates for piloting, garnering a mix of edge-cases and the norm. </p> <p>If the third party happens to collect data of any kind, we should also have an automated way to import a copy of it—not just as a backup, but also as a cached version we can serve to minimize latency. If we are serving a popular dependency from a CDN, we want to send a local version if that call should fail. </p> <p>If our team doesn’t have a well-traveled directory of provider relationships, the backstory can get lost. Let a few months pass, throw in some personnel turnover, and we might forget why we even use a service, or why we opted for a particular package. Everyone on our team should know where and how to learn about our third-party relationships. </p> <p>We don’t need every team member to be an expert on the service, yet we don’t want to wait for a third-party support staff to respond to simple questions. Therefore, we should elect an in-house subject-matter expert. It doesn’t have to be a developer. We just need somebody tasked with monitoring the service at regular intervals for API changes, shutdown notices, or new features. They should be able to train new employees and route more complex support requests to the third party. </p> <p>In our RSS feed example, we knew we’d read their output into our database. We documented this relationship in our team’s most active bulletin, our <abbr title="Customer Relationship Management">CRM</abbr> software. And we made managing external dependencies a primary part of one team member’s job. </p> <h2><abbr title="Do It Yourself">DIY</abbr>: a third party waiting to happen?</h2> <p>Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a prideful developer assures the team that they can do something themselves. It’s a complex project. They make something and the company comes to rely on it. Time goes by and the in-house product is doing fine, though there is a maintenance burden. Eventually, the developer leaves the company. Their old product needs maintenance, no one knows what to do, and since it’s totally custom, there is no such thing as a community for it. </p> <p>Once you decide to build something in-house, how can you prevent that work from devolving into a resented, alien dependency?&nbsp; </p> <ul> <li><b>Consider pair-programming.</b> What better way to ensure that multiple people understand a product, than to have multiple people build it?</li> <li><b>“Job-switch Tuesdays.”</b> When feasible, we have developers switch roles for an entire day. Literally, in our ticketing system, it’s as though one person is another. It’s a way to force cross-training without doubling the hours needed for a task.</li> <li><b>Hold code reviews</b> before new code is pushed. This might feel slightly intrusive at first, but that passes. If it’s not readable, it’s not deployable. If you have project managers with a technical bent, empower them to ask questions about the code, too.</li> <li><b>Bring moldy code into light</b> by displaying it as <a href="http://www.phpdoc.org/">phpDoc</a>, <a href="http://usejsdoc.org/">JSDoc</a>, or similar.</li> <li><b>Beware the big.</b> Create hourly estimates in <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planning_poker">Fibonacci increments</a>. As a project gets bigger, so does its level of uncertainty. The Fibonacci steps are biased against under-budgeting, and also provide a cue to opt out of projects that are too difficult to estimate. In that case, it&#8217;s likely better to toe-in with a third party instead of blazing into the unknown by yourself.</li> </ul> <p>All of these considerations apply to our earlier example, the typeahead search widget. Most germane is the provision to “beware the big.” When I say “big,” I mean that relative to what usually works for a given team. In this case, it was a deliverable that felt very familiar in size and scope: we were being asked to extend an open-source CMS. If instead we had been asked to <em>make</em> a CMS, alarms would have gone off. </p> <h2>Look before you leap, and after you land</h2> <p>It’s not that third parties are bad <em>per se</em>. It’s just that the modern web team strikes me as a strange place: not only do we stand on the shoulders of giants, we do so without getting to know them first—and we hoist our organizations and clients up there, too. </p> <p>Granted, there are many things you shouldn’t do yourself, and it’s possible to hurt your company by trying to do them—<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_invented_here">NIH</a> is a problem, not a goal. But when teams err too far in the other direction, developers become disenfranchised, components start to look like spare parts, and clients pay for solutions that aren’t quite right. Using a third party versus staying in-house is a <em>big</em> decision, and we need to think hard before we make it. Use my line of questions, or come up with one that fits your team better. After all, you’re your own best dependency.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/ghdCO-iH_Kc" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
19. Aug 2014
One Step Ahead: Improving Performance with Prebrowsing
<p>We all want our websites to be fast. We optimize images, create CSS sprites, use CDNs, cache aggressively, and gzip and minimize static content. We use every trick in the book. </p> <p>But we can still do more. If we want faster outcomes, we have to think differently. What if, instead of leaving our users to stare at a spinning wheel, waiting for content to be delivered, we could predict where they wanted to go next? What if we could have that content ready for them before they even ask for it?</p> <p>We tend to see the web as a reactive model, where every action causes a reaction. Users click, then we take them to a new page. They click again, and we open another page. But we can do better. We can be proactive with prebrowsing.</p> <h2>The three big techniques</h2> <p>Steve Souders coined the term prebrowsing (from <em>predictive browsing</em>) in one of his <a href="http://www.stevesouders.com/blog/2013/11/07/prebrowsing/">articles</a> late last year. Prebrowsing is all about anticipating where users want to go and preparing the content ahead of time. It’s a big step toward a faster and less visible internet.</p> <p>Browsers can analyze patterns to predict where users are going to go next, and start DNS resolution and TCP handshakes as soon as users hover over links. But to get the most out of these improvements, we can enable prebrowsing on our web pages, with three techniques at our disposal:</p><ul> <li>DNS prefetching</li> <li>Resource prefetching</li> <li>Prerendering</li> </ul> <p>Now let’s dive into each of these separately.</p> <h2>DNS prefetching</h2> <p>Whenever we know our users are likely to request a resource from a different domain than our site, we can use DNS prefetching to warm the machinery for opening the new URL. The browser can pre-resolve the DNS for the new domain ahead of time, saving several milliseconds when the user actually requests it. We are anticipating, and preparing for an action.</p> <p>Modern browsers are very good at parsing our pages, looking ahead to pre-resolve all necessary domains ahead of time. Chrome goes as far as keeping an internal list with all related domains every time a user visits a site, pre-resolving them when the user returns (you can see this list by navigating to chrome://dns/ in your Chrome browser). However, sometimes access to new URLs may be hidden behind redirects or embedded in JavaScript, and that’s our opportunity to help the browser.</p> <p>Let’s say we are downloading a set of resources from the domain cdn.example.com using a JavaScript call after a user clicks a button. Normally, the browser would have to resolve the DNS at the time of the click, but we can speed up the process by including a <code>dns-prefetch</code> directive in the <code>head</code> section of our page:</p> <pre> <code class="markup">&lt;link rel="dns-prefetch" href="http://cdn.example.com"&gt;</code> </pre> <p>Doing this informs the browser of the existence of the new domain, and it will combine this hint with its own pre-resolution algorithm to start a DNS resolution as soon as possible. The entire process will be faster for the user, since we are shaving off the time for DNS resolution from the operation. (Note that browsers do not guarantee that DNS resolution will occur ahead of time; they simply use our hint as a signal for their own internal pre-resolution algorithm.)</p> <p>But exactly how much faster will pre-resolving the DNS make things? In your Chrome browser, open chrome://histograms/DNS and search for DNS.PrefetchResolution. You’ll see a table like this:</p> <figure><img src="http://d.alistapart.com/401/fig1-o.jpg" alt="Histogram for DNS.PrefetchResolution"></figure> <p>This histogram shows my personal distribution of latencies for DNS prefetch requests. On my computer, for 335 samples, the average time is 88 milliseconds, with a median of approximately 60 milliseconds. Shaving 88 milliseconds off every request our website makes to an external domain? That’s something to celebrate.</p> <p>But what happens if the user never clicks the button to access the cdn.example.com domain? Aren’t we pre-resolving a domain in vain? We are, but luckily for us, DNS prefetching is a very low-cost operation; the browser will need to send only a few hundred bytes over the network, so the risk incurred by a preemptive DNS lookup is very low. That being said, don’t go overboard when using this feature; prefetch only domains that you are confident the user will access, and let the browser handle the rest.</p> <p>Look for situations that might be good candidates to introduce DNS prefetching on your site:</p><ul> <li>Resources on different domains hidden behind 301 redirects</li> <li>Resources accessed from JavaScript code</li> <li>Resources for analytics and social sharing (which usually come from different domains)</li> </ul> <p>DNS prefetching is currently supported on <a href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ie/dn265039(v=vs.85).aspx">IE11</a>, <a href="http://www.chromium.org/developers/design-documents/dns-prefetching">Chrome</a>, Chrome Mobile, Safari, <a href="https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Controlling_DNS_prefetching">Firefox</a>, and Firefox Mobile, which makes this feature widespread among current browsers. Browsers that don’t currently support DNS prefetching will simply ignore the hint, and DNS resolution will happen in a regular fashion.</p> <h2>Resource prefetching</h2> <p>We can go a little bit further and predict that our users will open a specific page in our own site. If we know some of the critical resources used by this page, we can instruct the browser to prefetch them ahead of time:<br /></p><pre> <code>&lt;link rel="prefetch" href="http://cdn.example.com/library.js"&gt;</code> </pre> <p>The browser will use this instruction to prefetch the indicated resources and store them on the local cache. This way, as soon as the resources are actually needed, the browser will have them ready to serve.</p> <p>Unlike DNS prefetching, resource prefetching is a more expensive operation; be mindful of how and when to use it. Prefetching resources can speed up our websites in ways we would never get by merely prefetching new domains—but if we abuse it, our users will pay for the unused overhead.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at the average response size of some of the most popular resources on a web page, courtesy of the <a href="http://httparchive.org/interesting.php#responsesizes">HTTP Archive</a>:</p> <figure><img src="http://d.alistapart.com/401/fig2-o.jpg" alt="Chart of average response size of web page resources"></figure> <p>On average, prefetching a script file (like we are doing on the example above) will cause 16kB to be transmitted over the network (without including the size of the request itself). This means that we will save 16kB of downloading time from the process, plus server response time, which is amazing—provided it’s later accessed by the user. If the user never accesses the file, we actually made the entire workflow slower by introducing an unnecessary delay.</p> <p>If you decide to use this technique, prefetch only the most important resources, and make sure they are cacheable by the browser. Images, CSS, JavaScript, and font files are usually good candidates for prefetching, but HTML responses are not since they aren’t cacheable.</p> <p>Here are some situations where, due to the likelihood of the user visiting a specific page, you can prefetch resources ahead of time:</p><ul> <li>On a login page, since users are usually redirected to a welcome or dashboard page after logging in</li> <li>On each page of a linear questionnaire or survey workflow, where users are visiting subsequent pages in a specific order</li> <li>On a multi-step animation, since you know ahead of time which images are needed on subsequent scenes</li> </ul> <p>Resource prefetching is currently supported on <a href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ie/dn265039(v=vs.85).aspx">IE11</a>, <a href="https://developers.google.com/chrome/whitepapers/prerender?csw=1">Chrome</a>, Chrome Mobile, <a href="https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Link_prefetching_FAQ">Firefox</a>, and Firefox Mobile. (To determine browser compatibility, you can run a quick browser test on <a href="http://prebrowsing.com">prebrowsing.com</a>.)</p> <h2>Prerendering</h2> <p>What about going even further and asking for an entire page? Let’s say we are <em>absolutely</em> sure that our users are going to visit the about.html page in our site. We can give the browser a hint:</p> <pre> <code>&lt;link rel="prerender" href="http://example.com/about.html"&gt;</code> </pre> <p>This time the browser will download and render the page in the background ahead of time, and have it ready for the user as soon as they ask for it. The transition from the current page to the prerendered one would be instantaneous.</p> <p>Needless to say, prerendering is the most risky and costly of these three techniques. Misusing it can cause major bandwidth waste—especially harmful for users on mobile devices. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at this chart, also courtesy of the <a href="http://httparchive.org/trends.php#bytesTotal&amp;reqTotal">HTTP Archive</a>:</p> <figure><img src="http://d.alistapart.com/401/fig3-o.jpg" alt="Graph of total transfer size and total requests to render a web page"></figure> <p>In June of this year, the average number of requests to render a web page was 96, with a total size of 1,808kB. So if your user ends up accessing your prerendered page, then you’ve hit the jackpot: you’ll save the time of downloading almost 2,000kB, plus server response time. But if you’re wrong and your user never accesses the prerendered page, you’ll make them pay a very high cost.</p> <p>When deciding whether to prerender entire pages ahead of time, consider that Google prerenders the top results on its search page, and Chrome prerenders pages based on the historical navigation patterns of users. Using the same principle, you can detect common usage patterns and prerender target pages accordingly. You can also use it, just like resource prefetching, on questionnaires or surveys where you know users will complete the workflow in a particular order.</p> <p>At this time, prerendering is only supported on <a href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ie/dn265039(v=vs.85).aspx">IE11</a>, <a href="https://developers.google.com/chrome/whitepapers/prerender?csw=1">Chrome</a>, and Chrome Mobile. Neither Firefox nor Safari have added support for this technique yet. (And as with resource prefetching, you can check <a href="http://prebrowsing.com">prebrowsing.com</a> to test whether this technique is supported in your browser.)</p> <h2>A final word</h2> <p>Sites like <a href="http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/06/announcing-instant-pages.html">Google</a> and <a href="http://blogs.bing.com/search/2013/10/14/a-deeper-look-at-task-completion/">Bing</a> are using these techniques extensively to make search instant for their users. Now it’s time for us to go back to our own sites and take another look. Can we make our experiences better and faster with prefetching and prerendering?</p> <p>Browsers are already working behind the scenes, looking for patterns in our sites to make navigation as fast as possible. Prebrowsing builds on that: we can combine the insight we have on our own pages with further analysis of user patterns. By helping browsers do a better job, we speed up and improve the experience for our users.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/McnEJXwo09Q" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
18. Aug 2014
Valediction
<p>When I first met <a href="http://bearskinrug.co.uk/">Kevin Cornell</a> in the early 2000s, he was employing his illustration talent mainly to draw caricatures of his fellow designers at a small Philadelphia design studio. Even in that rough, dashed-off state, his work floored me. It was as if <a href="http://www.charlesaddams.com">Charles Addams</a> and my favorite <cite>Mad Magazine</cite> illustrators from the 1960s had blended their DNA to spawn the perfect artist.</p> <p>Kevin would deny that label, but artist he is. For there is a vision in his mind, a way of seeing the world, that is unlike anyone else’s—and he has the gift to make you see it too, and to delight, inspire, and challenge you with what he makes you see.</p> <p>Kevin was part of a small group of young designers and artists who had recently completed college and were beginning to establish careers. Others from that group included <a href="http://v5.robweychert.com/about/">Rob Weychert</a>, <a href="http://mattsutter.com">Matt Sutter</a>, and <a href="http://jasonsantamaria.com">Jason Santa Maria</a>. They would all go on to do fine things in our industry. </p> <p>It was Jason who brought Kevin on as house illustrator during the <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/ala40"><cite>A List Apart</cite> 4.0 brand overhaul</a> in 2005, and Kevin has worked his strange magic for us ever since. If you’re an <cite>ALA</cite> reader, you know how he translates the abstract web design concepts of our articles into concrete, witty, and frequently absurd situations. Above all, he is a storyteller—if pretentious designers and marketers haven’t sucked all the meaning out of that word. </p> <p>For nearly 10 years, Kevin has taken our well-vetted, practical, frequently technical web design and development pieces, and elevated them to the status of classic <cite>New Yorker</cite> articles. Tomorrow he publishes his last new illustrations with us. There will never be another like him. And for whatever good it does him, Kevin Cornell has my undying thanks, love, and gratitude. </p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/v0JRauu8zwQ" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
18. Aug 2014
My Favorite Kevin Cornell
<p>After 200 issues—yes, <em>two hundred</em>—Kevin Cornell is retiring from his post as <cite>A List Apart</cite>’s staff illustrator. Tomorrow’s issue will be the last one featuring new illustrations from him.</p> <p>Sob.</p> <p>For years now, we’ve eagerly awaited Kevin’s illustrations each issue, opening his files with all the patience of a kid tearing into a new LEGO set.</p> <p>But after nine years and more than a few lols, it’s time to give Kevin’s beautifully deranged brain a rest.</p> <p>We’re still figuring out what comes next for <cite>ALA</cite>, but while we do, we’re sending Kevin off the best way we know how: by sharing a few of our favorite illustrations. Read on for stories from <cite>ALA</cite> staff, past and present—and join us in thanking Kevin for his talent, his commitment, and his uncanny ability to depict seemingly any concept using animals, madmen, and circus figures.<br /> —</p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/thedisciplineofcontentstrategy/discipline-content-strategy.jpg" alt=""></figure> <p>Of all the things I enjoyed about working on <cite>A List Apart</cite>, I loved anticipating the reveal: seeing Kevin’s illos for each piece, just before the issue went live. Every illustration was always a surprise—even to the staff. My favorite, hands-down, was his artwork for “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/thedisciplineofcontentstrategy">The Discipline of Content Strategy</a>,” by Kristina Halvorson. In 2008, content was web design&#8217;s “elephant in the room” and Kevin’s visual metaphor nailed it. In a drawing, he encapsulated thoughts and feelings many had within the industry but were unable to articulate. That’s the mark of a master.</p> <p>—Krista Stevens, <em>Editor-in-chief, 2006–2012</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/future-ready-content/future-ready-content.jpg" alt=""></figure> <p>In the fall of 2011, I submitted my first article to <cite>A List Apart</cite>. I was terrified: I didn’t know anyone on staff. The authors’ list read like a who’s who of web design. The archives were intimidating. But I had ideas, dammit. I hit send.</p> <p>I told just one friend what I’d done. His eyes lit up. “Whoa. You&#8217;d get a Kevin Cornell!” he said.</p> <p>Whoa indeed. I might get a Kevin Cornell?! I hadn’t even thought about that yet.</p> <p>Like Krista, I fell in love with Kevin’s illustration for “The Discipline of Content Strategy”—an illustration that meant the world to me as I helped my clients see their own content elephants. The idea of having a Cornell of my own was exciting, but terrifying. Could I possibly write something worthy of his illustration?</p> <p>Months later, there it was on the screen: little modular sandcastles illustrating my <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/future-ready-content">article on modular content</a>. I was floored.</p> <p>Now, after two years as <cite>ALA</cite>’s editor in chief, I’ve worked with Kevin through dozens of issues. But you know what? I’m just as floored as ever.</p> <p>Thank you, Kevin, you brilliant, bizarre, wonderful friend.</p> <p>—Sara Wachter-Boettcher, <em>Editor-in-chief</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/accessibilityseo/html_with_hat.jpg" alt=""></figure> <p>It&#8217;s impossible for me to choose a favorite of Kevin’s body of work for <cite>ALA</cite>, because my favorite Cornell illustration is the witty, adaptable, humane language of characters and symbols underlying his years of work. If I <em>had</em> to pick a single illustration to represent the evolution of his visual language, I think it would be the hat-wearing nested egg with the winning smile that opened Andy Hagen’s “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/accessibilityseo">High Accessibility is Effective Search Engine Optimization</a>.” An important article but not, perhaps, the juiciest title <cite>A List Apart</cite> has ever run…and yet there’s that little egg, grinning in his slightly dopey way.</p> <p>If my memory doesn’t fail me, this is the second appearance of the nested Cornell egg—we saw the first a few issues before in <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/pdf_accessibility">Issue 201</a>, where it represented the nested components of an HTML page. When it shows up here, in Issue 207, we realize that the egg wasn’t a cute one-off, but the first syllable of a visual language that we’ll see again and again through the years. And what a language! Who else could make semantic markup seem not just clever, but shyly adorable?</p> <p>A wander through the <cite>ALA</cite> archives provides a view of Kevin’s changing style, but something visible only backstage was his startlingly quick progression from reading an article to sketching initial ideas in conversation with then-creative director Jason Santa Maria to turning out a lovely miniature—and each illustration never failed to make me appreciate the article it introduced in a slightly different way. When I was at <cite>ALA</cite>, Kevin’s unerring eye for the important detail as a reader astonished me almost as much as his ability to give that (often highly technical, sometimes very dry) idea a playful and memorable visual incarnation. From the very first time his illustrations hit the <cite>A List Apart</cite> servers he’s shared an extraordinary gift with its readers, and as a reader, writer, and editor, I will always count myself in his debt.</p> <p>—Erin Kissane, <em>Editor-in-chief, contributing editor, 1999–2009</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/what-i-learned-about-the-web-in-2011/what-i-learned-about-the-web-in-2011.jpg" alt=""></figure> <p>So much of what makes Kevin’s illustrations work are the gestures. The way the figure sits a bit slouched, but still perched on gentle tippy toes, determinedly occupied pecking away on his phone. With just a few lines, Kevin captures a mood and moment anyone can feel.</p> <p>—Jason Santa Maria, <em>Former creative director</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/ALA368_alaredesign_300.png" alt=""></figure> <p>I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kevin on the illustrations for each issue of <cite>A List Apart</cite> since we launched the latest site redesign in early 2013. By working, I mean replying to his email with something along the lines of “Amazing!” when he sent over the illustrations every couple of weeks.</p> <p>Prior to launching the new design, I had to go through the backlog of Kevin’s work for <cite>ALA</cite> and do the production work needed for the new layout. This bird’s eye view gave me an appreciation of the ongoing metaphorical world he had created for the magazine—the <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/putyourcontentinmypocket">birds</a>, <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/thedisciplineofcontentstrategy">elephants</a>, <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/semanticsinhtml5">weebles</a>, <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/audiences-outcomes-and-determining-user-needs">mad scientists</a>, <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/usable-yet-useless-why-every-business-needs-product-discovery">ACME products</a>, and other bits of amusing weirdness that breathed life into the (admittedly, sometimes) dry topics covered.</p> <p>If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be the illustration that accompanied the unveiling of the redesign, <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/a-list-apart-relaunches-new-features-new-design"><cite>A List Apart</cite> 5.0</a>. The shoe-shine man carefully working on his own shoes was the perfect metaphor for both the idea of design as craft and the back-stage nature of the profession—working to make others shine, so to speak. It was a simple and humble concept, and I thought it created the perfect tone for the launch.</p> <p>—Mike Pick, <em>Creative director</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/ALA383_sustainabledesign_300.png" alt=""></figure> <p>So I can’t pick one favorite illustration that Kevin’s done. I just can’t. I could prattle on about <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/the-web-aesthetic" title="Paul Robert Lloyd’s “The Web Aesthetic”">this</a>, <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/everything-in-its-right-pace" title="Hannah Donovan’s “Everything in its Right Pace”">that</a>, or <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/orbital-content" title="Cameron Koczon’s “Orbital Content”">that other one</a>, and tell you everything I love about each of ’em. I mean, hell: I still have a print of the illustration he did for <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/whereourstandardswentwrong">my very first ALA article</a>. (The illustration is, of course, far stronger than the essay that follows it.)</p> <p>But his illustration for <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/sustainable-web-design">James Christie’s excellent “Sustainable Web Design”</a> is a perfect example of everything I love about Kevin’s ALA work: how he conveys emotion with a few deceptively simple lines; the humor he finds in contrast; the occasional chicken. Like most of Kevin’s illustrations, I’ve seen it whenever I reread the article it accompanies, and I find something new to enjoy each time.</p> <p>It’s been an honor working alongside your art, Kevin—and, on a few lucky occasions, having my words appear below it.</p> <p>Thanks, Kevin.</p> <p>—Ethan Marcotte, <em>Technical editor</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/orbital-content/orbital-content.jpg" alt=""></figure> <p>Kevin’s illustration for Cameron Koczon’s “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/orbital-content">Orbital Content</a>” is one of the best examples I can think of to show off his considerable talent. Those balloons are just perfect: vaguely reminiscent of cloud computing, but tethered and within arm’s reach, and evoking the fun and chaos of carnivals and county fairs. No other illustrator I’ve ever worked with is as good at translating abstract concepts into compact, visual stories. <cite>A List Apart</cite> won’t be the same without him.</p> <p>—Mandy Brown, <em>Former contributing editor</em></p> <figure class="responsive-hero" data-picture data-alt=""> <div data-src="http://d.alistapart.com/_made/d/misc-images/rwd-1_2577_1165_60.jpg" ></div> <div data-src="http://d.alistapart.com/_made/d/misc-images/rwd-2_1400_761_60.jpg" data-media="(max-width: 1400px)"></div> <div data-src="http://d.alistapart.com/_made/d/misc-images/rwd-3_960_690_60.jpg" data-media="(max-width: 960px)"></div> <div data-src="http://d.alistapart.com/_made/d/misc-images/rwd-4_450_736_60.jpg" data-media="(max-width: 450px)"></div> <noscript><img src="http://d.alistapart.com/_made/d/ALA306_respdesign_300_960_439_10.jpg" alt=""></noscript> </figure> <p>Kevin has always had what seems like a preternatural ability to take an abstract technical concept and turn it into a <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/good-help-is-hard-to-find">clear and accessible illustration</a>.</p> <p>For me, my favorite pieces are the ones he did for the 3rd anniversary of the original “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/responsive-web-design">Responsive Web Design</a>” article…the web’s first “responsive” illustration? <em>Try squishing your browser here to see it in action—Ed</em></p> <p>—Tim Murtaugh, <em>Technical director</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/12lessonsCSSandstandards/twelve_lessons.jpg" alt=""></figure> <p>I think it may be impossible for me to pick just one illustration of Kevin’s that I really like. Much like trying to pick your one favorite album or that absolutely perfect movie, picking a true favorite is simply folly. You can whittle down the choices, but it’s guaranteed that the list will be sadly incomplete and longer (much longer) than one.</p> <p>If held at gunpoint, however ridiculous that sounds, and asked which of Kevin’s illustrations is my favorite, close to the top of the list would definitely be “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/12lessonsCSSandstandards">12 Lessons for Those Afraid of CSS Standards</a>.” It’s just so subtle, and yet so pointed.</p> <p>What I personally love the most about Kevin’s work is the overall impact it can have on people seeing it for the first time. It has become commonplace within our ranks to hear the phrase, “This is my new favorite Kevin Cornell illustration” with the publishing of each issue. And rightly so. His wonderfully simple style (which is also deceptively clever and just so smart) paired with the fluidity that comes through in his brush work is magical. Case in point for me would be his piece for “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/the-problem-with-passwords">The Problem with Passwords</a>” which just speaks volumes about the difficulty and utter ridiculousness of selecting a password and security question.</p> <p>We, as a team, have truly been spoiled by having him in our ranks for as long as we have. Thank you Kevin.</p> <p>—Erin Lynch, <em>Production manager</em></p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/content-modelling-a-master-skill/content-modelling-a-master-skill.jpg" alt=""></figure> <p>The elephant was my first glimpse at Kevin&#8217;s elegantly whimsical visual language. I first spotted it, a patient behemoth being studied by nonplussed little figures, atop Kristina Halvorson’s “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/thedisciplineofcontentstrategy">The Discipline of Content Strategy</a>,” which made no mention of elephants at all. Yet the elephant added to my understanding: content owners from different departments focus on what&#8217;s nearest to them. The content strategist steps back to see the entire thing.</p> <p>When Rachel Lovinger wrote about “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/content-modelling-a-master-skill">Content Modelling</a>,” the elephant made a reappearance as a yet-to-be-assembled, stylized elephant doll. The unflappable elephant has also been the mascot of product development at the hands of a team trying to <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/connected-ux">construct it from user research</a>, strutted its stuff as <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/content-strategist-as-digital-curator">curated content</a>, enjoyed the diplomatic <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/tinker-tailor-content-strategist">guidance of a ringmaster</a>, and been <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/seeing-the-elephant-defragmenting-user-research">impersonated by a snake</a> to tell us that busting silos is helped by a better understanding of others’ discourse conventions.</p> <p>The delight in discovering Kevin&#8217;s visual rhetoric doesn&#8217;t end there. With <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/avoidedgecases">doghouses</a>, <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/hattrick">birdhouses</a>, and <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/growing-your-design-business">fishbowls</a>, Kevin speaks of environments for users and workers. With <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/a-pixel-identity-crisis">owls</a> he represents the mobile experience and <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/smartphone-browser-landscape">smartphones</a>. With a team arranging themselves to fit into a group photo, he makes the concept of <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/responsive-web-design">responsive design</a> easier to grasp.</p> <p>Not only has Kevin trained his hand and eye to produce the gestures, textures, and compositions that are uniquely his, but he has trained his mind to speak in a distinctive visual language—and he can do it on deadline. That is some serious mastery of the art.</p> <p>—Rose Weisburd, <em>Columns editor</em></p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/kLBd_yugW7w" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
15. Aug 2014
Measure Twice, Cut Once
<p>Not too long ago, I had a few rough days in support of a client project. The client had a big content release, complete with a media embargo and the like. I woke up on the day of the launch, and things were bad. I was staring straight into a wall of red.</p> <figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/misc-images/Blog_images/crash.png" alt="A response and downtime report"></figure> <p>Thanks to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Silver_Bullet">the intrinsic complexity of software engineering</a>, these situations happen—<a href="http://cognition.happycog.com/article/under-pressure">I’ve been through them before, and I’ll certainly be through them again</a>. While the particulars change, there are two guiding principles I rely on when I find myself looking up that hopelessly tall cliff of red.</p> <p>You can’t be at the top of your game while stressed and nervous about the emergency, so unless there’s an obvious, quick-to-deploy resolution, you need to give yourself some cover to work.</p> <p>What that means will be unique to every situation, but as strange as it may sound, don’t dive into work on the be-all and end-all solution right off the bat. Take a few minutes to find a way to provide a bit of breathing room for you to build and implement the long-term solution in a stable, future-friendly way.</p> <p>Ideally, the cover you’re providing shouldn’t affect the users too much. Consider beefing up your caching policies to lighten the load on your servers as much as possible. If there’s any functionality that is particularly taxing on your hardware and isn’t mission critical, disable it temporarily. Even if keeping the servers alive means pressing a button every 108 minutes like you’re <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma_Initiative#Station_3:_The_Swan">Desmond from Lost</a>, do it.</p> <p>After you’ve got some cover, work the problem slowly and deliberately. Think solutions through two or three times to be sure they’re the right course of action.</p> <p>With the pressure eased, you don’t have to rush through a cycle of building, deploying, and testing potential fixes. Rushing leads to oversight of important details, and typically, that cycle ends the first time a change fixes (or seemingly fixes) the issue, which can lead to sloppy code and weak foundations for the future.</p> <p>If the environment doesn’t allow you to ease the pressure enough to work slowly, go ahead and cycle your way to a hacky solution. But don’t forget to come back and work the root issue, or else temporary fixes will pile up and eat away at your system’s architecture like a swarm of termites.</p> <p>Emergencies often require more thought and planning than everyday development, so be sure to give yourself the necessary time. Reactions alone may patch an issue, but thoughtfulness can solve it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/lA0mO7gh2u0" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
15. Aug 2014
This week's sponsor: Hack Reactor
<p>Hack Reactor is a 3-month immersive coding school focused on computer science fundamentals and JavaScript. With a twofold mission, Hack Reactor works to empower people and transform education through rapid-iteration teaching.&nbsp; Hack Reactor grads work at companies like Google, Adobe, OpenTable, Amazon, and numerous startups with a average starting salary of &#36;105K and a 99&#37; graduate hiring rate.&nbsp; <a href="http://bit.ly/1yES8CA">Apply today and gain the skills and confidence to build amazing products.</a></p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/S-JhIamZ1WA" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
15. Aug 2014
Media Accessibility User Requirements Working Draft Updated
The Protocols and Formats Working Group (PFWG) today published an updated Working Draft of Media Accessibility User Requirements, a planned W3C Working Group Note. This document describes the accessibility requirements of people with disabilities with respect to audio and video on the Web, particularly in the context of HTML5. It explains alternative content technologies that [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
15. Aug 2014
Wake Lock: Use cases Note Published
The Web and Mobile Interest Group has published a Group Note of Wake Lock: Use cases. This document illustrates the use cases a mechanism to control the power-saving state of a device would enable on the Web platform. Learn more about the Mobile Web Initiative Activity.[mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
14. Aug 2014
Standards for Web Applications on Mobile: current state and roadmap
W3C has published the July 2014 edition of Standards for Web Applications on Mobile, an overview of the various technologies developed in W3C that increase the capabilities of Web applications, and how they apply more specifically to the mobile context. A deliverable of the HTML5Apps project, this edition of the document includes changes and additions [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
21. Aug 2014
W3C Invites Implementations of HTML5 Image Description Extension
The HTML Working Group has published a Candidate Recommendation of the HTML5 Image Description Extension, which defines the &#8220;longdesc&#8221; attribute that enables web authors to provide longer textual descriptions for complex images. This specification is part of W3C&#8217;s work to ensure that the Open Web Platform is accessible to people with disabilities. This publication addresses [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
14. Aug 2014
Workshop Report: W3C Workshop on the Web of Things
W3C published today the final report of the W3C Workshop on the Web of Things that was held on 25-26 June 2014, in Berlin (Germany). The workshop examined the opportunities for open Web standards for service platforms in the network edge and the cloud, along with the challenges for security, privacy and the integration with [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
21. Aug 2014
Tracking Compliance and Scope Draft Published
The Tracking Protection Working Group has published a Working Draft of Tracking Compliance and Scope. This specification defines the meaning of a Do Not Track (DNT) preference and sets out practices for websites to comply with this preference. Learn more about the Privacy Activity.[mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
21. Aug 2014
First Public Working Draft: Referrer Policy
The Web Application Security Working Group has published a First Public Working Draft of Referrer Policy. This document describes how an author can set a referrer policy for documents they create, and the impact of such a policy on the referer HTTP header for outgoing requests and navigations. Learn more about the Security Activity.[mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
14. Aug 2014
W3C Workshop Report: MultilingualWeb workshop in Madrid
A report of the MultilingualWeb workshop in Madrid is now available from the MultilingualWeb site. It contains a summary of each session with links to presentation slides and minutes taken during the workshop in Madrid. The workshop was a huge success, with approximately 110 participants, and with the aligned LIDER roadmapping workshop. The Workshop was [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
5. Aug 2014
W3C Updates Recommendation Track Process
W3C enacted today the 1 August 2014 W3C Process Document. This revision updates the chapter that defines the Recommendation Track, the steps and requirements followed by W3C Working Groups to standardize Web technology. The W3C technical report development process is designed to support multiple specification development methodologies: maximize consensus about the content of stable technical [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
14. Aug 2014
New Privacy Policy for W3C Site
W3C today updated its privacy policy to reflect current technology and W3C practices. The policy does not make material changes to what W3C does with information resulting from visits to our site. If you have questions, please write to site-policy@w3.org.[mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
8. Aug 2014
Upcoming coordinated Workshop: Encouraging open data usage by commercial developers
W3C and its European host, ERCIM, announce the report from the first workshop in the Share-PSI 2.0 series. Share-PSI 2.0 is the European network for the exchange of experience and ideas around implementing open data policies in the public sector. It brings together government departments, standards bodies, academic institutions, commercial organisations, trade associations and interest [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
5. Aug 2014
How We Read
<p>I want you to think about what you’re doing right now. I mean <em>really</em> think about it. As your eyes move across these lines and funnel information to your brain, you’re taking part in a conversation I started with you. The conveyance of that conversation is the type you’re reading on this page, but you’re also filtering it through your experiences and past conversations. You’re putting these words into context. And whether you’re reading this book on paper, on a device, or at your desk, your environment shapes your experience too. Someone else reading these words may go through the same motions, but their interpretation is inevitably different from yours.</p> <p>This is the most interesting thing about typography: it’s a chain reaction of time and place with you as the catalyst. The intention of a text depends on its presentation, but it needs you to give it meaning through reading.</p> <p>Type and typography wouldn’t exist without our need to express and record information. Sure, we have other ways to do those things, like speech or imagery, but type is efficient, flexible, portable, and translatable. This is what makes typography not only an art of communication, but one of nuance and craft, because like all communication, its value falls somewhere on a spectrum between success and failure.</p> <p>The act of reading is beautifully complex, and yet, once we know how, it’s a kind of muscle memory. We rarely think about it. But because reading is so intrinsic to every other thing about typography, it’s the best place for us to begin. We’ve all made something we wanted someone else to read, but have you ever thought about that person’s reading experience?</p> <p>Just as you’re my audience for this book, I want you to look at your audience too: your readers. One of design’s functions is to entice and delight. We need to welcome readers and convince them to sit with us. But what circumstances affect reading?</p> <h2>Readability</h2> <p>Just because something is legible doesn’t mean it’s readable. <em>Legibility</em> means that text can be interpreted, but that’s like saying tree bark is edible. We’re aiming higher. <em>Readability</em> combines the emotional impact of a design (or lack thereof ) with the amount of effort it presumably takes to read. You’ve heard of <em>TL;DR</em> (too long; didn’t read)? Length isn’t the only detractor to reading; poor typography is one too. To <a href="http://bkaprt.com/owt/2/">paraphrase Stephen Coles</a>, the term readability doesn’t ask simply, “Can you read it?” but “Do you want to read it?”</p> <p>Each decision you make could potentially hamper a reader’s understanding, causing them to bail and update their Facebook status instead. Don’t let your design deter your readers or stand in the way of what they want to do: <em>read</em>.</p> <p>Once we bring readers in, what else can we do to keep their attention and help them understand our writing? Let’s take a brief look at what the reading experience is like and how design influences it.</p> <h2>The act of reading</h2> <p>When I first started designing websites, I assumed everyone read my work the same way I did. I spent countless hours crafting the right layout and type arrangements. I saw the work as a collection of the typographic considerations I made: the lovingly set headlines, the ample whitespace, the typographic rhythm (fig 1.1). I assumed everyone would see that too.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/400/OWT-fig1-1.png" alt="A normal paragraph of text"> <figcaption>Fig 1.1: A humble bit of text. But what actually happens when someone reads it?</figcaption></figure> <p>It’s appealing to think that’s the case, but reading is a much more nuanced experience. It’s shaped by our surroundings (am I in a loud coffee shop or otherwise distracted?), our availability (am I busy with something else?), our needs (am I skimming for something specific?), and more. Reading is not only informed by what’s going on with us at that moment, but also governed by how our eyes and brains work to process information. What you <em>see</em> and what you’re <em>experiencing</em> as you read these words is quite different.</p> <p>As our eyes move across the text, our minds gobble up the type’s <em>texture</em>—the sum of the positive and negative spaces inside and around letters and words. We don’t linger on those spaces and details; instead, our brains do the heavy lifting of parsing the text and assembling a mental picture of what we’re reading. Our eyes see the type and our brains see Don Quixote chasing a windmill.</p> <p>Or, at least, that’s what we hope. This is the ideal scenario, but it depends on our design choices. Have you ever been completely absorbed in a book and lost in the passing pages? Me too. Good writing can do that, and good typography can grease the wheels. Without getting too scientific, let’s look at the physical process of reading.</p> <h3>Saccades and fixations</h3> <p>Reading isn’t linear. Instead, our eyes perform a series of back and forth movements called <em>saccades</em>, or lightning-fast hops across a line of text (fig 1.2). Sometimes it’s a big hop; sometimes it’s a small hop. Saccades help our eyes register a lot of information in a short span, and they happen many times over the course of a second. A saccade’s length depends on our proficiency as readers and our familiarity with the text’s topic. If I’m a scientist and reading, uh, science stuff, I may read it more quickly than a non-scientist, because I’m familiar with all those science-y words. Full disclosure: I’m not really a scientist. I hope you couldn’t tell.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/400/OWT-fig1-2.png" alt="Paragraph showing saccades or the movement our eyes make as we read a line of text"> <figcaption>Fig 1.2: Saccades are the leaps that happen in a split second as our eyes move across a line of text.</figcaption></figure> <p>Between saccades, our eyes stop for a fraction of a second in what’s called a <em>fixation</em> (fig 1.3). During this brief pause we see a couple of characters clearly, and the rest of the text blurs out like ripples in a pond. Our brains assemble these fixations and decode the information at lightning speed. This all happens on reflex. Pretty neat, huh?</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/400/OWT-fig1-3.png" alt="Paragraph showing the fixations or stopping points our eyes make as we read a paragraph"> <figcaption>Fig 1.3: Fixations are the brief moments of pause between saccades.</figcaption></figure> <p>The shapes of letters and the shapes they make when combined into words and sentences can significantly affect our ability to decipher text. If we look at an average line of text and cover the top halves of the letters, it becomes very difficult to read. If we do the opposite and cover the bottom halves, we can still read the text without much effort (fig 1.4).</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/400/OWT-fig1-4.png" alt="Paragraph showing how the upper half of letters are still readable to the human eyes"> <figcaption>Fig 1.4: Though the letters’ lower halves are covered, the text is still mostly legible, because much of the critical visual information is in the tops of letters.</figcaption></figure> <p>This is because letters generally carry more of their identifying features in their top halves. The sum of each word’s letterforms creates the word shapes we recognize when reading.</p> <p>Once we start to subconsciously recognize letters and common words, we read faster. We become more proficient at reading under similar conditions, an idea best encapsulated by type designer Zuzana Licko: “Readers read best what they read most.”</p> <p>It’s not a hard and fast rule, but close. The more foreign the letterforms and information are to us, the more slowly we discern them. If we traveled back in time to the Middle Ages with a book typeset in a super-awesome sci-fi font, the folks from the past might have difficulty with it. But here in the future, we’re adept at reading that stuff, all whilst flying around on hoverboards.</p> <p>For the same reason, we sometimes have trouble deciphering someone else’s handwriting: their letterforms and idiosyncrasies seem unusual to us. Yet we’re pretty fast at reading our own handwriting (fig 1.5).</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/400/1-5.jpg" alt="Three paragraphs of handwritten text"> <figcaption>Fig 1.5: While you’re very familiar with your own handwriting, reading someone else’s (like mine!) can take some time to get used to.</figcaption></figure> <p>There have been many studies on the reading process, with only a bit of consensus. Reading acuity depends on several factors, starting with the task the reader intends to accomplish. Some studies show that we read in <em>word shapes</em>—picture a chalk outline around an entire word—while others suggest we decode things letter by letter. Most findings agree that ease of reading relies on the visual feel and <em>precision</em> of the text’s setting (how much effort it takes to discern one letterform from another), combined with the reader’s own proficiency.</p> <p>Consider a passage set in all capital letters (fig 1.6). You can become adept at reading almost anything, but most of us aren’t accustomed to reading lots of text in all caps. Compared to the normal sentence-case text, the all-caps text feels pretty impenetrable. That’s because the capital letters are blocky and don’t create much contrast between themselves and the whitespace around them. The resulting word shapes are basically plain rectangles (fig 1.7).</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/400/OWT-fig1-6.png" alt="Paragraph illustrating the difficulty of reading text in all caps"> <figcaption>Fig 1.6: Running text in all caps can be hard to read quickly when we’re used to sentence case.</figcaption></figure> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/400/OWT-fig1-7.png" alt="Paragraph showing how words are recognizable by the shapes they form"> <figcaption>Fig 1.7: Our ability to recognize words is affected by the shapes they form. All-caps text forms blocky shapes with little distinction, while mixed-case text forms irregular shapes that help us better identify each word.</figcaption></figure> <p>Realizing that the choices we make in typefaces and typesetting have such an impact on the reader was eye-opening for me. Small things like the size and spacing of type can add up to great advantages for readers. When they don’t notice those choices, we’ve done our job. We’ve gotten out of their way and helped them get closer to the information.</p> <h2>Stacking the deck</h2> <p>Typography on screen differs from print in a few key ways. Readers deal with two reading environments: the physical space (and its lighting) and the device. A reader may spend a sunny day at the park reading on their phone. Or perhaps they’re in a dim room reading subtitles off their TV ten feet away. As designers, we have no control over any of this, and that can be frustrating. As much as I would love to go over to every reader’s computer and fix their contrast and brightness settings, this is the hand we’ve been dealt.</p> <p>The best solution to unknown unknowns is to make our typography perform as well as it can in all situations, regardless of screen size, connection, or potential lunar eclipse. We’ll look at some methods for making typography as sturdy as possible later in this book.</p> <p>It’s up to us to keep the reading experience unencumbered. At the core of typography is our audience, our readers. As we look at the building blocks of typography, I want you to keep those readers in mind. Reading is something we do every day, but we can easily take it for granted. Slapping words on a page won’t ensure good communication, just as mashing your hands across a piano won’t make for a pleasant composition. The experience of reading and the effectiveness of our message are determined by both <em>what</em> we say and <em>how</em> we say it. Typography is the primary tool we use as designers and visual communicators to speak.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/C3Q4XTZD2ME" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
8. Aug 2014
CSS Ruby Layout Module Level 1 Draft Published
The Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Working Group has published a Working Draft of CSS Ruby Layout Module Level 1. “Ruby”, a form of interlinear annotation, are short runs of text alongside the base text. They are typically used in East Asian documents to indicate pronunciation, or to provide a short annotation. This module describes the [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
7. Aug 2014
W3C Invites Implementations of HTML5
The HTML Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of HTML5. This specification defines the 5th major revision of the core language of the World Wide Web: the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). In this version, new features are introduced to help Web application authors, new elements are introduced based on research into prevailing authoring [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
30. Jul 2014
The Most Dangerous Word In Software Development
<p>“Just put it up on a server somewhere.”</p> <p>“Just add a favorite button to the right side of the item.”</p> <p>“Just add [insert complex option here] to the settings screen.”</p> <p>Usage of the word “just” points to a lot of assumptions being made. A few months ago, <a href="https://twitter.com/brad_frost">Brad Frost</a> <a href="https://the-pastry-box-project.net/brad-frost/2014-january-28">shared some thoughts</a> on how the word applies to knowledge.</p><figure class="quote"> <blockquote>“Just” makes me feel like an idiot. “Just” presumes I come from a specific background, studied certain courses in university, am fluent in certain technologies, and have read all the right books, articles, and resources.</blockquote> </figure> <p>He points out that learning is never as easy as it is made to seem, and he’s right. But there is a direct correlation between the amount of knowledge you’ve acquired and the danger of the word “just.” The more you know, the bigger the problems you solve, and the bigger the assumptions are that are hiding behind the word.</p> <p>Take the comment, “Just put it up on a server somewhere.” How many times have we heard that? But taking a side project running locally and deploying it on real servers requires time, money, and hard work. Some tiny piece of software somewhere will probably be the wrong version, and will need to be addressed. The system built locally probably isn’t built to scale perfectly.</p> <p>“Just” implies that all of the thinking behind a feature or system has been done. Even worse, it implies that all of the decisions that will have to be made in the course of development have already been discovered—and that’s never the case.</p> <p>Things change when something moves from concept to reality. As <a href="https://twitter.com/dwiskus">Dave Wiskus</a> said on a <a href="http://www.imore.com/debug-37-simmons-wiskus-gruber-and-vesper-sync">recent episode of Debug</a>, “everything changes when fingers hit glass.”</p> <p>The favorite button may look fine on the right side, visually, but it might be in a really tough spot to touch. What about when favoriting isn’t the only action to be taken? What happens to the favorite button then?</p> <p>Even once favoriting is built and in testing, it should be put through its paces again. In use, does favoriting provide enough value to warrant is existence? After all, <a href="http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch05_Start_With_No.php">“once that feature’s out there, you’re stuck with it.”</a></p> <p>When you hear the word “just” being thrown around, dig deep into that statement and find all of the assumptions made within it. Zoom out and think slow.</p> <p>Your product lives and dies by the decisions discovered between ideation and creation, so don’t just put it up on a server somewhere.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/Ei6wVulYF1M" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
29. Jul 2014
Gardens, Not Graves
<p>The stream—that great glut of ideas, opinions, updates, and ephemera that pours through us every day—is the dominant way we organize content. It makes sense; the stream’s popularity springs from the days of the early social web, when a huge number of users posted all types of content on unpredictable schedules. The simplest way to show updates to new readers focused on reverse chronology and small, discrete chunks, as sorting by newness called for content quick to both produce and digest. This approach saw wide adoption in blogs, social networks, notification systems, etc., and ever since we’ve flitted from one stream to another like sugar-starved hummingbirds.</p> <p>Problem is, the stream’s emphasis on the new above all else imposes a short lifespan on content. Like papers piled on your desk, the stream makes it easy to find the last thing you’ve added, while anything older than a day effectively disappears. Solely relying on reverse-chronology turns our websites into graveyards, where things pile up atop each other until they fossilize. We need to start treating our websites as gardens, as places worthy of cultivation and renewal, where new things can bloom from the old.</p> <h2>The stream, in print</h2> <p>The stream’s focus on the <em>now</em> isn’t novel, anyway. Old-school modes of publishing like newspapers and magazines shared a similar disposability: periodic updates went out to subscribers and were then thrown away. No one was expected to hang onto them for long.</p> <p>Over the centuries with print, however, we came up with a number of ways to preserve and showcase older material. Newspapers put out <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Times_Index">annual indexes</a> cataloguing everything they print ordered by subject and frequency. Magazines get rebound into <a href="http://us.macmillan.com/theparisreviewinterviewsboxedsetiiv/TheParisReview">larger, more substantial anthologies</a>. Publishers frequently reach into their back catalogue and reprint books with new forewords or even chapters. These acts serve two purposes: to maintain widespread and cheap access to material that has gone out of print, and to ensure that material is still relevant and useful today.</p> <p>But we haven’t yet developed patterns for slowing down on the web. In some ways, access is simpler. As long as the servers stay up, content remains a link away from interested readers. But that same ease of access makes the problem of outdated or redundant content more pronounced. Someone looking at an old magazine article also holds the entire issue it was printed with. With an online article, someone can land directly on the piece with little indication of who it’s by, what it’s for, and whether it’s gone out of date. Providing sufficient context for content already out there is a vital factor to consider and design for.</p> <p>You don’t need to be a writer to help fix this. Solutions can come from many fields, from targeted writing and design tweaks to more overarching changes in content strategy and information architecture.</p> <p>Your own websites are good places to start. Here are some high-level guidelines, ordered by the amount of effort they’ll take. Your site will demand its own unique set of approaches, though, so recombine and reinvent as needed.</p> <h2>Reframe</h2> <p><em>Emma is a travel photographer. She keeps a blog, and many years ago she wrote a series about visiting Tibet. Back then, she was required to travel with a guided tour. That’s no longer the case, as visitors only need to obtain a permit.</em></p> <p>The most straightforward thing to do is to look through past content and identify what’s outdated: pieces you’ve written, projects you worked on, things you like. The goal is triage: sorting things into what needs attention and what’s still fine.</p> <p>Once you’ve done that, find a way to signal their outdated status. Perhaps you have a design template for “archived” content that has a different background color, more strongly emphasizes when it was written, or <a href="http://24ways.org/2008/geotag-everywhere-with-fire-eagle/">adds a sentence or two at the top of your content that explains why it’s outdated</a>. If entire groups of content need mothballing, see whether it makes sense to pull them into separate areas. (Over time, you may have to overhaul the way your entire site is organized—a complicated task we’ll address below.)</p> <p><em>Emma adds an <code>&lt;outdated&gt;</code> tag to her posts about her guided tour and configures the site’s template to show a small yellow notification at the top telling visitors that her information is from 2008 and may be irrelevant. She also adds a link on each post pointing to a site that explains the new visa process and ways to obtain Tibetan permits.</em></p> <p>On the flip side, separate the pieces that you’re particularly proud of. Your “best-of” material is probably getting scattered by the reverse-chronology organization of your website, so list all of them in a prominent place for people visiting for the first time.</p> <h2>Recontextualize</h2> <p>I hope that was easy! The next step is to look for old content you feel differently about today.</p> <p><em>When Emma first started traveling, she hated to fly. She hated waiting in line, hated sitting in cramped seats, and especially hated the food. There are many early blog posts venting about this.</em></p> <p>Maybe what you wrote needs additional nuance or more details. Or maybe you’ve changed since then. Explain why—lead readers down the learning path you took. It’s a chance for you to reflect on the delta.</p> <p><em>Now that she’s gotten more busy and has to frequently make back-to-back trips for clients, she finds that planes are the best time for her to edit photos from the last trip, catch up on email, and have some space for reflection. So she writes about how she fills up her flying time now, leaving more time when she’s at her destination to shoot and relax.</em></p> <p>Or expand on earlier ideas. What started as a rambling post you began at midnight can turn into a series or an entire side project. Or, if something you wrote provokes a big response online, you could gather those links at the bottom of your piece. It’s a service to your new readers to collect connected pieces together, so that they don’t have to hunt around to find them all.</p> <h2>Revise and reorganize</h2> <p>Hopefully that takes care of most of your problematic content. But for content so dire you’re embarrassed to even look at it, much less having other people reading it, consider more extreme measures: the act of culling, revising, and rewriting.</p> <p>Looking back: maybe you were <em>completely wrong</em> about something, and you would now argue the opposite. Rewrite it! Or you’re shocked to find code you wrote one rushed Friday afternoon—well, set aside some time to start from the ground up and do it right.</p> <p><em>Emma started her website years ago as a typical reverse-chron blog, but has started to work on a redesign based around the concepts of LOCATIONS and TRIPS. Appearing as separate items in the navigation, they act as different ways for readers to approach and make sense of her work. The locations present an at-a-glance view of where she’s been and how well-traveled she is. The trips (labeled Antarctica: November 2012, Bangkok: Fall 2013, Ghana: early 2014, etc.) retain the advantages of reverse-chronology by giving people updates on what she’s done recently, but these names are more flexible and easier to explain than dates and timestamps on their own. Someone landing directly on a post from a trip two years ago can easily get to the other posts from that trip, but they would be lost if the entries were only timestamped.</em></p> <p>If the original structure no longer matches the reality of what’s there, it’s also the best case for redesigning and reorganizing your website. Now is the time to consider your content as a whole. Think about how you’d explain your website to someone you’re having lunch with. Are you a writer, photographer, artist, musician, cook? What kind? What sorts of topics does your site talk about? What do you want people to see first? How do they go deeper on the things they find interesting? This gets rather existential, but it’s important to ask yourself.</p> <h2>Remove</h2> <p>If it’s really, truly <em>foul</em>, you can throw it out. (It’s okay. You officially have permission.) Not everything needs to live online forever, but throwing things out doesn’t have to be your first option when you get embarrassed by the past.</p> <p>Deploying the internet equivalent of space lasers does, I must stress, come with some responsibility. Other sites can be affected by changes in your links:</p> <ul> <li>If you’re consolidating or moving content, it’s important to set up redirects for affected URLs to the new pages.</li> <li>If someone links to a tutorial you wrote, it may be better to archive it and link to more updated information, rather than outright deleting it.</li> </ul> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>Everything we’ve done so far applies to more than personal websites, of course. Where else?</p> <p>Businesses have to maintain scores of announcements, documentation, and customer support. Much of it is subject to greatly change over time, and many need help looking at things from a user’s perspective. Content strategy has been leading the charge on this, from <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/content-modelling-a-master-skill">developing content models and relationships</a>, to <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/dont-poke-the-bear-creating-content-for-sensitive-situations">communicating with empathy in touchy situations</a>, to <a href="http://alistapart.com/column/responsive-design-wont-fix-your-content-problem">working out content standards</a>.</p> <p>Newspapers and magazines relentlessly publish new pieces and sweep the old away from public view. Are there opportunities to <a href="http://nprchives.tumblr.com">highlight</a> <a href="http://livelymorgue.tumblr.com">material</a> from their archives? What about content that can always <a href="http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews">stay</a> <a href="http://www.lettersofnote.com">interesting</a>? How can selections be best brought together to <a href="http://aworkinglibrary.com/writing/some-thoughts-on-the-anthology">generate new connections and meaning</a>?</p> <p>Museums and libraries, as they step into their digital shoes, will have to think about building places online for histories and archives for the long term. Are there <a href="http://snarkmarket.com/blog/snarkives/books_writing_such/paleoblogging">new roles and practices</a> that bridge the old world with the networked, digital one? How do they preserve <a href="http://www.aaronland.info/weblog/2013/07/25/verb">entirely new categories of things</a> for the public?</p> <p>No one has all the answers. But these are questions that come from leaving the stream and approaching content from the long view. These are problems that the shapers and caretakers of the web are uniquely positioned to think about and solve.</p> <p>As a community, we take pride in being makers and craftsmen. But for years, we’ve neglected the disciplines of stewardship—the invisible and unglamorous work of collecting, restoring, safekeeping, and preservation. Maybe the answer isn’t to post more, to add more and more streams. Let’s return to our existing content and make it more durable and useful.</p> <p>You don’t even have to pick up a shovel.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/brzpjVbp608" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
29. Jul 2014
Radio-Controlled Web Design
<p>Interactive user interfaces are a necessity in our responsive world. Smaller screens constrain the amount of content that can be displayed at any given time, so we need techniques to keep navigation and secondary information out of the way until they’re needed. From tabs and modal overlays to hidden navigation, we’ve created many powerful design patterns that show and hide content using JavaScript. </p> <p>JavaScript comes with its own mobile challenges, though. Network speeds and data plans vary wildly, and every byte we deliver has an impact on the render speed of our pages or applications. When we add JavaScript to a page, we’re typically adding an external JavaScript file and an optional (usually large) library like jQuery. These interfaces won’t become usable until all the content, JavaScript files included, is downloaded—creating a slow and sluggish first impression for our users. </p> <p>If we could create these content-on-demand patterns with no reliance on JavaScript, our interfaces would render earlier, and users could interact with them as soon as they were visible. By shifting some of the functionality to CSS, we could also reduce the amount of JavaScript needed to render the rest of our page. The result would be smaller file sizes, faster page-load times, interfaces that are available earlier, and the same functionality we’ve come to rely on from these design patterns. </p> <p>In this article, I’ll explore a technique I’ve been working on that does just that. It’s still a bit experimental, so use your best judgment before using it in your own production systems.</p> <h2>Understanding JavaScript’s role in maintaining state</h2> <p>To understand how to accomplish these design patterns without JavaScript at all, let’s first take a look at the role JavaScript plays in maintaining state for a simple tabbed interface.</p> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="310" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="aKbBf" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/1-javascript-tabs-no-aria/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <p>Let’s take a closer look at the underlying code.</p> <pre><code class="language-markup">&lt;div class=&quot;js-tabs&quot;&gt; &lt;div class=&quot;tabs&quot;&gt; &lt;a href=&quot;#starks-panel&quot; id=&quot;starks-tab&quot; class=&quot;tab active&quot;&gt;Starks&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=&quot;#lannisters-panel&quot; id=&quot;lannisters-tab&quot; class=&quot;tab&quot;&gt;Lannisters&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=&quot;#targaryens-panel&quot; id=&quot;targaryens-tab&quot; class=&quot;tab&quot;&gt;Targaryens&lt;/a&gt; &lt;/div&gt; &lt;div class=&quot;panels&quot;&gt; &lt;ul id=&quot;starks-panel&quot; class=&quot;panel active&quot;&gt; &lt;li&gt;Eddard&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Caitelyn&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Robb&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Sansa&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Brandon&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Arya&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Rickon&lt;/li&gt; &lt;/ul&gt; &lt;ul id=&quot;lannisters-panel&quot; class=&quot;panel&quot;&gt; &lt;li&gt;Tywin&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Cersei&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Jamie&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Tyrion&lt;/li&gt; &lt;/ul&gt; &lt;ul id=&quot;targaryens-panel&quot; class=&quot;panel&quot;&gt; &lt;li&gt;Viserys&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Daenerys&lt;/li&gt; &lt;/ul&gt; &lt;/div&gt; &lt;/div&gt; </code></pre> <p>Nothing unusual in the layout, just a set of tabs and corresponding panels that will be displayed when a tab is selected. Now let’s look at how tab state is managed by altering a tab’s class:</p> <pre><code class="language-css">... .js-tabs .tab { /* inactive styles go here */ } .js-tabs .tab.active { /* active styles go here */ } .js-tabs .panel { /* inactive styles go here */ } .js-tabs .panel.active { /* active styles go here */ } ... </code></pre> <p>Tabs and panels that have an active class will have additional CSS applied to make them stand out. In our case, active tabs will visually connect to their content while inactive tabs remain separate, and active panels will be visible while inactive panels remain hidden.</p> <p>At this point, you’d use your preferred method of working with JavaScript to listen for click events on the tabs, then manipulate the <code>active</code> class, removing it from all tabs and panels and adding it to the newly clicked tab and corresponding panel. This pattern is pretty flexible and has worked well for a long time. We can simplify what’s going on into two distinct parts:</p> <ol> <li>JavaScript binds events that manipulate classes.</li> <li>CSS restyles elements based on those classes.</li> </ol> <h3>State management without JavaScript</h3> <p>Trying to replicate event binding and class manipulation in CSS and HTML alone would be impossible, but if we define the process in broader terms, it becomes:</p> <ol> <li>User input changes the system’s active state.</li> <li>The system is re-rendered when the state is changed.</li> </ol> <p>In our HTML- and CSS-only solution, we’ll use radio buttons to allow the user to manipulate state, and the <code>:checked</code> pseudo-class as the hook to re-render.</p> <p>The solution has its roots in Chris Coyier’s <a href="http://css-tricks.com/the-checkbox-hack/">checkbox hack</a>, which I was introduced to via my colleague Scott O’Hara in his <a href="http://www.scottohara.me/article/css-morph-menu-button.html">morphing menu button</a> demo. In both cases, checkbox inputs are used to maintain two states without JavaScript by styling elements using the <code>:checked</code> pseudo-class. In this case, we’ll be using radio buttons to increase the number of states we can maintain beyond two.</p> <h2>Wait, radio buttons?</h2> <p>Using radio buttons to do something other than collect form submission data may make some of you feel a little uncomfortable, but let’s look at <a href="http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/forms.html#the-input-element">what the W3C says</a> about input use and see if we can ease some concerns:</p> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote>The <code>&lt;input&gt;</code> element represents a typed data field, usually with a form control to <strong>allow the user to edit</strong> the <strong>data</strong>. (emphasis mine)</blockquote> </figure> <p>“Data” is a pretty broad term—it has to be to cover the multitude of types of data that forms collect. We’re <em>allowing the user to edit</em> the <em>state</em> of a part of the page. State is just data about that part of the page at any given time. This may not have been the intended use of <code>&lt;input&gt;</code>, but we’re holding true to the specification.</p> <p>The W3C also states that inputs may be rendered wherever “phrasing content” can be used, which is basically anywhere you could put standalone text. This allows us to use radio buttons outside of a form.</p> <h2>Radio-controlled tabs</h2> <p>So now that we know a little more about whether we <em>can</em> use radio buttons for this purpose, let’s dig into an example and see <em>how</em> they can actually remove or reduce our dependency on JavaScript by modifying the original tabs example.</p> <h3>Add radio buttons representing state</h3> <p>Each radio button will represent one state of the interactive component. In our case, we have three tabs and each tab can be active, so we need three radio buttons, each of which will represent a particular tab being active. By giving the radio buttons the same name, we’ll ensure that only one may be checked at any time. Our JavaScript example had the first tab active initially, so we can add the <code>checked</code> attribute to the radio button representing the first tab, indicating that it is currently active.</p> <p>Because CSS selectors can only style sibling or child selectors based on the state of another element, these radio buttons must come <em>before</em> any content that needs to be visually manipulated. In our case, we’ll put our radio buttons just before the tabs <code>div</code>: </p> <pre><code class="language-markup"> &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;starks&quot; checked /&gt; &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;lannisters&quot; /&gt; &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;targaryens&quot; /&gt; &lt;div class=&quot;tabs&quot;&gt; ... </code></pre> <h3>Replace click and touch areas with labels</h3> <p>Labels naturally respond to click and touch events. We can’t tell them <em>how</em> to react to those events, but the behavior is predictable and we can leverage it. When a label associated with a radio button is clicked or touched, the radio button is checked while all other radio buttons in the same group are unchecked.</p> <p>By setting the <code>for</code> attribute of our labels to the <code>id</code> of a particular radio button, we can place labels wherever we need them while still inheriting the touch and click behavior.</p> <p>Our tabs were represented with anchors in the earlier example. Let’s replace them with labels and add <code>for</code> attributes to wire them up to the correct radio buttons. We can also remove the <code>active</code> class from the tab and panel as the radio buttons will be maintaining state:</p> <pre><code class="language-markup">... &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; title=&quot;Targaryens&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;targaryens&quot; /&gt; &lt;div class=&quot;tabs&quot;&gt; &lt;label for=&quot;starks&quot; id=&quot;starks-tab&quot; class=&quot;tab&quot;&gt;Starks&lt;/label&gt; &lt;label for=&quot;lannisters&quot; id=&quot;lannisters-tab&quot; class=&quot;tab&quot;&gt;Lannisters&lt;/label&gt; &lt;label for=&quot;targaryens&quot; id=&quot;targaryens-tab&quot; class=&quot;tab&quot;&gt;Targaryens&lt;/label&gt; &lt;/div&gt; &lt;div class=&quot;panels&quot;&gt; ... </code></pre> <h3>Hide radio buttons with CSS</h3> <p>Now that our labels are in place, we can safely hide the radio buttons. We still want to keep the tabs keyboard accessible, so we’ll just move the radio buttons offscreen:</p> <pre><code class="language-css">... .radio-tabs .state { position: absolute; left: -10000px; } ... </code></pre> <h3>Style states based on <code>:checked</code> instead of <code>.active</code></h3> <p>The <code>:checked</code> pseudo-class allows us to apply CSS to a radio button when it is checked. The sibling selector <code>~</code> allows us to style elements that follow an element in the same level. Combined, we can style anything after the radio buttons based on the buttons’ state.</p> <p>The pattern is <code>#radio:checked ~ .something-after-radio</code> or optionally <code>#radio:checked ~ .something-after-radio .something-nested-deeper</code>:</p> <pre><code class="language-css">... .tab { ... } #starks:checked ~ .tabs #starks-tab, #lannisters:checked ~ .tabs #lannisters-tab, #targaryens:checked ~ .tabs #targaryens-tab { ... } .panel { ... } #starks:checked ~ .panels #starks-panel, #lannisters:checked ~ .panels #lannisters-panel, #targaryens:checked ~ .panels #targaryens-panel { ... } ... </code></pre> <p>Now when the tab labels are clicked, the appropriate radio button will be checked, which will style the correct tab and panel as active. The result: </p> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="310" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="domFD" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/2-radio-controlled-tabs-no-aria/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script></figure> <h2>Browser support</h2> <p>The requirements for this technique are pretty low. As long as a browser supports the <code>:checked</code> pseudo-class and <code>~</code> sibling selector, we’re good to go. Firefox, Chrome, and mobile Webkit have always supported these selectors. Safari has had support since version 3, and Opera since version 9. Internet Explorer started supporting the sibling selector in version 7, but didn’t add support for <code>:checked</code> until IE9. Android supports <code>:checked</code> but has a bug which impedes it from being aware of changes to a checked element after page load.</p> <p>That’s decent support, but with a little extra work we can get Android and older IE working as well.</p> <h3>Fixing the Android 2.3 <code>:checked</code> bug</h3> <p>In some versions of Android, <code>:checked</code> won’t update as the state of a radio group changes. Luckily, <a href="http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8320530/webkit-bug-with-hover-and-multiple-adjacent-sibling-selectors/8320736#8320736">there’s a fix for that</a> involving a webkit-only infinite animation on the body, which Tim Pietrusky points out in his <a href="http://timpietrusky.com/advanced-checkbox-hack">advanced checkbox hack</a>: </p> <pre><code class="language-css">... /* Android 2.3 :checked fix */ @keyframes fake { from { opacity: 1; } to { opacity: 1 } } body { animation: fake 1s infinite; } ... </code></pre> <h3>JavaScript shim for old Internet Explorer</h3> <p>If you need to support IE7 and IE8, you can add this shim to the bottom of your page in a script tag: </p> <pre><code class="language-javascript">document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0] .addEventListener('change', function (e) { var radios, i; if (e.target.getAttribute('type') === 'radio') { radios = document.querySelectorAll('input[name=&quot;' + e.target.getAttribute('name') + '&quot;]'); for (i = 0; i &lt; radios.length; i += 1) { radios[ i ].className = radios[ i ].className.replace( /(^|\s)checked(\s|$)/, ' ' ); if (radios[ i ] === e.target) { radios[ i ].className += ' checked'; } } } }); </code></pre> <p>This adds a <code>checked</code> class to the currently checked radio button, allowing you to double up your selectors and keep support. Your selectors would have to be updated to include <code>:checked</code> and <code>.checked</code> versions like this:</p> <pre><code class="language-css">... .tab { ... } #starks:checked ~ .tabs #starks-tab, #starks.checked ~ .tabs #starks-tab, #lannisters:checked ~ .tabs #lannisters-tab, #lannisters.checked ~ .tabs #lannisters-tab, #targaryens:checked ~ .tabs #targaryens-tab, #targaryens.checked ~ .tabs #targaryens-tab { ... } .panel { ... } #starks:checked ~ .panels #starks-panel, #starks.checked ~ .panels #starks-panel, #lannisters:checked ~ .panels #lannisters-panel, #lannisters.checked ~ .panels #lannisters-panel, #targaryens:checked ~ .panels #targaryens-panel, #targaryens.checked ~ .panels #targaryens-panel { ... } ... </code></pre> <p>Using an inline script still saves a potential http request and speeds up interactions on newer browsers. When you choose to drop IE7 and IE8 support, you can drop the shim without changing any of your code.</p> <h2>Maintaining accessibility</h2> <p>While our initial JavaScript tabs exhibited the state management between changing tabs, a more robust example would use progressive enhancement to change three titled lists into tabs. It should also handle adding all the ARIA roles and attributes that screen readers and other assistive technologies use to navigate the contents of a page. A better JavaScript example might look like this:</p> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="310" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="DazeL" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/3-javascript-tabs-aria/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <p>Parts of the HTML are removed and will now be added by additional JavaScript; new HTML has been added and will be hidden by additional JavaScript; and new CSS has been added to manage the pre-enhanced and post-enhanced states. In general, our code has grown by a good amount.</p> <p>In order to support ARIA, particularly managing the <code>aria-selected</code> state, we’re going to have to bring some JavaScript back into our radio-controlled tabs. However, the amount of progressive enhancement we need to do is greatly reduced.</p> <p>If you aren’t familiar with ARIA or are a little rusty, you may wish to refer to the <a href="http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-practices/#tabpanel">ARIA Authoring Practices for tabpanel</a>.</p> <h3>Adding ARIA roles and attributes</h3> <p>First, we’ll add the role of <code>tablist</code> to the containing <code>div</code>.</p> <pre><code class="language-markup">&lt;div class=&quot;radio-tabs&quot; role=&quot;tablist&quot;&gt; &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;starks&quot; checked /&gt; ... </code></pre> <p>Next, we’ll add the role of <code>tab</code> and attribute <code>aria-controls</code> to each radio button. The <code>aria-controls</code> value will be the <code>id</code> of the corresponding panel to show. Additionally, we’ll add titles to each radio button so that screen readers can associate a label with each tab. The checked radio button will also get <code>aria-selected=&quot;true&quot;</code>:</p> <pre><code class="language-markup">&lt;div class=&quot;radio-tabs&quot; role=&quot;tablist&quot;&gt; &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; title=&quot;Starks&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;starks&quot; role=&quot;tab&quot; aria-controls=&quot;starks-panel&quot; aria-selected=&quot;true&quot;checked /&gt; &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; title=&quot;Lanisters&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;lannisters&quot; role=&quot;tab&quot; aria-controls=&quot;lannisters-panel&quot; /&gt; &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; title=&quot;Targaryens&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;targaryens&quot; role=&quot;tab&quot; aria-controls=&quot;targaryens-panel&quot; /&gt; &lt;div class=&quot;tabs&quot;&gt; </code></pre> <p>We’re going to hide the visual tabs from assistive technology because they are shallow interfaces to the real tabs (the radio buttons). We’ll do this by adding <code>aria-hidden=&quot;true&quot;</code> to our <code>.tabs</code> <code>div</code>:</p> <pre><code class="language-markup"> ... &lt;input class=&quot;state&quot; type=&quot;radio&quot; title=&quot;Targaryens&quot; name=&quot;houses-state&quot; id=&quot;targaryens&quot; role=&quot;tab&quot; aria-controls=&quot;targaryens-panel&quot; /&gt; &lt;div class=&quot;tabs&quot; aria-hidden=&quot;true&quot;&gt; &lt;label for=&quot;starks&quot; id=&quot;starks-tab&quot; class=&quot;tab&quot;&gt;Starks&lt;/label&gt; ... </code></pre> <p>The last bit of ARIA support we need to add is on the panels. Each panel will get the role of <code>tabpanel</code> and an attribute of <code>aria-labeledby</code> with a value of the corresponding tab’s id:</p> <pre><code class="language-markup"> ... &lt;div class=&quot;panels&quot;&gt; &lt;ul id=&quot;starks-panel&quot; class=&quot;panel active&quot; role=&quot;tabpanel&quot; aria-labelledby=&quot;starks-tab&quot;&gt; &lt;li&gt;Eddard&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Caitelyn&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Robb&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Sansa&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Brandon&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Arya&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Rickon&lt;/li&gt; &lt;/ul&gt; &lt;ul id=&quot;lannisters-panel&quot; class=&quot;panel&quot; role=&quot;tabpanel&quot; aria-labelledby=&quot;lannisters-tab&quot;&gt; &lt;li&gt;Tywin&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Cersei&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Jamie&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Tyrion&lt;/li&gt; &lt;/ul&gt; &lt;ul id=&quot;targaryens-panel&quot; class=&quot;panel&quot; role=&quot;tabpanel&quot; aria-labelledby=&quot;targaryens-tab&quot;&gt; &lt;li&gt;Viserys&lt;/li&gt; &lt;li&gt;Daenerys&lt;/li&gt; &lt;/ul&gt; &lt;/div&gt; ... </code></pre> <p>All we need to do with JavaScript is to set the <code>aria-selected</code> value as the radio buttons change:</p> <pre><code class="language-js">$('.state').change(function () { $(this).parent().find('.state').each(function () { if (this.checked) { $(this).attr('aria-selected', 'true'); } else { $(this).removeAttr('aria-selected'); } }); }); </code></pre> <p>This also gives an alternate hook for IE7 and IE8 support. Both browsers support attribute selectors, so you could update the CSS to use <code>[aria-selected]</code> instead of <code>.checked</code> and remove the support shim.</p> <pre><code class="language-css">... #starks[aria-selected] ~ .tabs #starks-tab, #lannisters[aria-selected] ~ .tabs #lannisters-tab, #targaryens[aria-selected] ~ .tabs #targaryens-tab, #starks:checked ~ .tabs #starks-tab, #lannisters:checked ~ .tabs #lannisters-tab, #targaryens:checked ~ .tabs #targaryens-tab { /* active tab, now with IE7 and IE8 support! */ } ... </code></pre> <p>The result is full ARIA support with minimal JavaScript—and you still get the benefit of tabs that can be used as soon as the browser paints them.</p> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="310" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="gbLev" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/4-radio-controlled-tabs-aria/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <p>That’s it. Note that because the underlying HTML is available from the start, unlike the initial JavaScript example, we didn’t have to manipulate or create any additional HTML. In fact, aside from adding ARIA roles and parameters, we didn’t have to do much at all.</p> <h2>Limitations to keep in mind</h2> <p>Like most techniques, this one has a few limitations. The first and most important is that the state of these interfaces is transient. When you refresh the page, these interfaces will revert to their initial state. This works well for some patterns, like modals and offscreen menus, and less well for others. If you need persistence in your interface’s state, it is still better to use links, form submission, or AJAX requests to make sure the server can keep track of the state between visits or page loads.</p> <p>The second limitation is that there is a scope gap in what can be styled using this technique. Since you cannot place radio buttons before the <code>&lt;body&gt;</code> or <code>&lt;html&gt;</code> elements, and you can only style elements following radio buttons, you cannot affect either element with this technique.</p> <p>The third limitation is that you can only apply this technique to interfaces that are triggered via click, tap, or keyboard input. You can use progressive enhancement to listen to more complex interactions like scrolling, swipes, double-tap, or multitouch, but if your interfaces rely on these events alone, standard progressive enhancement techniques may be better.</p> <p>The final limitation involves how radio groups interact with the tab flow of the document. If you noticed in the tab example, hitting tab brings you to the tab group, but hitting tab again leaves the group. This is fine for tabs, and is the expected behavior for ARIA tablists, but if you want to use this technique for something like an open and close button, you’ll want to be able to have both buttons in the tab flow of the page independently based on the button location. This can be fixed through a bit of JavaScript in four steps:</p> <ol> <li>Set the radio buttons and labels to <code>display: none</code> to take them out of the tab flow and visibility of the page.</li> <li>Use JavaScript to add <code>buttons</code> after each <code>label</code>.</li> <li>Style the buttons just like the labels.</li> <li>Listen for clicks on the <code>button</code> and trigger clicks on their neighboring <code>label</code>.</li> </ol> <p>Even using this process, it is highly recommended that you use a standard progressive enhancement technique to make sure users without JavaScript who interact with your interfaces via keyboard don’t get confused with the radio buttons. I recommend the following JavaScript in the head of your document:</p> <pre><code class="language-markup">&lt;script&gt;document.documentElement.className+=&quot; js&quot;;&lt;/script&gt; </code></pre> <p>Before any content renders, this will add the <code>js</code> class to your <code>&lt;html&gt;</code> element, allowing you to style content depending on whether or not JavaScript is turned on. Your CSS would then look something like this:</p> <pre><code class="language-css">.thing { /* base styles - when no JavaScript is present hide radio button labels, show hidden content, etc. */ } .js .thing { /* style when JavaScript is present hide content, show labels, etc. */ } </code></pre> <p>Here’s an example of an offscreen menu implemented using the above process. If JavaScript is disabled, the menu renders open at all times with no overlay:</p> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="388" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="wsbfC" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/5-and-7-radio-controlled-offscreen-menu/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <h2>Implementing other content-on-demand patterns</h2> <p>Let’s take a quick look at how you might create some common user interfaces using this technique. Keep in mind that a robust implementation would address accessibility through ARIA roles and attributes.</p> <h3>Modal windows with overlays</h3> <ul> <li>Two radio buttons representing modal visibility</li> <li>One or more labels for modal-open which can look like anything</li> <li>A label for modal-close styled to look like a semi-transparent overlay</li> <li>A label for modal-close styled to look like a close button</li> </ul> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="388" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="npsCd" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/6-radio-controlled-modal-window/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <h3>Off-screen menu</h3> <ul> <li>Two radio buttons representing menu visibility</li> <li>A label for menu-open styled to look like a menu button</li> <li>A label for menu-close styled to look like a semi-transparent overlay</li> <li>A label for menu-close styled to look like a close button</li> </ul> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="388" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="wsbfC" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/5-and-7-radio-controlled-offscreen-menu/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <h3>Switching layout on demand</h3> <ul> <li>Radio buttons representing each layout</li> <li>Labels for each radio button styled like buttons</li> </ul> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="490" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="gbehv" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/8-radio-controlled-layout-manipulation/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <h3>Switching style on demand</h3> <ul> <li>Radio buttons representing each style</li> <li>Labels for each radio button styled like buttons</li> </ul> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="490" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="ncAfK" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/9-radio-controlled-style-manipulation/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <h3>Content carousels</h3> <ul> <li>X radio buttons, one for each panel, representing the active panel</li> <li>Labels for each panel styled to look like next/previous/page controls</li> </ul> <figure class="text full-width"> <p data-height="350" data-theme-id="0" data-slug-hash="ioCaA" data-default-tab="result" class='codepen'>See the demo: <a href='http://alistapart.com/d/399/10-radio-controlled-carousel/'>Show/hide example</a></p> <script async src="//codepen.io/assets/embed/ei.js"></script> </figure> <h3>Other touch- or click-based interfaces</h3> <p>As long as the interaction does not depend on adding new content to the page or styling the <code>&lt;body&gt;</code> element, you should be able to use this technique to accomplish some very JavaScript-like interactions.</p> <p>Occasionally you may want to manage multiple overlapping states in the same system—say the color and size of a font. In these situations, it may be easier to maintain multiple sets of radio buttons to manage each state.</p> <p>It is also <em>highly</em> recommended that you use <code>autocomplete=&quot;off&quot;</code> with your radio buttons to avoid conflict with browser form autofill switching state on your users.</p> <h2>Radio-control the web?</h2> <p>Is your project right for this technique? Ask yourself the following questions:</p> <ol> <li>Am I using complex JavaScript on my page/site that can’t be handled by this technique?</li> <li>Do I need to support Internet Explorer 6 or other legacy browsers?</li> </ol> <p>If the answer to either of those question is “yes,” you probably shouldn’t try to integrate radio control into your project. Otherwise, you may wish to consider it as part of a robust progressive enhancement technique.</p> <p>Most of the time, you’ll be able to shave some bytes off of your JavaScript files and CSS. Occasionally, you’ll even be able to remove Javascript completely. Either way, you’ll gain the appearance of speed—and build a more enjoyable experience for your users.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/2wXn4oMCOXo" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
5. Aug 2014
For Review: Updated Techniques for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (WCAG WG) requests review of draft updates to Notes that accompany WCAG 2.0: Techniques for WCAG 2.0 (Editors&#8217; Draft) and Understanding WCAG 2.0 (Editors&#8217; Draft). Comments are welcome through 12 August 2014. (This is not an update to WCAG 2.0, which is a stable document.) To learn more [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
5. Aug 2014
Developers Guide to Features of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools Draft Published
The First Public Working Draft of Developers&#8217; Guide to Features of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools was published today by the Evaluation and Repair Tools Working Group (ERT WG). The document describes features that web authoring tools and quality assurance tools can incorporate to support web accessibility evaluation. It is useful for tool developers to get [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
24. Jul 2014
Matt Griffin on How We Work: Being Profitable
<p>When I recently read <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/living-up-to-your-business-ideals">Geoff Dimasi’s excellent article</a> I thought: this is great—values-based business decisions in an efficient fashion. But I had another thought, too: where, in that equation, is the money?</p> <p>If I’m honest with myself, I’ve always felt that on some level it’s wrong to be profitable. That making money on top of your costs somehow equates to bilking your clients. I know, awesome trait for a business owner, right?</p> <p>Because here’s the thing: a business can’t last forever skating on the edge of viability. And that’s what not being profitable means. This is a lesson I had to learn with Bearded the hard way. Several times. Shall we have a little bit of story time? “Yes, Matt Griffin,” you say, “let’s!” Well OK, then.</p> <p>At Bearded, our philosophy from the beginning was to focus on doing great web work for clients we believed in. The hope was that all the sweat and care we put into those projects and relationships would show, and that profit would naturally follow quality. For four years we worked our tails off on project after project, and as we did so, we lived pretty much hand-to-mouth. On several occasions we were within weeks and a couple of thousand bucks from going out of business. I would wake up in the night in a panic, and start calculating when bills went out and checks would come in, down to the day. I loved the work and clients, but the other parts of the business were frankly pretty miserable.</p> <p>Then one day, I went to the other partners at Bearded and told them I’d had it. In the immortal words of <cite>Lethal Weapon’s</cite> Sergeant Murtaugh, I was getting too old for this shit. I told them I could put in one more year, and if we weren’t profitable by the end of it I was out, and we should all go get well-paid jobs somewhere else. They agreed.</p> <p>That decision lit a fire under us to pay attention to the money side of things, change our process, and effectively do whatever it took to save the best jobs we’ve ever had. By the end of the next quarter, we had three months of overhead in the bank and were on our way to the first profitable year of our business, with a 50 percent growth in revenue over the previous year and raises for everyone. All without compromising our values or changing the kinds of projects we were doing.</p> <p>This did not happen on its own. It happened because we started designing the money side of our business the way we design everything else we care about. We stopped neglecting our business, and started taking care.</p> <p>“So specifically,” you ask, “what did you do to turn things around? I am interested in these things!” you say. Very good, then, let’s take a look.</p> <h2>Now it’s time for a breakdown</h2> <p>Besides my arguably weird natural aversion to profit, there are plenty of other motivations not to examine the books. Perhaps math and numbers are scary to you. Maybe finances just seem really boring (they’re no CSS pseudo-selectors, amiright?). Or maybe it’s that when we don’t pay attention to a thing, it’s easier to pretend that it’s not there. But in most cases, the unknown is far scarier than fact.</p> <p>When it comes down to it, your businesses finances are made up of two things: money in and money out. Money in is revenue. Money out is overhead. And the difference? That’s profit (or lack thereof). Let’s take a look at the two major components of that equation.</p> <h3>Overhead Overheels</h3> <p>First let’s roll up our sleeves and calculate your overhead. Overhead includes loads of stuff like:</p> <ul> <li>Staff salaries</li> <li>Health insurance</li> <li>Rent</li> <li>Utilities</li> <li>Equipment costs</li> <li>Office supplies</li> <li>Snacks, meals, and beverages</li> <li>Service fees (hosting, web services, etc.)</li> </ul> <p>In other words: it’s all the money you pay out to do your work. You can assess these items over whatever period makes sense to you: daily, weekly, annually, or even by project.</p> <p>For Bearded, we asked our bookkeeper to generate a monthly budget in Quicken based on an average of the last six months of actual costs that we have, broken down by type. This was super helpful in seeing where our money goes. Not surprisingly, most of it was paying staff and covering their benefits.</p> <p>Once we had that number it was easy to derive whatever variations were useful to us. The most commonly used number in our arsenal is weekly overhead. Knowing that variable is very helpful for us to know how much we cost every week, and how much average revenue needs to come in each week before we break even.</p> <h3>Everything old is revenue again</h3> <p>So how do we bring in that money? You may be using pricing structures that are fixed-fee, hourly, weekly, monthly, or value-based. But at the end of the day you can always divide the revenue gained by the time you spent, and arrive at a period-based rate for the project (whether monthly, weekly, hourly, or project length). This number is crucial in determining profitability, because it lines up so well with the overhead number we already determined.</p> <p>Remember: money in minus money out is profit. And that’s the number we need to get to a point where it safely sustains the business.</p> <p>If we wanted to express this idea mathematically, it might look something like this:</p> <pre>(Rate × Time spent × Number of People) - (Salaries + Expenses) = Profit</pre> <p>Here’s an example:</p> <p>Let’s say that our ten-person business costs $25,000 a week to run. That means each person, on average, needs to do work that earns $2,500 per week for us to break even. If our hourly rate is $100 per hour, that means each person needs to bill 25 hours per week just to maintain the business. If everyone works 30 billable hours per week, the business brings in $30,000—a profit of 20 percent of that week’s overhead. In other words, it takes five good weeks to get one extra week of overhead in the bank.</p> <p>That’s not a super great system, is it? How many quality billable hours can a person really do in a week—30? Maybe 36? And is it likely that all ten people will be able to do that many billable hours each week? After all, there are plenty of non-billable tasks involved in running a business. Not only that, but there will be dry periods in the work cycle—gaps between projects, not to mention vacations! We won’t all be able to work full time every week of the year. Seems like this particular scenario has us pretty well breaking even, if we’re lucky.</p> <p>So what can we do to get the balance a little more sustainable? Well, everyone could just work more hours. Doing 60-hour weeks every week would certainly take care of things. But how long can real human beings keep that up?</p> <p>We can lower our overhead by cutting costs. But seeing as most of our costs are paying salaries, that seems like an unlikely place to make a big impact. To truly be more profitable, the business needs to bring in more revenue per hour of effort expended by staff. That means higher rates. Let’s look at a new example:</p> <p>Our ten-person business still costs $25,000 a week. Our break-even is still at $2,500 per week per person. Now let’s set our hourly rate at $150 per hour. This means that each person has to work just under 17 billable hours per week for the business to break even. If everyone bills 30 hours in a week, the business will now bring in $45,000—or $20,000 in profit. That’s 80 percent of a week’s overhead.</p> <p>That scenario seems a whole lot more sustainable—a good week now pays for itself, and brings in 80 percent of the next week’s overhead. With that kind of ratio we could, like a hungry bear before hibernation, start saving up to protect ourselves from less prosperous times in the future.</p> <p>Nature metaphors aside, once we know how these parts work, we can figure out any one component by setting the others and running the numbers. In other words, we don’t just have to see how a specific hourly rate changes profit. We can go the other way, too.</p> <h2>Working for a living or living to work</h2> <p>One way to determine your system is to start with desired salaries and reasonable work hours for your culture, and work backwards to your hourly rate. Then you can start thinking about pricing systems (yes, even fixed price or value-based systems) that let you achieve that effective rate.</p> <p>Maybe time is the most important factor for you. How much can everyone work? How much does everyone want to work? How much must you then charge for that time to end up with salaries you can be content with?</p> <p>This is, in part, a lifestyle question. At Bearded, we sat down not too long ago and did an exercise adapted from an IA exercise we learned from <a href="http://kevinmhoffman.com/">Kevin M. Hoffman</a>. We all contributed potential qualities that were important to our business—things like “high quality of life,” “high quality of work,” “profitable,” “flexible,” “clients who do good in the world,” “efficient,” and “collaborative.” As a group we ordered those qualities by importance, and decided we’d let those priorities guide us for the next year, at which point we’d reassess.</p> <p>That exercise really helped us make decisions about things like what rate we needed to charge, how many hours a week we wanted to work, as well as more squishy topics like what kinds of clients we wanted to work for and what kind of work we wanted to do. Though finances can seem like purely quantitative math, that sort of qualitative exercise ended up significantly informing how we plugged numbers into the profit equation.</p> <h2>Pricing: Where the rubber meets the road</h2> <p>Figuring out the basics of overhead, revenue, and profit, is instrumental in giving you an understanding of the mechanics of your business. It lets you plan knowledgeably for your future. It allows you to make plans and set goals for the growth and maintenance of your business.</p> <p>But once you know what you want to charge there’s another question—how do you charge it?</p> <p>There are plenty of different pricing methods out there (time unit-based, deliverable-based, time period-based, value-based, and combinations of these). They all have their own potential pros and cons for profitability. They also create different motivations for clients and vendors, which in turn greatly affect your working process, day-to-day interactions, and project outcomes.</p> <p>But that, my friends, is a topic for our next column. Stay tuned for part two of my little series on the money side of running a web business: pricing!</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/xNL_biRVME4" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
5. Aug 2014
W3C Training: HTML5 and Responsive Web Design
Registration is now open for two new online courses from W3C: HTML5 [Register]. This course runs for 6 weeks, starting 22 September 2014. In addition to a JS crash course, numerous interactive examples and an &#8220;animated monster&#8221; contest, this new edition gives an introduction on Web components. Responsive Web Design [Register]. This course runs for [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
23. Jul 2014
Ten CSS One-Liners to Replace Native Apps
<p><i>Håkon Wium Lie is the father of CSS, the CTO of Opera, and a pioneer advocate for web standards. Earlier this year, we published his blog post, “<a href="http://alistapart.com/blog/post/css-regions-considered-harmful">CSS Regions Considered Harmful</a>.” When Håkon speaks, whether we always agree or not, we listen. Today, Håkon introduces CSS Figures and argues their case.</i></p> <p>Tablets and mobile devices require us to rethink web design. Moused scrollbars will be replaced by paged gestures, and figures will float in multi-column layouts. Can this be expressed in CSS?</p> <p>Paged designs, floating figures, and multi-column layout are widely used on mobile devices today. For some examples, see <a href="https://flipboard.com/">Flipboard</a>, the <a href="http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_matas">Our Choice ebook</a>, or <a href="https://www.facebook.com/paper">Facebook Paper</a>. These are all native apps. If we want the web to win on these devices (we do), it&#8217;s vital that designers can build these kinds of presentations using web standards. If web standards cannot express this, authors will be justified in making native apps. </p> <p>Over the past years, I&#8217;ve been editing two specifications that, when combined, provide this kind of functionality: <a href="http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-multicol/">CSS Multi-column Layout</a> and <a href="http://figures.spec.whatwg.org/">CSS Figures</a>. I believe they are important to make sure the web remains a compelling environment for content providers. </p> <p>In this article, I will demonstrate how simple it is to write CSS code with these specs. I will do so through 10 one-liners. Real stylesheets will be slightly longer, but still compact, readable, and reusable. Here are some screenshots to give you a visual indication of what we are aiming for:</p><figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/misc-images/Blog_images/CSS_Figures/koster.jpg" alt="Three views of a web page demonstrating different numbers of columns for different window sizes"></figure> <h2>Building a page</h2> <p>The starting point for my code examples is an article with a title, text, and some images. In a traditional browser, the article will be shown in one column, with a scrollbar on the right. Using CSS Multi-column Layout, you can give the article two columns instead of one:</p> <pre class="language-css"> article { columns: 2 } </pre> <p>That&#8217;s a powerful one-liner, but we can do better; we can make the number of columns depend on the available space, so that a narrow screen will have one column, a wider screen will have two columns, etc. This is all it takes to specify that the optimal line length is 15em and for the number of columns to be calculated accordingly:</p> <pre class="language-css"> article { columns: 15em } </pre> <p>To me, this is where CSS code morphs into poetry: one succinct line of code scales from the narrowest phone to the widest TV, from the small print to text for the visually impaired. There is no JavaScript, media queries, or expensive authoring tool involved. There is simply one highly responsive line of code. That line is used to great effect to produce the screenshots above. And it works in current browsers (which is not yet the case for the following examples).</p> <p>The screenshots above show paged presentations, as opposed to scrolled presentations. This is easily expressed with:</p> <pre class="language-css"> article { overflow: paged-x } </pre> <p>The above code says that the article should be laid out as pages, stacked along the x-axis (which, in English, is toward the right). Browsers that support this feature must provide an interface for navigating in these pages. For example, the user may reach the next page by making a swiping gesture or tilting the device. A visual indication of which page you are reading may also be provided, just like scrollbars provide a visual indication in scrolled environments. On a tablet or mobile phone, swiping to the next page or document will be easier than scrolling.</p> <h2>Images</h2> <p>Adding images to the article creates some challenges. Lines of text can easily be poured into several columns, but if figures are interspersed with text, the result will be uneven; because images are unbreakable, they will cause unused whitespace if they appear at a column break. To avoid this, traditional paper-based layouts place images at the top or bottom of columns, thereby allowing other text to fill the whitespace. This can naturally be expressed in CSS by adding <code>top</code> and <code>bottom</code> to the <code>float</code> property. For example:</p> <pre class="language-css"> img { float: bottom } </pre> <p>The bluish harbor images in the screenshots above have been floated to the bottom of the page with this one-liner. CSS is used to express something that HTML cannot say; it is impossible to know how much textual content will fit on a screen in advance of formatting. Therefore, an author cannot know where to insert the image in the source code in order for it to appear at the bottom of the column. Being able to float figures to the <code>top</code> and <code>bottom</code> (in addition to the already existing <code>left</code> and <code>right</code>) is a natural extension to the <code>float</code> property.</p> <h2>Spanning columns</h2> <p>Another trick from traditional layout is for figures to span several columns. Consider this newspaper clipping:</p><figure> <img src="http://alistapart.com/d/misc-images/Blog_images/CSS_Figures/newspaper.jpg" alt="A newspaper clipping showing text in four columns and images in the lower-left, lower-right and upper-right corners"> <figcaption>Used with permission from the Bristol Observer</figcaption> </figure> <p>In the newspaper article, the image on the left spans two columns and is floated to the bottom of the columns. The code to achieve this in CSS is simple:</p> <pre class="language-css"> figure { float: bottom; column-span: 2 } </pre> <p>HTML5&#8217;s <code>figure</code> element is perfect for holding both an image and the caption underneath it:</p> <pre class="language-html"> &lt;figure&gt; &lt;img src=cats.jpg&gt; &lt;figcaption&gt;Isabel loves the fluffy felines&lt;/figcaption&gt; &lt;/figure&gt; </pre> <p>The newspaper article also has a figure that spans three columns, and is floated to the top right corner. In a previous version of the CSS Figures specification, this was achieved by setting <code>float: top-corner</code>. However, after discussions with implementers, it became clear that they were able to float content to more places than just corners. Therefore, CSS Figures introduces new properties to express that content should be <a href="http://figures.spec.whatwg.org/#deferring-page-floats">deferred</a> to a later column, page, or line. </p> <h2>Deferring figures</h2> <p>To represent that the cat picture in the newspaper clipping should be placed at the top of the last column, spanning three columns, this code can be used:</p> <pre class="language-css"> figure { float: top; float-defer-column: last; column-span: 3 } </pre> <p>This code is slightly less intuitive (compared to the abandoned <code>top-corner</code> keyword), but it opens up a range of options. For example, you can float an element to the second column:</p> <pre class="language-css"> .byline { float: top; float-defer-column: 1 } </pre> <p>The above code defers the byline, “By Collette Jackson”, by one. That is, if the byline would naturally appear in the first column, it will instead appear in the second column (as is the case in the newspaper clipping). For this to work with HTML code, it is necessary for the byline to appear early in the article. For example, like this:</p> <pre class="language-html"> &lt;article&gt; &lt;h1>New rescue center pampers Persians&lt;/h1> &lt;p class=byline>By Collette Jackson&lt;/p> ... &lt;/article&gt; </pre> <h2>Deferring ads</h2> <p>Advertisements are another type of content which is best declared early in the source code and deferred for later presentation. Here&#8217;s some sample HTML code:</p> <pre class="language-html"> &lt;article&gt; &lt;aside id=ad1 src=ad1.png> &lt;aside id=ad2 src=ad2.png> &lt;h1>New rescue center pampers Persians&lt;/h1> &lt;/article&gt; </pre> <p>And here is the corresponding CSS code, with a one-liner for each advertisement:</p> <pre class="language-css"> #ad1 { float-defer-page: 1 } #ad2 { float-defer-page: 3 } </pre> <p>As a result of this code, the ads would appear on page two and four. Again, this is impossible to achieve by placing ads inside the text flow, because page breaks will appear in different places on different devices. </p> <p>I think both readers and advertisers will like a more page-oriented web. In paper magazines, ads rarely bother anyone. Likewise, I think ads will be less intrusive in paged, rather than scrolled, media.</p> <h2>Deferring pull quotes</h2> <p>The final example of content that can be deferred is pull quotes. A pull quote is a quote lifted from the article, and presented in larger type at some predetermined place on the page. In this example, the pull quote is shown midway down the second column:</p><figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/misc-images/Blog_images/CSS_Figures/pullquote.jpg" alt="A picture of a pull quote in a print newspaper"></figure><p>Here&#8217;s the CSS code to express this in CSS:</p> <pre class="language-css"> .pullquote#first { float-defer-line: 50% } </pre> <p>Other types of content can also be positioned by deferring lines. For example, a photograph may be put above the fold of a newspaper by deferring a number of lines. This will also work on the foldable screens of the future.</p> <p>Pull quotes, however, are an interesting use case that deserve some discussion. A pull quote has two functions. First, it presents to the reader an interesting line of text to gain attention. Second, the presentation of the article becomes visually more varied when the body text is broken up by the larger type. Typically, you want one pull quote on every page. On paper, where you know how many pages an article will take up, it is easy to supply the right number of pull quotes. On the web, however, content will be reformatted for all sorts of screens; some readers will see many small pages, other will see fewer larger pages. To ensure that each page has a pull quote, authors must provide a generous supply of pull quotes. Rather than showing the extraneous quotes at the end of the article (which would be a web browser&#8217;s instinct), they should be discarded; the content will anyway appear in the main article. This can be achieved with a one-liner:</p> <pre class="language-css"> .pullquote { float-policy: drop-tail } </pre> <p>In prose, the code reads: if the pull quote is at the tail-end of the article, it should not be displayed. The same one-liner would be used to extraneous images at the end of the article; authors will often want to have one image per page, but not more than one.</p> <h2>Exercises</h2> <p>The studious reader may want to consult the <a href="http://www.w3.org/TR/css3-multicol/">CSS Multi-column Layout</a> and <a href="http://figures.spec.whatwg.org/">CSS Figures</a> specifications. They have more use cases and more knobs to allow designers to describe the ideal presentation of figures on the web.</p> <p>The easiest way to play with CSS Figures is to download <a href="http://www.opera.com/download/guide/?ver=12.16">Opera 12.16</a> and point it to <a href="http://www.wiumlie.no/2014/css-figures/koster/prefix.html">this document</a>, which generated the screenshots in Figure 1. Based on implementation experience, the specifications have changed and not all one-liners presented in this article will work. Also, <a href="http://www.princexml.com">Prince</a> and <a href="http://www.antennahouse.com">AntennaHouse</a> have partial support for CSS Figures—these are batch formatters that output <a href="http://www.wiumlie.no/2014/css-figures/koster/prefix-pr.pdf">PDF documents</a>. </p> <p>I&#8217;d love to hear from those who like the approach taken in this article, and those who don&#8217;t. Do you want this added to browsers? Let me know below, or request if from your favorite browser (<a href="https://input.mozilla.org/en-US/feedback">Firefox</a>, <a href="http://www.google.com/support/chrome/bin/static.py?page=suggestions.cs">Chrome</a>, <a href="http://forums.opera.com/categories/en-opera-next-and-opera-developer">Opera</a>, <a href="https://connect.microsoft.com/IE/feedback/">IE</a>). If you don&#8217;t like the features, how would you express the use cases that have been discussed?</p> <p>Pages and columns have been basic building blocks in typography since the Romans started cutting scrolls into pages. This is not why browsers should support them. We should do so because they help us make better, more beautiful, user experiences on mobile devices.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/nueolZaWUro" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
5. Aug 2014
First Draft of Mixed Content Published
The Web Application Security Working Group has published a First Public Working Draft of Mixed Content. This specification details how user agents can mitigate risks to security and privacy by limiting a resource???s ability to inadvertently communicate in the clear, or to expose non-public resources to the web at large. This specification describes how and [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
5. Aug 2014
W3C Launches Push for Social Web Application Interoperability
W3C today launched a new Social Activity to develop standards to make it easier to build and integrate social applications with the Open Web Platform. Future standards —including vocabularies for social applications, activity streams, embedded experiences and in-context actions, and protocols to federate social information such as status updates— will address use cases that range [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
5. Aug 2014
W3C Invites Implementations of Polyglot Markup: A robust profile of the HTML5 vocabulary
The HTML Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of Polyglot Markup: A robust profile of the HTML5 vocabulary. It is sometimes valuable to be able to serve HTML5 documents that are also well formed XML documents. An author may, for example, use XML tools to generate a document, and they and others may [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
17. Jul 2014
Laura Kalbag on Freelance Design: I Don&#8217;t Like It
<p>“I don’t like it”—The most dreaded of all design feedback from your client/boss/co-worker. This isn’t so much a matter of <a href="http://alistapart.com/column/me-and-my-big-fat-ego">your ego being damaged</a>, it’s just not useful or constructive criticism.</p> <p>In order to do better we need feedback grounded in understanding of user needs. And we need to be sure it’s not coming from solely the client’s aesthetic preferences, which may be impeccable but may not be effective for the product.</p> <p>Aesthetics are a matter of taste. <a href="http://insideintercom.io/the-dribbblisation-of-design/">Design is not just aesthetics</a>. I’m always saying it, but it’s worth repeating: there are aesthetic decisions in design, but they are meant to contribute to the design as a whole. The design as a whole is created for an audience, and with goals in mind, so objectivity is required and should be encouraged.</p> <p>Is the client offering an opinion based on her own taste, trying to reflect the taste of the intended audience, or trying to solve a perceived problem for the user? Don’t take “I don’t like it” at face value and try to respond to it without more communication.</p> <h2>How do we elicit better feedback?</h2> <p>To elicit the type of feedback we want from clients, we should encourage open-ended critiques that explain the reasons behind the negative feedback, critiques that make good use of conjunctions like “because.” “I don’t like it because…” is already becoming more valuable feedback.</p> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> <p><b>Designer:</b> Why don’t you like the new contact form design?</p> <p><b>Client:</b> I don’t like it because the text is too big.</p> </blockquote> </figure> <p>Whether that audience can achieve their goals with our product is the primary factor in its success. We need clients to understand that they may not be the target audience. Sometimes this can be hard for anyone close to a product to understand. We may be one of the users of the products we’re designing, but the product is probably not being designed solely for users like us. The product has a specific audience, with specific goals. Once we’ve re-established the importance of the end user, we can then reframe the feedback by asking the question, “how might the users respond?”</p> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> <p><b>Designer:</b> Do you think the users will find the text too big?</p> <p><b>Client:</b> Yes. They’d rather see everything without having to scroll.</p> <p><b>Designer:</b> The text will have to be very small if we try to fit it all into the top of the page. It might be hard to read.</p> <p><b>Client:</b> That’s fine. All of our users are young people, so their eyesight is good.</p> </blockquote> </figure> <p>Throughout the design process, we need to check our hidden assumptions about our users. We should also ensure any feedback we get isn’t based upon an unfounded assumption. If the client says the users won’t like it, ask why. Uncover the assumption—maybe it’s worth testing with real users?</p> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> <p><b>Designer:</b> Can we be certain that all your users are young people? And that all young people have good eyesight? We might risk losing potential customers unless the site is easy for everyone to read.</p> </blockquote> </figure> <p>How do we best separate out assumptions from actual knowledge? Any sweeping generalizations about users, particularly those that assume users all share common traits, are likely to need testing. A thorough base of <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/interviewing-humans">user research</a>, with evidence to fall back on, will give you a much better chance at spotting these assumptions.</p> <h2>The design conversation</h2> <p>As designers, we can’t expect other people to know the right language to describe exactly why they think something doesn’t work. We need to know the right questions that prompt a client to give constructive criticism and valuable feedback. I’ve <a href="http://alistapart.com/column/good-designers-good-clients">written before</a> on how we can pre-empt problems by explaining our design decisions when we share our work, but it’s impossible to cover every minute detail and the relationships between them. If a client can’t articulate why they don’t like the design as a whole, break the design into components and try to narrow down which part isn’t working for them.</p> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> <p><b>Designer:</b> Which bit of text looks particularly big to you?</p> <p><b>Client:</b> The form labels.</p> </blockquote> </figure> <p>When you’ve zeroed in on a component, elicit some possible reasons that it might not be effective.</p> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> <p><b>Designer:</b> Is it because the size of the form labels leaves less space for the other elements, forcing the users to scroll more?</p> <p><b>Client:</b> Yes. We need to make the text smaller.</p> </blockquote> </figure> <h2>Reining it in</h2> <p>Aesthetics are very much subject to taste. You know what colors you like to wear, and the people you find attractive, and you don’t expect everyone else to share those same tastes. Nishant wrote <a href="http://alistapart.com/column/good-taste-doesnt-matter">a fantastic column about how Good Taste Doesn’t Matter</a> and summarized it best when he said:</p> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> good and virtuous taste, by its very nature, is exclusionary; it only exists relative to shallow, dull…tastes. And if good design is about finding the most appropriate solution to the problem at hand, you don’t want to start out with a solution set that has already excluded a majority of the possibilities compliments of the unicorn that is good taste. </blockquote> </figure> <h2>Taste’s great</h2> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> <p><b>Designer:</b> But if we make the text smaller, we’ll make it harder to read. Most web pages require scrolling, so that shouldn’t be a problem for the user. Do you think the form is too long, and that it might put users off from filling it in?</p> <p><b>Client:</b> Yes, I want people to find it easy to contact us.</p> <p><b>Designer:</b> How about we take out all the form fields, except the email address and the message fields, as that’s all the information we really need?</p> <p><b>Client:</b> Yes, that’ll make the form much shorter.</p> </blockquote> </figure> <p>If you’re making suggestions, don’t let a client say yes to your first one. These suggestions aren’t meant as an easy-out, allowing them to quickly get something changed to fit their taste. This is an opportunity to brainstorm potential alternatives on the spot. Working collaboratively is the important part here, so don’t just go away to work out the first alternative by yourself. </p> <p>If you can work out between you which solution is most likely to be successful, the client will be more committed to the iteration. You’ll both have ownership, and you’ll both understand why you’ve decided to make it that way.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/dOrEG9P8E7w" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
31. Jul 2014
Web Annotations on the Horizon
Annotation, the act of creating associations between distinct pieces of information, is a widespread activity online in many guises but currently lacks a structured approach. People comment about online resources using tools built into the hosting web site, external web services, or the functionality of an annotation client. When reading eBooks, people make use the [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
24. Jul 2014
Character Model for the World Wide Web: String Matching and Searching Draft Published
The Internationalization Working Group has published a Working Draft of Character Model for the World Wide Web: String Matching and Searching. This document builds upon on Character Model for the World Wide Web 1.0: Fundamentals to provide authors of specifications, software developers, and content developers a common reference on string identity matching on the World [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
15. Jul 2014
Kids 4–6: &#8220;The Muddy Middle&#8221;
<p>I call kids between ages 4 and 6 the “muddy middle,” because they’re stuck right in between the cute, cuddly preschool children and the savvy, sophisticated elementary-schoolers. They’re too old for games designed for toddlers, but they can’t quite read yet, so they struggle with sites and apps geared toward older kids. Unfortunately, you rarely see a digital product designed specifically for this age group, because they’re hard to pin down, but these little guys are full of ideas, knowledge, creativity, and charisma.</p> <p>Like the 2&#8211;4s, these children are still in the preoperational stage, but they present their own set of design challenges based on where they are cognitively, physically, and emotionally.</p> <h2>Who are they?</h2> <p>Table 5.1 shows some key characteristics that shape the behavior and attitudes of 4–6-year-olds and how these might impact your design decisions.</p> <p>You’ll find that 4–6-year-olds have learned “the rules” for how to behave, how to communicate, and how to play. Now they’re looking for ways to bend and break these rules. They understand limitations—angry parents, broken toys, and sad friends have taught them well—but they still take every opportunity to test these limitations. Digital environments provide a perfect place for these active kids to challenge the status quo and learn more about the world around them.</p> <figure> <table> <tr> <th width="26%">4–6 year-olds&#8230;</th> <th width="37%">This means that&#8230;</th> <th width="37%">You’ll want to&#8230;</th> </tr> <tr> <td>Are empathetic.</td> <td>They’re beginning to see things from other perspectives.</td> <td>Make interactions feel more “social,” even if the kids aren’t actually communicating with others.</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Have an intense curiosity about the world.</td> <td>They’re very interested in learning new ideas, activities, and skills, but may become frustrated when that learning takes longer than they would like.</td> <td>Set attainable goals for the tasks and activities you create. Provide context-based help and support so kids have an easier time processing information.</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Are easily sidetracked.</td> <td>They sometimes have trouble following through on a task or activity.</td> <td>Keep activities simple, short, and rewarding. Provide feedback and encouragement after milestones.</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Have wild imaginations.</td> <td>They prefer to create on their own rather than following strict instructions or step-by- step directions.</td> <td>Make “rules” for play/engagement as basic as possible and allow for a lot of invention, self-expression, and storytelling.</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Are developing increased memory function.</td> <td>Can recall complex sequences of events just by watching someone perform them.</td> <td>Include multi-step activities and games, with more than one main goal (for example, touch the red stars and green apples to get points of different values).</td> &nbsp; </tr> </table> <figcaption>Table 5.1: Considerations for 4–6-year-olds</figcaption> </figure> <h2>Make it social</h2> <p>When you think of social design for adults, you may think of experiences that let users communicate and interact with others. The same is true of social design for kids, but in this case, “others” doesn’t have to mean other kids or even other humans. It means that kids need to feel like part of the experience, and they need to be able to observe and understand the interactions of characters in the experience, as players and contributors. Kids at this age understand that individual differences, feelings, and ideas are important and exciting. Showcasing these differences within the experience and directly communicating with users allows this social aspect to come through and provide additional depth and context to interactions.</p> <p>Sometimes, making something feel social is as easy as presenting it in the first person. When characters, elements, and instructions speak directly to kids, it makes it easier for them to empathize and immerse themselves in the experience.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at an example from <em><a href="http://www.seussville.com/">Seussville</a></em>. The designers of this highly engaging site keep the uniqueness of Dr. Seuss’s characters vibrantly alive in their lovely character chooser. Every character (and I do mean <em>every</em>) from every Dr. Seuss book glides by on whimsical conveyor belts, letting the user pick one to play with (see Figure 5.1). </p> <p>This character chooser provides a strong social experience for kids, because it allows them to “meet” and build relationships with the individual characters. Kids can control the viewer, from a first-person perspective, to see the visual differences among the characters, as well as personality details that make the characters unique, much like how they’d go about meeting people in real life (without the conveyor belt, of course).</p> <p>When users choose a character, they are shown a quote, a book list, and details about the character on the pull-down screen to the right. On the left side of the screen, a list of games and activities featuring the character magically appears.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.01.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of the Seussville homepage"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.1: <em>Seussville</em> presents a first-person perspective to kids.</figcaption></figure> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.02.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of Seussville's games and activities page"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.2: <em>Seussville</em> feels social, even though kids don’t interact with other humans.</figcaption></figure> <p>This social experience is carried through across most of the games on the site. For example, when users pick the “Horton Hears a Tune” game from Horton the elephant’s list of activities, they can compose their own melody on the groovy organ-like instrument under the supportive eyes of Horton himself. Then, in true social fashion, they can save their tune and share it with family and friends.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.03.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of “Horton Hears a Tune” on Seussville"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.3: “Horton Hears a Tune” lets kids compose music and share it.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Make learning part of the game </h2> <p>As a designer, you know that providing help when and where your users need it works better than forcing them to leave the task they’re trying to complete to get help. This is especially true for 4–6-year-olds, who have a strong curiosity for why things are the way they are and want to know everything <em>right away</em>. Unlike the “school stinks” mentality of earlier generations, today’s kids are fascinated with learning and want to soak up as much information as possible. </p> <p>This new attitude could be because learning is more dynamic, more hands-on, and more inventive than it’s been in the past, or because computers, tablets, and other digital teaching tools make learning fun. However, younger kids still lack patience when learning takes longer than they’d like. You’ll want to provide short, manageable instructions to make learning fast, easy, and pleasurable, and to incorporate learning into the experience itself.</p> <p>The <em>Dinosaur Chess</em> app does a great job with structured teaching, as well as on-the-spot assistance to help kids learn how to play chess (see Figure 5.4). Upon launching the app, children get to choose what they want to do. The great thing about <em>Dinosaur Chess</em> is that it’s not just all about chess—kids can take lessons, check their overall progress, and even participate in a “dino fight!”</p> <p>One perk is how the app links the activities via a treasure-hunt-style map on the menu screen. It gently recommends a progression through the activities (which older kids will follow), but is subtle enough to allow exploration. This feature is great for kids who like to break the rules, because it establishes a flow, yet invites users to deviate from it in a subtle yet effective way.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.04.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of the Dinosaur Chess homescreen"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.4: <em>Dinosaur Chess</em> offers many opportunities for learning.</figcaption></figure> <p>When users select the “learn” option, they are taken to a screen where an avuncular dinosaur (who, for some reason, is Scottish) talks kids through the mechanics of chess in a non-intimidating way. Since these kids are still learning to read, the designers used voice-overs instead of text, which works really well here.</p> <p>The lessons are broken up into short, manageable chunks—essential for learning via listening—which let the 4–6s learn a little at a time and progress when they are ready. The children can also try out various moves after learning them, which is particularly effective with younger users who learn by seeing and doing (see Figure 5.5).</p> <p>If this app were designed for an adult audience, the lessons would be a little longer and would probably include text explanations in addition to the audio, since a combination of listening and reading works best for grown-ups. However, the brief audio segments coupled with animated examples are perfect for younger users’ short attention spans and desire to learn as much as quickly as possible.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.05.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of a chess game"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.5: <em>Dinosaur Chess</em> teaches kids how to play chess in short, informational chunks.</figcaption></figure> <p>My favorite aspect of <em>Dinosaur Chess</em> is its guided playing. At any point during the game, kids can press the “?” button for help. Instead of popping a layer, which many sites and apps do (even those designed for a younger audience), <em>Dinosaur Chess</em> uses subtle animation and voice-overs to show the users what their next moves should be, as shown in Figure 5.6.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.06.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of a chess game showing contextual help arrows"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.6: <em>Dinosaur Chess</em> uses animation and voice-overs to provide contextual help.</figcaption></figure> <h2>Give feedback and reinforcement</h2> <p>As anyone knows who has dealt with this age group, 4–6-year-olds have short attention spans. This is particularly true of the younger ones, because kids ages 6 and up are able to pay attention for longer periods of time and absorb more information in a single session. What’s interesting (and challenging) about these younger ones is that they get frustrated at themselves for not being able to focus, and then they channel that frustration onto the experience.</p> <p>A common response to this from designers is: “Well, I’ll make my app/game/site super fun and interesting so that kids will want to play longer.” That’s not going to happen. A better approach is to identify opportunities within the experience to provide feedback, in order to encourage kids to continue. </p> <p>Here are some ways to keep children focused on a particular activity:</p> <ul> <li><b>Limit distractions</b>. With a child audience, designers tend to want to make everything on the screen do something, but if you want your 4–6s to complete a task (for example, finish a puzzle or play a game), then remove extra functionality.</li> <li><b>Break it up</b>. As when you’re designing for 2–4s, it’s best to break activities for 4–6s into manageable components. The components can be a bit bigger than ones you might design for a younger audience, but many clear, simple steps are better than fewer, longer ones. While adult users prefer to complete as few steps as possible, and scroll down to finish a task on a screen, 4–6s like finishing a step and moving to a new screen.</li> <li><b>Make it rewarding</b>. Provide feedback after each piece of an activity is completed, which will help your users stay motivated to continue. If you have the time and budget, use a combination of feedback mechanisms, to keep an element of surprise and discovery in the task-completion process.</li> </ul> <h2>Keep it free-form</h2> <p>The 4–6-age bracket gravitates toward activities that are open and free-form, with simple, basic rules (and lots of opportunities to deviate from the rules). This changes pretty dramatically when kids hit age 7 or so. At that point, they become quite focused on staying within boundaries and need a certain level of structure in order to feel comfortable. However, these younger kids like to break the rules and test limits, and digital environments are the perfect places to do this.</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.zoopz.com/">Zoopz.com</a></em> has a great mosaic-maker tool, which lets kids enhance existing mosaic designs or create their own from scratch (see Figures 5.7 and 5.8).</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.07.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of a Zoopz.com mosaic"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.7: An existing mosaic design from <em>Zoopz.com</em>, which lets kids experiment and test limits.</figcaption></figure> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/398/fig05.08.jpeg" alt="Screenshot of a Zoopz.com mosaic being created"> <figcaption>FIGURE 5.8: <em>Zoopz.com</em> mosaic-creator enables kids to create their own cool designs.</figcaption></figure> <p>The nice thing about <em>Zoopz</em> is that it requires little to no explanation in order to make mosaics—kids can jump right in and start playing. This feature is important, as younger ones will get frustrated if they need to listen to detailed instructions before getting started and will likely move on to something else before the instructions are complete. Typically, 4- and 5-year-olds will leave websites and close apps that they can’t immediately figure out. Older kids will hang around and pay attention to directions if the perceived reward is high enough, but young ones abandon the site right away. So if your game allows for free exploration, make sure that it’s really free and doesn’t require lots of information in order to play.</p> <p>An important thing to note about open exploration/creation: If you’re designing something with a “takeaway,” as <em>Zoopz</em> is, make sure that kids can either print or save their creations. The only thing kids like better than playing by their own rules is showing their work to others. <em>Zoopz</em> misses an opportunity here, because it doesn’t offer the ability for kids to share their work, or print it out to show to friends and family. This feature becomes even more important as kids get older. We’ll talk at length about sharing, saving, and storing in Chapter 6, “Kids 6–8: The Big Kids.”</p> <h2>Keep it challenging</h2> <p>The worst insult from a child between the ages of 4 and 5 is to call something “babyish.” They’re part of the big-kid crowd now, and the last thing they want is to feel like they’re using a site or playing a game that’s meant for younger kids. Unfortunately, it’s hard to pin down exactly what “babyish” means, because the definition changes from kid to kid, but in my experience, children call something “babyish” when it’s not difficult or challenging enough for them. Since kids show increased memory function (and more sophisticated motor skills) starting at around age 4, adding multiple steps to games and activities helps keep them on their toes.</p> <p>As designers, we instinctively want to make stuff that users can master immediately. If you’re designing for elementary-school kids, you’ll want to move away from that mindset. While it’s true that children need to be able to easily figure out the objectives of a game or app right away, they don’t necessarily have to do it perfectly the first time. Instead, build in easier layers early on so that kids can complete them quickly, but throw in some extras that might be a little harder for them. For example, if you’re designing a game where kids have to shoot at flying objects, send in a super-fast projectile they have to catch to win extra points or add a harder “bonus round.” Kids will be less likely to call something “babyish” if it takes them several tries to master. And they’ll appreciate the vote of confidence you’re giving to their memory and agility.</p> <h2>Parents are users, too</h2> <p>When adding complexity to your game or app, you’ll still need to make the basic premise simple and clear. A little parental intervention is sometimes necessary, in order to explain rules and demonstrate interactions, but when parents or siblings have to become very involved in game mechanics, it’s frustrating for all parties. </p> <p>Try not to place too much emphasis on “winning” and keep the perceived “rewards” small and unexciting, if you have them at all. Kids tend to ask parents to step in and help with the trickier parts if the reward for winning is really high. While I believe that a parent should be in the room when kids are online and should check on kids frequently when they’re using a device, too much involvement takes away some autonomy from the kids and prevents them from learning as much as they could and should. </p> <h2>Chapter checklist</h2><p> <br /> Here’s a checklist for designing for 4–6-year-olds.</p> <p>Does your design cover the following areas?</p><ul> <li>Feel “social”?</li> <li>Break up instructions and progression into manageable chunks?</li> <li>Provide immediate positive feedback after each small milestone?</li> <li>Allow for invention and self-expression?</li> <li>Include multi-step activities to leverage improved memory function?</li> </ul><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/aaOoiPJBNsQ" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
21. Jul 2014
Last Call: W3C DOM4
The HTML Working Group has published a Last Call Working Draft of W3C DOM4. DOM defines a platform-neutral model for events and node trees. Comments are welcome through 31 July 2014. Learn more about the HTML Activity.[mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
21. Jul 2014
Draft Model for Tabular Data and Metadata on the Web, and a Draft Metadata Vocabulary for Tabular Data Published
The CSV on the Web Working Group, part of the Data Activity, has published two Working Drafts today: The Model for Tabular Data and Metadata on the Web outlines a basic data model, or infoset, for tabular data and metadata about that tabular data. The document also contains drafts for various methods of locating metadata; [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: W3C News)
9. Jul 2014
Longform Content with Craft Matrix
<p>Jason Santa Maria recently shared some thoughts about <a href="https://the-pastry-box-project.net/jason-santa-maria/2014-june-15">pacing content</a>, and my developer brain couldn’t help but think about how I’d go about building the examples he talked about.</p> <p>The one fool-proof way to achieve heavily art-directed layouts like those is to write the HTML by hand. The problem is that content managers are not always developers, and the code can get complex pretty quickly. That’s why we use content management systems—to give content managers easier and more powerful control over content.</p> <p>There’s a constant tension between that type of longform, art-directed content and content management systems, though. It’s tough to wrangle such unique layouts and styles into a standardized CMS that scales over time.</p> <p>For a while, the best we could do was a series of custom fields and a big WYSIWYG editor for the body copy. While great for content entry, WYSIWYG editors lack the control developers need to output the semantic and clean HTML that make the great experiences and beautiful layouts we’re tasked with building.</p> <p>This tension leaves developers like myself looking for different ways to manage content. My attention recently has been focused on <a href="http://buildwithcraft.com">Craft</a>, a new CMS that is just over a year old.</p> <p>Craft’s solution for longform content is the <a href="http://buildwithcraft.com/features/matrix">Matrix field</a>. With Matrix, developers have the flexibility to <a href="http://buildwithcraft.com/docs/matrix-fields#settings">provide custom fields</a> to be used for content entry, and can <a href="http://buildwithcraft.com/docs/matrix-fields#templating">write custom templates</a> (using <a href="http://twig.sensiolabs.org/">Twig</a>, in Craft’s case) to be used to render that content.</p> <p>A Matrix field is made up of blocks, and each block type is made up of fields—anything from text inputs, to rich text, dropdowns, images, tables, and more. Here’s what a typical Matrix setup looks like:</p><figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/misc-images/Blog_images/matrix-config.jpg" alt="Configuring a Matrix field"></figure> <p>Instead of fighting with a WYSIWYG editor, content managers <a href="http://buildwithcraft.com/docs/matrix-fields#the-field">choose block types to add to the longform content area</a>, fill out the provided fields, and the content is <a href="http://buildwithcraft.com/docs/matrix-fields#templating">rendered beautifully using the handcrafted HTML</a> written by developers. I use the Matrix field to drive longform content on my own site, and you can see how much flexibility it gives me to create <a href="http://acolangelo.com/blog/unsung-success">interesting layouts</a> filled with images with captions, quotes with citations, and more.</p> <p>To pull back the curtain a bit, here’s how my blog post <a href="http://acolangelo.com/blog/unsung-success">Unsung Success</a> is entered into the Matrix field:</p><figure><img src="http://alistapart.com/d/misc-images/Blog_images/matrix-field.png" alt="Entering Content with the Matrix field"></figure> <p>Three block types are used in the post seen above—an image block, a quote block, and a text block. Notice that the text block is using a WYSIWYG editor for text formatting—they’re still good for some things!</p> <p>The Matrix field is endlessly customizable, and provides the level of flexibility, control, and power that is needed to achieve well-paced, art-directed longform content like the examples Jason shared. This is a huge first step beyond WYSIWYG editors and custom fields, and as we see more beautifully designed longform pieces, our tools will only get better.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/c_Zwgi1tTcY" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
3. Jul 2014
Nishant Kothary on the Human Web: In Pursuit of Facebook Happiness
<p>The outrage being directed at Facebook right now centers on its experiment in manipulating the emotions of 689,003 users in 2012.</p> <p>Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there’s no denying the phantasmagorical irony that we’re upset (and sad) about how Facebook affects our emotions thanks to learning about a study where Facebook affected our emotions through someone on Facebook. Maybe that, too, was <a href="http://www.theawl.com/2014/06/this-social-network-changed-how-news-works-but-then-it-made-some-news-of-its-own">to be expected</a>.</p> <p>One of the motivations for Facebook’s controversial study was to debunk the notion that seeing our friends’ happy posts in our news feeds actually makes us sadder. And according to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/akramer/posts/10152987150867796">a post by Adam Kramer</a>, the primary author of the study, it did exactly that, “We found the exact opposite to what was then the conventional wisdom: Seeing a certain kind of emotion (positive) encourages it rather than suppresses it.”</p> <p>But, how profound is this effect on users’ overall enjoyment while they’re using Facebook? That remains unknown, and in my experience, it’s not much at all.</p> <p>We already know that social media has a profound effect on our emotions. I’ve personally struggled with the emotional rollercoaster for years now. My Achilles’ heel used to be Twitter because I used to be a heavy user. I even <a href="http://visitmix.com/writings/dear-twitter">quit the service</a> for a whole year to regain my bearings. And while <a href="http://rainypixels.com/words/life-after-twitter/">the hiatus turned out to be very positive</a>, I didn’t quite get to the bottom of what inevitably turns me off about Twitter. And then, of course, there was Facebook.</p> <p>Facebook affected my mood so dramatically that I’d stopped using it entirely for years until a few months ago. I used to refer to Facebook as, “The place my Instagram pictures go to die.” This was partly in jest, partly serious. My Instagram account is dedicated to my dog, and it’s hard to not notice that a picture or video that can get a few hundred likes, spur over a hundred comments, and bring so much joy to both me and my followers is often met with dead silence or, worse, scorn on Facebook (and honestly, on Twitter as well). There are many reasons for this, several that I covered in one of my prior columns, <a href="http://alistapart.com/column/the-real-real-problem-with-facebook">The REAL Real Problem with Facebook</a>. But there is one above all: Not everyone is interested in pictures of my dog.</p> <p>*Blasphemy!*</p> <p>OK, so this isn’t really news, and it’s hardly blasphemous. It’s understandable that people wouldn’t want to see images of someone else’s dog every day. But then why the disparity between how enthusiastically my content is received on Instagram as opposed to Facebook (or even Twitter)? Therein lies the key to the puzzle.</p> <p>It’s really quite simple: people follow me on Instagram specifically for pictures of my Weimaraner (yes, it’s a <a href="http://www.johnnywander.com/files/comics/254.jpg">notoriously difficult to pronounce</a> dog breed).</p> <p>I never intended on turning my Instagram account into a dog account. It just happened. And in the process I met loads of Weimaraner (and dog) people from around the world (some whom, true story, I’ve subsequently met in real life). I now honor an informal contract to only post pictures of my dog. And what happens when I break that contract and post the occasional picture of something else? I’m rewarded with crickets in terms of engagement.</p> <p>What escaped me back when I quit Twitter or when I silently shunned Facebook was that the negativity or the positivity of the posts wasn’t even relevant to the compounding effect of the social network on my emotional well being. What was more to blame was the lack of engagement; the lack of feeling a connection. As much as we do in all life, online we want to meet, engage, and be engaged by others who share our passions and interests. And when that doesn’t happen, well, it can be a bummer.</p> <p>Over the past few months I’ve joined numerous groups related to my interests on Facebook (yes, including a Weimaraner group). The result is that my Facebook news feed is now flooded with content I enjoy far more. I’ve essentially hacked my Facebook world to feel a lot more like my Instagram world—more focused on my interests and pastimes. Sharing and talking with folks who care about the same things has made Facebooking infinitely more enjoyable. In an unexpected way, I think it has also helped me understand the mid-conversation exclamations I receive from some people about how much they love Pinterest.</p> <p>One would think that Pinterest would be the ideal social network for most of us, especially me. After all, on Pinterest you can follow someone’s Weimaraner board, and dodge all their gardening, baby, culinary, and political content. What’s not to like? Well, clearly something, because like loads of people, I’ve never quite gotten into Pinterest. I have some theories why that’s the case, but my disinterest is beside the point. What seems clear to me is that Pinterest is really onto something. We need a social network that acknowledges that we all have facets, and that it’s OK for us to pick and choose each other based on our interests. In my experience, the amount of happiness you feel on a social network seems to relate more closely to how much the content caters to your interests.</p> <p>So, if you&#8217;re looking to maximize your happiness on social networks, here&#8217;s the short-term solution: fill your account with content that&#8217;s interesting to you. Like or follow your favorite sports teams, TV shows, clubs, non-profits, news organizations, web design magazines, and anything else you&#8217;re into. In other words, make your feeds about things you genuinely like, happy or sad, instead of about your real-world social obligations.</p> <p>And that may also mean muting or unfollowing the people filling your feed with posts about their gardens, babies, food, or politics.</p> <p>Or, god forbid, their dogs.</p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/Column-Nishant/yoshi_happy.jpeg"> </figure><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/aLblbir20A4" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
1. Jul 2014
Structuring a New Collaborative Culture
<p>When I was a junior designer, my creative director asked me to design a mascot with the rather uninspiring instruction to reorder the shapes of the famous 2012 Olympics logo. Having little choice but to accept my task, I threw myself into it with all the boundless, panicked energy that comes from needing to impress the powers above, trusting my superior to steer me in the right direction. </p> <p>Three weeks later I was distraught, the entire weight of our complete and utter failure to win the pitch resting on my shoulders. </p> <p>It would be easy to put that loss down to inexperience—after all, I totally missed the brief, and every other pitch was better. But when I think about it a little more thoroughly, I can see that the real problem was one of access. I longed to understand the full project details, but was instead privy to mere bits and pieces of projects, attempting to cobble together an unknown whole. It was like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle whilst looking at it through a keyhole.</p> <p>Many organizations—faced with the challenge of bringing together multiple projects, departments, and skillsets—fall back on the traditional combination of hierarchy, method, and structure. This can breed a culture of complacency, leading to outcomes that are narrow in their vision, team members who feel restricted and undervalued, and a workforce that operates under ceaseless pressure to either get it right, or get out.</p> <p>When I look back on my ill-fated Olympic experience, I can see that I didn’t have the full picture. I was unable to bring my own ideas to the table, powerless to create change. I was subordinate; my relationship with my superiors was distant, and the most integral aspects of the design process—research, exploration, and discussion—were entirely absent. It wasn’t collaboration of any kind. No wonder that I lost both the pitch and the plot! </p> <p>It doesn’t have to be that way. When I co-founded the creative studio <a href="http://www.gravita.co/">Gravita</a>, I learned what collaboration really looks like: multiple minds working together to solve problems. By doing this, our complementary skillsets are free to blend together in surprising ways—unconstrained, we’re better equipped to deliver inventive solutions.</p> <p>This kind of collaborative culture is possible, whether you’re freelancing, in an agency environment, or in-house. You only need to do three things:</p><ol> <li>Remove assumptions</li> <li>Emphasize project roles over job titles</li> <li>Create a supportive environment for new ideas</li> </ol> <p>Here’s how we’ve accomplished each one at Gravita. </p> <h2>Assumption: the cyanide of collaboration</h2> <p>When I first established Gravita with two other designers, we found that there was real synergy between us. The feedback was exceptional. We had stumbled across a dynamic that worked, even in our earliest projects. </p> <p>However, the path to uninhibited working was far from smooth, because I started making assumptions about my value to the team. I weighed my own skills against theirs and—deciding that I came up short—assumed my ideas weren’t as good. Agency life had drilled into me that my contributions weren’t worthwhile. </p> <p>My insecurities created walls. I became terrified of showing my work, afraid of failure. I found any excuse not to contribute. This created frustration and tension in our working space, and hindered progress on my first project.</p> <p>The only way out of this debilitating dead-end was to lay out my insecurities and discuss them. Once I was brave enough to open up to my colleagues about how I was feeling, and accept a gradual process of support and positive feedback, we were able to move forward. </p> <p>On our next project, we began by talking openly about how we all felt. I was amazed to discover that I was not alone in feeling apprehensive; having everyone’s cards on the table was cathartic. We sat together as a team and worked out what we could each bring to the task, what we were afraid of, and how we could work together to get around potential problems. </p> <p>Collaboration offers a vehicle through which assumptions of the self can be overridden. Don’t bottle up what you’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to ask questions you assume others will find stupid. Voicing the concerns you have about yourself opens up an ongoing dialogue—one that can identify your strengths, encourage praise, and allow your confidence to blossom.</p> <h2>Prioritizing roles over jobs</h2> <p>Job titles can be useful, but they’re also confining. They can stifle entire projects and hold back personal development. They’re labels, and just like on a can of soup, they create a clear expectation of what is inside—if anything else emerges, it comes as a nasty surprise. </p> <p>I had the first inkling it didn’t have to be this way when I was working for a large charity, stuck with the title “web master.” The management noticed how confining this was for me; they gave me the green light to take on new responsibilities that allowed me to branch out. I realized it was perfectly feasible for organizations to adopt this kind of open, flexible thinking. </p> <p>I&#8217;ve found this way of thinking works at Gravita too. We recognize that it’s the role, not the label, which should be the focus of the work. We don’t have job titles at all, opting instead to rotate roles. We sit down over a cup of coffee and see who fancies doing what on a new project, whether that be project manager, information architect, iconographer, or anything else. </p> <p>Removing permanent titles is liberating. Suddenly, like a long-distance runner, you’re only ever really competing with yourself. It becomes more about self-improvement, less about climbing the ladder. You’re free to bring whatever you want to the table, and to grow as a designer. </p> <h2>Chance favors the connected mind</h2> <p>Ideas should always be heard, regardless of what form they’re in or how complete they are. Instincts and hunches—proto-ideas, neurons sparking with other neurons—need a free environment where they can mingle, collide, and flourish, ultimately producing something greater than the sum of their parts. After all, as Steven Johnson explains in his talk, “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NugRZGDbPFU#t=13">Where Good Ideas Come From</a>,” “chance favors the connected mind”—connectivity and flow between people create stronger ideas.</p> <p>It can be challenging to <a href="/article/getting-to-flow">achieve flow</a>, but it’s very worthwhile. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines flow as “the internal state of energised focus which characterises the mind at its most productive.” We look past the separate spaces that we inhabit as individual bodies and come together as minds. It’s a form of intense, unified working where people relax from their inhibitions and see themselves as being fundamentally interconnected on a project. </p> <p>Recently we were evaluating concept designs for a healthcare project. It just wasn’t quite working, and individually none of us had figured out what was wrong with it. Together, we began passing ideas back and forth, until someone uttered the words “less cold.” Suddenly we could see what we needed: a new and more gentle typeface, a softer and more comfortable palette. It took all of us, working together in a connected way, to hit on the solution. </p> <p>Flowing mind-to-mind in this way allows us to fuel an idea in a shared headspace. Collaborative thinking enhances the brain’s natural capacity to make new links, which in turn strengthen the initial idea. There’s no place for ego—it’s important to be open and welcome this flow of others’ thoughts.</p> <h2>A new way of thinking</h2> <p>Collaboration means bringing different minds and skillsets together in a way that doesn’t make assumptions about what someone is or isn’t good at. It means dispensing with limiting roles, and introducing a fluidity of thought and activity into the design team. Above all, it means putting interconnectedness at the heart of every action.</p> <p>So is collaborative working the elusive Holy Grail? Certainly a lot of people aim for it, and like to think that they do it even if there is a wide variance in form. What I do know is that by changing the way I think, I’ve helped bring about a safe, assumption-free space with an even distribution of authority that allows ideas to flow freely. </p> <p>Collaborative culture helps us discover unique solutions—and continuously redefine ourselves. Designing for the online community means operating in an ever-changing environment, where adaptability is key for keeping up with new technology and scenarios.</p> <p>A collaborative culture can push us into spaces more conventional practices fear to tread. Everything is open to question. Ideas are heard. People feel empowered to make real change. </p> <p>Finally, I feel like I’m seeing the full picture.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/QmPNCpU5MIo" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
1. Jul 2014
Persuasion: Applying the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Design
<p>Persuasion is part of every aspect of our lives. Politicians want our vote, businesses want us to buy their products, and people want us to like them. Even altruistic nonprofits want us to change our behaviors around environmental issues and public safety, or give them our money to help fight hunger and disease (the nerve!). </p> <p>This reality is no different for websites and other digital properties. Persuasion is a necessary component of good design, ensuring that users will engage with your product in the way you intended, leading to the outcome you intended. </p> <p>Understanding persuasion will highlight the importance of developing strong messages, help you better incorporate and refine effective persuasive techniques into your design, and allow you to explain to others (potential clients, peers) how and why your design is effective at persuading users.</p> <h2>The really nice elephant in the room</h2> <p>Persuasion has a bad reputation—the word itself often evokes thoughts of being swindled or pressured to do something we really don’t want to do. But persuasion isn’t inherently negative—it’s just a process of influence, for better or worse. With some help from Richard Perloff’s <cite><a href="http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Dynamics_of_Persuasion.html?id=pytBF-QVw6wC">The Dynamics of Persuasion</a></cite>, here are five ways of understanding persuasion:</p><ul> <li><b>Persuasion is communication.</b> At its core, persuasion needs a strong, clear message sent from one party to another. </li> <li><b>Persuasion is an attempt to influence.</b> Understanding your audience and what makes them tick makes your attempt more likely to succeed—though the outcome is never guaranteed.</li> <li><b>Persuasion involves more than words.</b> Aesthetics, interactions, ease of use, and other factors can make a website or application more persuasive to potential users.</li> <li><b>Persuasion is not coercion.</b> It is up to individuals to form or change their own attitudes. Utilizing dark patterns or purposely tricking a user into doing something they wouldn’t otherwise do is not persuasion. It’s being an asshole.</li> <li><b>Persuasion can reinforce attitudes.</b> Your audience has opinions that need to be strengthened from time to time. If you don’t preach to the choir, someone else will, and eventually your faithful followers will be led astray.</li> </ul> <p>Academics have attempted to explain how persuasion works on individuals for decades. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (<a href="http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4612-4964-1_1#page-1">Petty and Cacioppo, 1986</a>), one of the most frequently cited models of persuasion, explains how shaping attitudes also shapes behaviors. Incorporating the principles of the Elaboration Likelihood Model into your messages and design will maximize your influence on user attitudes and, therefore, behaviors. That, my friend, is what persuasion is all about.</p> <h2>The Elaboration Likelihood Model</h2> <p>The Elaboration Likelihood Model attempts to explain how attitudes are shaped, formed, and reinforced by persuasive arguments. The basic idea is that when someone is presented with information, some level of “elaboration” occurs. Elaboration, in this context, means the effort someone makes to evaluate, remember, and accept (or reject) a message.</p> <p>The model suggests that people express either high or low elaboration (that is, their level of effort) when they encounter a persuasive message. The level of elaboration then determines which processing route the message takes: central or peripheral.</p><figure><table> <tr> <th>&nbsp;</th> <th>Central route processing</th> <th>Peripheral route processing</th> </tr> <tr> <td style="font-weight: bold;">Elaboration</td> <td>High</td> <td>Low</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="font-weight: bold;">Information processing</td> <td>Contents of message are closely examined by the receiver</td> <td>Receiver is influenced by factors other than the contents of the message</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="font-weight: bold;">Attitude</td> <td>Will change or be reinforced based on message characteristics such as strength of argument and relevancy</td> <td>Might change or be reinforced based on the effectiveness of factors other than the message</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="font-weight: bold;">Strength of attitude formed/reinforced</td> <td>More enduring and less subject to counterarguments</td> <td>Less enduring and subject to change through future persuasive messages</td> </tr></table> <figcaption>Table 1: Comparison of central route processing and peripheral route processing.</figcaption> </figure> <p><em>Central route processing</em> means your audience cares more about the message. They’ll pay more attention and scrutinize the quality and strength of the argument. Any attitudes formed or reinforced this way are thought to be more enduring and resistant to counter-arguments. </p> <p><em>Peripheral route processing</em> happens on a more superficial level. Your audience will pay less attention to the message itself while being influenced by secondary factors, such as source credibility, visual appeal, presentation, and enticements like food, sex, and humor. Attitudes formed or reinforced this way are thought to be less enduring, subject to change through counter-arguments, and in need of continual reinforcement.</p> <p>To illustrate the difference between central and peripheral route processing—and how messaging and design can be used to simultaneously address each route—let’s look at the behemoth that is online retailer Amazon.com. </p> <h2>A tale of two paths</h2> <p>Imagine two potential customers, both in need of a new television. Suzanne is a technophile and regular Amazon user, while Kevin rarely makes purchases online, and is mostly interested in finding a quality television at a good price. Amazon wants to persuade both users to purchase a television (any television) through its website.</p> <h3>Central route processing</h3><p> </p> <p>While both users will have some level of central route processing (especially for pricing), it is more likely that Suzanne, with her interest in technology, will be attentive to the messages and design. Assuming she agrees with what she sees, she’ll be more inclined to purchase through Amazon versus a less persuasive competitor. </p> <p>For Amazon, this is critical; its competitors include stores where potential customers can interact face to face with knowledgeable sales reps. So it has to make product information easy for users to access by including multiple options for searching and sorting, offering detailed product descriptions, and providing in-depth product reviews written by fellow shoppers. </p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/397/figure1.png" alt="Image of Amazon search results"> <figcaption>Amazon search results can be sorted and filtered by numerous variables.</figcaption></figure> <p>Suzanne searches for high-end TVs, filters them from high to low ratings, and reads the reviews. After making her decision, she uses the “Buy now with 1-Click” option, since all of her information is already up to date in Amazon’s system; Amazon’s reliability and service over the years has earned her trust. </p> <p>Suzanne was not a hard sell for Amazon; this is due in part to years of persuasive factors that have shaped her buying habits. If central route processing has occurred in a positive direction, Suzanne is also likely to purchase from Amazon again in the future, while Amazon’s competitors will have a harder time persuading her to purchase from them.</p> <h3>Peripheral route processing</h3><p> Amazon does not leave the casual user hanging when it comes to persuasive design. Many elements of its design are meant to appeal to peripheral route processing. </p> <p>First, look at its use of visual hierarchy. The product page’s focal point, a nice large photo of the product itself, is perfect for holding attention—no reading necessary to see that gem. It also offer options to view the product from multiple angles. The numerous filtering options allow potential customers to choose from a broad range of categories that can serve as a shortcut to selecting a product they have little interest in researching in-depth (e.g. price, rating, age of product). </p> <figure> <img src="http://d.alistapart.com/397/figure2.png" alt="Screenshot of Amazon product page, showing product details"> <figcaption>Amazon provides a detailed product description, highlights potential savings, and makes adding to the cart obvious and simple.</figcaption></figure> <p>Let’s say that Kevin, our less motivated potential customer, is curious to see how much TV he can get for his money. After searching for televisions in the impossible-to-miss search bar on the homepage, he immediately sorts the results by price from low to high. Next, using the filters offered on the left of the screen, he selects to view only TVs with four stars or more. (Why spend time reading a review when you can see four shiny stars at a glance?)</p> <p>Kevin notices the percentage saved and the low-price guarantee that comes with his purchase. Additionally, free shipping is offered in bold type directly next to the price. Appealing to a user’s pocketbook is an excellent form of peripheral route persuasion. This penny-pincher won’t even have to pay for the convenience of having the product shipped to his front door. </p> <p>Utilizing visual hierarchy at its finest, the second most eye-catching element of this page is the blatantly obvious “Add to Cart” button. You can guess how the scenario unfolds from here.</p> <p>Notice that both routes lead to the same outcome—and that design elements are not exclusive to one route or the other. People often process information using some level of both routes—the routes can complement each other. For example, Suzanne would be more likely to process the information in the product description through the central route, but utilize the star-rating filter as a peripheral route shortcut to viewing TVs highly rated by likeminded shoppers. She was persuaded by elements from both routes. High-five to Amazon! </p> <p>Suzanne is more likely to maintain her positive attitude towards making purchases on Amazon.com, thanks to central route processing, whereas Kevin will need some convincing in the future not to go check out the big box store down the street (the free shipping should help!).</p> <p>Persuasion goes hand-in-hand with messaging and design, but there are also ways to do it wrong: distractions can undermine your persuasive techniques just as quickly as you can develop them. If your potential user encounters nine pop-ups, long loading time, or three pages of disclaimers to get to the meat of your message, they are never going to choose to taste it. Distractions, whether physical, visual, or intangible, can temporarily halt the whole elaboration process.</p> <h2>Could you please elaborate on that?</h2> <p>What promotes central route processing and high elaboration? Researchers have explored two main factors: motivation and ability.</p> <p><em>Motivation</em> is often influenced by the relevance of a topic to an individual. A user who feels directly impacted by a topic is more likely to process a message through the central route. This explains why Facebook asks why a user blocked an ad; not everyone finds a free trial of Viagra compelling, but eventually Facebook intends to crack the code on what each user finds relevant. You can account for this in your own work with a strong message that shows your users why your product is relevant to their lives.</p> <p><em>Ability</em> is exactly what you think it is. For central route processing to occur, your message must be in line with the thinking abilities of your audience. If an individual does not have the mental ability to process your message, they will not be able to critically evaluate it, and are guaranteed to process it through the peripheral route. Yes, if you want to effectively persuade someone, your message actually has to be conveyed in a way they understand. Shocking.</p> <p>In other words: if you want users to actually pay attention to your message, make it directly relevant and easy to understand.</p> <h2>What does this mean for working on the web?</h2> <p>How can you put the Elaboration Likelihood Model and other tenets of persuasion into practice? First, you need to account for the following elements to effectively persuade your users:</p><ul> <li><b>Message:</b> what’s being said, marketing efforts, content, and copy</li> <li><b>Design:</b> visual hierarchy, navigation, and layout</li> <li><b>Delivery:</b> load time, user experience, rewards, and bells and whistles</li> </ul> <p>This all seems simple enough—provided you know a lot about your target audience and what motivates them. This is where it is best to sit down with a professional user researcher and develop a list of questions about what your audience values; what their fears, hopes, and dreams are; and what existing challenges you face in persuading them. A researcher can also conduct a brief review of past research on persuasion in your field, which will help back your current efforts.</p> <p>Then, take a closer look at your work. A lot of what we have discussed can be boiled down to clarity and simplicity:</p><ul> <li>Is your message clear?</li> <li>Are you telling people exactly why your product/website is relevant to their lives (or could be) in an easily understood way? </li> <li>Are you guiding people to the actions you want them to take? Does your design facilitate this?</li> <li>Does your design incorporate elements of persuasion that will help potential users become users?</li> </ul> <p>Asking these questions of your work will help you be laser-sharp when it comes to persuading your users.</p> <h2>Have I been persuasive?</h2> <p>For some of your users, you may only need to provide a convincing message—that is, one that shows the relevancy of your work to their life and helps shape or reinforce a positive attitude. However, many will probably process your message through low levels of elaboration. They will need clear content, good design, and efficient delivery to bolster their receptiveness to your message or product. </p> <p>Being persuasive requires a conscious effort. Conducting user research, incorporating the tenets of good design, and understanding how persuasion works will help you appeal to more users through both central and peripheral processing routes. </p> <p>Designing for both paths of the Elaboration Likelihood Model isn’t just good in theory; it’s good in practice. This purposeful incorporation of persuasion will bring a new level of effectiveness to your craft, eventually enabling you to move your audience to process your messages through the central route—the sign of a truly persuasive design.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/5WJ8ZbguJcw" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
27. Jun 2014
Ten Years Ago in ALA: Dynamic Text Replacement
<p>Ten years ago this month, <cite>A List Apart</cite> published Stewart Rosenberger’s “<a href="http://alistapart.com/article/dynatext">Dynamic Text Replacement</a>.” Stewart lamented text styling as a “dull headache of web design” with “only a handful of fonts that are universally available, and sophisticated graphical effects are next to impossible using only standard CSS and HTML.” To help ease these pains, Stewart presented a technique for styling typography by dynamically replacing text with an image.</p> <p>I began working on the web five years after Stewart’s article was published, right around the time when <a href="http://alistapart.com/article/on-web-typography">web fonts were gaining popularity</a>. It was an exciting time, with a slew of new typefaces, foundries, and new techniques for styling text with CSS3 cropping up frequently. It seemed—for a moment—that we could finally “control” typography in a way that we never could before.</p> <p>I was recently looking at the <a href="http://www.jordanm.co.uk/tinytype">state of default system fonts</a> and realized that we’re never going to have as much control over typography as we want. But that&#8217;s ok. </p> <p>Instead, I’ve been seeing more nuanced discussions about typography, focused on striking a balance between having beautiful typography without taking a huge <a href="http://css-tricks.com/preventing-the-performance-hit-from-custom-fonts/">performance hit</a>. I appreciate that as an industry we’re <a href="http://www.thenerdary.net/post/75826597863/disabling-typekit-on-mobile">dedicated to creating the best experiences possible</a>, regardless of device or connection speed.</p> <p><a href="http://blog.typekit.com/2013/10/09/on-weights-styles/">It’s easy to get carried away with web fonts</a>, and slow our sites down significantly as a result. While we may no longer need to use dynamic image replacement, the deliberate approach Stewart advocated is worth revisiting:</p><figure class="quote"><blockquote>“Sticking with the traditional typefaces is smart for body text, but when it comes to our headings—short, attention-grabbing blocks of text—it would be nice to have some choice in the matter.”</blockquote></figure> <p>In another five years, we’ll have completely different techniques and a host of other considerations. If we are thoughtful and deliberate with our (type) decisions, we’ll be able to evolve much more easily.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/7ET9C97PR1I" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
26. Jun 2014
Ask Dr. Web with Jeffrey Zeldman: The Doctor Is In
<p><i>A note from the editors:</i> Way back in the early days of web design—back before, even, <cite>A List Apart</cite>—there was <a href="http://www.zeldman.com">Zeldman.com</a>, where thousands of us spent hour after hour soaking up every bit of web design knowledge we could. Between 1995 and 1999, Jeffrey Zeldman himself even answered your questions—or at least, his alter ego Dr. Web did.</p> <p>The days where one column can cover “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About HTML, CSS, Graphics, &amp; Multimedia” are long gone (except on the <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/19970711171732/http://www.zeldman.com/maqf.html">Internet Archive</a>), but Dr. Web is back. This time, our fearless leader is here to help you find your place and build a satisfying career in this big, weird, changing industry we call the web.</p> <p>Read on for Dr. Web’s advice, and don&#8217;t forget to <a href="#submit">submit a question</a> of your own.&nbsp; </p> <figure> <img src="/d/misc-images/Ask_Dr_Web.gif" alt="An Ask Dr. Web logo from the 1990s"> </figure> <figure class="quote"> <blockquote> <p>Dear Dr. Web,</p><p>I’m a print designer trying to transition into the web world, but the resources out there seem to be endless. It’s overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. Do you have any suggestions for what to read, who to listen to, or how to otherwise take careful sips from the firehose?</p> </blockquote><figcaption><cite>Just Getting Started</cite></figcaption> </figure> <p>Dear Just,</p> <p>Funny you should ask. Four score and 13 years ago, I wrote a book for designers transitioning to the web. That book is now available free of charge, and while some of the sites it references are no longer with us, and more than a few of its browser references and front-end techniques are amusingly dated, the basic premises are as true today as they were in 2001. Enjoy <cite><a href="http://takingyourtalenttotheweb.com">Taking Your Talent To The Web</a></cite>, Dale Cruse’s HTML rendition of the book, or download the <a href="http://www.zeldman.com/2009/04/16/taking-your-talent-to-the-web-is-now-a-free-downloadable-book-from-zeldmancom/">PDF version</a>, containing the original layout, typography, and artwork. (Thanks to <a href="http://www.peachpit.com/imprint/?st=61074">New Riders</a>, my original publishers, for believing in the book, and for allowing me to give it away online after its best-used-by date expired.)</p> <p>If you are willing to learn HTML and CSS—and, at least until <a href="http://macaw.co/">Macaw</a> is in its 5.0 version, every web designer should learn those things, at least well enough to understand the principles behind them—read <cite><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Web-Standards-3rd-Edition/dp/0321616952">Designing With Web Standards</a></cite> followed by <cite><a href="http://www.simplebits.com/publications/bulletproof/">Bulletproof Web Design</a></cite> and <cite><a href="http://www.abookapart.com/products/html5-for-web-designers">HTML5 for Web Designers</a></cite>. </p> <p>Then dive into Aaron Gustafson’s modern classic, <cite><a href="http://easy-readers.net/books/adaptive-web-design/">Adaptive Web Design: Crafting Rich Experiences with Progressive Enhancement</a></cite>. Though compact and approachable, it is jam-packed with the collective wisdom of literally thousands of modern web designers, developers, and consultants, all filtered through Aaron’s expertise, practicality, and friendly style. Nobody has ever done a better job of explaining progressive enhancement and why it is the basis of universal web design. </p> <p>Of course, web designers do not live by code alone. So next, or simultaneously, I recommend getting your mitts on Steve Krug’s classic, <cite><a href="http://www.sensible.com/dmmt.html">Don’t Make Me Think</a></cite>, which is the quickest and friendliest way I know for a print designer to grasp all those things about usability and interaction design that you’d never, ever pick up in a traditional graphic design curriculum or career. In print for 13 years, it&#8217;s been translated into 20 languages and sold over 400,000 copies—and now it&#8217;s available in a fully revised edition.</p> <p>As a print designer, you’re familiar with type—and on the web, interfaces consisting almost entirely of type are used to present content consisting almost entirely of type. Bone up on what type means for the screen with Ellen Lupton’s newly released <cite><a href="http://www.papress.com/html/book.details.page.tpl?isbn=9781616891701">Type on Screen</a></cite>, and Jason Santa Maria’s upcoming <cite><a href="http://www.abookapart.com/products/on-web-typography">On Web Typography</a></cite>.</p> <p>While you’re reading these books, you should also be visiting websites, viewing source, selecting all, and copying into a text editor. The more you study other people’s HTML markup and CSS, the better you will begin to understand how to structure web content so people and search engines can find it, and browsers and devices can display it. Short of working as part of a front-end development team with experienced colleagues, viewing source is the best front-end web development education you can have. (“Front-end” is what we call it to distinguish from the heavier kinds of coding that go into the “back-end” of most sites today.)</p> <p>Of course, it helps if the sites whose source code you’re viewing are well-made. Besides viewing source on <cite>A List Apart</cite> (cough), you’ll find fine source code on Chris Coyier’s <a href="http://css-tricks.com">CSS Tricks</a>. (You&#8217;ll also learn a <em>lot</em> about CSS, the visual language of web design.) You’ll learn loads more about CSS, and get more great source code to boot, in the articles section of <a href="http://sarasoueidan.com">Sara Soueidan’s</a> website. </p> <p>Other great resources—for education, inspiration, great source code, and just plain good reading—include:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://jasonsantamaria.com">Jason Santa Maria</a>: design inspiration and strategy; dual-focused on print and web</li> <li><a href="http://www.lukew.com/ff/">LukeW: Writings on Digital Product Strategy</a>: keep up with mobile web design stats and strategy</li> <li><a href="http://maban.co.uk">Anna Debenham</a>: freelance front-end developer and <cite>ALA</cite> tech editor</li> <li><a href="https://the-pastry-box-project.net">The Pastry Box Project</a>: writings by your web design peers</li> <li><a href="http://cognition.happycog.com">Cognition</a>: more writings by your web design peers</li> <li><a href="http://frankchimero.com/intros/quilt/">Frank Chimero</a>: design inspiration</li> <li><a href="http://farukat.es">Faruk Ateş</a>: for a more inclusive web</li> <li><a href="http://airbagindustries.com">Airbag Industries</a>: the personal site of Greg Storey</li> <li><a href="http://meyerweb.com">Meyerweb</a>: the personal site of CSS expert Eric Meyer</li> <li><a href="http://jakearchibald.com">Jake Archibald</a>: tech-savvy writings on web performance</li> </ul> <p>This is barely a distracted start; readers, <i>please</i> list your favorite sites in the comments section.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t study or work in isolation. If you&#8217;re freelancing or working remotely, Twitter can be your best friend (or can help you find your new best friends). After a week of working at home, make time for a meetup in your hometown, and if your city offers free or inexpensive design, development, or user experience (UX) events, take advantage of those offerings and get out there. This is a warm community full of passionate practitioners who love to share tips and make connections.</p> <p>Lastly and perhaps most importantly, take the time to become deeply familiar with a few websites that you love and use all the time. Analyze what design decisions and special touches (whether of interactivity, or visual hierarchy, or copy, or whatever) make the experience of using the site so special. Likewise, when you encounter an unpleasant-to-use site (online banking, anyone?), instead of fleeing in frustration, force yourself to spend <em>extra</em> time on that site, to discover which particular interaction design decisions are responsible for your bad experience. And then never, ever make decisions like that on the sites <em>you</em> design.</p> <p>Design on the web is a combination of aesthetics and usability, control and surrender, constraint and endless creativity. Designing books is wonderful, but designing for the web is a whole ’nother thing. Welcome, friend!</p> <p><a name="submit"></a><em>Have a question about professional development, industry culture, or the state of the web? This is your chance to pick Jeffrey Zeldman’s brain. Send your question to Dr. Web via <a href="https://twitter.com/alistapart">Twitter</a> (#askdrweb), <a href="https://www.facebook.com/alistapart?ref_type=bookmark">Facebook</a>, or <a href="mailto:contact@alistapart.com?subject=Ask Dr. Web">email</a>.</em></p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/2qjsXslHTyQ" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
20. Jun 2014
Rachel Andrew on the Business of Web Dev: Lessons Learned by Being the Client
<p>I ran a web development consultancy from mid-2001 through to early 2013. By 2006, the company I had started alone was busy enough for my husband, Drew McLellan, to join the business full time. The vast majority of our work was as an outsourced team, developing projects for design agencies. But now, in 2014, we find ourselves on the other side of the client/developer relationship.</p> <p>We launched our first product, <a href="http://grabaperch.com">Perch</a>, as a side project of that business. It’s now the whole of what we do, yet we have managed to remain a team of two by making use of freelancers and other agencies. At first we only outsourced design, but increasingly we are also using outside help for development.</p> <p>Here are some of the things I have learned by being the client.</p> <h2>Give regular progress updates</h2> <p>I always felt we were good at communicating with our clients. We asked questions and updated the staging version of the project regularly. And so, when clients would ask for an update, I would feel irritated and pestered. We felt as if we were constantly communicating with them and we were rarely late delivering something, so I assumed that the client would understand that if we didn’t mention there was a problem, everything was running on time.</p> <p>As the client, I now know that even if I can see code being committed and the developer is talking to us, I don’t always get a sense of whether they are on track or not. I&#8217;ve seen how other business milestones may depend on the completion of an outsourced project. For example, you might buy advertising to go live at the same time that a planned feature launches. If the ad buy has to be booked in advance, but the project runs late, that advertising spend will have been wasted. Due to the stress of the unknown and fear of losing out financially, it is easy to end up being that client who seems to be constantly asking if the work is completed.</p> <p>Of course when you are providing a service it is important that you do what you say you will do, in the time you said it could be done in. However, in addition to that basic requirement, building in regular status updates helps your client to plan things that rely on the work you are doing to be completed. It stops the constant is-it-done-yet? type emails and phone calls.</p> <h2>Explain what to review</h2> <p>We often used to grumble that clients never looked over or tested any of the work we had done, although we deployed work to staging servers and made it available for review as often as possible. Looking back, I think we made an assumption that not only would the client have the time to immediately look at everything we had deployed, but would understand for themselves the progress.</p> <p>We’re working with a developer currently who uses <a href="http://www.trello.com">Trello</a> not just to organize tasks but as a way for us, his client, to see what he is working on and where he is at. I can take a look at Trello at any point and see that a certain feature is being worked on, or has been moved to done. I can then go take a look on the staging version and I know what I’m looking for.</p> <p>Even if your client is able to see your commits or updates to a system, give them a way to know which bits they should be looking at at any one time. This will save your client wasting their time pointing out things that you haven’t addressed yet, and also help them feel part of your progress.</p> <p>In addition to gaining a new insight into what really makes for great client and developer communication, I’ve discovered other ways in which freelancers can really contribute to the businesses they do work for.</p> <h2>Make costs foreseeable</h2> <p>As a business owner with a product, there are many things that I would love to find help with. But hiring a consultant at an hourly rate when I don’t fully understand the scope of the task at hand is a bit scary. What if it costs far more than I imagined, or what if what I really need is ongoing support?</p> <p>If you can make your consultancy services more product-like in terms of how you market them, you can make life a lot simpler for business owners who aren’t sure what work needs doing and whether it is in their budget. This approach has been termed “productized consulting” and involves packaging up services that typically would be completed on an hourly rate into fixed-price—one-off or monthly—purchases.</p> <p>For examples of how some companies have turned their freelance services into products, see Brennan Dunn’s post <a href="http://planscope.io/blog/3-great-examples-of-productized-consulting-services/">3 Great Examples of Productized Consulting Services</a>.</p> <h2>Put business aims before perfection</h2> <p>Possibly the biggest thing I have learned from being the client is that often “good enough” is enough. As a developer, I wanted the time to do a really amazing job, yet often felt that we were being asked to cut corners and to not develop the perfect solution we knew we could come up with. As the client, though, I know I have to make the decision to ship. I need to be the person who says, <em>this will do for now</em>.</p> <p>I’d still love everything to be perfect. Sometimes, however, it is more important to get something out there, even if that means accepting slightly rough edges. As an example, we recently rebuilt the internal system that allows people to pay for our product and be issued with a license. We moved away from a legacy PSP to Stripe and made other changes that are going to enable things we have planned for the future. We shipped this with the most rudimentary reporting dashboard, and with a number of tasks that could be automated via various APIs not yet finished. For the business and our customers, the important thing was the parts they interact with; the rough edges were only a problem to us, and we can tidy up as we go along.</p> <p>To be able to work in this way with freelancers requires a change in mindset and in approach to defining and quoting for jobs. One of the reasons we hated feeling that we were shipping things with rough edges was because we were often contracted just to build a particular product. Our job ended when the project launched; we knew that whatever state the project launched in would often be the state in which it stayed. Now that we hire developers, we try to find people who are interested in an ongoing relationship. We hope this relationship helps them feel confident that when we say we need to ship something they have worked on, it’s not the end of their work on it.</p> <p>If I were writing code for other people now, I think I would foster these types of relationships far more than we did then. Instead of railing against the client who wanted to ship something I felt was not ready, I would try to help them to get to a shipping point that didn’t also mean we hand over the work.</p> <h2>Invoicing: the relationship killer</h2> <p>Many of the issues outlined above were exacerbated by the agency model of building, shipping, and invoicing for projects. Since our final invoice couldn’t be sent in until the work was complete, clients often saw that invoice as a way to hold us over a barrel until some element (that perhaps wasn’t initially quoted for) was done. It’s a pretty toxic way to work if you want to create great ongoing relationships.</p> <p>Many of our freelancers now bill weekly or every two weeks when they are working on things for us. I really like that as a model. If the scope creeps and the work takes longer, we simply pay for more days of work—potentially with a delay if our contractor has booked some other work in—but the entire job doesn’t need renegotiating. There are no awkward discussions about whether they are allowed to submit an invoice.</p> <p>There is a huge imbalance in many client/developer relationships. The client often wields power in the shape of owing the developer money that won’t be paid until hoops have been jumped through. The developer may be privy to, and often may be the only person who fully understands, a large part of the client’s business. The developer can feel as if their work is not being valued, while the client feels that the developer is spending far too much time on unimportant things.</p> <p>Of course there are people who will treat developers badly no matter how hard they work and how well they communicate. However, I think that many relationships become strained because of the lack of balance created by the agency billing model. </p> <h2>Better together</h2> <p>Ultimately the best client/developer relationships should be mutually beneficial; two businesses working together for the benefit of both, understanding each others’ communication needs and business aims. It sounds like perfect sense, and it is—but it’s only by being the client that I have really come to appreciate that.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/BNbpUko7IQo" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
11. Jun 2014
Apple and Responsive Design
<p>Apple has always had a funny relationship with responsive design. They’ve only sparingly used media queries to make minor visual tweaks on important pages, like <a href="http://apple.com">their current homepage</a>.</p> <p>Though a “handcrafted for all devices” approach seems like the “Apple way,” it’s almost as if they’ve avoided it because of the iPhone’s original pitch—giving users the ability to pinch and zoom their way through the “full” web, as opposed to being shuttled off to the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Application_Protocol">mobile web</a>.</p> <p>Apple could afford that stubbornness when the only thing running iOS was the 3.5-inch iPhone. Over the past few years, though, they’ve introduced the 10-inch iPad, the 4-inch iPhone, the 7-inch iPad mini, and reports point to an even larger iPhone coming this fall.</p> <p>The approach that Apple and their community of developers have taken to build apps for these new device sizes closely resembles the way we did it for the web over the last decade or so: adaptive first, then slowly building to responsive.</p> <p>When the iPad was first announced, developers built separate View Controllers for iPhones and iPads—on the web, that’d be like building separate pages for each. Layouts, styles, and interactions were built to target each device specifically. This was an adaptive way of thinking, and it worked because of the limited number of targets.</p> <p>With iOS 6, and the subsequent release of the taller iPhone 5, Apple introduced something called <a href="https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/userexperience/conceptual/AutolayoutPG/Introduction/Introduction.html">Auto Layout</a>—a relationship-based layout engine. Unlike the iPad, which required a separate build, apps for the taller iPhone were the same build with layout adjustments applied. Auto Layout was Apple’s first true foray into responsive design within native applications since, much like the web, different layout rules were applied to the same base code.</p> <p>Last week, Apple introduced iOS 8, and with it, something they’re calling <a href="https://developer.apple.com/videos/wwdc/2014/#216-video">Adaptive UI</a>. The main feature of Adaptive UI is the ability to specify layout rules based on <a href="https://developer.apple.com/library/prerelease/ios/releasenotes/General/WhatsNewIniOS/Articles/iOS8.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40014205-SW30">Size Classes</a>, which are really just breakpoints set by Apple. </p> <p>Developers can now use a single View Controller (or page, in our world) with various layout rules applied across Size Classes (or breakpoints) to accommodate devices of all sizes. While there are only two Size Classes right now, compact and regular, Apple has left a lot of room to add more, or to even let developers set breakpoints themselves in the future.</p> <p>It may be adaptive in name, and hard-coded breakpoints may seem like adaptive thinking, but the groundwork has been laid for responsive design within native iOS applications. It’s been interesting to watch Apple’s path from static, to adaptive, to responsive, and it’ll be even more interesting to watch third-party developers take advantage of the workflow benefits of responsive design that we’ve become accustomed to.</p> <p>Apple has finally come around on responsive design, and to top all that off, there was even <a href="https://developer.apple.com/videos/wwdc/2014/#517-video">a session about it last week at WWDC</a>. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the next year, we finally see the responsive redesign of <a href="http://apple.com">apple.com</a> that we’ve been waiting for all these years.</p><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/alistapart/main/~4/JpUaNt5u0n8" height="1" width="1"/>[mehr] (Quelle: A List Apart: The Full Feed)
14. Oct 2013
CSS Books &amp; CSS Figures
Today we're happy to add two more specs to the WHATWG stable, Books and Figures! These are specifications focused on CSS features. Books provides ways to turn HTML document into books, either on screen or on paper. Using Books, authors can style cross-references, footnotes, and most other things needed to present books on screen or [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
20. Jul 2012
Relationship update on HTML Living Standard and W3C HTML5
In an email to the WHATWG mailing list Ian Hickson explained how the relationship between the WHATWG and W3C effort around HTML has evolved. It is recommended reading if you want to know the details. In summary, we will remain focused on improving HTML and related technologies to address the needs of users, developers, and [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
8. Jun 2012
Validator.nu HTML Parser 1.4 Available
A new release of the Validator.nu HTML Parser is available. The new version 1.4 contains minor adjustments to spec compliance and fixes for notable Java-specific problems (of the crash and infinite loop sort). Also, the parser is again available from the Maven Central Repository (groupId: nu.validator.htmlparser, artifactId: htmlparser, version: 1.4). Upgrading to the newest version [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
26. May 2012
The Future of the Web: My Vision (May 23, 2012)
I apologize for the longer than expected wait for this article, but now, we may continue. The article below will pick up where Part 1 left off. Article 1: Websites and SectioningPart 2: Styling &#60;warning&#62;Warning: This article discusses the topic of &#60;semantics&#62;semantics&#60;/semantics&#62;&#60;/warning&#62; As we began with previously, we now have the basics down as to [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
1. May 2012
The Future of the Web: My Vision (May 1, 2012)
Like probably many others who read this blog, I am a web design enthusiast, web standards advocate, and web designer by trade. I have been working with HTML since the early 2000s, and have enjoyed it ever since. Over the years, the web has evolved around me. I have watched it grow and adapt. And [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
24. Apr 2012
Patent Policy
The WHATWG now has a patent policy, the WHATCG. We will keep using the same mailing list, the same IRC channel, the same web sites, but now sometimes we will publish through the WHATCG as well for patent policy purposes per the W3C Community Final Specification Agreement. If you could previously not join the WHATWG [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
11. Apr 2012
WHATWG Weekly: Fullscreen dialog
Ian Hickson made a proposal to unify Web Intents with registerProtocolHandler() and registerContentHandler(). The Encoding Standard now has all its decoders defined. This is the WHATWG Weekly. The big news this week is the new dialog element. Introduced in revision 7050, along with a new global attribute called inert, a new form element method attribute [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
29. Mar 2012
WHATWG Weekly: HTML canvas version 5 has arrived
The StringEncoding proposal is getting closer to consensus. It now consists of a TextEncoder and a TextDecoder object that can be used both for streaming and non-streaming use cases. This is the WHATWG Weekly. Some bad news for a change. It may turn out that the web platform will only work on little-endian devices, as [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
14. Mar 2012
WHATWG Weekly: Path objects for canvas and creating paths through SVG syntax
Jonas Sicking proposed an API for decoding ArrayBuffer objects as strings, and encoding strings as ArrayBuffer objects. The thread also touched on a proposal mentioned here earlier, StringEncoding. This is the mid-March WHATWG Weekly. Revision 7023 added the Path object to HTML for use with the canvas element, and the next revision made it possible [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
7. Mar 2012
WHATWG Weekly: http+aes URL scheme, control Referer, …
Apple's Safari team provided feedback to the Web Notifications Working Group. That group, incidentally, is looking for an active editor to address that and other feedback. Opera Mobile shipped with WebGL support. This is March's first WHATWG Weekly. Simon Pieters overhauled much of HTML5 differences from HTML4 and the document now provides information on added/changed [&#8230;][mehr] (Quelle: The WHATWG Blog)
8. Jan 2010
BITV mit Links zu HTML und CSS
Die Barrierefreiheit von Webseiten wird in Deutschland durch die &#8220;Barrierefreie Informationstechnik-Verordnung&#8221;, kurz BITV geregelt. Wenngleich sich der Wirkungsbereich nur auf Seiten von Behörden erstreckt, hat die BITV auch eine große Bedeutung für Unternehmensseiten bekommen. Die BITV ist naturgemäß stellenweise abstrakt, ähnlich wie die verwandten englischen Texte des W3C. Um die Verständlichkeit zu erhöhen, haben wir [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
7. Jan 2010
BITV auf <edition W3.de>

Als Ergänzung zu den Zugänglichkeitsrichtlinien für Web-Inhalte steht ab heute auch die BITV hier zur Verfügung.

(Quelle: <edition W3.de> Neuigkeiten)
11. Dec 2009
Cross-Browser: es wird immer besser – oder doch nicht?
Dem im März 2009 erschienenen Internet Explorer 8 wurde von Anfang an eine bessere Unterstützung von Webstandards bescheinigt. Wer Websites macht, wird das bestätigen können. Wer allerdings Javascript-Bibliotheken entwickelt, die von anderen auf ihren Seiten eingesetzt werden sollen, kann ein anderes Bild bekommen. Mit dem IE6 hat Microsoft die Unterscheidung in &#8220;Quirks Mode&#8221; und &#8220;Standard [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
7. Dec 2009
ECMAScript 5 verabschiedet
Am 3. Dezember hat die Ecma die Verabschiedung von ECMAScript5 bekanntgegeben. Im Gegensatz zu manch anderem Standardisierungsgremium, bietet die Ecma ihre Standards kostenfrei zum Download auf der Webseite an: Für ECMAScript siehe Ecma-262. ECMAScript ist die standardisierte Form von Javascript und damit ein wichtiger Baustein für die Weiterentwicklung des Web. Über die wichtigsten neuen Features [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
2. Dec 2009
XSLT-Schulung von Linkwerk – von Kunden ausgezeichnet
Einmal mehr dürfen wir uns über Bestnoten für unseren XSLT-Workshop freuen. In der vergangenen Woche haben wir eine XSLT-Schulung für einen neuen Kunden durchgeführt. Die Kundenbewertungen auf den Feedbackbögen zeichnet uns und unsere Leistung aus. In allen Punkten, von &#8220;Inhalt&#8221; über &#8220;Präsentation&#8221; und &#8220;Übungen&#8221; bis zur &#8220;Gesamtbewertung&#8221; bekommen wir sehr gute Noten. Darüber hinaus sagen [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
2. Dec 2009
Relaunch von <edition W3.de>

Heute geht eine überarbeitete Version der <edition W3.de> online.

(Quelle: <edition W3.de> Neuigkeiten)
22. Nov 2009
Das neue JavaScript — EcmaScript 5 kommt
Zum Jahresende wird die Verabschiedung von EcmaScript 5 erwartet. In der aktuellen Ausgabe der iX schreibe ich über die wichtigsten neuen Features. Für alle Leser des Artikels oder diejenigen, die sich selbst einen Eindruck verschaffen möchten, stelle ich im Folgenden die Quellen zusammen. Wikipedia: ECMAScript Allen Wirfs-Brock: Steps Toward Creating Compatible ECMAScript 5 Implementations Allen [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
20. Nov 2009
W3C sperrt Java aus
Heute habe ich bei der Arbeit mit einer XSLT-Engine an meinem Verstand gezweifelt. Die Aufgabe war einfach: Ein kleines Verarbeitungsskript für eine Webseite. Doch leider brach die Verarbeitung immer ab, weil der XSLT-Interpreter die DTD nicht vom Server des W3C laden konnte. Natürlich sollte man besser eine lokale DTD verwenden, dennoch war es überraschend, dass [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
18. Nov 2009
Canonical Link
Die ursprüngliche Idee der Adressen im Web beinhaltet auch, dass man über eine Adressangabe eine Seite finden kann. Schließlich heißt der Fachbegriff nicht umsonst URI &#8212; Uniform Resource Identifier. Es gibt aber zahlreiche Beispiele, bei denen das nicht der Fall ist. Oft sind Session-IDs, Query-Parameter oder andere temporäre Informationen in der Adresse enthalten. Die machen [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
3. Nov 2009
Talk Semantic Web, auf semanticoverflow.com
Es ist schön zu sehen, dass Semantic Web Technologien zunehmend zum Thema werden. Jüngster Zuwachs im Bereich der Semantic Web Community ist wohl semanticoverflow.com, eine Seite die sich ganz im stile ihres grossen Bruders stackoverflow.com der Aufgabe widmet Fragen rund um das Thema Semantic Web Community-basiert zu beantworten. Ich wünsche der Seite zumindest vergleichbaren Erfolg [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
2. Nov 2009
Hilfe, mein Software-Agent hat Angst
Na ja, ganz so weit ist es noch nicht. Aber sollte ich mal einen persönlichen, autonomen und wirklich intelligenten Software-Agenten mein Eigen nennen, könnte er ja auch mal Angst haben, sich überlastet oder ausgebrannt fühlen. Das W3C arbeitet jedenfalls schon mal an der passenden Auszeichnungssprache: EmotionML. Wer jetzt glaubt, die Initiative sei genauso sinnvoll wie [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)
27. Oct 2009
GeoCities schließt…
&#8230;und der ein oder andere mag sich fragen, was ist &#8220;GeoCities&#8221;? In der Frage ist zumindest die Antwort auf die Frage zu finden, weshalb Yahoo die Site dicht macht. &#8220;Wow, eine geschlossene Website, das ist&#8217;n Blogartikel wert!&#8221; &#8212; Die Tatsache ist wohl nicht bemerkenswert, allerdings ist der Artikel der L.A. Times lesenswert für alle, die [...][mehr] (Quelle: blog.linkwerk.com » edition W3.de)