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1 Why Bother with Accessibility? Web accessibility (known in other fields as inclusive design or universal design) is the degree to which a website is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility is most often used to describe how people with disabilities can access the web. How we approach accessibility In the web community, there’s a surprisingly inconsistent approach to accessibility. There are some who are endlessly dedicated to accessible web design, and there are some who believe it so intrinsic to the web that it shouldn’t be considered a separate topic. Still, of those who are familiar with accessibility, there’s an overwhelming number of designers, developers, clients and bosses who just aren’t that bothered. Over the last few months I’ve spoken to a lot of people about accessibility, and I’ve heard the same reasons to ignore it over and over again. Let’s take a look at the most common excuses. Excuse 1: “People with disabilities don’t really use the web” Accessibility will make your site available to more people — the inclusion case In the same way that the accessibility of a building isn’t just about access for wheelchair users, web accessibility isn’t just about blind users and screen readers. We can affect positively the lives of many people by making their access to the web easier. There are four main types of disability that affect use of the web: Visual Blindness, low vision and colour-blindness Auditory Profoundly deaf and hard of hearing Motor The inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control Cognitive Learning difficulties, distractibility, the inability to focus on large amounts of information None of these disabilities are completely black and white Examining deafness, it’s clear from the medical scale that there are many grey areas between full hearing and total deafness: mild moderate moderately severe severe profound totally deaf For eyesight, and brain conditions that affect what users see, there is a huge range of conditions and challenges: astigmatis… 2013 Laura Kalbag laurakalbag 2013-12-10T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/why-bother-with-accessibility/ design
2 Levelling Up Hello, 24 ways. I’m Ashley and I sell property insurance. I’m interrupting your Christmas countdown with an article about rental property software and a guy, Pete, who selflessly encouraged me to build my first web app. It doesn’t sound at all festive, or — considering I’ve used both “insurance” and “rental property” — interesting, but do stick with me. There’s eggnog at the end. I run a property insurance business, Brokers Direct. It’s a small operation, but well established. We’ve been selling landlord insurance on the web for over thirteen years, for twelve of which we have provided our clients with third-party software for managing their rental property portfolios. Free. Of. Charge. It sounds like a sweet deal for our customers, but it isn’t. At least, not any more. The third-party software is victim to years of neglect by its vendor. Its questionable interface, garish visuals and, ahem, clip art icons have suffered from a lack of updates. While it was never a contender for software of the year, I’ve steadily grown too embarrassed to associate my business with it. The third-party rental property software we distributed I wanted to offer my customers a simple, clean and lightweight alternative. In an industry that’s dominated by dated and bloated software, it seemed only logical that I should build my own rental property tool. The long learning-to-code slog Learning a programming language is daunting, the source of my frustration stemming from a non-programming background. Generally, tutorials assume a degree of familiarity with programming, whether it be tools, conventions or basic skills. I had none and, at the time, there was nothing on the web really geared towards a novice. I reached the point where I genuinely thought I was just not cut out for coding. Surrendering to my feelings of self-doubt and frustration, I sourced a local Rails developer, Pete, to build it for me. Pete brought a pack of index cards to our meeting. Index cards that would represent each feature the rental property software wo… 2013 Ashley Baxter ashleybaxter 2013-12-06T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/levelling-up/ business
3 Project Hubs: A Home Base for Design Projects SCENE: A design review meeting. Laptop screens. Coffee cups. Project manager: Hey, did you get my email with the assets we’ll be discussing? Client: I got an email from you, but it looks like there’s no attachment. PM: Whoops! OK. I’m resending the files with the attachments. Check again? Client: OK, I see them. It’s homepage_v3_brian-edits_FINAL_for-review.pdf, right? PM: Yeah, that’s the one. Client: OK, hang on, Bill’s going to print them out. (3-minute pause. Small talk ensues.) Client: Alright, Bill’s back. We’re good to start. Brian: Oh, actually those homepage edits we talked about last time are in the homepage_v4_brian_FINAL_v2.pdf document that I posted to Basecamp earlier today. Client: Oh, OK. What message thread was that in? Brian: Uh, I’m pretty sure it’s in “Homepage Edits and Holiday Schedule.” Client: Alright, I see them. Bill’s going back to the printer. Hang on a sec… This is only a slightly exaggerated version of my experience in design review meetings. The design project dance is a sloppy one. It involves a slew of email attachments, PDFs, PSDs, revisions, GitHub repos, staging environments, and more. And while tools like Basecamp can help manage all these moving parts, it can still be incredibly challenging to extract only the important bits, juggle deliverables, and see how your project is progressing. Enter project hubs. Project hubs A project hub consolidates all the key design and development materials onto a single webpage presented in reverse chronological order. The timeline lives online (either publicly available or password protected), so that everyone involved in the team has easy access to it. A project hub. I was introduced to project hubs after seeing Dan Mall’s open redesign of Reading Is Fundamental. Thankfully, I had a chance to work with Dan on two projects where I got to see firsthand how beneficial a project hub can be. Here’s what makes a project hub great: Serves as a centralized home base for the project Trains clients and teams to decide i… 2013 Brad Frost bradfrost 2013-12-17T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/project-hubs/ process
4 Credits and Recognition A few weeks ago, I saw a friendly little tweet from a business congratulating a web agency on being nominated for an award. The business was quite happy for them and proud to boot — they commented on how the same agency designed their website, too. What seemed like a nice little shout-out actually made me feel a little disappointed. Why? In reality, I knew that the web agency didn’t actually design the site — I did, when I worked at a different agency responsible for the overall branding and identity. I certainly wasn’t disappointed at the business — after all, saying that someone designed your site when they were responsible for development is an easy mistake to make. Chances are, the person behind the tweets and status updates might not even know the difference between words like design and development. What really disappointed me was the reminder of how many web workers out there never explain their roles in a project when displaying work in a portfolio. If you’re strictly a developer and market yourself as such, there might be less room for confusion, but things can feel a little deceptive if you offer a wide range of services yet never credit the other players when collaboration is part of the game. Unfortunately, this was the case in this situation. Whatever happened to credit where credit’s due? Advertising attribution Have you ever thumbed through an advertising annual or browsed through the winners of an advertising awards website, like the campaign below from Kopenhagen Chocolate on Advertising Age? If so, it’s likely that you’ve noticed some big differences in how the work is credited. Everyone involved in a creative advertising project is mentioned. Art directors, writers, creative directors, photographers, illustrators and, of course, the agency all get a fair shot at fifteen minutes of fame. Why can’t we take this same idea and introduce it to our own showcases? Crediting on client sites Ah, the good old days of web rings, guestbooks, and under construction GIFs, when slipping in a cheeky… 2013 Geri Coady gericoady 2013-12-16T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/credits-and-recognition/ process
5 Managing a Mind On 21 May 2013, I woke in a hospital bed feeling exhausted, disorientated and ashamed. The day before, I had tried to kill myself. It’s very hard to write about this and share it. It feels like I’m opening up the deepest recesses of my soul and laying everything bare, but I think it’s important we share this as a community. Since starting tentatively to write about my experience, I’ve had many conversations about this: sharing with others; others sharing with me. I’ve been surprised to discover how many people are suffering similarly, thinking that they’re alone. They’re not. Due to an insane schedule of teaching, writing, speaking, designing and just generally trying to keep up, I reached a point where my buffers completely overflowed. I was working so hard on so many things that I was struggling to maintain control. I was living life on fast-forward and my grasp on everything was slowly slipping. On that day, I reached a low point – the lowest point of my life – and in that moment I could see only one way out. I surrendered. I can’t really describe that moment. I’m still grappling with it. All I know is that I couldn’t take it any more and I gave up. I very nearly died. I’m very fortunate to have survived. I was admitted to hospital, taken there unconscious in an ambulance. On waking, I felt overwhelmed with shame and overcome with remorse, but I was resolved to grasp the situation and address it. The experience has forced me to confront a great deal of issues in my life; it has also encouraged me to seek a deeper understanding of my situation and, in particular, the mechanics of the mind. The relentless pace of change We work in a fast-paced industry: few others, if any, confront the daily challenges we face. The landscape we work within is characterised by constant flux. It’s changing and evolving at a rate we have never experienced before. Few industries reinvent themselves yearly, monthly, weekly… Ours is one of these industries. Technology accelerates at an alarming rate and keeping abreast of this … 2013 Christopher Murphy christophermurphy 2013-12-21T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/managing-a-mind/ process
6 Run Ragged You care about typography, right? Do you care about words and how they look, read, and are understood? If you pick up a book or magazine, you notice the moment something is out of place: an orphan, rivers within paragraphs of justified prose, or caps masquerading as small caps. So why, I ask you, is your stance any different on the web? We’re told time and time again that as a person who makes websites we have to get comfortable with our lack of control. On the web, this is a feature, not a bug. But that doesn’t mean we have to lower our standards, or not strive for the same amount of typographic craft of our print-based cousins. We shouldn’t leave good typesetting at the door because we can’t control the line length. When I typeset books, I’d spend hours manipulating the text to create a pleasurable flow from line to line. A key aspect of this is manicuring the right rag — the vertical line of words on ranged-left text. Maximising the space available, but ensuring there are no line breaks or orphaned words that disrupt the flow of reading. Setting a right rag relies on a bunch of guidelines — or as I was first taught to call them, violations! Violation 1. Never break a line immediately following a preposition Prepositions are important, frequently used words in English. They link nouns, pronouns and other words together in a sentence. And links should not be broken if you can help it. Ending a line on a preposition breaks the join from one word to another and forces the reader to work harder joining two words over two lines. For example: The container is for the butter The preposition here is for and shows the relationship between the butter and the container. If this were typeset on a line and the line break was after the word for, then the reader would have to carry that through to the next line. The sentence would not flow. There are lots of prepositions in English – about 150 – but only 70 or so in use. Violation 2. Never break a line immediately following a dash A dash — either an em-dash or … 2013 Mark Boulton markboulton 2013-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/run-ragged/ design
7 Get Started With GitHub Pages (Plus Bonus Jekyll) After several failed attempts at getting set up with GitHub Pages, I vowed that if I ever figured out how to do it, I’d write it up. Fortunately, I did eventually figure it out, so here is my write-up. Why I think GitHub Pages is cool Normally when you host stuff on GitHub, you’re just storing your files there. If you push site files, what you’re storing is the code, and when you view a file, you’re viewing the code rather than the output. What GitHub Pages lets you do is store those files, and if they’re HTML files, you can view them like any other website, so there’s no need to host them separately yourself. GitHub Pages accepts static HTML but can’t execute languages like PHP, or use a database in the way you’re probably used to, so you’ll need to output static HTML files. This is where templating tools such as Jekyll come in, which I’ll talk about later. The main benefit of GitHub Pages is ease of collaboration. Changes you make in the repository are automatically synced, so if your site’s hosted on GitHub, it’s as up-to-date as your GitHub repository. This really appeals to me because when I just want to quickly get something set up, I don’t want to mess around with hosting; and when people submit a pull request, I want that change to be visible as soon as I merge it without having to set up web hooks. Before you get started If you’ve used GitHub before, already have an account and know the basics like how to set up a repository and clone it to your computer, you’re good to go. If not, I recommend getting familiar with that first. The GitHub site has extensive documentation on getting started, and if you’re not a fan of using the command line, the official GitHub apps for Mac and Windows are great. I also found this tutorial about GitHub Pages by Thinkful really useful, and it contains details on how to turn an existing repository into a GitHub Pages site. Although this involves a bit of using the command line, it’s minimal, and I’ll guide you through the basics. Setting up GitHub Pages For this de… 2013 Anna Debenham annadebenham 2013-12-18T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/get-started-with-github-pages/  
8 Coding Towards Accessibility “Can we make it AAA-compliant?” – does this question strike fear into your heart? Maybe for no other reason than because you will soon have to wade through the impenetrable WCAG documentation once again, to find out exactly what AAA-compliant means? I’m not here to talk about that. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a comprehensive and peer-reviewed resource which we’re lucky to have at our fingertips. But they are also a pig to read, and they may have contributed to the sense of mystery and dread with which some developers associate the word accessibility. This Christmas, I want to share with you some thoughts and some practical tips for building accessible interfaces which you can start using today, without having to do a ton of reading or changing your tools and workflow. But first, let’s clear up a couple of misconceptions. Dreary, flat experiences I recently built a front-end framework for the Post Office. This was a great gig for a developer, but when I found out about my client’s stringent accessibility requirements I was concerned that I’d have to scale back what was quite a complex set of visual designs. Sites like Jakob Neilsen’s old workhorse useit.com and even the pioneering GOV.UK may have to shoulder some of the blame for this. They put a premium on usability and accessibility over visual flourish. (Although, in fairness to Mr Neilsen, his new site nngroup.com is really quite a snazzy affair, comparatively.) Of course, there are other reasons for these sites’ aesthetics — and it’s not because of the limitations of the form. You can make an accessible site look as glossy or as plain as you want it to look. It’s always our own ingenuity and attention to detail that are going to be the limiting factors. Synecdoche We must always guard against the tendency to assume that catering to screen readers means we have the whole accessibility ballgame covered. There’s so much more to accessibility than assistive technology, as you know. And within the field of assistive technology there ar… 2013 Charlie Perrins charlieperrins 2013-12-03T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/coding-towards-accessibility/ code
9 How to Write a Book Were you recently inspired to write a book after reading Owen Gregory’s compendium of author insights? Maybe so inspired to strike out on your own and self-publish? Based on personal experience, writing a book is hard. It requires a great deal of research, experience, and patience. To be able to consolidate your thoughts and what you’ve learned into a sensible and readable tome is an admirable feat. To decide to self-publish and take on yourself all of the design, printing, distribution, and so much more is tantamount to insanity. Again, based on personal experience. So, why might you want to self-publish? If you’ve spent many a late night doing cross-browser testing just to know that your site works flawlessly in twenty-four different browsers — including Mosaic, of course — then maybe you’ll understand the fun that comes from doing it all. Working with a publisher, you’re left to focus on one core thing: writing. That’s a good thing. A good publisher has the right resources to help you get your idea polished and the distribution network to get your book on store shelves around the world. It’s a very proud moment to be able to walk into a book store and see your book sitting there on the shelf. Self-publishing can also be a wonderful process as you get to own it from beginning to end. Every decision is yours and if you’re a control freak like me, this can be a very rewarding experience. While there are many aspects to self-publishing, I’m going to speak to just one of them: creating an ebook. Formats In creating an ebook, you first need to decide what formats you wish to support. There are three main formats, each with their own pros and cons: PDF EPUB MOBI PDFs are supported on almost every device (Windows, Mac, Kindle, iPad, Android, etc.) and can even be a stepping stone to creating a print version of your book. PDFs allow for full typographic and design control, but at the cost of needing to fit things into a predefined page layout. Is it US Letter or A4? Or is it a format that isn’t easily… 2013 Jonathan Snook jonathansnook 2013-12-19T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/how-to-write-a-book/ content
10 Home Kanban for Domestic Bliss My wife is an architect. I’m a leader of big technical teams these days, but for many years after I was a dev I was a project/program manager. Our friends and family used to watch Grand Designs and think that we would make the ideal team — she could design, I could manage the project of building or converting whatever dream home we wanted. Then we bought a house. A Victorian terrace in the north-east of England that needed, well, a fair bit of work. The big decisions were actually pretty easy: yes, we should knock through a double doorway from the dining room to the lounge; yes, we should strip out everything from the utility room and redo it; yes, we should roll back the hideous carpet in the bedrooms upstairs and see if we could restore the original wood flooring. Those could be managed like a project. What couldn’t be was all the other stuff. Incremental improvements are harder to schedule, and in a house that’s over a hundred years old you never know what you’re going to find when you clear away some tiles, or pull up the carpets, or even just spring-clean the kitchen (“Erm, hon? The paint seems to be coming off. Actually, so does the plaster…”). A bit like going in to fix bugs in code or upgrade a machine — sometimes you end up quite far down the rabbit hole. And so, as we tried to fit in those improvements in our evenings and weekends, we found ourselves disagreeing. Arguing, even. We were both trying to do the right thing (make the house better) but since we were fitting it in where we could, we often didn’t get to talk and agree in detail what was needed (exactly how to make the house better). And it’s really frustrating when you stay up late doing something, just to find that your other half didn’t mean that they meant this instead, and so your effort was wasted. Then I saw this tweet from my friend and colleague Jamie Arnold, who was using the same kanban board approach at home as we had instituted at the UK Government Digital Service to manage our portfolio. Mrs Arnold embraces Kanban wall at ho… 2013 Meri Williams meriwilliams 2013-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/home-kanban-for-domestic-bliss/ process
11 JavaScript: Taking Off the Training Wheels JavaScript is the third pillar of front-end web development. Of those pillars, it is both the most powerful and the most complex, so it’s understandable that when 24 ways asked, “What one thing do you wish you had more time to learn about?”, a number of you answered “JavaScript!” This article aims to help you feel happy writing JavaScript, and maybe even without libraries like jQuery. I can’t comprehensively explain JavaScript itself without writing a book, but I hope this serves as a springboard from which you can jump to other great resources. Why learn JavaScript? So what’s in it for you? Why take the next step and learn the fundamentals? Confidence with jQuery If nothing else, learning JavaScript will improve your jQuery code; you’ll be comfortable writing jQuery from scratch and feel happy bending others’ code to your own purposes. Writing efficient, fast and bug-free jQuery is also made much easier when you have a good appreciation of JavaScript, because you can look at what jQuery is really doing. Understanding how JavaScript works lets you write better jQuery because you know what it’s doing behind the scenes. When you need to leave the beaten track, you can do so with confidence. In fact, you could say that jQuery’s ultimate goal is not to exist: it was invented at a time when web APIs were very inconsistent and hard to work with. That’s slowly changing as new APIs are introduced, and hopefully there will come a time when jQuery isn’t needed. An example of one such change is the introduction of the very useful document.querySelectorAll. Like jQuery, it converts a CSS selector into a list of matching elements. Here’s a comparison of some jQuery code and the equivalent without. $('.counter').each(function (index) { $(this).text(index + 1); }); var counters = document.querySelectorAll('.counter'); [].slice.call(counters).forEach(function (elem, index) { elem.textContent = index + 1; }); Solving problems no one else has! When you have to go to the internet to solve a problem, you’re forever st… 2013 Tom Ashworth tomashworth 2013-12-05T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/javascript-taking-off-the-training-wheels/ code
12 Untangling Web Typography When I was a carpenter, I noticed how homeowners often had this deer-in-the-headlights look when the contractor I worked for would ask them to make tons of decisions, seemingly all at once. Square or subway tile? Glass or ceramic? Traditional or modern trim details? Flat face or picture frame cabinets? Real wood or laminate flooring? Every day the decisions piled up and were usually made in the context of that room, or that part of that room. Rarely did the homeowner have the benefit of taking that particular decision in full view of the larger context of the project. And architectural plans? Sure, they lay out the broad strokes, but there is still so much to decide. Typography is similar. Designers try to make sites that are easy to use and understand visually. They labour over the details of line height, font size, line length, and font weights. They consider the relative merits of different typographical scales for applications versus content-driven sites. Frequently, designers consider all of this in the context of one page, feature, or view of an application. They are asked to make a million tiny decisions. Sometimes designers just bump up the font size until it looks right. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Instincts are important. Designing in context is easier. It’s OK to leave the big picture until later. Design a bunch of things, and then look for the patterns. You can’t always know everything up front. How does the current feature relate to all the other features on the site? For a large site, just like for a substantial remodel, the number of decisions you would need to internalize to make that knowable would be prohibitively large. When typography goes awry I should be honest. I know very little about typography. I struggle to understand vertical rhythm and the math in Tim Ahrens’s talks about the interaction between type design and rendering technology kind of melted my brain. I have an unusual perspective because I’m not the one making the design decisions, but I am the one implementing t… 2013 Nicole Sullivan nicolesullivan 2013-12-20T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/untangling-web-typography/ design
13 Data-driven Design with an Annual Survey Too often, we base designs on assumptions that don’t match customer perspectives. Why? Because the data we need to make informed decisions isn’t available. Imagine starting off the year with a treasure trove of user data that can be filtered, sliced, and diced to inform new UI designs, help you discover where users struggle the most, and expose emerging trends in your customers’ needs that could lead to new features. Why, that would be useful indeed. And it’s easy to obtain by conducting an annual survey. Annual surveys may seem as exciting as receiving socks and undies for Christmas, but they’re the gift that keeps on giving all year long (just like fresh socks and undies). I’m not ashamed to admit it: I love surveys! Each time my design research team runs a survey, we learn so much about customer motivations, interests, and behaviors. Surveys provide an aggregate snapshot of your users that can’t easily be obtained by other research methods, and they can be conducted quickly too. You can build a survey in a few hours, run a pilot test in a day, and have real results streaming in the following day. Speed is essential if design research is going to keep pace with a busy product release schedule. Surveys are also an invaluable springboard for customer interviews, which provide deep perspectives on user behavior. If you play your cards right as you construct your survey, you can capture a user ID and an email address for each respondent, making it easy to get in touch with customers whose feedback is particularly intriguing. No more recruiting customers for your research via Twitter or through a recruiting company charging a small fortune. You can filter survey responses and isolate the exact customers to talk with in moments, not months. I love this connected process of sending targeted surveys, filtering the results, and then — with surgical precision — selecting just the right customers to interview. Not only is it fast and cheap, but it lets design researchers do quantitative and qualitative research in … 2013 Aarron Walter aarronwalter 2013-12-13T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/data-driven-design-with-an-annual-survey/ design
14 The Command Position Principle Living where I do, in a small village in rural North Wales, getting anywhere means driving along narrow country roads. Most of these are just about passable when two cars meet. If you’re driving too close to the centre of the road, when two drivers meet you stop, glare at each other and no one goes anywhere. Drive too close to your nearside and in summer you’ll probably scratch your paintwork on the hedgerows, or in winter you’ll sink your wheels into mud. Driving these lanes requires a balance between caring for your own vehicle and consideration for someone else’s, but all too often, I’ve seen drivers pushed towards the hedgerows and mud when someone who’s inconsiderate drives too wide because they don’t want to risk scratching their own paintwork or getting their wheels dirty. If you learn to ride a motorcycle, you’ll be taught about the command position: Approximate central position, or any position from which the rider can exert control over invitation space either side. The command position helps motorcyclists stay safe, because when they ride in the centre of their lane it prevents other people, usually car drivers, from driving alongside, either forcing them into the curb or potentially dangerously close to oncoming traffic. Taking the command position isn’t about motorcyclists being aggressive, it’s about them being confident. It’s them knowing their rightful place on the road and communicating that through how they ride. I’ve recently been trying to take that command position when driving my car on our lanes. When I see someone coming in the opposite direction, instead of instinctively moving closer to my nearside — and in so doing subconsciously invite them into my space on the road — I hold both my nerve and a central position in my lane. Since I done this I’ve noticed that other drivers more often than not stay in their lane or pull closer to their nearside so we occupy equal space on the road. Although we both still need to watch our wing mirrors, neither of us gets our paint scratched … 2013 Andy Clarke andyclarke 2013-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/the-command-position-principle/ business
15 Git for Grown-ups You are a clever and talented person. You create beautiful designs, or perhaps you have architected a system that even my cat could use. Your peers adore you. Your clients love you. But, until now, you haven’t *&^#^! been able to make Git work. It makes you angry inside that you have to ask your co-worker, again, for that *&^#^! command to upload your work. It’s not you. It’s Git. Promise. Yes, this is an article about the popular version control system, Git. But unlike just about every other article written about Git, I’m not going to give you the top five commands that you need to memorize; and I’m not going to tell you all your problems would be solved if only you were using this GUI wrapper or that particular workflow. You see, I’ve come to a grand realization: when we teach Git, we’re doing it wrong. Let me back up for a second and tell you a little bit about the field of adult education. (Bear with me, it gets good and will leave you feeling both empowered and righteous.) Andragogy, unlike pedagogy, is a learner-driven educational experience. There are six main tenets to adult education: Adults prefer to know why they are learning something. The foundation of the learning activities should include experience. Adults prefer to be able to plan and evaluate their own instruction. Adults are more interested in learning things which directly impact their daily activities. Adults prefer learning to be oriented not towards content, but towards problems. Adults relate more to their own motivators than to external ones. Nowhere in this list does it include “memorize the five most popular Git commands”. And yet this is how we teach version control: init, add, commit, branch, push. You’re an expert! Sound familiar? In the hierarchy of learning, memorizing commands is the lowest, or most basic, form of learning. At the peak of learning you are able to not just analyze and evaluate a problem space, but create your own understanding in relation to your existing body of knowledge. “Fine,” I can hear you say… 2013 Emma Jane Westby emmajanewestby 2013-12-04T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/git-for-grownups/ code
16 URL Rewriting for the Fearful I think it was Marilyn Monroe who said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, please just fix these rewrite rules, I’m getting an internal server error.” Even the blonde bombshell hated configuring URL rewrites on her website, and I think most of us know where she was coming from. The majority of website projects I work on require some amount of URL rewriting, and I find it mildly enjoyable — I quite like a good rewrite rule. I suspect you may not share my glee, so in this article we’re going to go back to basics to try to make the whole rigmarole more understandable. When we think about URL rewriting, usually that means adding some rules to an .htaccess file for an Apache web server. As that’s the most common case, that’s what I’ll be sticking to here. If you work with a different server, there’s often documentation specifically for translating from Apache’s mod_rewrite rules. I even found an automatic converter for nginx. This isn’t going to be a comprehensive guide to every URL rewriting problem you might ever have. That would take us until Christmas. If you consider yourself a trial-and-error dabbler in the HTTP 500-infested waters of URL rewriting, then hopefully this will provide a little bit more of a basis to help you figure out what you’re doing. If you’ve ever found yourself staring at the white screen of death after screwing up your .htaccess file, don’t worry. As Michael Jackson once insipidly whined, you are not alone. The basics Rewrite rules form part of the Apache web server’s configuration for a website, and can be placed in a number of different locations as part of your virtual host configuration. By far the simplest and most portable option is to use an .htaccess file in your website root. Provided your server has mod_rewrite available, all you need to do to kick things off in your .htaccess file is: RewriteEngine on The general formula for a rewrite rule is: RewriteRule URL/to/match URL/to/use/if/it/matches [options] When we talk about URL rewriting, we’re normally talking about one o… 2013 Drew McLellan drewmclellan 2013-12-01T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/url-rewriting-for-the-fearful/ code
17 Bringing Design and Research Closer Together The ‘should designers be able to code’ debate has raged for some time, but I’m interested in another debate: should designers be able to research? Are you a designer who can do research? Good research and the insights you uncover inspire fresh ways of thinking and get your creative juices flowing. Good research brings clarity to a woolly brief. Audience insight helps sharpen your focus on what’s really important. Experimentation through research and design brings a sense of playfulness and curiosity to your work. Good research helps you do good design. Being a web designer today is pretty tough, particularly if you’re a freelancer and work on your own. There are so many new ideas, approaches to workflow and trends and tools to keep up with. How do you decide which things to do and which to ignore? A modern web designer needs to be able to consider the needs of the audience, design appropriate IAs and layouts, choose colour palettes, pick appropriate typefaces and type layouts, wrangle with content, style, code, dabble in SEO, and the list goes on and on. Not only that, but today’s web designer also has to keep up with the latest talking points in the industry: responsive design, Agile, accessibility, Sass, Git, lean UX, content first, mobile first, blah blah blah. Any good web designer doesn’t need to be persuaded about the merits of including research in their toolkit, but do you really have time to include research too? Who is responsible for research? Generally, research in the web industry forms part of other disciplines and isn’t so much a discipline in its own right. It’s very often thought of as part of UX, or activities that make up a process such as IA or content strategy. Research is often undertaken by UX designers, information architects or content strategists and isn’t something designers or developers get that involved in. Some people lump all of these activities together and label it design research and have design researchers to do it. Some companies, such as the one I run with my husband Ma… 2013 Emma Boulton emmaboulton 2013-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/bringing-design-and-research-closer-together/ ux
18 Grunt for People Who Think Things Like Grunt are Weird and Hard Front-end developers are often told to do certain things: Work in as small chunks of CSS and JavaScript as makes sense to you, then concatenate them together for the production website. Compress your CSS and minify your JavaScript to make their file sizes as small as possible for your production website. Optimize your images to reduce their file size without affecting quality. Use Sass for CSS authoring because of all the useful abstraction it allows. That’s not a comprehensive list of course, but those are the kind of things we need to do. You might call them tasks. I bet you’ve heard of Grunt. Well, Grunt is a task runner. Grunt can do all of those things for you. Once you’ve got it set up, which isn’t particularly difficult, those things can happen automatically without you having to think about them again. But let’s face it: Grunt is one of those fancy newfangled things that all the cool kids seem to be using but at first glance feels strange and intimidating. I hear you. This article is for you. Let’s nip some misconceptions in the bud right away Perhaps you’ve heard of Grunt, but haven’t done anything with it. I’m sure that applies to many of you. Maybe one of the following hang-ups applies to you. I don’t need the things Grunt does You probably do, actually. Check out that list up top. Those things aren’t nice-to-haves. They are pretty vital parts of website development these days. If you already do all of them, that’s awesome. Perhaps you use a variety of different tools to accomplish them. Grunt can help bring them under one roof, so to speak. If you don’t already do all of them, you probably should and Grunt can help. Then, once you are doing those, you can keep using Grunt to do more for you, which will basically make you better at doing your job. Grunt runs on Node.js — I don’t know Node You don’t have to know Node. Just like you don’t have to know Ruby to use Sass. Or PHP to use WordPress. Or C++ to use Microsoft Word. I have other ways to do the things Grunt could do for me Are the… 2013 Chris Coyier chriscoyier 2013-12-11T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/grunt-is-not-weird-and-hard/ code
19 In Their Own Write: Web Books and their Authors The currency of written communication — words on the page, words on the screen — comprises many denominations. To further our ends in web design and development, we freely spend and receive several: tweets aphoristic and trenchant, banal and perfunctory; blog posts and articles that call us to action or reflection; anecdotes, asides, comments, essays, guides, how-tos, manuals, musings, notes, opinions, stories, thoughts, tips pro and not-so-pro. So many, many words. Our industry (so much more than this, but what on earth are we, collectively?), our community thrives on writing and sharing knowledge and experience. 24 ways is a case in point. Everyone can learn and contribute through reading and writing — it’s what we’ve always done. To web authors and readers seeking greater returns, though, broader culture has vouchsafed an enduring and singular artefact: the book. Last month I asked a small sample of web book authors if they would be prepared to answer a few questions; most of them kindly agreed. In spirit, the survey was informal: I had neither hypothesis nor unground axe. I work closely with writers — and yes, I’ve edited or copy-edited books by several of the authors I surveyed — and wanted to share their thoughts about what it was like to write a book (“…it was challenging to find a coherent narrative”), why they did it (“Who wouldn’t want to?”) and what they learned from the experience (“That I could!”). Reasons for writing a book In web development the connection between authors and readers is unusually close and immediate. Working in our medium precipitates a unity that’s rare elsewhere. Yet writing and publishing a book, even during the current books revolution, is something only a few of us attempt and it remains daunting and a little remote. What spurs an author to try it? For some, it’s a deeply held resistance to prevailing trends: I felt that designers and developers needed to be shaken out of what seemed to me had been years of stagnation. —Andrew Clarke Or even a desire to protect us from… 2013 Owen Gregory owengregory 2013-12-15T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/web-books/ content
20 Make Your Browser Dance It was a crisp winter’s evening when I pulled up alongside the pier. I stepped out of my car and the bitterly cold sea air hit my face. I walked around to the boot, opened it and heaved out a heavy flight case. I slammed the boot shut, locked the car and started walking towards the venue. This was it. My first gig. I thought about all those weeks of preparation: editing video clips, creating 3-D objects, making coloured patterns, then importing them all into software and configuring effects to change as the music did; targeting frequency, beat, velocity, modifying size, colour, starting point; creating playlists of these… and working out ways to mix them as the music played. This was it. This was me VJing. This was all a lifetime (well a decade!) ago. When I started web designing, VJing took a back seat. I was more interested in interactive layouts, semantic accessible HTML, learning all the IE bugs and mastering the quirks that CSS has to offer. More recently, I have been excited by background gradients, 3-D transforms, the @keyframe directive, as well as new APIs such as getUserMedia, indexedDB, the Web Audio API But wait, have I just come full circle? Could it be possible, with these wonderful new things in technologies I am already familiar with, that I could VJ again, right here, in a browser? Well, there’s only one thing to do: let’s try it! Let’s take to the dance floor Over the past couple of years working in The Lab I have learned to take a much more iterative approach to projects than before. One of my new favourite methods of working is to create a proof of concept to make sure my theory is feasible, before going on to create a full-blown product. So let’s take the same approach here. The main VJing functionality I want to recreate is manipulating visuals in relation to sound. So for my POC I need to create a visual, with parameters that can be changed, then get some sound and see if I can analyse that sound to detect some data, which I can then use to manipulate the visual parameters. Easy, … 2013 Ruth John ruthjohn 2013-12-02T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/make-your-browser-dance/ code
21 Keeping Parts of Your Codebase Private on GitHub Open source is brilliant, there’s no denying that, and GitHub has been instrumental in open source’s recent success. I’m a keen open-sourcerer myself, and I have a number of projects on GitHub. However, as great as sharing code is, we often want to keep some projects to ourselves. To this end, GitHub created private repositories which act like any other Git repository, only, well, private! A slightly less common issue, and one I’ve come up against myself, is the desire to only keep certain parts of a codebase private. A great example would be my site, CSS Wizardry; I want the code to be open source so that people can poke through and learn from it, but I want to keep any draft blog posts private until they are ready to go live. Thankfully, there is a very simple solution to this particular problem: using multiple remotes. Before we begin, it’s worth noting that you can actually build a GitHub Pages site from a private repo. You can keep the entire source private, but still have GitHub build and display a full Pages/Jekyll site. I do this with csswizardry.net. This post will deal with the more specific problem of keeping only certain parts of the codebase (branches) private, and expose parts of it as either an open source project, or a built GitHub Pages site. N.B. This post requires some basic Git knowledge. Adding your public remote Let’s assume you’re starting from scratch and you currently have no repos set up for your project. (If you do already have your public repo set up, skip to the “Adding your private remote” section.) So, we have a clean slate: nothing has been set up yet, we’re doing all of that now. On GitHub, create two repositories. For the sake of this article we shall call them site.com and private.site.com. Make the site.com repo public, and the private.site.com repo private (you will need a paid GitHub account). On your machine, create the site.com directory, in which your project will live. Do your initial work in there, commit some stuff — whatever you need to do. Now we need to link… 2013 Harry Roberts harryroberts 2013-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/keeping-parts-of-your-codebase-private-on-github/ code
22 The Responsive Hover Paradigm CSS transitions and animations provide web designers with a whole slew of tools to spruce up our designs. Move over ActionScript tweens! The techniques we can now implement with CSS are reminiscent of Flash-based adventures from the pages of web history. Pairing CSS enhancements with our :hover pseudo-class allows us to add interesting events to our websites. We have a ton of power at our fingertips. However, with this power, we each have to ask ourselves: just because I can do something, should I? Why bother? We hear a lot of mantras in the web community. Some proclaim the importance of content; some encourage methods like mobile first to support content; and others warn of the overhead and speed impact of decorative flourishes and visual images. I agree, one hundred percent. At the same time, I believe that content can reign king and still provide a beautiful design with compelling interactions and acceptable performance impacts. Maybe, just maybe, we can even have a little bit of fun when crafting these systems! Yes, a site with pure HTML content and no CSS will load very fast on your mobile phone, but it leaves a lot to be desired. If you went to your local library and every book looked the same, how would you know which one to borrow? Imagine if every book was printed on the same paper stock with the same cover page in the same type size set at a legible point value… how would you know if you were going to purchase a cookbook about wild game or a young adult story about teens fighting to the death? For certain audiences, seeing a site with hip, lively hovers sure beats a stale website concept. I’ve worked on many higher education sites, and setting the interactive options is often a very important factor in engaging potential students, alumni, and donors. The same can go for e-commerce sites: enticing your audience with surprise and delight factors can be the difference between a successful and a lost sale. Knowing your content and audience can help you decide if an intriguing experience is appropria… 2013 Jenn Lukas jennlukas 2013-12-12T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/the-responsive-hover-paradigm/  
23 Animating Vectors with SVG It is almost 2014 and fifteen years ago the W3C started to develop a web-based scalable vector graphics (SVG) format. As web technologies go, this one is pretty old and well entrenched. See the Pen yJflC by Drew McLellan (@drewm) on CodePen Embed not working on your device? Try direct. Unlike rasterized images, SVG files will stay crisp and sharp at any resolution. With high-DPI phones, tablets and monitors, all those rasterized icons are starting to look a bit old and blocky. There are several options to get simpler, decorative pieces to render smoothly and respond to various device widths, shapes and sizes. Symbol fonts are one option; the other is SVG. I’m a big fan of SVG. SVG is an XML format, which means it is possible to write by hand or to script. The most common way to create an SVG file is through the use of various drawing applications like Illustrator, Inkscape or Sketch. All of them open and save the SVG format. But, if SVG is so great, why doesn’t it get more attention? The simple answer is that for a long time it wasn’t well supported, so no one touched the technology. SVG’s adoption has always been hampered by browser support, but that’s not the case any more. Every modern browser (at least three versions back) supports SVG. Even IE9. Although the browsers support SVG, it is implemented in many different ways. SVG in HTML Some browsers allow you to embed SVG right in the HTML: the <svg> element. Treating SVG as a first-class citizen works — sometimes. Another way to embed SVG is via the <img> element; using the src attribute, you can refer to an SVG file. Again, this only works sometimes and leaves you in a tight space if you need to have a fallback for older browsers. The most common solution is to use the <object> element, with the data attribute referencing the SVG file. When a browser does not support this, it falls back to the content inside the <object>. This could be a rasterized fallback <img>. This method gets you the best of both worlds: a nice vector image with an alternati… 2013 Brian Suda briansuda 2013-12-07T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/animating-vectors-with-svg/  
24 Kill It With Fire! What To Do With Those Dreaded FAQs In the mid-1640s, a man named Matthew Hopkins attempted to rid England of the devil’s influence, primarily by demanding payment for the service of tying women to chairs and tossing them into lakes. Unsurprisingly, his methods garnered criticism. Hopkins defended himself in The Discovery of Witches in 1647, subtitled “Certaine Queries answered, which have been and are likely to be objected against MATTHEW HOPKINS, in his way of finding out Witches.” Each “querie” was written in the voice of an imagined detractor, and answered in the voice of an imagined defender (always referring to himself as “the discoverer,” or “him”): Quer. 14. All that the witch-finder doth is to fleece the country of their money, and therefore rides and goes to townes to have imployment, and promiseth them faire promises, and it may be doth nothing for it, and possesseth many men that they have so many wizzards and so many witches in their towne, and so hartens them on to entertaine him. Ans. You doe him a great deale of wrong in every of these particulars. Hopkins’ self-defense was an early modern English FAQ. Digital beginnings Question and answer formatting certainly isn’t new, and stretches back much further than witch-hunt days. But its most modern, most notorious, most reviled incarnation is the internet’s frequently asked questions page. FAQs began showing up on pre-internet mailing lists as a way for list members to answer and pre-empt newcomers’ repetitive questions: The presumption was that new users would download archived past messages through ftp. In practice, this rarely happened and the users tended to post questions to the mailing list instead of searching its archives. Repeating the “right” answers becomes tedious… When all the users of a system can hear all the other users, FAQs make a lot of sense: the conversation needs to be managed and manageable. FAQs were a stopgap for the technological limitations of the time. But the internet moved past mailing lists. Online information can be stored, searched,… 2013 Lisa Maria Martin lisamariamartin 2013-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2013/what-to-do-with-faqs/ content
25 The Introvert Owner’s Manual Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. Albert Camus “Whatever you plan, just make sure there are lots of people there,” said my husband in the run-up to his birthday last year. A few months later, before my own birthday, I uttered, “Whatever you plan, just make sure it is only me and you.” I am an introvert. It is very likely some of you are too, or that you live, work or fraternise with one. Despite there being quite a few of us out there – some say as many as one third of the population, others as little as ten per cent – I think our professional and social lives are biased towards a definition of normality that is more accepting of the extrovert. I hope that by reading this article you will gain some insight to what goes on inside the head of the introvert(s) that you know and understand how to relate to them in a way that respects their disposition. Before we go any further, I should define what exactly being an introvert means, and, equally important, what it does not. Only once this is established will you be able to handle your introvert correctly. What defines an introvert The simplest and most accurate way of describing an introvert is that she uses up energy in social situations and needs to be in solitude to recharge. To explain what I mean, let us take the example of the The Sims: when you create a Sim, you can choose (among other characteristics) whether it will be outgoing or not. If the Sim is outgoing, when you play the game you need to make sure it interacts as much as possible with other Sims or its mood indicator (the plumbob) will become red and that is a bad thing. Conversely, if your Sim is not outgoing, when you put it in too many social situations its plumbob will become red too. So your (real life) introvert might think you are great (you might even be her best friend, her spouse or her child), but if her plumbob is red, or nearly, she might just need a little time and space to recharge before she is ready to interact. This is not the same … 2014 Inayaili de León Persson inayailideleon 2014-12-13T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/the-introvert-owners-manual/ process
26 Integrating Contrast Checks in Your Web Workflow It’s nearly Christmas, which means you’ll be sure to find an overload of festive red and green decorating everything in sight—often in the ugliest ways possible. While I’m not here to battle holiday tackiness in today’s 24 ways, it might just be the perfect reminder to step back and consider how we can implement colour schemes in our websites and apps that are not only attractive, but also legible and accessible for folks with various types of visual disabilities. This simulated photo demonstrates how red and green Christmas baubles could appear to a person affected by protanopia-type colour blindness—not as festive as you might think. Source: Derek Bruff I’ve been fortunate to work with Simply Accessible to redesign not just their website, but their entire brand. Although the new site won’t be launching until the new year, we’re excited to let you peek under the tree and share a few treats as a case study into how we tackled colour accessibility in our project workflow. Don’t worry—we won’t tell Santa! Create a colour game plan A common misconception about accessibility is that meeting compliance requirements hinders creativity and beautiful design—but we beg to differ. Unfortunately, like many company websites and internal projects, Simply Accessible has spent so much time helping others that they had not spent enough time helping themselves to show the world who they really are. This was the perfect opportunity for them to practise what they preached. After plenty of research and brainstorming, we decided to evolve the existing Simply Accessible brand. Or, rather, salvage what we could. There was no established logo to carry into the new design (it was a stretch to even call it a wordmark), and the Helvetica typography across the site lacked any character. The only recognizable feature left to work with was colour. It was a challenge, for sure: the oranges looked murky and brown, and the blues looked way too corporate for a company like Simply Accessible. We knew we needed to inject a lot of personalit… 2014 Geri Coady gericoady 2014-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/integrating-contrast-checks-in-your-web-workflow/ design
27 Putting Design on the Map The web can leave us feeling quite detached from the real world. Every site we make is really just a set of abstract concepts manifested as tools for communication and expression. At any minute, websites can disappear, overwritten by a newfangled version or simply gone. I think this is why so many of us have desires to create a product, write a book, or play with the internet of things. We need to keep in touch with the physical world and to prove (if only to ourselves) that we do make real things. I could go on and on about preserving the web, the challenges of writing a book, or thoughts about how we can deal with the need to make real things. Instead, I’m going to explore something that gives us a direct relationship between a website and the physical world – maps. A map does not just chart, it unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected. Reif Larsen, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet The simplest form of map on a website tends to be used for showing where a place is and often directions on how to get to it. That’s an incredibly powerful tool. So why is it, then, that so many sites just plonk in a default Google Map and leave it as that? You wouldn’t just use dark grey Helvetica on every site, would you? Where’s the personality? Where’s the tailored experience? Where is the design? Jumping into design Let’s keep this simple – we all want to be better web folk, not cartographers. We don’t need to go into the history, mathematics or technology of map making (although all of those areas are really interesting to research). For the sake of our sanity, I’m going to gloss over some of the technical areas and focus on the practical concepts. Tiles If you’ve ever noticed a map loading in sections, it’s because it uses tiles that are downloaded individually instead of requiring the user to download everything that they might need. These tiles come in many styles and can be used for anything that covers large ar… 2014 Shane Hudson shanehudson 2014-12-11T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/putting-design-on-the-map/ design
28 Why You Should Design for Open Source Let’s be honest. Most designers don’t like working for nothing. We rally against spec work and make a stand for contracts and getting paid. That’s totally what you should do as a professional designer in the industry. It’s your job. It’s your hard-working skill. It’s your bread and butter. Get paid. However, I’m going to make a case for why you could also consider designing for open source. First, I should mention that not all open source work is free work. Some companies hire open source contributors to work on their projects full-time, usually because that project is used by said company. There are other companies that encourage open source contribution and even offer 20%-time for these projects (where you can spend one day a week contributing to open source). These are super rad situations to be in. However, whether you’re able to land a gig doing this type of work, or you’ve decided to volunteer your time and energy, designing for open source can be rewarding in many other ways. Portfolio building New designers often find themselves in a catch-22 situation: they don’t have enough work experience showcased in their portfolio, which leads to them not getting much work because their portfolio is bare. These new designers often turn to unsolicited redesigns to fill their portfolio. An unsolicited redesign is a proof of concept in which a designer attempts to redesign a popular website. You can see many of these concepts on sites like Dribbble and Behance and there are even websites dedicated to showcasing these designs, such as Uninvited Designs. There’s even a subreddit for them. There are quite a few negative opinions on unsolicited redesigns, though some people see things from both sides. If you feel like doing one or two of these to fill your portfolio, that’s of course up to you. But here’s a better suggestion. Why not contribute design for an open source project instead? You can easily find many projects in great need of design work, from branding to information design, documentation, and website or ap… 2014 Jina Anne jina 2014-12-19T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/why-you-should-design-for-open-source/ design
29 What It Takes to Build a Website In 1994 we lost Kurt Cobain and got the world wide web as a weird consolation prize. In the years that followed, if you’d asked me if I knew how to build a website I’d have said yes, I know HTML, so I know how to build a website. If you’d then asked me what it takes to build a website, I’d have had to admit that HTML would hardly feature. Among the design nerdery and dev geekery it’s easy to think that the nuts and bolts of building a page just need to be multiplied up and Ta-da! There’s your website. That can certainly be true with weekend projects and hackery for fun. It works for throwing something together on GitHub or experimenting with ideas on your personal site. But what about working professionally on client projects? The web is important, so we need to build it right. It’s 2015 – your job involves people paying you money for building websites. What does it take to build a website and to do it right? What practices should we adopt to make really great, successful and professional web projects in 2015? I put that question to some friends and 24 ways authors to see what they thought. Getting the tech right Inevitably, it all starts with the technology. We work in a technical medium, after all. From Notepad and WinFTP through to continuous integration and deployment – how do you build sites? Create a stable development environment There’s little more likely to send a web developer into a wild panic and a client into a wild rage than making a new site live and things just not working. That’s why it’s important to have realistic development and staging environments that mimic the live server as closely as possible. Are you in the habit of developing new sites right on the client’s server? Or maybe in a subfolder on your local machine? It’s time to reconsider. Charlie Perrins writes: Don’t work on a live server – this feels like one of those gear-changing moments for a developer’s growth. Build something that works just as well locally on your own machine as it does on a live server, and capture th… 2014 Drew McLellan drewmclellan 2014-12-01T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/what-it-takes-to-build-a-website/ business
30 Making Sites More Responsive, Responsibly With digital projects we’re used to shifting our thinking to align with our target audience. We may undertake research, create personas, identify key tasks, or observe usage patterns, with our findings helping to refine our ongoing creations. A product’s overall experience can make or break its success, and when it comes to defining these experiences our development choices play a huge role alongside more traditional user-focused activities. The popularisation of responsive web design is a great example of how we are able to shape the web’s direction through using technology to provide better experiences. If we think back to the move from table-based layouts to CSS, initially our clients often didn’t know or care about the difference in these approaches, but we did. Responsive design was similar in this respect – momentum grew through the web industry choosing to use an approach that we felt would give a better experience, and which was more future-friendly.  We tend to think of responsive design as a means of displaying content appropriately across a range of devices, but the technology and our implementation of it can facilitate much more. A responsive layout not only helps your content work when the newest smartphone comes out, but it also ensures your layout suitably adapts if a visually impaired user drastically changes the size of the text. The 24 ways site at 400% on a Retina MacBook Pro displays a layout more typically used for small screens. When we think more broadly, we realise that our technical choices and approaches to implementation can have knock-on effects for the greater good, and beyond our initial target audiences. We can make our experiences more responsive to people’s needs, enhancing their usability and accessibility along the way. Being responsibly responsive Of course, when we think about being more responsive, there’s a fine line between creating useful functionality and becoming intrusive and overly complex. In the excellent Responsible Responsive Design, Scott Jehl states that: … 2014 Sally Jenkinson sallyjenkinson 2014-12-10T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/making-sites-more-responsive-responsibly/ code
31 Dealing with Emergencies in Git The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that version control soon would be there. This summer I moved to the UK with my partner, and the onslaught of the Christmas holiday season began around the end of October (October!). It does mean that I’ve had more than a fair amount of time to come up with horrible Git analogies for this article. Analogies, metaphors, and comparisons help the learner hook into existing mental models about how a system works. They only help, however, if the learner has enough familiarity with the topic at hand to make the connection between the old and new information. Let’s start by painting an updated version of Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas living room. Empty stockings are hung up next to the fireplace, waiting for Saint Nicholas to come down the chimney and fill them with small treats. Holiday treats are scattered about. A bowl of mixed nuts, the holiday nutcracker, and a few clementines. A string of coloured lights winds its way up an evergreen. Perhaps a few of these images are familiar, or maybe they’re just settings you’ve seen in a movie. It doesn’t really matter what the living room looks like though. The important thing is to ground yourself in your own experiences before tackling a new subject. Instead of trying to brute-force your way into new information, as an adult learner constantly ask yourself: ‘What is this like? What does this remind me of? What do I already know that I can use to map out this new territory?’ It’s okay if the map isn’t perfect. As you refine your understanding of a new topic, you’ll outgrow the initial metaphors, analogies, and comparisons. With apologies to Mr. Moore, let’s give it a try. Getting Interrupted in Git When on the roof there arose such a clatter! You’re happily working on your software project when all of a sudden there are freaking reindeer on the roof! Whatever you’ve been working on is going to need to wait while you investigate the commotion. If you’ve got even a little bit of experience working with Git, … 2014 Emma Jane Westby emmajanewestby 2014-12-02T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/dealing-with-emergencies-in-git/ code
32 Cohesive UX With Yosemite, Apple users can answer iPhone calls on their MacBooks. This is weird. And yet it’s representative of a greater trend toward cohesion. Shortly after upgrading to Yosemite, a call came in on my iPhone and my MacBook “rang” in parallel. And I was all, like, “Wut?” This was a new feature in Yosemite, and honestly it was a little bizarre at first. Apple promotional image showing a phone call ringing simultaneously on multiple devices. However, I had just spoken at a conference on the very topic you’re reading about now, and therefore I appreciated the underlying concept: the cohesion of user experience, the cohesion of screens. This is just one of many examples I’ve encountered since beginning to speak about this topic months ago. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look back at the past few years, specifically the role of responsive web design. RWD != cohesive experience I needn’t expound on the virtues of responsive web design (RWD). You’ve likely already encountered more than a career’s worth on the topic. This is a good thing. Count me in as one of its biggest fans. However, if we are to sing the praises of RWD, we must also acknowledge its shortcomings. One of these is that RWD ends where the browser ends. For all its goodness, RWD really has no bearing on native apps or any other experiences that take place outside the browser. This makes it challenging, therefore, to create cohesion for multi-screen users if RWD is the only response to “let’s make it work everywhere.” We need something that incorporates the spirit of RWD while unifying all touchpoints for the entire user experience—single device or several devices, in browser or sans browser, native app or otherwise. I call this cohesive UX, and I believe it’s the next era of successful user experiences. Toward a unified whole Simply put, the goal of cohesive UX is to deliver a consistent, unified user experience regardless of where the experience begins, continues, and ends. Two facets are vital to cohesive UX: Function a… 2014 Cameron Moll cameronmoll 2014-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/cohesive-ux/ ux
33 Five Ways to Animate Responsibly It’s been two years since I wrote about “Flashless Animation” on this very site. Since then, animation has steadily begun popping up on websites, from sleek app-like user interfaces to interactive magazine-like spreads. It’s an exciting time for web animation wonks, interaction developers, UXers, UI designers and a host of other acronyms! But in our rush to experiment with animation it seems that we’re having fewer conversations about whether or not we should use it, and more discussions about what we can do with it. We spend more time fretting over how to animate all the things at 60fps than we do devising ways to avoid incapacitating users with vestibular disorders. I love web animation. I live it. And I make adorably silly things with it that have no place on a self-respecting production website. I know it can be abused. We’ve all made fun of Flash-turbation. But how quickly we forget the lessons we learned from that period of web design. Parallax scrolling effects may be the skip intro of this generation. Surely we have learned better in the sobering up period between Flash and the web animation API. So here are five bits of advice we can use to pull back from the edge of animation abuse. With these thoughts in mind, we can make 2015 the year web animation came into its own. Animate deliberately Sadly, animation is considered decorative by the bulk of the web development community. UI designers and interaction developers know better, of course. But when I’m teaching a workshop on animation for interaction, I know that my students face an uphill battle against decision makers who consider it nice to have, and tack it on at the end of a project, if at all. This stigma is hard to shake. But it starts with us using animation deliberately or not at all. Poorly considered, tacked-on animation will often cause more harm than good. Users may complain that it’s too slow or too fast, or that they have no idea what just happened. When I was at Chrome Dev Summit this year, I had the privilege to speak with Roma… 2014 Rachel Nabors rachelnabors 2014-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/five-ways-to-animate-responsibly/ ux
34 Collaborative Responsive Design Workflows Much has been written about workflow and designer-developer collaboration in web design, but many teams still struggle with this issue; either with how to adapt their internal workflow, or how to communicate the need for best practices like mobile first and progressive enhancement to their teams and clients. Christmas seems like a good time to have another look at what doesn’t work between us and how we can improve matters. Why is it so difficult? We’re still beginning to understand responsive design workflows, acknowledging the need to move away from static design tools and towards best practices in development. It’s not that we don’t want to change – so why is it so difficult? Changing the way we do something that has become routine is always problematic, even with small things, and the changes today’s web environment requires from web design and development teams are anything but small. Although developers also have a host of new skills to learn and things to consider, designers are probably the ones pushed furthest out of their comfort zones: as well as graphic design, a web designer today also needs an understanding of interaction design and ergonomics, because more and more websites are becoming tools rather than pages meant to be read like a book or magazine. In addition to that there are thousands of different devices and screen sizes on the market today that layout and interactions need to work on. These aspects make it impossible to design in a static design tool, so beyond having to learn about new aspects of design, the designer has to either learn how to code or learn to work with a responsive design tool. Why do it That alone is enough to leave anyone overwhelmed, as learning a new skill takes time and slows you down in a project – and on most projects time is in short supply. Yet we have to make time or fall behind in the industry as others pitch better, interactive designs. For an efficient workflow, both designers and developers must familiarise themselves with new tools and techniques. A… 2014 Sibylle Weber sibylleweber 2014-12-07T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/collaborative-responsive-design-workflows/ process
35 SEO in 2015 (and Why You Should Care) If your business is healthy, you can always find plenty of reasons to leave SEO on your to-do list in perpetuity. After all, SEO is technical, complicated, time-consuming and potentially dangerous. The SEO industry is full of self-proclaimed gurus whose lack of knowledge can be deadly. There’s the terrifying fact that even if you dabble in SEO in the most gentle and innocent way, you might actually end up in a worse state than you were to begin with. To make matters worse, Google keeps changing the rules. There have been a bewildering number of major updates, which despite their cuddly names have had a horrific impact on website owners worldwide. Fear aside, there’s also the issue of time. It’s probably tricky enough to find the time to read this article. Setting up, planning and executing an SEO campaign might well seem like an insurmountable obstacle. So why should you care enough about SEO to do it anyway? The main reason is that you probably already see between 30% and 60% of your website traffic come from the search engines. That might make you think that you don’t need to bother, because you’re already doing so well. But you’re almost certainly wrong. If you have a look through the keyword data in your Google Webmaster Tools account, you’ll probably see that around 30–50% of the keywords used to find your website are brand names – the names of your products or companies. These are searches carried out by people who already know about you. But the people who don’t know who you are but are searching for what you sell aren’t finding you right now. This is your opportunity. If a person goes looking for a company or product by name, Google will steer them towards what they’re looking for. Their intelligence does have limits, however, and even though they know your name they won’t be completely clear about what you sell. That’s where SEO would come in. Still need more convincing? How about the fact that the seeming complexities of SEO mean that your competition are almost certainly neglecting it too. They … 2014 Dave Collins davecollins 2014-12-15T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/seo-in-2015-and-why-you-should-care/ business
36 Naming Things There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation and naming things. Phil Karlton Being a professional web developer means taking responsibility for the code you write and ensuring it is comprehensible to others. Having a documented code style is one means of achieving this, although the size and type of project you’re working on will dictate the conventions used and how rigorously they are enforced. Working in-house may mean working with multiple developers, perhaps in distributed teams, who are all committing changes – possibly to a significant codebase – at the same time. Left unchecked, this codebase can become unwieldy. Coding conventions ensure everyone can contribute, and help build a product that works as a coherent whole. Even on smaller projects, perhaps working within an agency or by yourself, at some point the resulting product will need to be handed over to a third party. It’s sensible, therefore, to ensure that your code can be understood by those who’ll eventually take ownership of it. Put simply, code is read more often than it is written or changed. A consistent and predictable naming scheme can make code easier for other developers to understand, improve and maintain, presumably leaving them free to worry about cache invalidation. Let’s talk about semantics Names not only allow us to identify objects, but they can also help us describe the objects being identified. Semantics (the meaning or interpretation of words) is the cornerstone of standards-based web development. Using appropriate HTML elements allows us to create documents and applications that have implicit structural meaning. Thanks to HTML5, the vocabulary we can choose from has grown even larger. HTML elements provide one level of meaning: a widely accepted description of a document’s underlying structure. It’s only with the mutual agreement of browser vendors and developers that <p> indicates a paragraph. Yet (with the exception of widely accepted microdata and microformat schemas) only HTML elements co… 2014 Paul Lloyd paulrobertlloyd 2014-12-21T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/naming-things/ code
37 JavaScript Modules the ES6 Way JavaScript admittedly has plenty of flaws, but one of the largest and most prominent is the lack of a module system: a way to split up your application into a series of smaller files that can depend on each other to function correctly. This is something nearly all other languages come with out of the box, whether it be Ruby’s require, Python’s import, or any other language you’re familiar with. Even CSS has @import! JavaScript has nothing of that sort, and this has caused problems for application developers as they go from working with small websites to full client-side applications. Let’s be clear: it doesn’t mean the new module system in the upcoming version of JavaScript won’t be useful to you if you’re building smaller websites rather than the next Instagram. Thankfully, the lack of a module system will soon be a problem of the past. The next version of JavaScript, ECMAScript 6, will bring with it a full-featured module and dependency management solution for JavaScript. The bad news is that it won’t be landing in browsers for a while yet – but the good news is that the specification for the module system and how it will look has been finalised. The even better news is that there are tools available to get it all working in browsers today without too much hassle. In this post I’d like to give you the gift of JS modules and show you the syntax, and how to use them in browsers today. It’s much simpler than you might think. What is ES6? ECMAScript is a scripting language that is standardised by a company called Ecma International. JavaScript is an implementation of ECMAScript. ECMAScript 6 is simply the next version of the ECMAScript standard and, hence, the next version of JavaScript. The spec aims to be fully comfirmed and complete by the end of 2014, with a target initial release date of June 2015. It’s impossible to know when we will have full feature support across the most popular browsers, but already some ES6 features are landing in the latest builds of Chrome and Firefox. You shouldn’t expect to be… 2014 Jack Franklin jackfranklin 2014-12-03T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/javascript-modules-the-es6-way/ code
38 Websites of Christmas Past, Present and Future The websites of Christmas past The first website was created at CERN. It was launched on 20 December 1990 (just in time for Christmas!), and it still works today, after twenty-four years. Isn’t that incredible?! Why does this website still work after all this time? I can think of a few reasons. First, the authors of this document chose HTML. Of course they couldn’t have known back then the extent to which we would be creating documents in HTML, but HTML always had a lot going for it. It’s built on top of plain text, which means it can be opened in any text editor, and it’s pretty readable, even without any parsing. Despite the fact that HTML has changed quite a lot over the past twenty-four years, extensions to the specification have always been implemented in a backwards-compatible manner. Reading through the 1992 W3C document HTML Tags, you’ll see just how it has evolved. We still have h1 – h6 elements, but I’d not heard of the <plaintext> element before. Despite being deprecated since HTML2, it still works in several browsers. You can see it in action on my website. As well as being written in HTML, there is no run-time compilation of code; the first website simply consists of HTML files transmitted over the web. Due to its lack of complexity, it stood a good chance of surviving in the turbulent World Wide Web. That’s all well and good for a simple, static website. But websites created today are increasingly interactive. Many require a login and provide experiences that are tailored to the individual user. This type of dynamic website requires code to be executed somewhere. Traditionally, dynamic websites would execute such code on the server, and transmit a simple HTML file to the user. As far as the browser was concerned, this wasn’t much different from the first website, as the additional complexity all happened before the document was sent to the browser. Doing it all in the browser In 2003, the first single page interface was created at slashdotslash.com. A single page interface or single page ap… 2014 Josh Emerson joshemerson 2014-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/websites-of-christmas-past-present-and-future/ code
39 Meet for Learning “I’ve never worked in a place like this,” said one of my direct reports during our daily stand-up meeting. And with that statement, my mind raced to the most important thing about lawyering that I’ve learned from decades of watching lawyers lawyer on TV: don’t ask a question you don’t know the answer to. But I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to learn more. The thought developed in my mind. The words formed in my mouth. And the vocalization occurred: “A place like this?” “I’ve never worked where people are so honest and transparent about things.” Designing a learning-centered culture Before we started Center Centre, Jared Spool and I discussed both the larger goals and the smaller details of this new UX design school. We talked about things like user experience, curriculum, and structure. We discussed the pattern we saw in our research. Hiring managers told us time and again that great designers have excellent technical and interpersonal skills. But, more importantly, the best designers are lifelong learners—they are willing and able to learn how to do new things. Learning this led us to ask a critical question: how would we intentionally design a learning-centered experience? To craft the experience we were aiming for, we knew we had to create a learning-centered culture for our students and our employees. We knew that our staff would need to model the behaviors our students needed to learn. We knew the best way to shape the culture was to work with our direct reports—our directs—to develop the behaviors we wanted them to exemplify. To craft the experience we were aiming for, we knew we had to create a learning-centered culture for our students and our employees. We knew that our staff would need to model the behaviors our students needed to learn. Building a learning team Our learning-centered culture starts with our staff. We believe in transparency. Transparency builds trust. Effective organizations have effective teams who trust each other as individuals. One huge way we build that trust and provide… 2014 Leslie Jensen-Inman lesliejenseninman 2014-12-20T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/meet-for-learning/ process
40 Don’t Push Through the Pain In 2004, I lost my web career. In a single day, it was gone. I was in too much pain to use a keyboard, a Wacom tablet (I couldn’t even click the pen), or a trackball. Switching my mouse to use my left (non-dominant) hand only helped a bit; then that hand went, too. I tried all the easy-to-find equipment out there, except for expensive gizmos with foot pedals. I had tingling in my fingers—which, when I was away from the computer, would rhythmically move as if some other being controlled them. I worried about Parkinson’s because the movements were so dramatic. Pen on paper was painful. Finally, I discovered one day that I couldn’t even turn a doorknob. The only highlight was that I couldn’t dust, scrub, or vacuum. We were forced to hire someone to come in once a week for an hour to whip through the house. You can imagine my disappointment. My injuries had gradually slithered into my life without notice. I’d occasionally have sore elbows, or my wrist might ache for a day, or my shoulders feel tight. But nothing to keyboard home about. That’s the critical bit of news. One day, you’re pretty fine. The next day, you don’t have your job—or any job that requires the use of your hands and wrists. I had to walk away from the computer for over four months—and partially for several months more. That’s right: no income. If I hadn’t found a gifted massage therapist, the right book of stretches, the equipment I should have been using all along, and learned how to pay attention to my body—even just a little bit more—I quite possibly wouldn’t be writing this article today. I wouldn’t be writing anything, anywhere. Most of us have heard of (and even claimed to have read all of) Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, who describes the state of flow—the place our minds go when we are fully engaged and in our element. This lovely state of highly focused activity is deeply satisfying, often creative, and quite familiar to many of us on the web who just can’t quit until the copy sings or t… 2014 Carolyn Wood carolynwood 2014-12-06T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/dont-push-through-the-pain/ business
41 What Is Vagrant and Why Should I Care? If you run a web server, a database server and your scripting language(s) of choice on your main machine and you have not yet switched to using virtualisation in your workflow then this essay may be of some value to you. I know you exist because I bump into you daily: freelancers coming in to work on our projects; internet friends complaining about reinstalling a development environment because of an operating system upgrade; fellow agency owners who struggle to brief external help when getting a particular project up and running; or even hardcore back-end developers who “don’t do ops” and prefer to run their development stack of choice locally. There are many perfectly reasonable arguments as to why you may not have already made the switch, from being simply too busy, all the way through to a distrust of the new. I’ll admit that there are many new technologies or workflows that I hear of daily and instantly disregard because I have tool overload, that feeling I get when I hear about a new shiny thing and think “Well, what I do now works – I’ll leave it for others to play with.” If that’s you when it comes to Vagrant then I hope you’ll hear me out. The business case is compelling enough for you to make that switch; as a bonus it’s also really easy to get going. In this article we’ll start off by going through the high level, the tools available and how it all fits together. Then we’ll touch on the justification for making the switch, providing a few use cases that might resonate with you. Finally, I’ll provide a very simple example that you can follow to get yourself up and running. What? You already know what virtualisation is. You use the ability to run an operating system within another operating system every day. Whether that’s Parallels or VMware on your laptop or similar server-based tools that drive the ‘cloud’, squeezing lots of machines on to physical hardware and making it really easy to copy servers and even clusters of servers from one place to another. It’s an amazing technology which has change… 2014 Darren Beale darrenbeale 2014-12-05T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/what-is-vagrant-and-why-should-i-care/ process
42 An Overview of SVG Sprite Creation Techniques SVG can be used as an icon system to replace icon fonts. The reasons why SVG makes for a superior icon system are numerous, but we won’t be going over them in this article. If you don’t use SVG icons and are interested in knowing why you may want to use them, I recommend you check out “Inline SVG vs Icon Fonts” by Chris Coyier – it covers the most important aspects of both systems and compares them with each other to help you make a better decision about which system to choose. Once you’ve made the decision to use SVG instead of icon fonts, you’ll need to think of the best way to optimise the delivery of your icons, and ways to make the creation and use of icons faster. Just like bitmaps, we can create image sprites with SVG – they don’t look or work exactly alike, but the basic concept is pretty much the same. There are several ways to create SVG sprites, and this article will give you an overview of three of them. While we’re at it, we’re going to take a look at some of the available tools used to automate sprite creation and fallback for us. Prerequisites The content of this article assumes you are familiar with SVG. If you’ve never worked with SVG before, you may want to look at some of the introductory tutorials covering SVG syntax, structure and embedding techniques. I recommend the following: SVG basics: Using SVG. Structure: Structuring, Grouping, and Referencing in SVG — The <g>, <use>, <defs> and <symbol> Elements. We’ll mention <use> and <symbol> quite a bit in this article. Embedding techniques: Styling and Animating SVGs with CSS. The article covers several topics, but the section linked focuses on embedding techniques. A compendium of SVG resources compiled by Chris Coyier — contains resources to almost every aspect of SVG you might be interested in. And if you’re completely new to the concept of spriting, Chris Coyier’s CSS Sprites explains all about them. Another important SVG feature is the viewBox attribute. For some of the techniques, knowing your way around this attribute is … 2014 Sara Soueidan sarasoueidan 2014-12-16T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/an-overview-of-svg-sprite-creation-techniques/ code
43 Content Production Planning While everyone agrees that getting the content of a website right is vital to its success, unless you’re lucky enough to have an experienced editor or content strategist on board, planning content production often seems to fall through the cracks. One reason is that, for most of the team, it feels like someone else’s problem. Not necessarily a specific person’s problem. Just someone else’s. It’s only when everyone starts urgently asking when the content is going to be ready, that it becomes clear the answer is, “Not as soon as we’d like it”. The good news is that there are some quick and simple things you can do, even if you’re not the official content person on a project, to get everyone on the same content planning page. Content production planning boils down to answering three deceptively simple questions: What content do you need? How much of it do you need? Who’s going to make it? Even if it’s not your job to come up with the answers, by asking these questions early enough and agreeing who is going to come up with the answers, you’ll be a long way towards avoiding the last-minute content problems which so often plague projects. How much content do we need? People tend to underestimate two crucial things about content: how much content they need, and how long that content takes to produce. When I ask someone how big their website is – how many pages it contains – I usually double or triple the answer I get. That’s because almost everyone’s mental model of their website greatly underestimates its true size. You can see the problem for yourself if you look at a site map. Site maps are great at representing a mental model of a website. But because they’re a deliberate simplification they naturally lead us to underestimate how much content is involved in populating them. Several years ago I was asked to help a client create a new microsite (their word) which they wanted ready in two weeks for a conference they were attending. Here’s the site map they had in mind. At first glance it looks like a pret… 2014 Sophie Dennis sophiedennis 2014-12-17T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/content-production-planning/ content
44 Taglines and Truisms To bring her good luck, “white rabbits” was the first thing that my grandmother said out loud on the first day of every month. We all need a little luck, but we shouldn’t rely on it, especially when it comes to attracting new clients. The first thing we say to a prospective client when they visit our website for the first time helps them to understand not only what we do but why we do it. We can also help them understand why they should choose to work with us over one of our competitors. Take a minute or two to look at your competitors’ websites. What’s the first thing that they say about themselves? Do they say that they “design delightful digital experiences,” “craft beautiful experiences” or “create remarkable digital experiences?” It’s easy to find companies who introduce themselves with what they do, their proposition, but what a company does is only part of their story. Their beliefs and values, what they stand for why they do what they do are also important. When someone visits our websites for the first time, we have only a brief moment to help them understand us. To help us we can learn from the advertising industry, where the job of a tagline is to communicate a concept, deliver a message and sell a product, often using only a few words. When an advertising campaign is effective, its tagline stays with you, sometimes long after that campaign is over. For example, can you remember which company or brand these taglines help to sell? (Answers at the bottom of the article:) The Ultimate Driving Machine Just Do It Don’t Leave Home Without It A clever tagline isn’t just a play on words, although it can include one. A tagline does far more than help make your company memorable. Used well, it brings together notions of what makes your company and what you offer special. Then it expresses those notions in a few words or possibly a short sentence. I’m sure that everyone can find examples of company slogans written in the type of language that should stay within the walls of a marketing department. We … 2014 Andy Clarke andyclarke 2014-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/taglines-and-truisms/ business
45 Is Agile Harder for Agencies? I once sat in a pitch meeting and watched a new business exec tell a potential client that his agency followed an agile workflow process at all times. The potential client nodded wisely, and they both agreed that agile was indeed the way to go. The meeting progressed and they signed off on a contract for a massive project, to be delivered in a standard waterfall fashion, with all manner of phases and key deliverables. Of course both of them left the meeting perfectly happy, because neither of them knew nor cared what an agile workflow process might be. That was about five years ago. As 2015 heaves into view I think it’s fair to say that attitudes have changed. Perhaps the same number of people claim to do Agile™ now as in 2010, but I think more of them are telling the truth. As a developer in an agency that works primarily with larger organisations, this year I have started to see a shift from agencies pushing agile methodologies with their clients, to clients requesting and even demanding agile practices from their agencies. Only a couple of years ago this would have been unusual behaviour. So what’s the problem? We should be happy then, no? Those of us in agencies will get to spend more time delivering great products, and less time arguing over out-of-date functional specs or battling through an adversarial change management procedure because somebody had a good idea during development rather than planning. We get to be a little bit more like our brothers and sisters in vaunted teams like the Government Digital Service, which is using agile approaches to great effect on projects that have a real benefit to their users. Almost. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that adhering to an agile framework such as scrum is more difficult within an agency/client structure than it is for an in-house development team. This is no surprise. The Agile Manifesto was written in 2001 by a group of software developers for their own use. Many of the underlying principles of a framework like Scrum assume the existence of… 2014 Charlie Perrins charlieperrins 2014-12-12T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/is-agile-harder-for-agencies/ process
46 Responsive Enhancement 24 ways has been going strong for ten years. That’s an aeon in internet timescales. Just think of all the changes we’ve seen in that time: the rise of Ajax, the explosion of mobile devices, the unrecognisably changed landscape of front-end tooling. Tools and technologies come and go, but one thing has remained constant for me over the past decade: progressive enhancement. Progressive enhancement isn’t a technology. It’s more like a way of thinking. Instead of thinking about the specifics of how a finished website might look, progressive enhancement encourages you to think about the fundamental meaning of what the website is providing. So instead of thinking of a website in terms of its ideal state in a modern browser on a nice widescreen device, progressive enhancement allows you to think about the core functionality in a more abstract way. Once you’ve figured out what the core functionality is – adding an item to a shopping cart, posting a message, sharing a photo – then you can enable that functionality in the simplest possible way. That usually means starting with good old-fashioned HTML. Links and forms are often all you need. Then, once you have the core functionality working in a basic way, you can start to enhance to make a progressively better experience for more modern browsers. The advantage of working this way isn’t just that your site will work in older browsers (albeit in a rudimentary way). It also ensures that if anything goes wrong in a modern browser, it won’t be catastrophic. There’s a common misconception that progressive enhancement means that you’ll spend your time dealing with older browsers, but in fact the opposite is true. Putting the basic functionality into place doesn’t take very long at all. And once you’ve done that, you’re free to spend all your time experimenting with the latest and greatest browser technologies, secure in the knowledge that even if they aren’t universally supported yet, that’s OK: you’ve already got your fallback in place. The key to thinking about web devel… 2014 Jeremy Keith jeremykeith 2014-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/responsive-enhancement/ code
47 Developing Robust Deployment Procedures Once you have developed your site, how do you make it live on your web hosting? For many years the answer was to log on to your server and upload the files via FTP. Over time most hosts and FTP clients began to support SFTP, ensuring your files were transmitted over a secure connection. The process of deploying a site however remained the same. There are issues with deploying a site in this way. You are essentially transferring files one by one to the server without any real management of that transfer. If the transfer fails for some reason, you may end up with a site that is only half updated. It can then be really difficult to work out what hasn’t been replaced or added, especially where you are updating an existing site. If you are updating some third-party software your update may include files that should be removed, but that may not be obvious to you and you risk leaving outdated files littering your file system. Updating using (S)FTP is a fragile process that leaves you open to problems caused by both connectivity and human error. Is there a better way to do this? You’ll be glad to know that there is. A modern professional deployment workflow should have you moving away from fragile manual file transfers to deployments linked to code committed into source control. The benefits of good practice You may never have experienced any major issues while uploading files over FTP, and good FTP clients can help. However, there are other benefits to moving to modern deployment practices. No surprises when you launch If you are deploying in the way I suggest in this article you should have no surprises when you launch because the code you committed from your local environment should be the same code you deploy – and to staging if you have a staging server. A missing vital file won’t cause things to start throwing errors on updating the live site. Being able to work collaboratively Source control and good deployment practice makes working with your clients and other developers easy. Deploying first to a staging… 2014 Rachel Andrew rachelandrew 2014-12-04T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/developing-robust-deployment-procedures/ process
48 A Holiday Wish A friend and I were talking the other day about why clients spend more on toilet cleaning than design, and how the industry has changed since the mid-1990s, when we got our starts. Early in his career, my friend wrote a fine CSS book, but for years he has called himself a UX designer. And our conversation got me thinking about how I reacted to that title back when I first started hearing it. “Just what this business needs,” I said to myself, “another phony expert.” Okay, so I was wrong about UX, but my touchiness was not altogether unfounded. In the beginning, our industry was divided between freelance jack-of-all-trade punks, who designed and built and coded and hosted and Photoshopped and even wrote the copy when the client couldn’t come up with any, and snot-slick dot-com mega-agencies that blew up like Alice and handed out titles like impoverished nobles in the years between the world wars. I was the former kind of designer, a guy who, having failed or just coasted along at a cluster of other careers, had suddenly, out of nowhere, blossomed into a web designer—an immensely curious designer slash coder slash writer with a near-insatiable lust to shave just one more byte from every image. We had modems back then, and I dreamed in sixteen colors. My source code was as pretty as my layouts (arguably prettier) and I hoovered up facts and opinions from newsgroups and bulletin boards as fast as any loudmouth geek could throw them. It was a beautiful life. But soon, too soon, the professional digital agencies arose, buying loft buildings downtown, jacking in at T1 speeds, charging a hundred times what I did, and communicating with their clients in person, in large artfully bedecked rooms, wearing hand-tailored Barney’s suits and bringing back the big city bullshit I thought I’d left behind when I quit advertising to become a web designer. Just like the big bad ad agencies of my early career, the new digital agencies stocked every meeting with a totem pole worth of ranks and titles. If the client brought five u… 2014 Jeffrey Zeldman jeffreyzeldman 2014-12-18T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2014/a-holiday-wish/ ux
49 Universal React One of the libraries to receive a huge amount of focus in 2015 has been ReactJS, a library created by Facebook for building user interfaces and web applications. More generally we’ve seen an even greater rise in the number of applications built primarily on the client side with most of the logic implemented in JavaScript. One of the main issues with building an app in this way is that you immediately forgo any customers who might browse with JavaScript turned off, and you can also miss out on any robots that might visit your site to crawl it (such as Google’s search bots). Additionally, we gain a performance improvement by being able to render from the server rather than having to wait for all the JavaScript to be loaded and executed. The good news is that this problem has been recognised and it is possible to build a fully featured client-side application that can be rendered on the server. The way in which these apps work is as follows: The user visits www.yoursite.com and the server executes your JavaScript to generate the HTML it needs to render the page. In the background, the client-side JavaScript is executed and takes over the duty of rendering the page. The next time a user clicks, rather than being sent to the server, the client-side app is in control. If the user doesn’t have JavaScript enabled, each click on a link goes to the server and they get the server-rendered content again. This means you can still provide a very quick and snappy experience for JavaScript users without having to abandon your non-JS users. We achieve this by writing JavaScript that can be executed on the server or on the client (you might have heard this referred to as isomorphic) and using a JavaScript framework that’s clever enough handle server- or client-side execution. Currently, ReactJS is leading the way here, although Ember and Angular are both working on solutions to this problem. It’s worth noting that this tutorial assumes some familiarity with React in general, its syntax and concepts. If you’d like a refresher, th… 2015 Jack Franklin jackfranklin 2015-12-05T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/universal-react/ code
50 Make a Comic For something slightly different over Christmas, why not step away from your computer and make a comic? Definitely not the author working on a comic in the studio, with the desk displaying some of the things you need to make a comic on paper. Why make a comic? First of all, it’s truly fun and it’s not that difficult. If you’re a designer, you can use skills you already have, so why not take some time to indulge your aesthetic whims and make something for yourself, rather than for a client or your company. And you can use a computer – or not. If you’re an interaction designer, it’s likely you’ve already made a storyboard or flow, or designed some characters for personas. This is a wee jump away from that, to the realm of storytelling and navigating human emotions through characters who may or may not be human. Similar medium and skills, different content. It’s not a client deliverable but something that stands by itself, and you’ve nobody’s criteria to meet except those that exist in your imagination! Thanks to your brain and the alchemy of comics, you can put nearly anything in a sequence and your brain will find a way to make sense of it. Scott McCloud wrote about the non sequitur in comics: “There is a kind of alchemy at work in the space between panels which can help us find meaning or resonance in even the most jarring of combinations.” Here’s an example of a non sequitur from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics – the images bear no relation to one another, but since they’re in a sequence our brains do their best to understand it: Once you know this it takes the pressure off somewhat. It’s a fun thing to keep in mind and experiment with in your comics! Materials needed A4 copy/printing paper HB pencil for light drawing Dip pen and waterproof Indian ink Bristol board (or any good quality card with a smooth, durable surface) Step 1: Get ideas You’d be surprised where you can take a small grain of an idea and develop it into an interesting comic. Think about a funny conversation you had, or any i… 2015 Rebecca Cottrell rebeccacottrell 2015-12-20T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/make-a-comic/ design
51 Blow Your Own Trumpet Even if your own trumpet’s tiny and fell out of a Christmas cracker, blowing it isn’t something that everyone’s good at. Some people find selling themselves and what they do difficult. But, you know what? Boo hoo hoo. If you want people to buy something, the reality is you’d better get good at selling, especially if that something is you. For web professionals, the best place to tell potential business customers or possible employers about what you do is on your own website. You can write what you want and how you want, but that doesn’t make knowing what to write any easier. As a matter of fact, writing for yourself often proves harder than writing for someone else. I spent this autumn thinking about what I wanted to say about Stuff & Nonsense on the website we relaunched recently. While I did that, I spoke to other designers about how they struggled to write about their businesses. If you struggle to write well, don’t worry. You’re not on your own. Here are five ways to hit the right notes when writing about yourself and your work. Be genuine about who you are I’ve known plenty of talented people who run a successful business pretty much single-handed. Somehow they still feel awkward presenting themselves as individuals. They wonder whether describing themselves as a company will give them extra credibility. They especially agonise over using “we” rather than “I” when describing what they do. These choices get harder when you’re a one-man band trading as a limited company or LLC business entity. If you mainly work alone, don’t describe yourself as anything other than “I”. You might think that saying “we” makes you appear larger and will give you a better chance of landing bigger and better work, but the moment a prospective client asks, “How many people are you?” you’ll have some uncomfortable explaining to do. This will distract them from talking about your work and derail your sales process. There’s no need to be anything other than genuine about how you describe yourself. You should be proud to say “I” becau… 2015 Andy Clarke andyclarke 2015-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/blow-your-own-trumpet/ business
52 Git Rebasing: An Elfin Workshop Workflow This year Santa’s helpers have been tasked with making a garland. It’s a pretty simple task: string beads onto yarn in a specific order. When the garland reaches a specific length, add it to the main workshop garland. Each elf has a specific sequence they’re supposed to chain, which is given to them via a work order. (This is starting to sound like one of those horrible calculus problems. I promise it isn’t. It’s worse; it’s about Git.) For the most part, the system works really well. The elves are able to quickly build up a shared chain because each elf specialises on their own bit of garland, and then links the garland together. Because of this they’re able to work independently, but towards the common goal of making a beautiful garland. At first the elves are really careful with each bead they put onto the garland. They check with one another before merging their work, and review each new link carefully. As time crunches on, the elves pour a little more cheer into the eggnog cooler, and the quality of work starts to degrade. Tensions rise as mistakes are made and unkind words are said. The elves quickly realise they’re going to need a system to change the beads out when mistakes are made in the chain. The first common mistake is not looking to see what the latest chain is that’s been added to the main garland. The garland is huge, and it sits on a roll in one of the corners of the workshop. It’s a big workshop, so it is incredibly impractical to walk all the way to the roll to check what the last link is on the chain. The elves, being magical, have set up a monitoring system that allows them to keep a local copy of the main garland at their workstation. It’s an imperfect system though, so the elves have to request a manual refresh to see the latest copy. They can request a new copy by running the command git pull --rebase=preserve (They found that if they ran git pull on its own, they ended up with weird loops of extra beads off the main garland, so they’ve opted to use this method.) This keeps the shared garl… 2015 Emma Jane Westby emmajanewestby 2015-12-07T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/git-rebasing/ code
53 Get Expressive with Your Typography In 1955 Beatrice Warde, an American communicator on typography, published a series of essays entitled The Crystal Goblet in which she wrote, “People who love ideas must have a love of words. They will take a vivid interest in the clothes that words wear.” And with that proposition Warde introduced the idea that just as we judge someone based on the clothes they are wearing, so we make judgements about text based on the typefaces in which it is set. Beatrice Warde. ©1970 Monotype Imaging Inc. Choosing the same typeface as everyone else, especially if you’re trying to make a statement, is like turning up to a party in the same dress; to a meeting in the same suit, shirt and tie; or to a craft ale dispensary in the same plaid shirt and turned-up skinny jeans. But there’s more to your choice of typeface than simply making an impression. In 2012 Jon Tan wrote on 24 ways about a scientific study called “The Aesthetics of Reading” which concluded that “good quality typography is responsible for greater engagement during reading and thus induces a good mood.” Furthermore, at this year’s Ampersand conference Sarah Hyndman, an expert in multisensory typography, discussed how typefaces can communicate with our subconscious. Sarah showed that different fonts could have an effect on how food tasted. A rounded font placed near a bowl of jellybeans would make them taste sweeter, and a jagged angular font would make them taste more sour. The quality of your typography can therefore affect the mood of your reader, and your font choice directly affect the senses. This means you can manipulate the way people feel. You can change their emotional state through type alone. Now that’s a real superpower! The effects of your body text design choices are measurable but subtle. If you really want to have an impact you need to think big. Literally. Display text and headings are your attention grabbers. They are your chance to interrupt, introduce and seduce. Display text and headings set the scene and draw people in. Text set large creates… 2015 Richard Rutter richardrutter 2015-12-04T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/get-expressive-with-your-typography/ design
54 Putting My Patterns through Their Paces Over the last few years, the conversation around responsive design has shifted subtly, focusing not on designing pages, but on patterns: understanding the small, reusable elements that comprise a larger design system. And given that many of those patterns are themselves responsive, learning to manage these small layout systems has become a big part of my work. The thing is, the more pattern-driven work I do, the more I realize my design process has changed in a number of subtle, important ways. I suppose you might even say that pattern-driven design has, in a few ways, redesigned me. Meet the Teaser Here’s a recent example. A few months ago, some friends and I redesigned The Toast. (It was a really, really fun project, and we learned a lot.) Each page of the site is, as you might guess, stitched together from a host of tiny, reusable patterns. Some of them, like the search form and footer, are fairly unique, and used once per page; others are used more liberally, and built for reuse. The most prevalent example of these more generic patterns is the teaser, which is classed as, uh, .teaser. (Look, I never said I was especially clever.) In its simplest form, a teaser contains a headline, which links to an article: Fairly straightforward, sure. But it’s just the foundation: from there, teasers can have a byline, a description, a thumbnail, and a comment count. In other words, we have a basic building block (.teaser) that contains a few discrete content types – some required, some not. In fact, very few of those pieces need to be present; to qualify as a teaser, all we really need is a link and a headline. But by adding more elements, we can build slight variations of our teaser, and make it much, much more versatile. Nearly every element visible on this page is built out of our generic “teaser” pattern. But the teaser variation I’d like to call out is the one that appears on The Toast’s homepage, on search results or on section fronts. In the main content area, each teaser in the list features larger i… 2015 Ethan Marcotte ethanmarcotte 2015-12-10T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/putting-my-patterns-through-their-paces/ code
55 How Tabs Should Work Tabs in browsers (not browser tabs) are one of the oldest custom UI elements in a browser that I can think of. They’ve been done to death. But, sadly, most of the time I come across them, the tabs have been badly, or rather partially, implemented. So this post is my definition of how a tabbing system should work, and one approach of implementing that. But… tabs are easy, right? I’ve been writing code for tabbing systems in JavaScript for coming up on a decade, and at one point I was pretty proud of how small I could make the JavaScript for the tabbing system: var tabs = $('.tab').click(function () { tabs.hide().filter(this.hash).show(); }).map(function () { return $(this.hash)[0]; }); $('.tab:first').click(); Simple, right? Nearly fits in a tweet (ignoring the whole jQuery library…). Still, it’s riddled with problems that make it a far from perfect solution. Requirements: what makes the perfect tab? All content is navigable and available without JavaScript (crawler-compatible and low JS-compatible). ARIA roles. The tabs are anchor links that: are clickable have block layout have their href pointing to the id of the panel element use the correct cursor (i.e. cursor: pointer). Since tabs are clickable, the user can open in a new tab/window and the page correctly loads with the correct tab open. Right-clicking (and Shift-clicking) doesn’t cause the tab to be selected. Native browser Back/Forward button correctly changes the state of the selected tab (think about it working exactly as if there were no JavaScript in place). The first three points are all to do with the semantics of the markup and how the markup has been styled. I think it’s easy to do a good job by thinking of tabs as links, and not as some part of an application. Links are navigable, and they should work the same way other links on the page work. The last three points are JavaScript problems. Let’s investigate that. The shitmus test Like a litmus test, here’s a couple of quick ways you can tell if a tabbing system is poorly implemented: Cha… 2015 Remy Sharp remysharp 2015-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/how-tabs-should-work/ code
56 Helping VIPs Care About Performance Making a site feel super fast is the easy part of performance work. Getting people around you to care about site speed is a much bigger challenge. How do we keep the site fast beyond the initial performance work? Keeping very important people like your upper management or clients invested in performance work is critical to keeping a site fast and empowering other designers and developers to contribute. The work to get others to care is so meaty that I dedicated a whole chapter to the topic in my book Designing for Performance. When I speak at conferences, the majority of questions during Q&A are on this topic. When I speak to developers and designers who care about performance, getting other people at one’s organization or agency to care becomes the most pressing question. My primary response to folks who raise this issue is the question: “What metric(s) do your VIPs care about?” This is often met with blank stares and raised eyebrows. But it’s also our biggest clue to what we need to do to help empower others to care about performance and work on it. Every organization and executive is different. This means that three major things vary: the primary metrics VIPs care about; the language they use about measuring success; and how change is enacted. By clueing in to these nuances within your organization, you can get a huge leg up on crafting a successful pitch about performance work. Let’s start with the metric that we should measure. Sure, (most) everybody cares about money - but is that really the metric that your VIPs are looking at each day to measure the success or efficacy of your site? More likely, dollars are the end game, but the metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) people focus on might be: rate of new accounts created/signups cost of acquiring or retaining a customer visitor return rate visitor bounce rate favoriting or another interaction rate These are just a few examples, but they illustrate how wide-ranging the options are that people care about. I find that developers and designers haven’t… 2015 Lara Hogan larahogan 2015-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/helping-vips-care-about-performance/ business
57 Cooking Up Effective Technical Writing Merry Christmas! May your preparations for this festive season of gluttony be shaping up beautifully. By the time you read this I hope you will have ordered your turkey, eaten twice your weight in Roses/Quality Street (let’s not get into that argument), and your Christmas cake has been baked and is now quietly absorbing regular doses of alcohol. Some of you may be reading this and scoffing Of course! I’ve also made three batches of mince pies, a seasonal chutney and enough gingerbread men to feed the whole street! while others may be laughing Bake? Oh no, I can’t cook to save my life. For beginners, recipes are the step-by-step instructions that hand-hold us through the cooking process, but even as a seasoned expert you’re likely to refer to a recipe at some point. Recipes tell us what we need, what to do with it, in what order, and what the outcome will be. It’s the documentation behind our ideas, and allows us to take the blueprint for a tasty morsel and to share it with others so they can recreate it. In fact, this is a little like the open source documentation and tutorials that we put out there, similarly aiming to guide other developers through our creations. The ‘just’ification of documentation Lately it feels like we’re starting to consider the importance of our words, and the impact they can have on others. Brad Frost warned us of the dangers of “Just” when it comes to offering up solutions to queries: “Just use this software/platform/toolkit/methodology…” “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. “Just” is a dangerous word. “Just” by Brad Frost I can really empathise with these sentiments. My relationship with code started out as many good web tales do, with good old HTML, CSS and JavaScript. University years involved some time with Perl, PHP, Java and C. In my first job I worked primarily with ColdFusion, a bit of ActionScri… 2015 Sally Jenkinson sallyjenkinson 2015-12-18T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/cooking-up-effective-technical-writing/ content
58 Beyond the Style Guide Much like baking a Christmas cake, designing for the web involves creating an experience in layers. Starting with a solid base that provides the core experience (the fruit cake), we can add further layers, each adding refinement (the marzipan) and delight (the icing). Don’t worry, this isn’t a misplaced cake recipe, but an evaluation of modular design and the role style guides can play in acknowledging these different concerns, be they presentational or programmatic. The auteur’s style guide Although trained as a graphic designer, it was only when I encountered the immediacy of the web that I felt truly empowered as a designer. Given a desire to control every aspect of the resulting experience, I slowly adopted the role of an auteur, exploring every part of the web stack: front-end to back-end, and everything in between. A few years ago, I dreaded using the command line. Today, the terminal is a permanent feature in my Dock. In straddling the realms of graphic design and programming, it’s the point at which they meet that I find most fascinating, with each dicipline valuing the creation of effective systems, be they for communication or code efficiency. Front-end style guides live at this intersection, demonstrating both the modularity of code and the application of visual design. Painting by numbers In our rush to build modular systems, design frameworks have grown in popularity. While enabling quick assembly, these come at the cost of originality and creative expression – perhaps one reason why we’re seeing the homogenisation of web design. In editorial design, layouts should accentuate content and present it in an engaging manner. Yet on the web we see a practice that seeks templated predictability. In ‘Design Machines’ Travis Gertz argued that (emphasis added): Design systems still feel like a novelty in screen-based design. We nerd out over grid systems and modular scales and obsess over style guides and pattern libraries. We’re pretty good at using them to build repeatable components and site-wide standard… 2015 Paul Lloyd paulrobertlloyd 2015-12-16T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/beyond-the-style-guide/ design
59 Animating Your Brand Let’s talk about how we add animation to our designs, in a way that’s consistent with other aspects of our brand, such as fonts, colours, layouts and everything else. Animating is fun. Adding animation to our designs can bring them to life and make our designs stand out. Animations can show how the pieces of our designs fit together. They provide context and help people use our products. All too often animation is something we tack on at the end. We put a transition on a modal window or sliding menu and we often don’t think about whether that animation is consistent with our overall design. Style guides to the rescue A style guide is a document that establishes and enforces style to improve communication. It can cover anything from typography and writing style to ethics and other, broader goals. It might be a static visual document showing every kind of UI, like in the Codecademy.com redesign shown below. UI toolkit from “Reimagining Codecademy.com” by @mslima It might be a technical reference with code examples. CodePen’s new design patterns and style guide is a great example of this, showing all the components used throughout the website as live code. CodePen’s design patterns and style guide A style guide gives a wide view of your project, it maintains consistency when adding new content, and we can use our style guide to present animations. Living documents Style guides don’t need to be static. We can use them to show movement. We can share CSS keyframe animations or transitions that can then go into production. We can also explain why animation is there in the first place. Just as a style guide might explain why we chose a certain font or layout, we can use style guides to explain the intent behind animation. This means that if someone else wants to create a new component, they will know why animation applies. If you haven’t yet set up a style guide, you might want to take a look at Pattern Lab. It’s a great tool for setting up your own style guide and includes loads of design patterns to get started. There … 2015 Donovan Hutchinson donovanhutchinson 2015-12-01T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/animating-your-brand/ design
60 What’s Ahead for Your Data in 2016? Who owns your data? Who decides what can you do with it? Where can you store it? What guarantee do you have over your data’s privacy? Where can you publish your work? Can you adapt software to accommodate your disability? Is your tiny agency subject to corporate regulation? Does another country have rights over your intellectual property? If you aren’t the kind of person who is interested in international politics, I hate to break it to you: in 2016 the legal foundations which underpin our work on the web are being revisited in not one but three major international political agreements, and every single one of those questions is up for grabs. These agreements – the draft EU Data Protection Regulation (EUDPR), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the draft Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – stand poised to have a major impact on your data, your workflows, and your digital rights. While some proposed changes could protect the open web for the future, other provisions would set the internet back several decades. In this article we will review the issues you need to be aware of as a digital professional. While each of these agreements covers dozens of topics ranging from climate change to food safety, we will focus solely on the aspects which pertain to the work we do on the web. The Trans-Pacific Partnership The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement between the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru – a bloc comprising 40% of the world’s economy. The agreement is expected to be signed by all parties, and thereby to come into effect, in 2016. This agreement is ostensibly about the bloc and its members working together for their common interests. However, the latest draft text of the TPP, which was formulated entirely in secret, has only been made publicly available on a Medium blog published by the U.S. Trade Representative which features a patriotic banner at the top proclaiming “TPP: Made in America.” The m… 2015 Heather Burns heatherburns 2015-12-21T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/whats-ahead-for-your-data-in-2016/ business
61 Animation in Responsive Design Animation and responsive design can sometimes feel like they’re at odds with each other. Animation often needs space to do its thing, but RWD tells us that the amount of space we’ll have available is going to change a lot. Balancing that can lead to some tricky animation situations. Embracing the squishiness of responsive design doesn’t have to mean giving up on your creative animation ideas. There are three general techniques that can help you balance your web animation creativity with your responsive design needs. One or all of these approaches might help you sneak in something just a little extra into your next project. Focused art direction Smaller viewports mean a smaller stage for your motion to play out on, and this tends to amplify any motion in your animation. Suddenly 100 pixels is really far and multiple moving parts can start looking like they’re battling for space. An effect that looked great on big viewports can become muddled and confusing when it’s reframed in a smaller space. Making animated movements smaller will do the trick for simple motion like a basic move across the screen. But for more complex animation on smaller viewports, you’ll need to simplify and reduce the number of moving parts. The key to this is determining what the vital parts of the animation are, to zone in on the parts that are most important to its message. Then remove the less necessary bits to distill the motion’s message down to the essentials. For example, Rally Interactive’s navigation folds down into place with two triangle shapes unfolding each corner on larger viewports. If this exact motion was just scaled down for narrower spaces the two corners would overlap as they unfolded. It would look unnatural and wouldn’t make much sense. Open video The main purpose of this animation is to show an unfolding action. To simplify the animation, Rally unfolds only one side for narrower viewports, with a slightly different animation. The action is still easily interpreted as unfolding and it’s done in a way that is a better… 2015 Val Head valhead 2015-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/animation-in-responsive-design/ design
62 Being Customer Supportive Every day in customer support is an inbox, a Twitter feed, or a software forum full of new questions. Each is brimming with your customers looking for advice, reassurance, or fixes for their software problems. Each one is an opportunity to take a break from wrestling with your own troublesome tasks and assist someone else in solving theirs. Sometimes the questions are straightforward and can be answered in a few minutes with a short greeting, a link to a help page, or a prewritten bit of text you use regularly: how to print a receipt, reset a password, or even, sadly, close your account. More often, a support email requires you to spend some time unpacking the question, asking for more information, and writing a detailed personal response, tailored to help that particular user on this particular day. Here I offer a few of my own guidelines on how to make today’s email the best support experience for both me and my customer. And even if you don’t consider what you do to be customer support, you might still find the suggestions useful for the next time you need to communicate with a client, to solve a software problem with teammates, or even reach out and ask for help yourself. (All the examples appearing in this article are fictional. Any resemblance to quotes from real, software-using persons is entirely coincidental. Except for the bit about Star Wars. That happened.) Who’s TAHT girl I’ll be honest: I briefly tried making these recommendations into a clever mnemonic like FAST (facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties, time) or PAD (pressure, antiseptic, dressing). But instead, you get TAHT: tone, ask, help, thank. Ah, well. As I work through each message in my support queue, I listen to the tone of the email ask clarifying questions bring in extra help as needed and thank the customer when the problem is solved. Let’s open an email and get started! Leave your message at the sound of the tone With our enthusiasm for emoji, it can be very hard to infer someone’s tone from plain text. How much time have… 2015 Elizabeth Galle elizabethgalle 2015-12-02T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/being-customer-supportive/ process
63 Be Fluid with Your Design Skills: Build Your Own Sites Just five years ago in 2010, when we were all busy trying to surprise and delight, learning CSS3 and trying to get whole websites onto one page, we had a poster on our studio wall. It was entitled ‘Designers Vs Developers’, an infographic that showed us the differences between the men(!) who created websites. Designers wore skinny jeans and used Macs and developers wore cargo pants and brought their own keyboards to work. We began to learn that designers and developers were not only doing completely different jobs but were completely different people in every way. This opinion was backed up by hundreds of memes, millions of tweets and pages of articles which used words like void and battle and versus. Thankfully, things move quickly in this industry; the wide world of web design has moved on in the last five years. There are new devices, technologies, tools – and even a few women. Designers have been helped along by great apps, software, open source projects, conferences, and a community of people who, to my unending pride, love to share their knowledge and their work. So the world has moved on, and if Miley Cyrus, Ruby Rose and Eliot Sumner are identifying as gender fluid (an identity which refers to a gender which varies over time or is a combination of identities), then I would like to come out as discipline fluid! OK, I will probably never identify as a developer, but I will identify as fluid! How can we be anything else in an industry that moves so quickly? That’s how we should think of our skills, our interests and even our job titles. After all, Steve Jobs told us that “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Sorry skinny-jean-wearing designers – this means we’re all designing something together. And it’s not just about knowing the right words to use: you have to know how it feels. How it feels when you make something work, when you fix that bug, when you make it work on IE. Like anything in life, things run smoothly when you make the effort to share experiences, em… 2015 Ros Horner roshorner 2015-12-12T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/be-fluid-with-your-design-skills-build-your-own-sites/ code
64 Being Responsive to the Small Things It’s that time of the year again to trim the tree with decorations. Or maybe a DOM tree? Any web page is made of HTML elements that lay themselves out in a tree structure. We start at the top and then have multiple branches with branches that branch out from there. To decorate our tree, we use CSS to specify which branches should receive the tinsel we wish to adorn upon it. It’s all so lovely. In years past, this was rather straightforward. But these days, our trees need to be versatile. They need to be responsive! Responsive web design is pretty wonderful, isn’t it? Based on our viewport, we can decide how elements on the page should change their appearance to accommodate various constraints using media queries. Clearleft have a delightfully clean and responsive site Alas, it’s not all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. With complex layouts, we may have design chunks — let’s call them components — that appear in different contexts. Each context may end up providing its own constraints on the design, both in its default state and in its possibly various responsive states. Media queries, however, limit us to the context of the entire viewport, not individual containers on the page. For every container our component lives in, we need to specify how to rearrange things in that context. The more complex the system, the more contexts we need to write code for. @media (min-width: 800px) { .features > .component { } .sidebar > .component {} .grid > .component {} } Each new component and each new breakpoint just makes the entire system that much more difficult to maintain. @media (min-width: 600px) { .features > .component { } .grid > .component {} } @media (min-width: 800px) { .features > .component { } .sidebar > .component {} .grid > .component {} } @media (min-width: 1024px) { .features > .component { } } Enter container queries Container queries, also known as element queries, allow you to specify conditional CSS based on the width (or maybe height) of the container that an element lives in.… 2015 Jonathan Snook jonathansnook 2015-12-19T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/being-responsive-to-the-small-things/ code
65 The Accessibility Mindset Accessibility is often characterized as additional work, hard to learn and only affecting a small number of people. Those myths have no logical foundation and often stem from outdated information or misconceptions. Indeed, it is an additional skill set to acquire, quite like learning new JavaScript frameworks, CSS layout techniques or new HTML elements. But it isn’t particularly harder to learn than those other skills. A World Health Organization (WHO) report on disabilities states that, [i]ncluding children, over a billion people (or about 15% of the world’s population) were estimated to be living with disability. Being disabled is not as unusual as one might think. Due to chronic health conditions and older people having a higher risk of disability, we are also currently paving the cowpath to an internet that we can still use in the future. Accessibility has a very close relationship with usability, and advancements in accessibility often yield improvements in the usability of a website. Websites are also more adaptable to users’ needs when they are built in an accessible fashion. Beyond the bare minimum In the time of table layouts, web developers could create code that passed validation rules but didn’t adhere to the underlying semantic HTML model. We later developed best practices, like using lists for navigation, and with HTML5 we started to wrap those lists in nav elements. Working with accessibility standards is similar. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 can inform your decision to make websites accessible and can be used to test that you met the success criteria. What it can’t do is measure how well you met them. W3C developed a long list of techniques that can be used to make your website accessible, but you might find yourself in a situation where you need to adapt those techniques to be the most usable solution for your particular problem. The checkbox below is implemented in an accessible way: The input element has an id and the label associated with the checkbox refers to the in… 2015 Eric Eggert ericeggert 2015-12-17T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/the-accessibility-mindset/ code
66 Solve the Hard Problems So, here we find ourselves on the cusp of 2016. We’ve had a good year – the web is still alive, no one has switched it off yet. Clients still have websites, teenagers still have phone apps, and there continue to be plenty of online brands to meaningfully engage with each day. Good job team, high fives all round. As it’s the time to make resolutions, I wanted to share three small ideas to take into the new year. Get good at what you do “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” the old joke goes. “Practise, practise, practise.” We work in an industry where there is an awful lot to learn. There’s a lot to learn to get started and then once you do, there’s a lot more to learn to keep your skills current. Just when you think you’ve mastered something, it changes. This is true of many industries, of course, but the sheer pace of change for us makes learning not an annual activity, but daily. Learning takes time, and while I’m not convinced that every skill takes the fabled ten thousand hours to master, there is certainly no escaping that to remain current we must reinvest time in keeping our skills up to date. Picking where to spend your time One of the hardest aspects of this thing of ours is just choosing what to learn. If you, like me, invested any time in learning the Less CSS preprocessor over the last few years, you’ll probably now be spending your time relearning Sass instead. If you spent time learning Grunt, chances are you’ll now be thinking about whether you should switch to Gulp. It’s not just that there are new types of tools, there are new tools and frameworks to do the things you’re already doing, but, well, differently. Deciding what to learn is hard and the costs of backing the wrong horse can seriously mount up; so much so that by the time you’ve learned and then relearned the tools everyone says you need for your job, there’s rarely enough time to spend really getting to know how best to use them.  Practise, practise, practise Do you know how you don’t get to Carnegie Hall? By learning a new instrument eac… 2015 Drew McLellan drewmclellan 2015-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/solve-the-hard-problems/ process
67 What I Learned about Product Design This Year 2015 was a humbling year for me. In September of 2014, I joined a tiny but established startup called SproutVideo as their third employee and first designer. The role interests me because it affords the opportunity to see how design can grow a solid product with a loyal user-base into something even better. The work I do now could also have a real impact on the brand and user experience of our product for years to come, which is a thrilling prospect in an industry where much of what I do feels small and temporary. I got in on the ground floor of something special: a small, dedicated, useful company that cares deeply about making video hosting effortless and rewarding for our users. I had (and still have) grand ideas for what thoughtful design can do for a product, and the smaller-scale product design work I’ve done or helped manage over the past few years gave me enough eager confidence to dive in head first. Readers who have experience redesigning complex existing products probably have a knowing smirk on their face right now. As I said, it’s been humbling. A year of focused product design, especially on the scale we are trying to achieve with our small team at SproutVideo, has taught me more than any projects in recent memory. I’d like to share a few of those lessons. Product design is very different from marketing design The majority of my recent work leading up to SproutVideo has been in marketing design. These projects are so fun because their aim is to communicate the value of the product in a compelling and memorable way. In order to achieve this goal, I spent a lot of time thinking about content strategy, responsive design, and how to create striking visuals that tell a story. These are all pursuits I love. Product design is a different beast. When designing a homepage, I can employ powerful imagery, wild gradients, and somewhat-quirky fonts. When I began redesigning the SproutVideo product, I wanted to draw on all the beautiful assets I’ve created for our marketing materials, but big gradients, textures… 2015 Meagan Fisher meaganfisher 2015-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/what-i-learned-about-product-design-this-year/ design
68 Grid, Flexbox, Box Alignment: Our New System for Layout Three years ago for 24 ways 2012, I wrote an article about a new CSS layout method I was excited about. A specification had emerged, developed by people from the Internet Explorer team, bringing us a proper grid system for the web. In 2015, that Internet Explorer implementation is still the only public implementation of CSS grid layout. However, in 2016 we should be seeing it in a new improved form ready for our use in browsers. Grid layout has developed hidden behind a flag in Blink, and in nightly builds of WebKit and, latterly, Firefox. By being developed in this way, breaking changes could be safely made to the specification as no one was relying on the experimental implementations in production work. Another new layout method has emerged over the past few years in a more public and perhaps more painful way. Shipped prefixed in browsers, The flexible box layout module (flexbox) was far too tempting for developers not to use on production sites. Therefore, as changes were made to the specification, we found ourselves with three different flexboxes, and browser implementations that did not match one another in completeness or in the version of specified features they supported. Owing to the different ways these modules have come into being, when I present on grid layout it is often the very first time someone has heard of the specification. A question I keep being asked is whether CSS grid layout and flexbox are competing layout systems, as though it might be possible to back the loser in a CSS layout competition. The reality, however, is that these two methods will sit together as one system for doing layout on the web, each method playing to certain strengths and serving particular layout tasks. If there is to be a loser in the battle of the layouts, my hope is that it will be the layout frameworks that tie our design to our markup. They have been a necessary placeholder while we waited for a true web layout system, but I believe that in a few years time we’ll be easily able to date a website to circa 2015 … 2015 Rachel Andrew rachelandrew 2015-12-15T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/grid-flexbox-box-alignment-our-new-system-for-layout/ code
69 How to Do a UX Review A UX review is where an expert goes through a website looking for usability and experience problems and makes recommendations on how to fix them. I’ve completed a number of UX reviews over my twelve years working as a user experience consultant and I thought I’d share my approach. I’ll be talking about reviewing websites here; you can adapt the approach for web apps, or mobile or desktop apps. Why conduct a review Typically, a client asks for a review to be undertaken by a trusted and, ideally, detached third party who either works for an agency or is a freelancer. Often they may ask a new member of the UX team to complete one, or even set it as a task for a job interview. This indicates the client is looking for an objective view, seen from the outside as a user would see the website. I always suggest conducting some user research rather than a review. Users know their goals and watching them make (what you might think of as) mistakes on the website is invaluable. Conducting research with six users can give you six hours’ worth of review material from six viewpoints. In short, user research can identify more problems and show how common those problems might be. There are three reasons, though, why a review might better suit client needs than user research: Quick results: user research and analysis takes at least three weeks. Limited budget: the £6–10,000 cost to run user research is about twice the cost of a UX review. Users are hard to reach: in the business-to-business world, reaching users is difficult, especially if your users hold senior positions in their organisations. Working with consumers is much easier as there are often more of them. There is some debate about the benefits of user research over UX review. In my experience you learn far more from research, but opinions differ. Be objective The number one mistake many UX reviewers make is reporting back the issues they identify as their opinion. This can cause credibility problems because you have to keep justifying why your opinion is corr… 2015 Joe Leech joeleech 2015-12-03T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/how-to-do-a-ux-review/ ux
70 Bringing Your Code to the Streets — or How to Be a Street VJ Our amazing world of web code is escaping out of the browser at an alarming rate and appearing in every aspect of the environment around us. Over the past few years we’ve already seen JavaScript used server-side, hardware coded with JavaScript, a rise of native style and desktop apps created with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and even virtual reality (VR) is getting its fair share of front-end goodness. You can go ahead and play with JavaScript-powered hardware such as the Tessel or the Espruino to name a couple. Just check out the Tessel project page to see JavaScript in the world of coffee roasting or sleep tracking your pet. With the rise of the internet of things, JavaScript can be seen collecting information on flooding among other things. And if that’s not enough ‘outside the browser’ implementations, Node.js servers can even be found in aircraft! I previously mentioned VR and with three.js’s extra StereoEffect.js module it’s relatively simple to get browser 3D goodness to be Google Cardboard-ready, and thus set the stage for all things JavaScript and VR. It’s been pretty popular in the art world too, with interactive works such as Seb Lee-Delisle’s Lunar Trails installation, featuring the old arcade game Lunar Lander, which you can now play in your browser while others watch (it is the web after all). The Science Museum in London held Chrome Web Lab, an interactive exhibition featuring five experiments, showcasing the magic of the web. And it’s not even the connectivity of the web that’s being showcased; we can even take things offline and use web code for amazing things, such as fighting Ebola. One thing is for sure, JavaScript is awesome. Hell, if you believe those telly programs (as we all do), JavaScript can even take down the stock market, purely through the witchcraft of canvas! Go JavaScript! Now it’s our turn So I wanted to create a little project influenced by this theme, and as it’s Christmas, take it to the streets for a little bit of party fun! Something that could take c… 2015 Ruth John ruthjohn 2015-12-06T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/bringing-your-code-to-the-streets/ code
71 Upping Your Web Security Game When I started working in web security fifteen years ago, web development looked very different. The few non-static web applications were built using a waterfall process and shipped quarterly at best, making it possible to add security audits before every release; applications were deployed exclusively on in-house servers, allowing Info Sec to inspect their configuration and setup; and the few third-party components used came from a small set of well-known and trusted providers. And yet, even with these favourable conditions, security teams were quickly overwhelmed and called for developers to build security in. If the web security game was hard to win before, it’s doomed to fail now. In today’s web development, every other page is an application, accepting inputs and private data from users; software is built continuously, designed to eliminate manual gates, including security gates; infrastructure is code, with servers spawned with little effort and even less security scrutiny; and most of the code in a typical application is third-party code, pulled in through open source repositories with rarely a glance at who provided them. Security teams, when they exist at all, cannot solve this problem. They are vastly outnumbered by developers, and cannot keep up with the application’s pace of change. For us to have a shot at making the web secure, we must bring security into the core. We need to give it no less attention than that we give browser compatibility, mobile design or web page load times. More broadly, we should see security as an aspect of quality, expecting both ourselves and our peers to address it, and taking pride when we do it well. Where To Start? Embracing security isn’t something you do overnight. A good place to start is by reviewing things you’re already doing – and trying to make them more secure. Here are three concrete steps you can take to get going. HTTPS Threats begin when your system interacts with the outside world, which often means HTTP. As is, HTTP is painfully insecure, allowing attacke… 2015 Guy Podjarny guypodjarny 2015-12-11T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/upping-your-web-security-game/ code
72 Designing with Contrast When an appetite for aesthetics over usability becomes the bellwether of user interface design, it’s time to reconsider who we’re designing for. Over the last few years, we have questioned the signifiers that gave obvious meaning to the function of interface elements. Strong textures, deep shadows, gradients — imitations of physical objects — were discarded. And many, rightfully so. Our audiences are now more comfortable with an experience that feels native to the technology, so we should respond in kind. Yet not all of the changes have benefitted users. Our efforts to simplify brought with them a trend of ultra-minimalism where aesthetics have taken priority over legibility, accessibility and discoverability. The trend shows no sign of losing popularity — and it is harming our experience of digital content. A thin veneer We are in a race to create the most subdued, understated interface. Visual contrast is out. In its place: the thinnest weights of a typeface and white text on bright color backgrounds. Headlines, text, borders, backgrounds, icons, form controls and inputs: all grey. While we can look back over the last decade and see minimalist trends emerging on the web, I think we can place a fair share of the responsibility for the recent shift in priorities on Apple. The release of iOS 7 ushered in a radical change to its user interface. It paired mobile interaction design to the simplicity and eloquence of Apple’s marketing and product design. It was a catalyst. We took what we saw, copied and consumed the aesthetics like pick-and-mix. New technology compounds this trend. Computer monitors and mobile devices are available with screens of unprecedented resolutions. Ultra-light type and subtle hues, difficult to view on older screens, are more legible on these devices. It would be disingenuous to say that designers have always worked on machines representative of their audience’s circumstances, but the gap has never been as large as it is now. We are running the risk of designing VIP lounges where the cost o… 2015 Mark Mitchell markmitchell 2015-12-13T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2015/designing-with-contrast/ design
73 How to Make Your Site Look Half-Decent in Half an Hour Programmers like me are often intimidated by design – but a little effort can give a huge return on investment. Here are one coder’s tips for making any site quickly look more professional. I am a programmer. I am not a designer. I have a degree in computer science, and I don’t mind Comic Sans. (It looks cheerful. Move on.) But although I am a programmer, I want to make my sites look attractive. This is partly out of vanity, and partly realism. Vanity because I want people to think my work is good, and realism because the research shows that people won’t think a site is credible unless it also looks attractive. For a very long time after I became a programmer, I was scared of design. Design seemed to consist of complicated rules that weren’t written down anywhere, plus an unlearnable sense of taste, possessed only by a black-clad elite. But a little while ago, I decided to do my best to hack what it took to make my own projects look vaguely attractive. And although this doesn’t come close to the effect a professional designer could achieve, gathering these resources for improving a site’s look and feel has been really helpful. If I hadn’t figured out some basic design shortcuts, it’s unlikely that a weekend hack of mine would have ended up on page three of the Daily Mail. And too often now, I see excellent programming projects that don’t reach the audience they deserve, simply because their design doesn’t match their execution. So, if you are a developer, my Christmas present to you is this: my own collection of hacks that, used rightly, can make your personal programming projects look professional, quickly. None are hard to learn, most are free, and they let you focus on writing code. One thing to note about these tips, though. They are a personal, pragmatic compilation. They are suggestions, not a definitive guide. You will definitely get better results by working with a professional designer, and by studying design more deeply. If you are a designer, I would love to hear your suggestions for the b… 2012 Anna Powell-Smith annapowellsmith 2012-12-16T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/how-to-make-your-site-look-half-decent/ design
74 Should We Be Reactive? Evolution Looking at the evolution of the web and the devices we use should help remind us that the times we’re adjusting to are just another step on a journey. These times seem to be telling us that we need to embrace flexibility. Imagine an HTML file containing nothing but text. It’s viewable on any web-capable device and reasonably readable: the notion of the universality of the web was very much a founding principle. Right from the beginning, browser vendors understood that we’d want text to reflow (why wouldn’t we?), so I consider the first websites to have been fluid. As we attempted to exert more control through our designs in the early days of the web, debates about whether we should produce fixed or fluid sites raged. We could create fluid designs using tables, but what we didn’t have then was a wide range of web capable devices or the ability to control this fluidity. The biggest changes occurred when stats showed enough people using a different screen resolution we could cater for. To me, the techniques of responsive web design provide the control we were missing. Combining new approaches to layout and images with media queries empowered us to learn how to embrace the inherent flexibility of the web in ways to suit our work and the devices used by our audience. Perhaps another kind of flexibility might be found in how we use context to affect how we present our content; to consider how we might use the information we can access from people, browsers and devices to provide web experiences – effectively creating sites that react to initial or changing circumstances in the relationship between people and our content. Embracing flexibility So what is context? Put simply, you could think of it as a secondary piece of information that helps clarify the meaning of the first. It helps set a scene or describe circumstances. I think that Cennydd Bowles has summed it up really well through talks he’s given recently, in which he’s arrived at the acronym DETAILS (Device, Environment, Time, Activity, Individ… 2012 Dan Donald dandonald 2012-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/should-we-be-reactive/ design
75 A Harder-Working Class Class is only becoming more important. Focusing on its original definition as an attribute for grouping (or classifying) as well as linking HTML to CSS, recent front-end development practices are emphasizing class as a vessel for structured, modularized style packages. These patterns reduce the need for repetitive declarations that can seriously bloat file sizes, and instil human-readable understanding of how the interface, layout, and aesthetics are constructed. In the next handful of paragraphs, we will look at how these emerging practices – such as object-oriented CSS and SMACSS – are pushing the relevance of class. We will also explore how HTML and CSS architecture can be further simplified, performance can be boosted, and CSS utility sharpened by combining class with the attribute selector. A primer on attribute selectors While attribute selectors were introduced in the CSS 2 spec, they are still considered rather exotic. These well-established and well-supported features give us vastly improved flexibility in targeting elements in CSS, and offer us opportunities for smarter markup. With an attribute selector, you can directly style an element based on any of its unique – or uniquely shared – attributes, without the need for an ID or extra classes. Unlike pseudo-classes, pseudo-elements, and other exciting features of CSS3, attribute selectors do not require any browser-specific syntax or prefix, and are even supported in Internet Explorer 7. For example, say we want to target all anchor tags on a page that link to our homepage. Where otherwise we might need to manually identify and add classes to the HTML for these specific links, we could simply write: [href=index.html] { } This selector reads: target every element that has an href attribute of “index.html”. Attribute selectors are more faceted, though, as they also give us some very simple regular expression-like logic that helps further narrow (or widen) a selector’s scope. In our previous example, what if we wanted to also give indicative styl… 2012 Nathan Ford nathanford 2012-12-15T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/a-harder-working-class/ code
76 Giving CSS Animations and Transitions Their Place CSS animations and transitions may not sit squarely in the realm of the behaviour layer, but they’re stepping up into this area that used to be pure JavaScript territory. Heck, CSS might even perform better than its JavaScript equivalents in some cases. That’s pretty serious! With CSS’s new tricks blurring the lines between presentation and behaviour, it can start to feel bloated and messy in our CSS files. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Here are a pair of methods I’ve found to be pretty helpful in keeping the potential bloat and wire-crossing under control when CSS has its hands in both presentation and behaviour. Same eggs, more baskets Structuring your CSS to have separate files for layout, typography, grids, and so on is a fairly common approach these days. But which one do you put your transitions and animations in? The initial answer, as always, is “it depends”. Small effects here and there will likely sit just fine with your other styles. When you move into more involved effects that require multiple animations and some logic support from JavaScript, it’s probably time to choose none of the above, and create a separate CSS file just for them. Putting all your animations in one file is a huge help for code organization. Even if you opt for a name less literal than animations.css, you’ll know exactly where to go for anything CSS animation related. That saves time and effort when it comes to editing and maintenance. Keeping track of which animations are still currently used is easier when they’re all grouped together as well. And as an added bonus, you won’t have to look at all those horribly unattractive and repetitive prefixed @-keyframe rules unless you actually need to. An animations.css file might look something like the snippet below. It defines each animation’s keyframes and defines a class for each variation of that animation you’ll be using. Depending on the situation, you may also want to include transitions here in a similar way. (I’ve found defining transitions as their own class, or mixin, … 2012 Val Head valhead 2012-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/giving-css-animations-and-transitions-their-place/ code
77 Colour Accessibility Here’s a quote from Josef Albers: In visual perception a colour is almost never seen as it really is[…] This fact makes colour the most relative medium in art.Josef Albers, Interaction of Color, 1963 Albers was a German abstract painter and teacher, and published a very famous course on colour theory in 1963. Colour is very relative — not just in the way that it appears differently across different devices due to screen quality and colour management, but it can also be seen differently by different people — something we really need to be more mindful of when designing. What is colour blindness? Colour blindness very rarely means that you can’t see any colour at all, or that people see things in greyscale. It’s actually a decreased ability to see colour, or a decreased ability to tell colours apart from one another. How does it happen? Inside the typical human retina, there are two types of receptor cells — rods and cones. Rods are the cells that allow us to see dark and light, and shape and movement. Cones are the cells that allow us to perceive colour. There are three types of cones, each responsible for absorbing blue, red, and green wavelengths in the spectrum. Problems with colour vision occur when one or more of these types of cones are defective or absent entirely, and these problems can either be inherited through genetics, or acquired through trauma, exposure to ultraviolet light, degeneration with age, an effect of diabetes, or other factors. Colour blindness is a sex-linked trait and it’s much more common in men than in women. The most common type of colour blindness is called deuteranomaly which occurs in 7% of males, but only 0.5% of females. That’s a pretty significant portion of the population if you really stop and think about it — we can’t ignore this demographic. What does it look like? People with the most common types of colour blindness, like protanopia and deuteranopia, have difficulty discriminating between red and green hues. There are also forms of colour blindness like tritanop… 2012 Geri Coady gericoady 2012-12-04T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/colour-accessibility/ design
78 Fluent Design through Early Prototyping There’s a small problem with wireframes. They’re not good for showing the kind of interactions we now take for granted – transitions and animations on the web, in Android, iOS, and other platforms. There’s a belief that early prototyping requires a large amount of time and effort, and isn’t worth an early investment. But it’s not true! It’s still normal to spend a significant proportion of time working in wireframes. Given that wireframes are high-level and don’t show much detail, it’s tempting to give up control and responsibility for things like transitions and other things sidelined as visual considerations. These things aren’t expressed well, and perhaps not expressed at all, in wireframes, yet they critically influence the quality of a product. Rapid prototyping early helps to bring sidelined but significant design considerations into focus. Speaking fluent design Fluency in a language means being able to speak it confidently and accurately. The Latin root means flow. By design fluency, I mean using a set of skills in order to express or communicate an idea. Prototyping is a kind of fluency. It takes designers beyond the domain of grey and white boxes to consider all the elements that make up really good product design. Designers shouldn’t be afraid of speaking fluent design. They should think thoroughly about product decisions beyond their immediate role — not for the sake of becoming some kind of power-hungry design demigod, but because it will lead to better, more carefully considered product design. Wireframes are incomplete sentences Wireframes, once they’ve served their purpose, are a kind of self-imposed restriction. Mostly made out of grey and white boxes, they deliberately express the minimum. Important details — visuals, nuanced transitions, sounds — are missing. Their appearance bears little resemblance to the final thing. Responsibility for things that traditionally didn’t matter (or exist) is relinquished. Animations and transitions in particular are increasingly relevant to the mobile d… 2012 Rebecca Cottrell rebeccacottrell 2012-12-10T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/fluent-design-through-early-prototyping/ ux
79 Responsive Images: What We Thought We Needed If you were to read a web designer’s Christmas wish list, it would likely include a solution for displaying images responsively. For those concerned about users downloading unnecessary image data, or serving images that look blurry on high resolution displays, finding a solution has become a frustrating quest. Having experimented with complex and sometimes devilish hacks, consensus is forming around defining new standards that could solve this problem. Two approaches have emerged. The <picture> element markup pattern was proposed by Mat Marquis and is now being developed by the Responsive Images Community Group. By providing a means of declaring multiple sources, authors could use media queries to control which version of an image is displayed and under what conditions: <picture width="500" height="500"> <source media="(min-width: 45em)" src="large.jpg"> <source media="(min-width: 18em)" src="med.jpg"> <source src="small.jpg"> <img src="small.jpg" alt=""> <p>Accessible text</p> </picture> A second proposal put forward by Apple, the srcset attribute, uses a more concise syntax intended for use with the <img> element, although it could be compatible with the <picture> element too. This would allow authors to provide a set of images, but with the decision on which to use left to the browser: <img src="fallback.jpg" alt="" srcset="small.jpg 640w 1x, small-hd.jpg 640w 2x, med.jpg 1x, med-hd.jpg 2x "> Enter Scrooge Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. Ebenezer Scrooge Given the complexity of this issue, there’s a heated debate about which is the best option. Yet code belies a certain truth. That both feature verbose and opaque syntax, I’m not sure either should find its way into the browser – especially as alternative approaches have yet to be fully explored. So, as if to dampen the festive cheer, here are five reasons why I believe both proposals are largely redundant. 1. We need better formats, not more markup As we move away from designs defi… 2012 Paul Lloyd paulrobertlloyd 2012-12-11T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/responsive-images-what-we-thought-we-needed/ code
80 HTML5 Video Bumpers Video is a bigger part of the web experience than ever before. With native browser support for HTML5 video elements freeing us from the tyranny of plugins, and the availability of faster internet connections to the workplace, home and mobile networks, it’s now pretty straightforward to publish video in a way that can be consumed in all sorts of ways on all sorts of different web devices. I recently worked on a project where the client had shot some dedicated video shorts to publish on their site. They also had some five-second motion graphics produced to top and tail the videos with context and branding. This pretty common requirement is a great idea on the web, where a user might land at your video having followed a link and be viewing a page without much context. Known as bumpers, these short introduction clips help brand a video and make it look a lot more professional. Adding bumpers to a video The simplest way to add bumpers to a video would be to edit them on to the start and end of the video file itself. Cooking the bumpers into the video file is easy, but should you ever want to update them it can become a real headache. If the branding needs updating, for example, you’d need to re-edit and re-encode all your videos. Not a fun task. What if the bumpers could be added dynamically? That would enable you to use the same bumper for multiple videos (decreasing download time for users who might watch more than one) and to update the bumpers whenever you wanted. You could change them seasonally, update them for special promotions, run different advertising slots, perform multivariate testing, or even target different bumpers to different users. The trade-off, of course, is that if you dynamically add your bumpers, there’s a chance that a user in a given circumstance might not see the bumper. For example, if the main video feature was uploaded to YouTube, you’d have no way to control the playback. As always, you need to weigh up the pros and cons and make your choice. HTML5 bumpers If you wanted to dyna… 2012 Drew McLellan drewmclellan 2012-12-01T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/html5-video-bumpers/ code
81 Science! Sometimes we want to capture people’s attention at a glance to communicate something fast. At other times we want to have the interface fade away into the background, letting people paint pictures in their minds with our words (if you’ll forgive a little flowery festive flourish). I tend to distinguish between these two broad objectives as designing for impact on the one hand, and designing for immersion on the other. What defines them is interruption. Impact needs an attention-grabbing interruption. Immersion requires us to remove interruption from the interface. Careful design deliberately interrupts but doesn’t accidentally disrupt. If that seems to make sense to you, then you’ll find the following snippets of science as useful as I did. Saccades and fixations As you’re reading this your eyes are skipping along the lines in tiny jumps. During each jump everything is blurred. Each jump ends in a small pause so your brain can take a snapshot of the letters. It arranges them into words, and then parses out the meaning — fast — in around a quarter of a second. The jumps are called saccades. The pauses are called fixations. Sometimes we take regressive saccades, skipping back to reread. There’s a simple example in the excellent little book, Detail in Typography, by Jost Hochuli. If you want to explore the science of reading in much more depth, I recommend the excellent paper, “The Science of Word Recognition”, by Dr Kevin Larson of Microsoft. To design for legibility and readability is to design for saccades and fixations. It’s the craft of making it easy for people’s brains to extract meaning, using techniques like good contrast, font size, spacing and structure, and only interrupting the reading experience deliberately. Scan paths At some point when visiting 24 ways you probably scanned the screen to get orientated. The journey your eyes took is known as a scan path. Scan paths are made up of saccades and fixations. Right now you’re following a scan path as you read, along one line, and down to the next… 2012 Jon Tan jontan 2012-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/science/ design
82 Being Prepared To Contribute “You’ll figure it out.” The advice my dad gives has always been the same, whether addressing my grade school homework or paying bills after college. If I was looking for a shortcut, my dad wasn’t going to be the one to provide it. When I was a kid it infuriated the hell out of me, but what I then perceived to be a lack of understanding turned out to be a keystone in my upbringing. As an adult, I realize the value in not receiving outright solutions, but being forced to figure things out. Even today, when presented with a roadblock while building for the web, I am temped to get by with the help of the latest grid system, framework, polyfill, or plugin. In and of themselves these resources are harmless, but before I can drop them in, those damn words still echo in the back of my mind: “You’ll figure it out.” I know that if I blindly implement these tools as drag and drop solutions I fail to understand the intricacies behind how and why they were built; repeatedly using them as shortcuts handicaps my skill set. When I solely rely on the tools of others, my work is at their mercy, leaving me less creative and resourceful, and, thus, less able to contribute to the advancement of our industry and community. One of my favorite things about this community is how generous and collaborative it can be. I’ve loved seeing FitVids used all over the web and regularly improved upon at Github. I bet we can all think of a time where implementing a shared resource has benefitted our own work and sanity. Because these resources are so valuable, it’s important that we continue to be a part of the conversation in order to further develop solutions and ideas. It’s easy to assume there’s someone smarter or more up-to-date in any one area, but with a degree of understanding and perspective, we can all participate. This open form of collaboration is in our web DNA. After all, its primary purpose was to promote the exchange and development of new ideas. Tim Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the Worl… 2012 Trent Walton trentwalton 2012-12-03T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/being-prepared-to-contribute/ process
83 Cut Copy Paste Long before I got into this design thing, I was heavily into making my own music inspired by the likes of Coldcut and Steinski. I would scour local second-hand record shops in search of obscure beats, loops and bits of dialogue in the hope of finding that killer sample I could then splice together with other things to make a huge hit that everyone would love. While it did eventually lead to a record contract and getting to release a few 12″ singles, ultimately I knew I’d have to look for something else to pay the bills. I may not make my own records any more, but the approach I took back then – finding (even stealing) things, cutting and pasting them into interesting combinations – is still at the centre of how I work, only these days it’s pretty much bits of code rather than bits of vinyl. Over the years I’ve stored these little bits of code (some I’ve found, some I’ve created myself) in Evernote, ready to be dialled up whenever I need them. So when Drew got in touch and asked if I’d like to do something for this year’s 24 ways I thought it might be kind of cool to share with you a few of these snippets that I find really useful. Think of these as a kind of coding mix tape; but remember – don’t just copy as is: play around, combine and remix them into other wonderful things. Some of this stuff is dirty; some of it will make hardcore programmers feel ill. For those people, remember this – while you were complaining about the syntax, I made something. Create unique colours Let’s start right away with something I stole. Well, actually it was given away at the time by Matt Biddulph who was then at Dopplr before Nokia destroyed it. Imagine you have thousands of words and you want to assign each one a unique colour. Well, Matt came up with a crazily simple but effective way to do that using an MD5 hash. Just encode said word using an MD5 hash, then take the first six characters of the string you get back to create a hexadecimal colour representation. I can’t guarantee that it will be a harmonious colour palet… 2012 Brendan Dawes brendandawes 2012-12-17T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/cut-copy-paste/ code
84 Responsive Responsive Design Now more than ever, we’re designing work meant to be viewed along a gradient of different experiences. Responsive web design offers us a way forward, finally allowing us to “design for the ebb and flow of things.” With those two sentences, Ethan closed the article that introduced the web to responsive design. Since then, responsive design has taken the web by storm. Seemingly every day, some company is touting their new responsive redesign. Large brands such as Microsoft, Time and Disney are getting in on the action, blowing away the once common criticism that responsive design was a technique only fit for small blogs. Certainly, this is a good thing. As Ethan and John Allsopp before him, were right to point out, the inherent flexibility of the web is a feature, not a bug. The web’s unique ability to be consumed and interacted with on any number of devices, with any number of input methods is something to be embraced. But there’s one part of the web’s inherent flexibility that seems to be increasingly overlooked: the ability for the web to be interacted with on any number of networks, with a gradient of bandwidth constraints and latency costs, on devices with varying degrees of hardware power. A few months back, Stephanie Rieger tweeted “Shoot me now…responsive design has seemingly become confused with an opportunity to reduce performance rather than improve it.” I would love to disagree, but unfortunately the evidence is damning. Consider the size and number of requests for four highly touted responsive sites that were launched this year: 74 requests, 1,511kb 114 requests, 1,200kb 99 requests, 1,298kb 105 requests, 5,942kb And those numbers were for the small screen versions of each site! These sites were praised for their visual design and responsive nature, and rightfully so. They’re very easy on the eyes and a lot of thought went into their appearance. But the numbers above tell an inconvenient truth: for all the time spent ensuring the visual design was airtight, seemingly very little (if… 2012 Tim Kadlec timkadlec 2012-12-05T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/responsive-responsive-design/ design
85 Starting Your Project on the Right Foot (and Keeping It There) I’m not sure if anything is as terrifying as beginning a new design project. I often spend hours trying to find the best initial footing in a design, so I’ve been working hard to improve my process, particularly for the earliest stages of a project. I want to smooth out the bumps that disrupt my creative momentum and focus on the emotional highs and lows I experience, and then try to minimize the lows and ride the highs as long as possible. Design is often a struggle broken up by blissful moments of creative clarity that provide valuable force to move your work forward. Momentum is a powerful tool in creative work, and it’s something we don’t always maximize when we’re working because of the hectic nature of our field. Obviously, every designer is going to have a different process, but I thought I’d share some of the methods I’ve begun to adopt. I hope this will spark a conversation among designers who are interested in looking at process in a new way. Jump-starting a project I cannot overstate the importance of immersing yourself in design and collecting ample amounts of inspiration when beginning a project. I make it a daily practice to visit a handful of sites (Dribbble, Graphic Exchange, Web Creme, siteInspire, Designspiration, and others) and save any examples of design that I like. I then sort them into general categories (publication design, illustration, typography, web design, and so on). Enjoying a bit of fresh design every day helps me absorb it and analyze why it’s effective instead of just imitating it.  Many designers are afraid to look at too much design for fear that they’ll be tempted to copy it, but I feel a steady influx of design inspiration reduces that possibility. You’re much more likely to take the easy way out and rip off a design if you’re scrambling for inspiration after getting stuck. If you are immersed in design from a variety of mediums, you’ll engage your creative brain on multiple levels and have an easier time creating something unique for your project. Looking at good desig… 2012 Bethany Heck bethanyheck 2012-12-02T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/starting-your-project-on-the-right-foot/ process
86 Flashless Animation Animation in a Flashless world When I splashed down in web design four years ago, the first thing I wanted to do was animate a cartoon in the browser. I’d been drawing comics for years, and I’ve wanted to see them come to life for nearly as long. Flash animation was still riding high, but I didn’t want to learn Flash. I wanted to learn JavaScript! Sadly, animating with JavaScript was limiting and resource-intensive. My initial foray into an infinitely looping background did more to burn a hole in my CPU than amaze my friends (although it still looks pretty cool). And there was still no simple way to incorporate audio. The browser technology just wasn’t there. Things are different now. CSS3 transitions and animations can do most of the heavy lifting and HTML5 audio can serve up the music and audio clips. You can do a lot without leaning on JavaScript at all, and when you lean on JavaScript, you can do so much more! In this project, I’m going to show you how to animate a simple walk cycle with looping audio. I hope this will inspire you to do something really cool and impress your friends. I’d love to see what you come up with, so please send your creations my way at rachelnabors.com! Note: Because every browser wants to use its own prefixes with CSS3 animations, and I have neither the time nor the space to write all of them out, I will use the W3C standard syntaxes; that is, going prefix-less. You can implement them out of the box with something like Prefixfree, or you can add prefixes on your own. If you take the latter route, I recommend using Sass and Compass so you can focus on your animations, not copying and pasting. The walk cycle Walk cycles are the “Hello world” of animation. One of the first projects of animation students is to spend hours drawing dozens of frames to complete a simple loopable animation of a character walking. Most animators don’t have to draw every frame themselves, though. They draw a few key frames and send those on to production animators to work on the between frames (or twe… 2012 Rachel Nabors rachelnabors 2012-12-06T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/flashless-animation/ code
87 Content Planning Demystified The first thing you learn as a junior editor is that you can’t do everything yourself. You must rely on someone else to do at least part of what must be done: the long-range planning, the initial drafting or shooting or recording, the editing, the production, the final polish. All of those pieces of work that belong to someone else take quite a lot of time — days, weeks, sometimes months. If you’re the sort of person who wrote college term papers the night before they were due, this can come as a bit of a shock. To my twenty-two-year-old self, it certainly did. It turns out that the only real way to avoid a trainwreck with editorial work is to get ahead of the trouble, line everything up carefully, and leave oodles of room for all the pieces to connect on time. The same is true of content strategy, content planning, and just about everything to do with content on the web, except for the writing itself — and that, too, usually takes far longer than anyone expects. If you’re not a professional editor and you suddenly find yourself dealing with content creation, you’re almost certainly going to underestimate the time and effort involved, or to skip something important in the planning process that pops up to bite you later. Without good content, it doesn’t matter how well designed or coded your web project is, because it won’t be doing the thing it’s meant to do. And even if content is far from your specialty, you may well end up being the only one willing to coordinate it far enough in advance to avoid a chaotic ending. Whether you’re hiring writers and editors for a big project, working with a small client, or coaxing some editorial help out of a co-worker, getting the planning work done correctly — and ahead of time — will allow you to orchestrate a glorious ballet of togetherness, instead of feverishly scraping together something to put on your site when the deadline looms. So get out the graph paper and the pocket protector, because we’re going to go Full Nerd on this problem. Know your poison Anyone who’s… 2012 Erin Kissane erinkissane 2012-12-20T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/content-planning-demystified/ content
88 Think First, Code Later This is a story that’s best told from the end, and it’s probably one you’re all familiar with. You, or someone just like you, have been building a website, probably as part of a skilled and capable team. You’re a front-end developer, focusing on JavaScript – it’s either your sole responsibility or shared around. It’s quite a big job, been going on for months, and at last it feels like you’re reaching the end of it. But, in a brief moment of downtime, you step back and take a look at the code as a whole. You notice that the folder called “jQuery plugins” suddenly looks rather full, and maybe there’s evidence of several methods of doing the same thing; there are loads of little niggly fixes in the bug tracker; and every place you use Ajax the structure of the data is slightly different. You sigh, and your shoulders droop slightly, and you think “Yeah, we’ll do that more cleanly next time.” The thing is, you probably already know how to rewrite the start of this story to make the ending work better. This situation is not really anyone’s fault – it’s just an accumulation of all the things you decided along the way, all the things you agreed you’d fix later that have disappeared into the black hole of technical debt, and accomodating all the “can we just…?” requests from around the team and the client. So, the solution to this is easy, right? More interminable planning meetings, more tightly controlled and documented specifications, less freedom to innovate, to try out new ideas and enjoy what you’re doing. Wait, that sounds even less fun than the old way. Minimum viable planning Actually, planning and specifications are exactly what you need, but the way you go about them can make a real difference, both to the quality of your code, and the quality of your life as a developer. It can be as simple as being a little more thoughtful before starting on any new piece of functionality. Involve your whole team if possible, or at least those working on what you’re doing. Canvass opinions and work out what the solution… 2012 Stephen Fulljames stephenfulljames 2012-12-07T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/think-first-code-later/ process
89 Direction, Distance and Destinations With all these new smartphones in the hands of lost and confused owners, we need a better way to represent distances and directions to destinations. The immediate examples that jump to mind are augmented reality apps which let you see another world through your phone’s camera. While this is interesting, there is a simpler way: letting people know how far away they are and if they are getting warmer or colder. In the app world, you can easily tap into the phone’s array of sensors such as the GPS and compass, but what people rarely know is that you can do the same with HTML. The native versus web app debate will never subside, but at least we can show you how to replicate some of the functionality progressively in HTML and JavaScript. In this tutorial, we’ll walk through how to create a simple webpage listing distances and directions of a few popular locations around the world. We’ll use JavaScript to access the device’s geolocation API and also attempt to access the compass to get a heading. Both of these APIs are documented, to be included in the W3C geolocation API specification, and can be used on both desktop and mobile devices today. To get started, we need a list of a few locations around the world. I have chosen the highest mountain peak on each continent so you can see a diverse set of distances and directions. Mountain °Latitude °Longitude Kilimanjaro -3.075833 37.353333 Vinson Massif -78.525483 -85.617147 Puncak Jaya -4.078889 137.158333 Everest 27.988056 86.925278 Elbrus 43.355 42.439167 Mount McKinley 63.0695 -151.0074 Aconcagua -32.653431 -70.011083 Source: Wikipedia We can put those into an HTML list to be styled and accessed by JavaScript to create some distance and directions calculations. The next thing we need to do is check to see if the browser and operating system have geolocation support. To do this we test to see if the function is available or not using a si… 2012 Brian Suda briansuda 2012-12-19T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/direction-distance-and-destinations/ code
90 Monkey Business “Too expensive.” “Over-priced.” “A bit rich.” They all mean the same thing. When you say that something’s too expensive, you’re doing much more than commenting on a price. You’re questioning the explicit or implicit value of a product or a service. You’re asking, “Will I get out of it what you want me to pay for it?” You’re questioning the competency, judgement and possibly even integrity of the individual or company that gave you that price, even though you don’t realise it. You might not be saying it explicitly, but what you’re implying is, “Have you made a mistake?”, “Am I getting the best deal?”, “Are you being honest with me?”, “Could I get this cheaper?” Finally, you’re being dishonest, because deep down you know all too well that there’s no such thing as too expensive. Why? It doesn’t matter what you’re questioning the price of. It could be a product, a service or the cost of an hour, day or week of someone’s time. Whatever you’re buying, too expensive is always an excuse. Saying it shifts acceptability of a price back to the person who gave it. What you should say, but are too afraid to admit, is: “It’s more money than I wanted to pay.” “It’s more than I estimated it would cost.” “It’s more than I can afford.” Everyone who’s given a price for a product or service will have been told at some point that it’s too expensive. It’s never comfortable to hear that. Thoughts come thick and fast: “What do I do?” “How do I react?” “Do I really want the business?” “Am I prepared to negotiate?” “How much am I willing to compromise?” It’s easy to be defensive when someone questions a price, but before you react, stay calm and remember that if someone says what you’re offering is too expensive, they’re saying more about themselves and their situation than they are about your price. Learn to read that situation and how to follow up with the right questions. Imagine you’ve quoted someone for a week of your time. “That’s too expensive,” they respond. How should you handle that? Think about what they might o… 2012 Andy Clarke andyclarke 2012-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/monkey-business/ business
91 Infinite Canvas: Moving Beyond the Page Remember Web 2.0? I do. In fact, that phrase neatly bifurcates my life on the internet. Pre-2.0, I was occupied by chatting on AOL and eventually by learning HTML so I could build sites on Geocities. Around 2002, however, I saw a WYSIWYG demo in Dreamweaver. The instructor was dragging boxes and images around a canvas. With a few clicks he was able to build a dynamic, single-page interface. Coming from the world of tables and inline HTML styles, I was stunned. As I entered college the next year, the web was blossoming: broadband, Wi-Fi, mobile (proud PDA owner, right here), CSS, Ajax, Bloglines, Gmail and, soon, Google Maps. I was a technology fanatic and a hobbyist web developer. For me, the web had long been informational. It was now rapidly becoming something else, something more: sophisticated, presentational, actionable. In 2003 we watched as the internet changed. The predominant theme of those early Web 2.0 years was the withering of Internet Explorer 6 and the triumph of web standards. Upon cresting that mountain, we looked around and collectively breathed the rarefied air of pristine HMTL and CSS, uncontaminated by toxic hacks and forks – only to immediately begin hurtling down the other side at what is, frankly, terrifying speed. Ten years later, we are still riding that rocket. Our days (and nights) are spent cramming for exams on CSS3 and RWD and Sass and RESS. We are the proud, frazzled owners of tiny pocket computers that annihilate the best laptops we could have imagined, and the architects of websites that are no longer restricted to big screens nor even segregated by device. We dragoon our sites into working any time, anywhere. At this point, we can hardly ask the spec developers to slow down to allow us to catch our breath, nor should we. It is, without a doubt, a most wonderful time to be a web developer. But despite the newfound luxury of rounded corners, gradients, embeddable fonts, low-level graphics APIs, and, glory be, shadows, the canyon between HTML and native appears to be as wide as… 2012 Nathan Peretic nathanperetic 2012-12-21T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/infinite-canvas-moving-beyond-the-page/ code
92 Redesigning the Media Query Responsive web design is showing us that designing content is more important than designing containers. But if you’ve given RWD a serious try, you know that shifting your focus from the container is surprisingly hard to do. There are many factors and instincts working against you, and one culprit is a perpetrator you’d least suspect. The media query is the ringmaster of responsive design. It lets us establish the rules of the game and gives us what we need most: control. However, like some kind of evil double agent, the media query is actually working against you. Its very nature diverts your attention away from content and forces you to focus on the container. The very act of choosing a media query value means choosing a screen size. Look at the history of the media query—it’s always been about the container. Values like screen, print, handheld and tv don’t have anything to do with content. The modern media query lets us choose screen dimensions, which is great because it makes RWD possible. But it’s still the act of choosing something that is completely unpredictable. Content should dictate our breakpoints, not the container. In order to get our focus back to the only thing that matters, we need a reengineered media query—one that frees us from thinking about screen dimensions. A media query that works for your content, not the window. Fortunately, Sass 3.2 is ready and willing to take on this challenge. Thinking in Columns Fluid grids never clicked for me. I feel so disoriented and confused by their squishiness. Responsive design demands their use though, right? I was ready to surrender until I found a grid that turned my world upright again. The Frameless Grid by Joni Korpi demonstrates that column and gutter sizes can stay fixed. As the screen size changes, you simply add or remove columns to accommodate. This made sense to me and armed with this concept I was able to give Sass the first component it needs to rewrite the media query: fixed column and gutter size variables. $grid-column: 60px; $grid-… 2012 Les James lesjames 2012-12-13T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/redesigning-the-media-query/ code
93 Design Systems The most important part of responsive web design is that, no matter what the viewport width, the content is accessible in an optimum display. The best responsive designs are those that allow you to go from one optimised display to another, but with the feeling that these experiences are part of a greater product whole. Responsive design: where we’ve been going wrong Responsive web design was a shock to my web designer system. Those of us who had already been designing sites for mobile probably had the biggest leap to make. We might have been detecting user agents in order to deliver a mobile-specific site, or using the slightly more familiar Bushido technique to deliver sites optimised for device type and viewport size, but either way our focus was on devices. A site was optimised for either a mobile phone or a desktop. Responsive web design brought us back to pre-table layout fluid sites that expanded or contracted to fit the viewport. This was a big difference to get our heads around when we were so used to designing for fixed-width layouts. Suddenly, an element could be any width or, at least, we needed to consider its maximum and minimum widths. Pixel perfection, while pretty, became wholly unrealistic, and a whole load of designers who prided themselves in detailed and precise designs got a bit scared. Hanging on to our previous processes and typical deliverables led us to continue to optimise our sites for particular devices and provide pixel-perfect mockups for those device widths. With all this we were concentrating on devices, not content, deliverables and not process, and making assumptions about users and their devices based on nothing but the width of the viewport. I don’t think this is a crime, I think it was inevitable. We can be up to date with our principles and ideals, but it’s never as easy in practice. That’s why it’s more important than ever to share our successful techniques and processes. Let’s drag each other into modern web design. Design systems: the principles What are design sy… 2012 Laura Kalbag laurakalbag 2012-12-12T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/design-systems/ design
94 Using Questionnaires for Design Research How do you ask the right questions? In this article, I share a bunch of tips and practical advice on how to write and use your own surveys for design research. I’m an audience researcher – I’m not a designer or developer. I’ve spent much of the last thirteen years working with audience data both in creative agencies and on the client-side. I’m also a member of the Market Research Society. I run user surveys and undertake user research for our clients at the design studio I run with my husband – Mark Boulton Design. So let’s get started! Who are you designing for? Good web designers and developers appreciate the importance of understanding the audience they are designing or building a website or app for. I’m assuming that because you are reading a quality publication like 24 ways that you fall into this category, and so I won’t begin this article with a lecture. Suffice it to say, it’s a good idea to involve research of some sort during the life cycle of every project you undertake. I don’t just mean visual or competitor research, which of course is also very important. I mean looking at or finding your own audience or user data. Whether that be auditing existing data or research available from the client, carrying out user interviews, A/B testing, or conducting a simple questionnaire with users, any research is better than none. If you create personas as a design tool, they should always be based on research, so you will need to have plenty of data to hand for that. Where do I start? In the initial kick-off stages of a project, it’s a good idea to start by asking your client (when working in-house you still have a client – you might even be the client) what research or audience data they have available. Some will have loads – analytics, surveys, focus groups and insights – from talking to customers. Some won’t have much at all and you’ll be hard pressed to find out much about the audience. It’s best to review existing research first without rushing headlong into doing new research. Get a picture of what … 2012 Emma Boulton emmaboulton 2012-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/using-questionnaires-for-design-research/ business
95 Giving Content Priority with CSS3 Grid Layout Browser support for many of the modules that are part of CSS3 have enabled us to use CSS for many of the things we used to have to use images for. The rise of mobile browsers and the concept of responsive web design has given us a whole new way of looking at design for the web. However, when it comes to layout, we haven’t moved very far at all. We have talked for years about separating our content and source order from the presentation of that content, yet most of us have had to make decisions on source order in order to get a certain visual layout. Owing to some interesting specifications making their way through the W3C process at the moment, though, there is hope of change on the horizon. In this article I’m going to look at one CSS module, the CSS3 grid layout module, that enables us to define a grid and place elements on to it. This article comprises a practical demonstration of the basics of grid layout, and also a discussion of one way in which we can start thinking of content in a more adaptive way. Before we get started, it is important to note that, at the time of writing, these examples work only in Internet Explorer 10. CSS3 grid layout is a module created by Microsoft, and implemented using the -ms prefix in IE10. My examples will all use the -ms prefix, and not include other prefixes simply because this is such an early stage specification, and by the time there are implementations in other browsers there may be inconsistencies. The implementation I describe today may well change, but is also there for your feedback. If you don’t have access to IE10, then one way to view and test these examples is by signing up for an account with Browserstack – the free trial would give you time to have a look. I have also included screenshots of all relevant stages in creating the examples. What is CSS3 grid layout? CSS3 grid layout aims to let developers divide up a design into a grid and place content on to that grid. Rather than trying to fabricate a grid from floats, you can declare an actual grid on a c… 2012 Rachel Andrew rachelandrew 2012-12-18T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/css3-grid-layout/ code
96 Unwrapping the Wii U Browser The Wii U was released on 18 November 2012 in the US, and 30 November in the UK. It’s the first eighth generation home console, the first mainstream second-screen device, and it has some really impressive browser specs. Consoles are not just for games now: they’re marketed as complete entertainment solutions. Internet connectivity and browser functionality have gone from a nice-to-have feature in game consoles to a selling point. In Nintendo’s case, they see it as a challenge to design an experience that’s better than browsing on a desktop. Let’s make a browser that users can use on a daily basis, something that can really handle everything we’ve come to expect from a browser and do it more naturally. Sasaki – Iwata Asks on Nintendo.com With 11% of people using console browsers to visit websites, it’s important to consider these devices right from the start of projects. Browsing the web on a TV or handheld console is a very different experience to browsing on a desktop or a mobile phone, and has many usability implications. Console browser testing When I’m testing a console browser, one of the first things I do is run Niels Leenheer’s HTML5 test and Lea Verou’s CSS3 test. I use these benchmarks as a rough comparison of the standards each browser supports. In October, IE9 came out for the Xbox 360, scoring 120/500 in the HTML5 test and 32% in the CSS3 test. The PS Vita also had an update to its browser in recent weeks, jumping from 58/500 to 243/500 in the HTML5 test, and 32% to 55% in the CSS3 test. Manufacturers have been stepping up their game, trying to make their browsing experiences better. To give you an idea of how the Wii U currently compares to other devices, here are the test results of the other TV consoles I’ve tested. I’ve written more in-depth notes on TV and portable console browsers separately. Year of releaseHTML5 scoreCSS3 scoreNotes Wii U2012258/50048%Runs a Netfront browser (WebKit). Wii200689/500Wouldn’t runRuns an Opera browser. PS3200668/50038%Runs a Netfront browser (WebKit). X… 2012 Anna Debenham annadebenham 2012-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2012/unwrapping-the-wii-u-browser/ ux
97 Making Modular Layout Systems For all of the advantages the web has with distribution of content, I’ve always lamented the handiness of the WYSIWYG design tools from the print publishing world. When I set out to redesign my personal website, I wanted to have some of the same abilities that those tools have, laying out pages how I saw fit, and that meant a flexible system for dealing with imagery. Building on some of the CSS that Eric Meyer employed a few years back on the A List Apart design, I created a set of classes to use together to achieve the variety I was after. Employing multiple classes isn’t a new technique, but most examples aren’t coming at this from strictly editorial and visual perspectives; I wanted to have options to vary my layouts depending on content. If you want to skip ahead, you can view the example first. Laying the Foundation We need to be able to map out our page so that we have predictable canvas, and then create a system of image sizes that work with it. For the sake of this article, let’s use a simple uniform 7-column grid, consisting of seven 100px-wide columns and 10px of space between each column, though you can use any measurements you want as long as they remain constant. All of our images will have a width that references the grid column widths (in our example, 100px, 210px, 320px, 430px, 540px, 650px, or 760px), but the height can be as large as needed. Once we know our images will all have one of those widths, we can setup our CSS to deal with the variations in layout. In the most basic form, we’re going to be dealing with three classes: one each that represent an identifier, a size, and a placement for our elements. This is really a process of abstracting the important qualities of what you would do with a given image in a layout into separate classes, allowing you to quickly customize their appearance by combining the appropriate classes. Rather than trying to serve up a one-size-fits-all approach to styling, we give each class only one or two attributes and rely on the combination of classes … 2008 Jason Santa Maria jasonsantamaria 2008-12-15T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2008/making-modular-layout-systems/ process
98 Absolute Columns CSS layouts have come quite a long way since the dark ages of web publishing, with all sorts of creative applications of floats, negative margins, and even background images employed in order to give us that most basic building block, the column. As the title implies, we are indeed going to be discussing columns today—more to the point, a handy little application of absolute positioning that may be exactly what you’ve been looking for… Care for a nightcap? If you’ve been developing for the web for long enough, you may be familiar with this little children’s fable, passed down from wizened Shaolin monks sitting atop the great Mt. Geocities: “Once upon a time, multiple columns of the same height could be easily created using TABLES.” Now, though we’re all comfortably seated on the standards train (and let’s be honest: even if you like to think you’ve fallen off, if you’ve given up using tables for layout, rest assured your sleeper car is still reserved), this particular—and as page layout goes, quite basic—trick is still a thorn in our CSSides compared to the ease of achieving the same effect using said Tables of Evil™. See, the orange juice masks the flavor… Creative solutions such as Dan Cederholm’s Faux Columns do a good job of making it appear as though adjacent columns maintain equal height as content expands, using a background image to fill the space that the columns cannot. Now, the Holy Grail of CSS columns behaving exactly how they would as table cells—or more to the point, as columns—still eludes us (cough CSS3 Multi-column layout module cough), but sometimes you just need, for example, a secondary column (say, a sidebar) to match the height of a primary column, without involving the creation of images. This is where a little absolute positioning can save you time, while possibly giving your layout a little more flexibility. Shaken, not stirred You’re probably familiar by now with the concept of Making the Absolute, Relative as set forth long ago by Doug Bowman, but let’s quickly review just in c… 2008 Dan Rubin danrubin 2008-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2008/absolute-columns/ code
99 A Christmas hCard From Me To You So apparently Christmas is coming. And what is Christmas all about? Well, cleaning out your address book, of course! What better time to go through your contacts, making sure everyone’s details are up date and that you’ve deleted all those nasty clients who never paid on time? It’s also a good time to make sure your current clients and colleagues have your most up-to-date details, so instead of filling up their inboxes with e-cards, why not send them something useful? Something like a… vCard! (See what I did there?) Just in case you’ve been working in a magical toy factory in the upper reaches of Scandinavia for the last few years, I’m going to tell you that now would also be the perfect time to get into microformats. Using the hCard format, we’ll build a very simple web page and markup our contact details in such a way that they’ll be understood by microformats plugins, like Operator or Tails for Firefox, or the cross-browser Microformats Bookmarklet. Oh, and because Christmas is all about dressing up and being silly, we’ll make the whole thing look nice and have a bit of fun with some CSS3 progressive enhancement. If you can’t wait to see what we end up with, you can preview it here. Step 1: Contact Details First, let’s decide what details we want to put on the page. I’d put my full name, my email address, my phone number, and my postal address, but I’d rather not get surprise visits from strangers when I’m fannying about with my baubles, so I’m going to use Father Christmas instead (that’s Santa to you Yanks). Father Christmas fatherchristmas@elliotjaystocks.com 25 Laughingallthe Way Snow Falls Lapland Finland 010 60 58 000 Step 2: hCard Creator Now I’m not sure about you, but I rather like getting the magical robot pixies to do the work for me, so head on over to the hCard Creator and put those pixies to work! Pop in your details and they’ll give you some nice microformatted HTML in turn. <div id="hcard-Father-Christmas" class="vcard"> <a class="url fn" href="http://elliotjaystocks.com/fatherc… 2008 Elliot Jay Stocks elliotjaystocks 2008-12-10T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2008/a-christmas-hcard-from-me-to-you/ code
100 Moo'y Christmas A note from the editors: Moo has changed their API since this article was written. As the web matures, it is less and less just about the virtual world. It is becoming entangled with our world and it is harder to tell what is virtual and what is real. There are several companies who are blurring this line and make the virtual just an extension of the physical. Moo is one such company. Moo offers simple print on demand services. You can print business cards, moo mini cards, stickers, postcards and more. They give you the ability to upload your images, customize them, then have them sent to your door. Many companies allow this sort of digital to physical interaction, but Moo has taken it one step further and has built an API. Printable stocking stuffers The Moo API consists of a simple XML file that is sent to their servers. It describes all the information needed to dynamically assemble and print your object. This is very helpful, not just for when you want to print your own stickers, but when you want to offer them to your customers, friends, organization or community with no hassle. Moo handles the check-out and shipping, all you need to do is what you do best, create! Now using an API sounds complicated, but it is actually very easy. I am going to walk you through the options so you can easily be printing in no time. Before you can begin sending data to the Moo API, you need to register and get an API key. This is important, because it allows Moo to track usage and to credit you. To register, visit http://www.moo.com/api/ and click “Request an API key”. In the following examples, I will use {YOUR API KEY HERE} as a place holder, replace that with your API key and everything will work fine. First thing you need to do is to create an XML file to describe the check-out basket. Open any text-editor and start with some XML basics. Don’t worry, this is pretty simple and Moo gives you a few tools to check your XML for errors before… 2008 Brian Suda briansuda 2008-12-19T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2008/mooy-christmas/ code

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