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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
102 Art Directing with Looking Room Using photographic composition techniques to start to art direct on the template-driven web. Think back to last night. There you are, settled down in front of the TV, watching your favourite soap opera, with nice hot cup of tea in hand. Did you notice – whilst engrossed in the latest love-triangle – that the cameraman has worked very hard to support your eye’s natural movement on-screen? He’s carefully framed individual shots to create balance. Think back to last week. There you were, sat with your mates watching the big match. Did you notice that the cameraman frames the shot to go with the direction of play? A player moving right will always be framed so that he is on the far left, with plenty of ‘room’ to run into. Both of these cameramen use a technique called Looking Room, sometimes called Lead Room. Looking Room is the space between the subject (be it a football, or a face), and the edge of the screen. Specifically, Looking Room is the negative space on the side the subject is looking or moving. The great thing is, it’s not just limited to photography, film or television; we can use it in web design too. Basic Framing Before we get into Looking Room, and how it applies to web, we need to have a look at some basics of photographic composition. Many web sites use imagery, or photographs, to enhance the content. But even with professionally shot photographs, without a basic understanding of framing or composition, you can damage how the image is perceived. A simple, easy way to make photographs more interesting is to fill the frame. Take this rather mundane photograph of a horse: A typical point and click affair. But, we can work with this. By closely cropping, and filling the frame, we can instantly change the mood of the shot. I’ve also added Looking Room on the right of the horse. This is space that the horse would be walking into. It gives the photograph movement. Subject, Space, and Movement Generally speaking, a portrait photograph will have a subject and space around them. Visual inte… 2008 Mark Boulton markboulton 2008-12-05T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2008/art-directing-with-looking-room/ design
108 A Festive Type Folly ‘Tis the season to be jolly, so the carol singers tell us. At 24 ways, we’re keeping alive another British tradition that includes the odd faux-Greco-Roman building dotted around the British countryside, Tower Bridge built in 1894, and your Dad’s Christmas jumper with the dancing reindeer motif. ‘Tis the season of the folly! 24 Ways to impress your friends The example is not an image, just text. You may wish to see a screenshot in Safari to compare with your own operating system and browser rendering. Like all follies this is an embellishment — a bit of web typography fun. It’s similar to the masthead text at my place, but it’s also a hyperlink. Unlike the architectural follies of the past, no child labour was used to fund or build it, just some HTML flavoured with CSS, and a heavy dose of Times New Roman. Why Times New Roman, you ask? Well, after a few wasted hours experimenting with heaps of typefaces, seeking an elusive consistency of positioning and rendering across platforms, it proved to be the most consistent. Who’d‘a thought? To make things more interesting, I wanted to use a traditional scale and make the whole thing elastic by using relative lengths that would react to a person’s font size. So, to the meat of this festive frippery: There are three things we rely on to create this indulgence: Descendant selectors Absolute positioning Inheritance HTML & Descendant Selectors The markup for the folly might seem complex at first glance. To semantics pedants and purists it may seem outrageous. If that’s you, read on at your peril! Here it is with lots of whitespace: <div id="type"> <h1>   <a href="/">     <em>2       <span>4         <span>w           <span>a             <span>y               <span>s</span>             </span>           </span>         </span>       </span>     </em>     <strong>to       <span>i         <span>m           <span>pre             <span>s               <span>s                 <span>your                   <span>friends</span>                 </span>         … 2008 Jon Tan jontan 2008-12-17T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2008/a-festive-type-folly/ design
111 Geometric Background Patterns When the design is finished and you’re about to start the coding process, you have to prepare your graphics. If you’re working with a pattern background you need to export only the repeating fragment. It can be a bit tricky to isolate a fragment to achieve a seamless pattern background. For geometric patterns there is a method I always follow and that I want to share with you. Take for example a perfect 45° diagonal line pattern. How do you define this pattern fragment so it will be rendered seamlessly? Here is the method I usually follow to avoid a mismatch. First, zoom in so you see enough detail and you can distinguish the pixels. Select the Rectangular Marquee Selection tool and start your selection at the intersection of 2 different colors of a diagonal line. Hold down the Shift key while dragging so you drag a perfect square. Release the mouse when you reach the exact same intesection (as your starting) point at the top right. Copy this fragment (using Copy Merged: Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + C) and paste the fragment in a new layer. Give this layer the name ‘pattern’. Now hold down the Command Key (Control Key on Windows) and click on the ‘pattern’ layer in the Layers Palette to select the fragment. Now go to Edit > Define Pattern, enter a name for your pattern and click OK. Test your pattern in a new document. Create a new document of 600 px by 400px, hit Cmd/Ctrl + A and go to Edit > Fill… and choose your pattern. If the result is OK, you have created a perfect pattern fragment. Below you see this pattern enlarged. The guides show the boundaries of the pattern fragment and the red pixels are the reference points. The red pixels at the top right, bottom right and bottom left should match the red pixel at the top left. This technique should work for every geometric pattern. Some patterns are easier than others, but this, and the Photoshop pattern fill test, has always been my guideline. Other geometric pattern examples Example 1 Not all geometric pattern fragments are squares. Some patterns … 2008 Veerle Pieters veerlepieters 2008-12-02T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2008/geometric-background-patterns/ design
131 Random Lines Made With Mesh I know that Adobe Illustrator can be a bit daunting for people who aren’t really advanced users of the program, but you would be amazed by how easy you can create cool effects or backgrounds. In this short tutorial I show you how to create a cool looking background only in 5 steps. Step 1 – Create Lines Create lines using random widths and harmonious suitable colors. If you get stuck on finding the right colors, check out Adobe’s Kuler and start experimenting. Step 2 – Convert Strokes to Fills Select all lines and convert them to fills. Go to the Object menu, select Path > Outline Stroke. Select the Rectangle tool and draw 1 big rectangle on top the lines. Give the rectangle a suitable color. With the rectangle still selected, go to the Object menu, select Arrange > Send to Back. Step 3 – Convert to Mesh Select all objects by pressing the command key (for Mac users), control key (for Windows users) + the “a” key. Go to the Object menu and select the Envelope Distort > Make with Mesh option. Enter 2 rows and 2 columns. Check the preview box to see what happens and click the OK button. Step 4 – Play Around with The Mesh Points Play around with the points of the mesh using the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow in the Toolbox). Click on the top right point of the mesh. Once you’re starting to drag hold down the shift key and move the point upwards. Now start dragging the bezier handles on the mesh to achieve the effect as shown in the above picture. Of course you can try out all kind of different effects here. The Final Result This is an example of how the final result can look. You can try out all kinds of different shapes dragging the handles of the mesh points. This is just one of the many results you can get. So next time you haven’t got inspiration for a background of a header, a banner or whatever, just experiment with a few basic shapes such as lines and try out the ‘Envelope Distort’ options in Illustrator or the ‘Make with Mesh’ option and experiment, you’ll be amazed by the u… 2006 Veerle Pieters veerlepieters 2006-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2006/random-lines-made-with-mesh/ design
133 Gravity-Defying Page Corners While working on Stikkit, a “page curl” came to be. Not being as crafty as Veerle, you see. I fired up Photoshop to see what could be. “Another copy is running on the network“ … oopsie. With license issues sorted out and a concept in mind I set out to create something flexible and refined. One background image and code that is sure to be lean. A simple solution for lazy people like me. The curl I’ll be showing isn’t a curl at all. It’s simply a gradient that’s 18 pixels tall. With a fade to the left that’s diagonally aligned and a small fade on the right that keeps the illusion defined. Create a selection with the marquee tool (keeping in mind a reasonable minimum width) and drag a gradient (black to transparent) from top to bottom. Now drag a gradient (the background color of the page to transparent) from the bottom left corner to the top right corner. Finally, drag another gradient from the right edge towards the center, about 20 pixels or so. But the top is flat and can be positioned precisely just under the bottom right edge very nicely. And there it will sit, never ever to be busted by varying sizes of text when adjusted. <div id="page"> <div id="page-contents"> <h2>Gravity-Defying!</h2> <p>Lorem ipsum dolor ...</p> </div> </div> Let’s dive into code and in the markup you’ll see “is that an extra div?” … please don’t kill me? The #page div sets the width and bottom padding whose height is equal to the shadow we’re adding. The #page-contents div will set padding in ems to scale with the text size the user intends. The background color will be added here too but not overlapping the shadow where #page’s padding makes room. A simple technique that you may find amusing is to substitute a PNG for the GIF I was using. For that would be crafty and future-proof, too. The page curl could sit on any background hue. I hope you’ve enjoyed this easy little trick. It’s hardly earth-shattering, and arguably slick. But it could come in handy, you just never know. Happy Holidays! And pleasant dreams o… 2006 Dan Cederholm dancederholm 2006-12-24T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2006/gravity-defying-page-corners/ design
134 Photographic Palettes How many times have you seen a colour combination that just worked, a match so perfect that it just seems obvious? Now, how many times do you come up with those in your own work? A perfect palette looks easy when it’s done right, but it’s often maddeningly difficult and time-consuming to accomplish. Choosing effective colour schemes will always be more art than science, but there are things you can do that will make coming up with that oh-so-smooth palette just a little a bit easier. A simple trick that can lead to incredibly gratifying results lies in finding a strong photograph and sampling out particularly harmonious colours. Photo Selection Not all photos are created equal. You certainly want to start with imagery that fits the eventual tone you’re attempting to create. A well-lit photo of flowers might lead to a poor colour scheme for a funeral parlour’s web site, for example. It’s worth thinking about what you’re trying to say in advance, and finding a photo that lends itself to your message. As a general rule of thumb, photos that have a lot of neutral or de-saturated tones with one or two strong colours make for the best palette; bright and multi-coloured photos are harder to derive pleasing results from. Let’s start with a relatively neutral image. Sampling In the above example, I’ve surrounded the photo with three different background colours directly sampled from the photo itself. Moving from left to right, you can see how each of the sampled colours is from an area of increasingly smaller coverage within the photo, and yet there’s still a strong harmony between the photo and the background image. I don’t really need to pick the big obvious colours from the photo to create that match, I can easily concentrate on more interesting colours that might work better for what I intend. Using a similar palette, let’s apply those colour choices to a more interesting layout: In this mini-layout, I’ve re-used the same tan colour from the previous middle image as a background, and sampled out a nicely… 2006 Dave Shea daveshea 2006-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2006/photographic-palettes/ design
137 Cheating Color Have you ever been strapped to use specific colors outlined in a branding guide? Felt restricted because those colors ended up being too light or dark for the way you want to use them? Here’s the solution: throw out your brand guide. gasp! OK, don’t throw it out. Just put it in a drawer for a few minutes. Branding Guides be Damned When dealing with color on screen, it’s easy to get caught up in literal values from hex colors, you can cheat colors ever so slightly to achieve the right optical value. This is especially prevalent when trying to bring a company’s identity colors to a screen design. Because the most important idea behind a brand guide is to help a company maintain the visual integrity of their business, consider hex numbers to be guidelines rather than law. Once you are familiar enough with the colors your company uses, you can start to flex them a bit, and take a few liberties. This is a quick method for cheating to get the color you really want. With a little sleight of design, we can swap a color that might be part of your identity guidelines, with one that works better optically, and no one will be the wiser! Color is a Wily Beast This might be hard: You might have to break out of the idea that a color can only be made using one method. Color is fluid. It interacts and changes based on its surroundings. Some colors can appear lighter or darker based on what color they appear on or next to. The RGB gamut is additive color, and as such, has a tendency to push contrast in the direction that objects may already be leaning—increasing the contrast of light colors on dark colors and decreasing the contrast of light on light. Obviously, because we are talking about monitors here, these aren’t hard and fast rules. Cheat and Feel Good About It On a light background, when you have a large element of a light color, a small element of the same color will appear lighter. Enter our fake company: Double Dagger. They manufacture footnotes. Take a look at Fig. 1 below. The logo (Double Dagger), rule, and… 2006 Jason Santa Maria jasonsantamaria 2006-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2006/cheating-color/ design
140 Styling hCards with CSS There are plenty of places online where you can learn about using the hCard microformat to mark up contact details at your site (there are some resources at the end of the article). But there’s not yet been a lot of focus on using microformats with CSS. So in this installment of 24 ways, we’re going to look at just that – how microformats help make CSS based styling simpler and more logical. Being rich, quite complex structures, hCards provide designers with a sophisticated scaffolding for styling them. A recent example of styling hCards I saw, playing on the business card metaphor, was by Andy Hume, at http://thedredge.org/2005/06/using-hcards-in-your-blog/. While his approach uses fixed width cards, let’s take a look at how we might style a variable width business card style for our hCards. Let’s take a common hCard, which includes address, telephone and email details <div class="vcard"> <p class="fn org">Web Directions North <a href="http://suda.co.uk/projects/X2V/get-vcard.php?uri=http://north.webdirections.org/contact/"> <img src="images/vcard-add.png" alt="download vcard icon"></a> </p> 1485 Laperrière Avenue Ottawa ON K1Z 7S8 Canada Phone/Fax: Work: 61 2 9365 5007 Email: info@webdirections.org We’ll be using a variation on the now well established “sliding doors” technique (if you create a CSS technique, remember it’s very important to give it a memorable name or acronym, and bonus points if you get your name in there!) by Douglas Bowman, enhanced by Scott Schiller (see http://www.schillmania.com/projects/dialog/,) which will give us a design which looks like this The technique, in a nutshell, uses background images on four elements, two at the top, and two at the bottom, to add each rounded corner. We are going to make this design “fluid” in the sense that it grows and shrinks in proportion with the size of the font that the text of the element is displayed with. This is sometimes referred to as an “em driven design” (we’ll see why in a moment). To see how this w… 2006 John Allsopp johnallsopp 2006-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2006/styling-hcards-with-css/ design
141 Compose to a Vertical Rhythm “Space in typography is like time in music. It is infinitely divisible, but a few proportional intervals can be much more useful than a limitless choice of arbitrary quantities.” So says the typographer Robert Bringhurst, and just as regular use of time provides rhythm in music, so regular use of space provides rhythm in typography, and without rhythm the listener, or the reader, becomes disorientated and lost. On the Web, vertical rhythm – the spacing and arrangement of text as the reader descends the page – is contributed to by three factors: font size, line height and margin or padding. All of these factors must calculated with care in order that the rhythm is maintained. The basic unit of vertical space is line height. Establishing a suitable line height that can be applied to all text on the page, be it heading, body copy or sidenote, is the key to a solid dependable vertical rhythm, which will engage and guide the reader down the page. To see this in action, I’ve created an example with headings, footnotes and sidenotes. Establishing a suitable line height The easiest place to begin determining a basic line height unit is with the font size of the body copy. For the example I’ve chosen 12px. To ensure readability the body text will almost certainly need some leading, that is to say spacing between the lines. A line-height of 1.5em would give 6px spacing between the lines of body copy. This will create a total line height of 18px, which becomes our basic unit. Here’s the CSS to get us to this point: body { font-size: 75%; } html>body { font-size: 12px; } p { line-height 1.5em; } There are many ways to size text in CSS and the above approach provides and accessible method of achieving the pixel-precision solid typography requires. By way of explanation, the first font-size reduces the body text from the 16px default (common to most browsers and OS set-ups) down to the 12px we require. This rule is primarily there for Internet Explorer 6 and below on Windows: the percentage value means that the t… 2006 Richard Rutter richardrutter 2006-12-12T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2006/compose-to-a-vertical-rhythm/ design
146 Increase Your Font Stacks With Font Matrix Web pages built in plain old HTML and CSS are displayed using only the fonts installed on users’ computers (@font-face implementations excepted). To enable this, CSS provides the font-family property for specifying fonts in order of preference (often known as a font stack). For example: h1 {font-family: 'Egyptienne F', Cambria, Georgia, serif} So in the above rule, headings will be displayed in Egyptienne F. If Egyptienne F is not available then Cambria will be used, failing that Georgia or the final fallback default serif font. This everyday bit of CSS will be common knowledge among all 24 ways readers. It is also a commonly held belief that the only fonts we can rely on being installed on users’ computers are the core web fonts of Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, Georgia and friends. But is that really true? If you look in the fonts folder of your computer, or even your Mum’s computer, then you are likely to find a whole load of fonts besides the core ones. This is because many software packages automatically install extra typefaces. For example, Office 2003 installs over 100 additional fonts. Admittedly not all of these fonts are particularly refined, and not all are suitable for the Web. However they still do increase your options. The Matrix I have put together a matrix of (western) fonts showing which are installed with Mac and Windows operating systems, which are installed with various versions of Microsoft Office, and which are installed with Adobe Creative Suite. The matrix is available for download as an Excel file and as a CSV. There are no readily available statistics regarding the penetration of Office or Creative Suite, but you can probably take an educated guess based on your knowledge of your readers. The idea of the matrix is that use can use it to help construct your font stack. First of all pick the font you’d really like for your text – this doesn’t have to be in the matrix. Then pick the generic family (serif, sans-serif, cursive, fantasy or monospace) and a font from each of the … 2007 Richard Rutter richardrutter 2007-12-17T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2007/increase-your-font-stacks-with-font-matrix/ design
148 Typesetting Tables Tables have suffered in recent years on the web. They were used for laying out web pages. Then, following the Web Standards movement, they’ve been renamed by the populous as `data tables’ to ensure that we all know what they’re for. There have been some great tutorials for the designing tables using CSS for presentation and focussing on the semantics in the displaying of data in the correct way. However, typesetting tables is a subtle craft that has hardly had a mention. Table design can often end up being a technical exercise. What data do we need to display? Where is the data coming from and what form will it take? When was the last time your heard someone talk about lining numerals? Or designing to the reading direction? Tables are not read like sentences When a reader looks at, and tries to understand, tabular data, they’re doing a bunch of things at the same time. Generally, they’re task based; they’re looking for something. They are reading horizontally AND vertically Reading a table is not like reading a paragraph in a novel, and therefore shouldn’t be typeset in the same way. Designing tables is information design, it’s functional typography—it’s not a time for eye candy. Typesetting tables Typesetting great looking tables is largely an exercise in restraint. Minimal interference with the legibility of the table should be in the forefront of any designers mind. When I’m designing tables I apply some simple rules: Plenty of negative space Use the right typeface Go easy on the background tones, unless you’re giving reading direction visual emphasis Design to the reading direction By way of explanation, here are those rules as applied to the following badly typeset table. Your default table This table is a mess. There is no consideration for the person trying to read it. Everything is too tight. The typeface is wrong. It’s flat. A grim table indeed. Let’s see what we can do about that. Plenty of negative space The badly typeset table has been set with default padding. There has bee… 2007 Mark Boulton markboulton 2007-12-07T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2007/typesetting-tables/ design
149 Underpants Over My Trousers With Christmas approaching faster than a speeding bullet, this is the perfect time for you to think about that last minute present to buy for the web geek in your life. If you’re stuck for ideas for that special someone, forget about that svelte iPhone case carved from solid mahogany and head instead to your nearest comic-book shop and pick up a selection of comics or graphic novels. (I’ll be using some of my personal favourite comic books as examples throughout). Trust me, whether your nearest and dearest has been reading comics for a while or has never peered inside this four-colour world, they’ll thank-you for it. Aside from indulging their superhero fantasies, comic books can provide web designers with a rich vein of inspiring ideas and material to help them create shirt button popping, trouser bursting work for the web. I know from my own personal experience, that looking at aspects of comic book design, layout and conventions and thinking about the ways that they can inform web design has taken my design work in often-unexpected directions. There are far too many fascinating facets of comic book design that provide web designers with inspiration to cover in the time that it takes to pull your underpants over your trousers. So I’m going to concentrate on one muscle bound aspect of comic design, one that will make you think differently about how you lay out the content of your pages in panels. A suitcase full of Kryptonite Now, to the uninitiated onlooker, the panels of a comic book may appear to perform a similar function to still frames from a movie. But inside the pages of a comic, panels must work harder to help the reader understand the timing of a story. It is this method for conveying narrative timing to a reader that I believe can be highly useful to designers who work on the web as timing, drama and suspense are as important in the web world as they are in worlds occupied by costumed crime fighters and superheroes. I’d like you to start by closing your eyes and thinking about your own proces… 2007 Andy Clarke andyclarke 2007-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2007/underpants-over-my-trousers/ design
151 Get In Shape Pop quiz: what’s wrong with the following navigation? Maybe nothing. But then again, maybe there’s something bugging you about the way it comes together, something you can’t quite put your finger on. It seems well-designed, but it also seems a little… off. The design decisions that led to this eventual form were no doubt well-considered: Client: The top level needs to have a “current page” status indicator of some sort. Designer: How about a white tab? Client: Great! The second level needs to show up underneath the first level though… Designer: Okay, but that white tab I just added makes it hard to visually connect the bottom nav to the top. Client: Too late, we’ve seen the white tab and we love it. Try and make it work. Designer: Right. So I placed the second level in its own box. Client: Hmm. They seem too separated. I can’t tell that the yellow nav is the second level of the first. Designer: How about an indicator arrow? Client: Brilliant! The problem is that the end result feels awkward and forced. During the design process, little decisions were made that ultimately affect the overall shape of the navigation. What started out as a neatly contained rounded rectangle ended up as an ambiguous double shape that looks funny, though it’s often hard to pinpoint precisely why. The Shape of Things Well the why in this case is because seemingly unrelated elements in a design still end up visually interacting. Adding a new item to a page impacts everything surrounding it. In this navigation example, we’re looking at two individual objects that are close enough to each other that they form a relationship; if we reduce them to strictly their outlines, it’s a little easier to see that this particular combination registers oddly. The two shapes float with nothing really grounding them. If they were connected, perhaps it would be a different story. The white tab divides the top shape in half, leaving a gap in the middle of it. There’s very little balance in this pairing because the overall shape of the… 2007 Dave Shea daveshea 2007-12-16T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2007/get-in-shape/ design
152 CSS for Accessibility CSS is magical stuff. In the right hands, it can transform the plainest of (well-structured) documents into a visual feast. But it’s not all fur coat and nae knickers (as my granny used to say). Here are some simple ways you can use CSS to improve the usability and accessibility of your site. Even better, no sexy visuals will be harmed by the use of these techniques. Promise. Nae knickers This is less of an accessibility tip, and more of a reminder to check that you’ve got your body background colour specified. If you’re sitting there wondering why I’m mentioning this, because it’s a really basic thing, then you might be as surprised as I was to discover that from a sample of over 200 sites checked last year, 35% of UK local authority websites were missing their body background colour. Forgetting to specify your body background colour can lead to embarrassing gaps in coverage, which are not only unsightly, but can prevent your users reading the text on your site if they use a different operating system colour scheme. All it needs is the following line to be added to your CSS file: body {background-color: #fff;} If you pair it with color: #000; … you’ll be assured of maintaining contrast for any areas you inadvertently forget to specify, no matter what colour scheme your user needs or prefers. Even better, if you’ve got standard reset CSS you use, make sure that default colours for background and text are specified in it, so you’ll never be caught with your pants down. At the very least, you’ll have a white background and black text that’ll prompt you to change them to your chosen colours. Elbow room Paying attention to your typography is important, but it’s not just about making it look nice. Careful use of the line-height property can make your text more readable, which helps everyone, but is particularly helpful for those with dyslexia, who use screen magnification or simply find it uncomfortable to read lots of text online. When lines of text are too close together, it can cause the eye to s… 2007 Ann McMeekin annmcmeekin 2007-12-13T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2007/css-for-accessibility/ design
167 Back To The Future of Print By now we have weathered the storm that was the early days of web development, a dangerous time when we used tables, inline CSS and separate pages for print only versions. We can reflect in a haggard old sea-dog manner (“yarrr… I remember back in the browser wars…”) on the bad practices of the time. We no longer need convincing that print stylesheets are the way to go1, though some of the documentation for them is a little outdated now. I am going to briefly cover 8 tips and 4 main gotchas when creating print stylesheets in our more enlightened era. Getting started As with regular stylesheets, print CSS can be included in a number of ways2, for our purposes we are going to be using the link element. <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="print" href="print.css"> This is still my favourite way of linking to CSS files, its easy to see what files are being included and to what media they are being applied to. Without the media attribute specified the link element defaults to the media type ‘all’ which means that the styles within then apply to print and screen alike. The media type ‘screen’ only applies to the screen and wont be picked up by print, this is the best way of hiding styles from print. Make sure you include your print styles after all your other CSS, because you will need to override certain rules and this is a lot easier if you are flowing with the cascade than against it! Another thing you should be thinking is ‘does it need to be printed’. Consider the context3, if it is not a page that is likely to be printed, such as a landing page or a section index then the print styles should resemble the way the page looks on the screen. Context is really important for the design of your print stylesheet, all the tips and tricks that follow should be taken in the context of the page. If for example you are designing a print stylesheet for an item in a shopping cart, it is irrelevant for the user to know the exact url of the link that takes them to your checkout. Tips and tricks During these tip’… 2007 Natalie Downe nataliedowne 2007-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2007/back-to-the-future-of-print/ design
173 Real Fonts and Rendering: The New Elephant in the Room My friend, the content strategist Kristina Halvorson, likes to call content “the elephant in the room” of web design. She means it’s the huge problem that no one on the web development team or client side is willing to acknowledge, face squarely, and plan for. A typical web project will pass through many helpful phases of research, and numerous beneficial user experience design iterations, while the content—which in most cases is supposed to be the site’s primary focus—gets handled haphazardly at the end. Hence, elephant in the room, and hence also artist Kevin Cornell’s recent use of elephantine imagery to illustrate A List Apart articles on the subject. But I digress. Without discounting the primacy of the content problem, we web design folk have now birthed ourselves a second lumbering mammoth, thanks to our interest in “real fonts on the web“ (the unfortunate name we’ve chosen for the recent practice of serving web-licensed fonts via CSS’s decade-old @font-face declaration—as if Georgia, Verdana, and Times were somehow unreal). For the fact is, even bulletproof and mo’ bulletproofer @font-face CSS syntax aren’t really bulletproof if we care about looks and legibility across browsers and platforms. Hyenas in the Breakfast Nook The problem isn’t just that foundries have yet to agree on a standard font format that protects their intellectual property. And that, even when they do, it will be a while before all browsers support that standard—leaving aside the inevitable politics that impede all standardization efforts. Those are problems, but they’re not the elephant. Call them the coyotes in the room, and they’re slowly being tamed. Nor is the problem that workable, scalable business models (of which Typekit‘s is the most visible and, so far, the most successful) are still being shaken out and tested. The quality and ease of use of such services, their stability on heavily visited sites (via massively backed-up server clusters), and the fairness and sustainability of their pricing will determine how lice… 2009 Jeffrey Zeldman jeffreyzeldman 2009-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2009/real-fonts-and-rendering/ design
174 Type-Inspired Interfaces One of the things that terrifies me most about a new project is the starting point. How is the content laid out? What colors do I pick? Once things like that are decided, it becomes significantly easier to continue design, but it’s the blank page where I spend the most time. To that end, I often start by choosing type. I don’t need to worry about colors or layout or anything else… just the right typefaces that support the art direction. (This article won’t focus on how to choose a typeface, but there are some really great resources if you interested in that sort of thing.) And just like that, all your work is done. “Hold it just a second,” you might say. “All I’ve done is pick type. I still have to do the rest!” To which I would reply, “Silly rabbit. You already have!” You see, picking the right typeface gets you farther than you might think. Here are a few tips on taking cues from type to design interfaces and interface elements. Perfecting Web 2.0 If you’re going for that beloved rounded corner look, you might class it up a bit by choosing the wonderful Omnes Pro by Joshua Darden. As the typeface already has a rounded aesthetic, making buttons that fit the style should be pretty easy. I’ve found that using multiples helps to keep your interfaces looking balanced and proportional. Noticing that the top left edge of the letter “P” has about an 12px corner radius, let’s choose a 24px radius for our button (a multiple of 2), so that we get proper rounded corners. By taking mathematical measurements from the typeface, our button looks more thought out than just “place arbitrary text on arbitrarily-sized button.” Pretty easy, eh? What’s in a name(plate)? Rounded buttons are pretty popular buttons nowadays, so let’s try something a bit more stylized. Have a gander at Brothers, a sturdy face from Emigre. The chiseled edges give us a perfect cue for a stylized button. Using the same slope, you can make plated-looking buttons that fit a different kind of style. Headlining You might even take some cues from… 2009 Dan Mall danmall 2009-12-07T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2009/type-inspired-interfaces/ design
183 Designing For The Switch For a long time on the web, we’ve been typographically spoilt. Yes, you heard me correctly. Think about it: our computers come with web fonts already installed; fonts that have been designed specifically to work well online and at small size; and fonts that we can be sure other people have too. Yes, we’ve been spoilt. We don’t need to think about using Verdana, Arial, Georgia or Cambria. Yet, for a long time now, designers have felt we needed more. We want to choose whatever typeface we feel necessary for our designs. We did bad things along the way in pursuit of this goal such as images for text. Smart people dreamt up tools to help us such as sIFR, or Cufón. Only fairly recently, @font-face is supported in most browsers. The floodgates are opening. It really is the dawn of a new typographic era on the web. And we must tread carefully. The New Typesetters Many years ago, before the advent of desktop publishing, if you wanted words set in a particular typeface, you had to go to a Typesetter. A Typesetter, or Compositor, as they were sometimes called, was a person whose job it was to take the written word (in the form of a document or manuscript) and ‘set’ the type in the desired typeface. The designer would chose what typeface they wanted – and all the ligatures, underlines, italics and whatnot – and then scribble all over the manuscript so the typesetter could set the correct type. Then along came Desktop Publishing and every Tom, Dick and Harry could choose type on their computer and an entire link in the typographic chain was removed within just a few years. Well, that’s progress I guess. That was until six months ago when Typesetting was reborn on the web in the guise of a font service: Typekit. Typekit – and services like Typekit such as Typotheque, Kernest and the upcoming Fontdeck – are typesetting services for the web. You supply them with your content, in the form of a webpage, and they provide you with some JavaScript to render that webpage in the typeface you’ve specified simply by adding … 2009 Mark Boulton markboulton 2009-12-16T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2009/designing-for-the-switch/ design
210 Stop Leaving Animation to the Last Minute Our design process relies heavily on static mockups as deliverables and this makes it harder than it needs to be to incorporate UI animation in our designs. Talking through animation ideas and dancing out the details of those ideas can be fun; but it’s not always enough to really evaluate or invest in animated design solutions. By including deliverables that encourage discussing animation throughout your design process, you can set yourself (and your team) up for creating meaningful UI animations that feel just as much a part of the design as your colour palette and typeface. You can get out of that “running out of time to add in the animation” trap by deliberately including animation in the early phases of your design process. This will give you both the space to treat animation as a design tool, and the room to iterate on UI animation ideas to come up with higher quality solutions. Two deliverables that can be especially useful for this are motion comps and animated interactive prototypes. Motion comps - an animation deliverable Motion comps (also called animatics or motion mock-ups) are usually video representation of UI animations. They are used to explore the details of how a particular animation might play out. And they’re most often made with timeline-based tools like Adobe After Effects, Adobe Animate, or Tumult Hype. The most useful things about motion comps is how they allow designers and developers to share the work of creating animations. (Instead of pushing all the responsibility of animation on one group or the other.) For example, imagine you’re working on a design that has a content panel that can either be open or closed. You might create a mockup like the one below including the two different views: the closed state and the open state. If you’re working with only static deliverables, these two artboards might be exactly what you handoff to developers along with the instruction to animate between the two. On the surface that seems pretty straight forward, but even with this relatively simple… 2017 Val Head valhead 2017-12-08T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2017/stop-leaving-animation-to-the-last-minute/ design
217 Beyond Web Mechanics – Creating Meaningful Web Design It was just over three years ago when I embarked on becoming a web designer, and the first opinion piece about the state of web design I came across was a conference talk by Elliot Jay Stocks called ‘Destroy the Web 2.0 Look’. Elliot’s presentation was a call to arms, a plea to web designers the world over to stop the endless reproductions of the so called ‘Web 2.0 look’. Three and a half years on from Elliot’s talk, what has changed? Well, from an aesthetic standpoint, not a whole lot. The Web 2.0 look has evolved, but it’s still with us and much of the web remains filled with cookie cutter websites that bear a striking resemblance to one another. This wouldn’t matter so much if these websites were selling comparable services or products, but they’re not. They look similar, they follow the same web design trends; their aesthetic style sends out a very similar message, yet they’re selling completely different services or products. How can you be communicating effectively with your users when your online book store is visually indistinguishable from an online cosmetic store? This just doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to belittle the current version of the Web 2.0 look for the sake of it. I want to talk about the opportunity we have as web designers to create more meaningful experiences for the people using our websites. Using design wisely gives us the ability to communicate messages, ideas and attitudes that our users will understand and connect with. Being human As human beings we respond emotionally to everything around us – people, objects, posters, packaging or websites. We also respond in different ways to different kinds of aesthetic design and style. We care about style and aesthetics deeply, whether we realise it or not. Aesthetic design has the power to attract or repel. We often make decisions based purely on aesthetics and style – and don’t retailers the world over know it! We connect attitudes and strongly held beliefs to style. Individuals will proudly associate themselves with a certain style o… 2010 Mike Kus mikekus 2010-12-05T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2010/beyond-web-mechanics-creating-meaningful-web-design/ design
222 Golden Spirals As building blocks go, the rectangle is not one to overwhelm the designer with decisions. On the face of it, you have two options: you can set the width, and the height. But despite this apparent simplicity, there are combinations of width and height that can look unbalanced. If a rectangle is too tall and slim, it might appear precarious. If it is not tall enough, it may simply look flat. But like a guitar string that’s out of tune, you can tweak the proportions little by little until a rectangle feels, as Goldilocks said, just right. A golden rectangle has its height and width in the golden ratio, which is approximately 1:1.618. These proportions have long been recognised as being aesthetically harmonious. Whether through instruction or by intuition, artists have understood how to exploit these proportions over the centuries. Examples can be found in classical architecture, medieval book construction, and even in the recent #newtwitter redesign. A mathematical curiosity The golden rectangle is unique, in that if you remove a square section from it, what is left behind is itself a golden rectangle. The removal of a square can be repeated on the rectangle that is left behind, and then repeated again, as many times as you like. This means that the golden rectangle can be treated as a building block for recursive patterns. In this article, we will exploit this property to build a golden spiral, using only HTML and CSS. The markup The HTML we’ll use for this study is simply a series of nested <div>s. <body> <div id="container"> <div class="cycle"> <div> <div> <div> <div class="cycle"> <div> <div> <div> <div class="cycle"> <div> <div> <div> <div class="cycle"></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </body> The first of these has the class cycle, and so do… 2010 Drew Neil drewneil 2010-12-07T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2010/golden-spirals/ design
248 How to Use Audio on the Web I know what you’re thinking. I never never want to hear sound anywhere near a browser, ever ever, wow! 🙉 You’re having flashbacks, flashbacks to the days of yore, when we had a <bgsound> element and yup did everyone think that was the most rad thing since <blink>. I mean put those two together with a <marquee>, only use CSS colour names, make sure your borders were all set to ridge and you’ve got yourself the neatest website since 1998. The sound played when the website loaded and you could play a MIDI file as well! Everyone could hear that wicked digital track you chose. Oh, surfing was gnarly back then. Yes it is 2018, the end of in fact, soon to be 2019. We are certainly living in the future. Hoverboards self driving cars, holodecks VR headsets, rocket boots drone racing, sound on websites get real, Ruth. We can’t help but be jaded, even though the <bgsound> element is depreciated, and the autoplay policy appeared this year. Although still in it’s infancy, the policy “controls when video and audio is allowed to autoplay”, which should reduce the somewhat obtrusive playing of sound when a website or app loads in the future. But then of course comes the question, having lived in a muted present for so long, where and why would you use audio? ✨ Showcase Time ✨ There are some incredible uses of audio on websites today. This is my personal favourite futurelibrary.no, a site from Norway chronicling books that have been published from a forest of trees planted precisely for the books themselves. The sound effects are lovely, adding to the overall experience. futurelibrary.no Another site that executes this well is pottermore.com. The Hogwarts WebGL simulation uses both sound effects and ambient background music and gives a great experience. The button hovers are particularly good. pottermore.com Eighty-six and a half years is a beautiful narrative site, documenting the musings of an eighty-six and a half year old man. The background music playing on this site is not offensive, it adds to the experience. Eighty-six an… 2018 Ruth John ruthjohn 2018-12-22T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2018/how-to-use-audio-on-the-web/ design
277 Raising the Bar on Mobile One of the primary challenges of designing for mobile devices is that screen real estate is often in limited supply. Through the advocacy of Luke W and others, we’ve drawn comfort from the idea that this constraint ends up benefiting users and designers alike, from obvious advantages like portability and reach, to influencing our content strategy decisions through focus and restraint. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of every last pixel of that screen we can snag! As anyone who has designed a website for use on a smartphone can attest, there’s an awful lot of space on mobile screens dedicated to browser functions that would be better off toggled out of view. Unfortunately, the visibility of some of these elements is beyond our control, such as the buttons fixed to the bottom of the viewport in iOS’s Safari and the WebOS browser. However, in many devices, the address bar at the top can be manually hidden, and its absence frees up enough pixel room for a large, impactful heading, a critical piece of navigation, or even just a little more white space to air things out. So, as my humble contribution to this most festive of web publications, today I’ll dig into the approach I used to hide the address bar in a browser-agnostic fashion for sites like BostonGlobe.com, and the jQuery Mobile framework. Surveying the land First, let’s assess the chromes of some popular, current mobile browsers. For example purposes, the following screen-captures feature the homepage of the Boston Globe site, without any address-bar-hiding logic in place. Note: these captures are just mockups – actual experience on these platforms may vary. On the left is iOS5’s Safari (running on iPhone), and on the right is Windows Phone 7 (pre-Mango). BlackBerry 7 (left), and Android 2.3 (right). WebOS (left), Opera Mini (middle), and Opera Mobile (right). Some browsers, such the default browsers on WebOS and BlackBerry 5, hide the bar automatically without any developer intervention, but many of them don’t. Of these, we can o… 2011 Scott Jehl scottjehl 2011-12-20T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2011/raising-the-bar-on-mobile/ design
279 Design the Invisible to Tell Better Stories on the Web For design to be meaningful we need to tell stories. We need to design the invisible, the cues, the messages and the extra detail hidden beneath the aesthetics. It’s all about the story. From verbal exchanges around the campfire to books, the web and everything in between, storytelling allows us to share, organize and process information more efficiently. It helps us understand our surroundings and make emotional connections to people, places and experiences. Web design lends itself perfectly to the conventions of storytelling, a universal process. However, the stories vary because they’re defined by culture, society, politics and religion. All of which need considering if you are to design stories that are relevant to your target audience. The benefits of approaching design with storytelling in mind from the very start of the project is that we are creating considered design that allows users to quickly gather meaning from the website. They do this by reading between the lines and drawing on the wealth of knowledge they have acquired about the associations between colours, typyefaces and signs. With so much recognition and analysis happening subconsciously you have to consider how design communicates on this level. This invisible layer has a significant impact on what you say, how you say it and who you say it to. How can we design something that’s invisible? By researching and making conscious decisions about exactly what you are communicating, you can make the invisible visible. As is often quoted, good design is like air, you only notice it when it’s bad. So by designing the invisible the aim is to design stories that the audience receive subliminally, so that they go somewhat unnoticed, like good air. Storytelling strands To share these stories through design, you can break it down into several strands. Each strand tells a story on its own, but when combined they may start to tell a different story altogether. These strands are colour, typefaces, branding, tone of voice and symbols. All are literal… 2011 Robert Mills robertmills 2011-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2011/design-the-invisible/ design
285 Composing the New Canon: Music, Harmony, Proportion Ohne Musik wäre das Leben ein Irrtum —Friedrich NIETZSCHE, Götzen-Dämmerung, Sprüche und Pfeile 33, 1889 Somehow, music is hardcoded in human beings. It is something we understand and respond to without prior knowledge. Music exercises the emotions and our imaginative reflex, not just our hearing. It behaves so much like our emotions that music can seem to symbolize them, to bear them from one person to another. Not surprisingly, it conjures memories: the word music derives from Greek μουσική (mousike), art of the Muses, whose mythological mother was Mnemosyne, memory. But it can also summon up the blood, console the bereaved, inspire fanaticism, bolster governments and dissenters alike, help us learn, and make web designers dance. And what would Christmas be without music? Music moves us, often in ways we can’t explain. By some kind of alchemy, music frees us from the elaborate nuisance and inadequacy of words. Across the world and throughout recorded history – and no doubt well before that – people have listened and made (and made out to) music. [I]t appears probable that the progenitors of man, either the males or females or both sexes, before acquiring the power of expressing their mutual love in articulate language, endeavoured to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm. —Charles DARWIN, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871 It’s so integral to humankind, we’ve sent it into space as a totem for who we are. (Who knows? It might be important.) Music is essential, a universal compulsion; as Nietzsche wrote, without music life would be a mistake. Music, design and web design There are some obvious and notable similarities between music and visual design. Both can convey mood and evoke emotion but, even under close scrutiny, how they do that remains to a great extent mysterious. Each has formal qualities or parts that can be abstracted, analysed and discussed, often using the same terminology: composition, harmony, rhythm, repetition, form, theme; even colour, texture and ton… 2011 Owen Gregory owengregory 2011-12-09T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2011/composing-the-new-canon/ design
311 Designing Imaginative Style Guides (Living) style guides and (atomic) patterns libraries are “all the rage,” as my dear old Nana would’ve said. If articles and conference talks are to be believed, making and using them has become incredibly popular. I think there are plenty of ways we can improve how style guides look and make them better at communicating design information to creatives without it getting in the way of information that technical people need. Guides to libraries of patterns Most of my consulting work and a good deal of my creative projects now involve designing style guides. I’ve amassed a huge collection of brand guidelines and identity manuals as well as, more recently, guides to libraries of patterns intended to help designers and developers make digital products and websites. Two pages from one of my Purposeful style guide packs. Designs © Stuff & Nonsense. “Style guide” is an umbrella term for several types of design documentation. Sometimes we’re referring to static style or visual identity guides, other times voice and tone. We might mean front-end code guidelines or component/pattern libraries. These all offer something different but more often than not they have something in common. They look ugly enough to have been designed by someone who enjoys configuring a router. OK, that was mean, not everyone’s going to think an unimaginative style guide design is a problem. After all, as long as a style guide contains information people need, how it looks shouldn’t matter, should it? Inspiring not encyclopaedic Well here’s the thing. Not everyone needs to take the same information away from a style guide. If you’re looking for markup and styles to code a ‘media’ component, you’re probably going to be the technical type, whereas if you need to understand the balance of sizes across a typographic hierarchy, you’re more likely to be a creative. What you need from a style guide is different. Sure, some people1 need rules: “Do this (responsive pattern)” or “don’t do that (auto-playing video.)” Those people probably also want facts: … 2016 Andy Clarke andyclarke 2016-12-13T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2016/designing-imaginative-style-guides/ design
325 "Z's not dead baby, Z's not dead" While Mr. Moll and Mr. Budd have pipped me to the post with their predictions for 2006, I’m sure they won’t mind if I sneak in another. The use of positioning together with z-index will be one of next year’s hot techniques Both has been a little out of favour recently. For many, positioned layouts made way for the flexibility of floats. Developers I speak to often associate z-index with Dreamweaver’s layers feature. But in combination with alpha transparency support for PNG images in IE7 and full implementation of position property values, the stacking of elements with z-index is going to be big. I’m going to cover the basics of z-index and how it can be used to create designs which ‘break out of the box’. No positioning? No Z! Remember geometry? The x axis represents the horizontal, the y axis represents the vertical. The z axis, which is where we get the z-index, represents /depth/. Elements which are stacked using z-index are stacked from front to back and z-index is only applied to elements which have their position property set to relative or absolute. No positioning, no z-index. Z-index values can be either negative or positive and it is the element with the highest z-index value appears closest to the viewer, regardless of its order in the source. Furthermore, if more than one element are given the same z-index, the element which comes last in source order comes out top of the pile. Let’s take three <div>s. <div id="one"></div> <div id="two"></div> <div id="three"></div> #one { position: relative; z-index: 3; } #two { position: relative; z-index: 1; } #three { position: relative; z-index: 2; } As you can see, the <div> with the z-index of 3 will appear closest, even though it comes before its siblings in the source order. As these three <div>s have no defined positioning context in the form of a positioned parent such as a <div>, their stacking order is defined from the root element <html>. Simple stuff, but these building blocks are the basis on whic… 2005 Andy Clarke andyclarke 2005-12-16T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2005/zs-not-dead-baby-zs-not-dead/ design
329 Broader Border Corners A note from the editors: Since this article was written the CSS border-radius property has become widely supported in browsers. It should be preferred to this image technique. A quick and easy recipe for turning those single-pixel borders that the kids love so much into into something a little less right-angled. Here’s the principle: We have a box with a one-pixel wide border around it. Inside that box is another box that has a little rounded-corner background image sitting snugly in one of its corners. The inner-box is then nudged out a bit so that it’s actually sitting on top of the outer box. If it’s all done properly, that little background image can mask the hard right angle of the default border of the outer-box, giving the impression that it actually has a rounded corner. Take An Image, Finely Chopped Add A Sprinkle of Markup <div id="content"> <p>Lorem ipsum etc. etc. etc.</p> </div> Throw In A Dollop of CSS #content { border: 1px solid #c03; } #content p { background: url(corner.gif) top left no-repeat; position: relative; left: -1px; top: -1px; padding: 1em; margin: 0; } Bubblin’ Hot The content div has a one-pixel wide red border around it. The paragraph is given a single instance of the background image, created to look like a one-pixel wide arc. The paragraph is shunted outside of the box – back one pixel and up one pixel – so that it is sitting over the div’s border. The white area of the image covers up that part of the border’s corner, and the arc meets up with the top and left border. Because, in this example, we’re applying a background image to a paragraph, its top margin needs to be zeroed so that it starts at the top of its container. Et voilà. Bon appétit. Extra Toppings If you want to apply a curve to each one of the corners and you run out of meaningful markup to hook the background images on to, throw some spans or divs in the mix (there’s nothing wrong … 2005 Patrick Griffiths patrickgriffiths 2005-12-14T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2005/broader-border-corners/ design
330 An Explanation of Ems Ems are so-called because they are thought to approximate the size of an uppercase letter M (and so are pronounced emm), although 1em is actually significantly larger than this. The typographer Robert Bringhurst describes the em thus: The em is a sliding measure. One em is a distance equal to the type size. In 6 point type, an em is 6 points; in 12 point type an em is 12 points and in 60 point type an em is 60 points. Thus a one em space is proportionately the same in any size. To illustrate this principle in terms of CSS, consider these styles: #box1 { font-size: 12px; width: 1em; height: 1em; border:1px solid black; } #box2 { font-size: 60px; width: 1em; height: 1em; border: 1px solid black; } These styles will render like: M and M Note that both boxes have a height and width of 1em but because they have different font sizes, one box is bigger than the other. Box 1 has a font-size of 12px so its width and height is also 12px; similarly the text of box 2 is set to 60px and so its width and height are also 60px. 2005 Richard Rutter richardrutter 2005-12-02T00:00:00+00:00 https://24ways.org/2005/an-explanation-of-ems/ design

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