Stuff & Nonsense. Website designers in North Wales

Blog archives

Since 2004, our blog’s been a popular destination for thousands of designers and developers.

Hardboiled Web Design has a new home at Smashing Magazine

The sudden closure of Five Simple Steps came as a shock to a lot of people, not least authors like me who are forced to decide on new homes for their books with no notice.

Looking back at Five Simple Steps

I’d been in Nottingham for the day, catching up with friends including Owen Gregory. Driving home, an idea started to develop. Owen and I worked together on client projects at the time and I trust him to give me an honest opinion, so I pulled the car over, called him and explained the idea. A book called ‘Hardboiled Web Design.’

Sharing our sales prospects spreadsheet

Although there seems to be plenty of choice, I haven’t found any CRM software that tickles my fancy yet. I need to get better at keeping on top of prospective business though, so the first step was to make a spreadsheet. If it’s useful to anyone, I’m happy to share it. There are Apple Numbers and Microsoft Excel versions in a ZIP file. I’m keen to hear your suggestions for improving it, as well as your recommendations for CRM software/services.

Download the ZIP file

Creative Bloq interviews Stuff and Nonsense for Net Awards’ Agency Of The Year

Stuff and Nonsense has been shortlisted for Agency Of The Year at the Net Awards 2014 and so Creative Bloq wanted to know a little more about us, what we do and what sets us apart from other agencies. Here’s what I told them.

Unfinished Business episode 63: From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbor

Special guest Jeffrey Zeldman joins me on Unfinished Business this week to talk about how important is it today for designers to be able to tell stories and sell ideas to clients. We talk about whether designers need empathy or strength of character and conviction in their ideas, whether the web needs ‘account’ menpeople and what it feels like when people you’ve mentored go their own way.

It’s a packed show and as we both love advertising and Mad Men, we end by talking about my Don Draper depersonalisation disorder theory and what we expect and hope from the final season which starts next week. Even if you’ve not seen Mad Men, I think you’re going to like this episode.

A belated update to Transcending CSS (not an April Fools’ joke)

I always vowed that I wouldn’t update Transcending CSS, but there’s always been something about that old book that disappointed me and now I have the chance to fix it.

Shortlisted for Agency Of The Year at the Net Magazine awards 2014

What can I say? Thank-you. So very much. From all of us.

You voted and Stuff and Nonsense has been shortlisted, in the top five, for Agency Of The Year at the Net Magazine awards 2014. I can’t tell you how much that means to us. Whatever happens during the next phase, the judges’ voting stage, you made us feel special and we’re starting the week with the biggest smiles on our faces.

Unfinished Business episode 62: Scotland went mad for donuts

New regular Ashley Baxter joins me on this week’s packed Unfinished Business to talk about eating well and staying fit, my goal to lose 14lbs and why my competition with Paul Boag is spurring me on.

We also talk about how happy I am that Stuff and Nonsense has been shortlisted for Agency Of The Year at the Net Awards. Last, but not least, there’s Ashley’s Scottish slang word of the week. I’m also over the moon to learn that Unfinished Business has been shortlisted for Podcast Of The Year. When you listen to the show, you’ll hear I obviously wasn’t expecting that.

Look at the lips on that lectern

Jeremy posted links to all the videos from dConstruct 2013. I wasn’t there but I’ve listened to the audio before now. Even so, it’s good to see video of my favourite talk, ‘Don’t Feed The Trolls’ by Nicole Sullivan.

A transcript of my Modern Designer’s Canvas talk

Smashing Magazine have published an (edited for print) transcript of the ‘A Modern Designer’s Canvas’ talk that I gave at both An Event Apart in Atlanta and Smashing Conference last week in Oxford.

Minor moans about lecterns

After some welcome time away, I’ve spoken at several conferences recently, notably An Event Apart in Austin, Milton Keynes Geek Night in, err and last week’s Smashing Conference in Oxford. With those events still fresh in mind, I have a few minor moans about lecterns.

Unfinished Business episode 61: Adonis kebab

On this week’s Unfinished Business, Laura Kalbag and I talk about the business of speaking at conferences, why it’s essential to be paid to speak and the importance of contracts that cover the paying of expenses, who owns the content of a talk and what conferences can do with that content after the event.

Zoe Gillenwater on Leveling Up With Flexbox

I’ve wanted to meet Zoe Gillenwater for years and have just watched her at Smashing Conference in Oxford give the best presentation of the conference on flexbox progressive enhancement.

Her message was, you may not use Flexbox for whole page layout due to legacy browser issues, but there’s no reason not to use it for enhancing interface elements. She’s followed that up with links and resources. I’m going to have a hard time following that at my workshop tomorrow.

Unfinished Business episode 60: Where’s the Strepsils? I need to hallucinate

Illustrator Josh Cleland is back for this, the sixtieth episode of Unfinished Business. We talk about Milton Keynes, losing my voice and what can go wrong if you suck too many Strepsils. (Spoiler: diarrhea.) We discuss how we’re both trying to achieve a better work/life balance and what’s been driving us to work all the time.

On preparing a conference talk without slides

Last week I came back from a lovely, if too short, trip to the American South that included me giving a talk in Atlanta. It felt fabulous to be back on An Event Apart’s stage and I’m humbled by every invitation. I gave a new talk, ‘A Modern Designer’s Canvas’ about finding your medium, not becoming intoxicated by your tools or a process and following your own, not someone else’s path. I gave it without a supporting Keynote slide deck.

It’s not new enough

Mark Boulton on defining responsive web design:

We’ve heard this line time and time again over the past couple of years. You see, responsive design is a useful term and one that will stick around for a while whilst we’re going through this change. How else do we describe it, otherwise? Web design? I don’t think so. No board member is going to get behind that; it’s not new enough.

Video of my talk, “How to call your client an idiot without getting fired”

The final Handheld conference in Cardiff last November was one of the best, and most memorable, that I’ve ever spoken at and attended. Standing on the largest stage in Europe in-front of 1200 people, pushing a dalek onto the stage with my friend Jon, the Welsh male voice choir, it was a wonderful day.

What we’re left with is just called web design

Jeffrey Zeldman on Evolving Responsive Web Design:

Some commenters want to use initial-capped Responsive Web Design to mean responsive design as Ethan first defined it, and lowercase responsive design to mean an amorphous matrix of exciting and evolving design thinking. Lyza says soon we’ll stop saying Responsive altogether, a conclusion Andy Clarke reached three years ago.

Unfinished Business episode 59: Use it to call your doggy friends

Despite possibly the worst Skype connection in history, I chatted with Ashley Baxter on Unfinished Business this week about her semi-professional photography business. We talked about the photo walk and workshop that she recently organised in her home city of Glasgow and why conference organisers should host more photography workshops at their events. Aye. And let’s not forget Oor Wullie!

Milton Glaser’s Mad Men season seven poster

The first half of the final series of Mad Men is just over a month away and today AMC released a new poster, designed by none other than Milton Glaser.

My iWatch prediction

I’m putting my stake in the ground. If and when Apple releases what all the pundits keep calling an ‘iWatch,’ the tagline on their invitation to the press event will read:

It’s about time.

That there’s a dame to kill for

Some of the most treasured comics in my collection—alongside first prints of Watchmen signed by Alan Moore—are early Dark Horse Presents including the first Sin City stories.

Five Simple Steps years old is (almost) five years old

Well, not quite yet, but later this month. They’ve been going from strength to strength and while there hasn’t been a blockbuster book since Hicks’ Icon Handbook, their Pocket Guides series contains some real gems.

They’ve updated their site ready for the birthday celebrations and a little bird tells me they’ll soon be celebrating with a sale, starting next week. That will be a great time to pick up that copy of Hardboiled Web Design you haven’t got around to buying.

River

Jeremy Keith got a little hardboiled yesterday. I particularly like this paragraph that echoes everything I’ve been saying for years about setting wrong expectations:

Unfinished Business episode 58: Cowabunga!

Laura Kalback, Kalbang, Kalbung, Cowabunga! Kalbag is back on Unfinished Business this week and we talk about her troubles at her bank and how changing your name once you’ve built an online persona might be a challenge. We follow up on our previous conversation about business ethics, then discuss how much time is reasonable to spend on researching requirements to provide a client estimate.

Unfinished Business episode 57: Michael Parkinson on the adverts

This week on Unfinished Business, Elliott Kember and I talk about how Director Lottie Dexter introduced the Year Of Code initiative and most importantly the message we think it sends about our industry and what we do.

The Big Web Show 111 with yours truly and Jeffrey ‘Thundercloud’ Zeldman

If you haven’t got sick of the sound of my voice on Unfinished Business yet, last night I spent a very enjoyable hour in the company of Jeffrey ‘Thundercloud’ Zeldman on The Big Web Show.

The last time I spoke with Jeffrey ‘on the air’ was back when The Big Web Show was on the 5by5 network, episode 27, when he and Dan Benjamin still hosted video interviews. That time I had a book, Hardboiled Web Design, to promote. This week it was just two old friends talking about what matters to us; business, design and people. There’s some personal stuff in there too, about my therapy and being called Andrew again.

I rarely listen back to my own podcasts once they’re edited, but I listened to our chat this morning and it made me smile just as much as I did while we were recording it.

Listen on Mule Radio

Unfinished Business episode 56: A hair stylist’s 4x4

This week, Josh Cleland is back on Unfinished Business. We talk about updates on our various piracy issues and whether it’s necessary to add copyright notices or watermarks to our work. We also discuss why people at large put a low value on creative work.

And this, Lottie, is the Internet

Year Of Code Director Lottie Dexter, talking on Newsnight. (Skip to 5:30. I was going to add my own commentary, but to be honest what Lottie said is funnier without it.)

The Day We Fight Back (Against Mass Surveillance)

In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.

Typekit: Kerning on the Web

A nice run-down of typography kerning and the font-feature-settings property in CSS.

Ignore the irony of the poorly kerned ‘Web’ in Typekit’s title.

All’s Farrah In Love

A fascinating story in Texas Monthly—not a publication that I often read— about the court battle between the University of Texas and actor Ryan O’Neal over an Andy Warhol painting of Farrah Fawcett.

Farrah and O’Neal were the Brangelina of their day—the glamorous Hollywood king and queen whose every move was captured by the tabloids. One of their fans was Andy Warhol, who became obsessed with the couple. He gave them a drawing on a tablecloth of two hearts coming together, and in 1980 he painted two nearly identical silk-screen portraits of Farrah, in which she stares intently, her red lips pressed together, her eyes bright green, and her hair brushed behind one shoulder. One painting went to O’Neal’s Malibu beach house, the other to Farrah’s home in the hills above Bel-Air.

Along the same lines

Loz Gray reflects on his eighteen-months working with the Guardian on their responsive site. There is so much experience here to learn from.

Ashley Nolan: Controlling heavy weight websites

A balanced view on performance versus beauty by proud Welshman Ashley Nolan:

Pro-bono days for good causes

One of the things I was talking to Liz about this week on Unfinished Business—you know, the ‘Net Awards Podcast Of The Year’ nominated podcast— was how at Stuff and Nonsense, we devote twelve days every year to supporting good causes pro-bono.

Unfinished Business episode 55: The elephant in the room

This week on ‘Net Awards Podcast Of The Year’ nominated Unfinished Business, Liz Elcoate, from some other podcast, joins me to talk about why it’s acceptable to admit when we’ve availability and to ask people for work. We talk more about having flexibility in our rates and why it’s reasonable to quote different rates to different people. We also touch on whether web designers should charge ‘rush rates’ and why working for free can be good for the soul.

Speaking of the Net Awards, did I mention that Unfinished Business has been nominated for Podcast Of The Year at the Net Awards? No? If you’ve liked what you’ve heard over the last 55 episodes, please vote for us. After-all, this is the only podcast where you hear about the things that are really important. Apes (obviously,) soap, weeing in kettles and of course Purple Rain.

I’m not saying “I told you so”

Eclipsed by most of the nonsense going on at the Grammys—Honestly, people actually like Daft Punk?—were two good country music wins.

I’m not in love (with my MacBook Pro)

Last November I switched from a 13" MacBook Air to the equivalent MacBook Pro with a retina display. How does that feel?

Nominated for Agency Of The Year at the Net Magazine awards 2014

It’s once again that time of year when almost every web designer, developer, podcaster and bottle washer that you follow on Twitter is asking you to vote for them in the annual Net Awards. Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Easter egg hunt: Seven secrets of the world wide web

I’m not sure how I forgot to link to this last week, but our phone rang and I spoke to BBC technology reporter Dave Lee about Easter Eggs. Not the chocolate kind, but the much less tasty and much less interesting hidden delights in websites.

Unfinished Business episode 54: Stalinist bus station

Laura Kalbag is back on Unfinished Business this week to talk about how far in advance we book client projects and what we you do if a client wants more work done, but we’ve other work booked for the next few months? We discuss upping our day rates and how Laura’s client suggested she charge more.

No Unfinished Business would be complete without talk of pirates and smugglers and the Milton Keynes Geek Night All Dayer conference which took place last week.

Unfinished Business episode 53: A bedroom and no social life

It’s a really good, funny episode of this week. I’m joined again by Elliott Kember to talk about whether being acquired is just a poncy way of saying that you’re taking a job at a big company. We discuss Google buying a nest thermostatNest Labs for $3.2billion when they could’ve got one for a hundred quid at B&Q and why some people have reacted very negatively to the deal.

Best of all, we start and end this episode with a song that sounds absolutely nothing at all like Purple Rain. You don’t get singing like that on The Freelance Web or The Big Web Show, I can tell you.

Thanks to our sponsors this week, they were Espresso and Shopify. Please support our show by visiting them.

So how’s the whole being called Andrew thing working out?

I won’t blame you if you didn’t read it, but a couple of Septembers ago I wrote something personal about my name, how it made me feel, why I changed it and then regretted it ever since. You can read it now if you like, but the general gist is that being called Andrew when I was young reminded me of something I was missing and that made me terribly sad. So I asked everyone to call me Andy instead, and they did that for the next thirty-five years.

Unfinished Business episode 52: Famous for falling off things

This week on Unfinished Business, I’m in a relaxed mood as I’m joined by Josh Cleland to talk about how we filter enquires from potential clients through our websites and emails. We also try really, really hard not to talk about moviesfilms.

Ian Feather’s ‘Ten reasons we switched from an icon font to SVG’

An interesting piece from lonelyplanet.com’s Ian Feather on their move from icon fonts to SVG.

I switched all our icons to SVG during our latest redesign (with PNG fallbacks for IE8) and they’ve proved incredibly reliable. That’s why I was slightly surprised to find Jon Hicks promoting icon fonts over SVG at the Handheld Conference back in November. Am I missing something, I wonder?

It’s 2014. Web Design Isn’t Dead

Zeldman in fine form:

Never fear, web design generalists: many companies and organizations require your services and always will — from universities still seeking webmasters, to startups seeking seasoned folks with multiple areas of understanding to direct and coordinate the activities of younger specialists. But if jack-of-all web work is feeling stale, now may be the time to up your game as a graphic designer, or experience designer, or front end developer. “Diversify or die” is overstating things when the world needs generalists, too. But “follow the path you love” will always be good advice.

A plea for conference organisers to host photography workshops

Talking with Dan on this week’s Unfinished Business got me thinking about photography and workshops and wanting to learn to make better photographs.

The Profitable Side Project Handbook by Rachel Andrew

Rachel’s new book, ‘The Profitable Side Project Handbook’ is available today and has a launch day offer of only $29.00. That’s for three digital formats, .mobi, PDF and ePub.

(I bought a copy using our company credit card and the emails for that go to my wife, so I’ll have to wait until she comes home to start reading.)

Unfinished Business episode 51: One big knob

For the first Unfinished Business of 2014 I’m joined by my really good friend Dan Davies to talk about film marathons, what we’d hoard for the apocalypse and Dan’s totally unrelated career change from front-end developer to UX designer.

Putting the boot in

Two weeks before Christmas I took a train to Birmingham to meet a new client. After our meeting I wandered to the Bull Ring and went into the Dr. Martens shop there to buy a new pair of boots.

Grady Smith’s ‘Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013’

The fiftieth episode of Unfinished Business: Trapped in a jar

For this, the fiftieth episode of Unfinished Business, I’m joined by regular guest Laura Kalbag. We talk about ethical statements and whether we, and the companies that people work for, should set out what they will and won’t work on our websites.

I would like to say an enormous thank-you to Anna Debenham for helping me get started with this podcast. To all our guests and sponsors for making the show possible and to you, our listeners for being lovely people. I’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas holiday.

Some news about Unfinished Business

This year’s been a really good year for British web industry podcasts and I’ve loved making Unfinished Business. It’s become a great way for me to wind down from work on a Friday afternoon and has been my main outlet for the things I’ve had on my mind, largely replacing me writing on this blog.

A week of Christmas crossover podcasts

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time. If you haven’t been keeping up with this week’s Christmas crossover podcasts, we’ve just wrapped up the week with yours truly and Sarah Parmenter guesting on Boagworld with Paul And Marcus.

We talked about what we all want for Christmas, whether we can switch off from work during the break, how we deal with clients who insist their site be live by some arbitrary point and what our web design new years resolutions are? (All made up questions, obviously.)

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Large, Modern Browsers

The Official Movie site for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes has launched and, chattering chimpanzees, is it a piece of work! As if I weren’t excited enough about the film. It’s not released until July 2014 but the site gives fans a taste of what’s happened since the end of Rise.

This Englishman’s top five country music albums of 2013

This time last year I didn’t feel much like sharing, so went without a run down of top country music albums of 2012. Looking back now, that was probably a wise choice as the musical year seemed epitomised by Lionel Ritchie, yes ‘that’ Lionel Ritchie’s truly, truly terrible Tuskegee. No link because, ‘Sail On!’

Jingle all the week with our Christmas crossover podcasts

We thought that getting together with friends to record a series of Christmas crossover podcast episodes might help us, and you, get in the mood for Christmas.

Unfinished Business episode 49: Ups and downs, downs and ups

The wonderfully generous Sean Johnson joins me twice on Unfinished Business this week to first answer a listener’s question about competitive payment terms, then to talk about our downs and ups of 2013.

Ghostlab for Windows

I know I’ve talked about Ghostlab a lot on Unfinished Business and mentioned it a fair few times on Twitter. This isn’t just because its makers Vanamco have sponsored the show. No, I use Ghostlab almost everyday and it’s really made my designing responsive websites much more convenient.

As Ghostlab is an app for the Mac, often when I tweet about it I see people complaining that it’s not available for Windows. Well quit your whining Windows users, because today Vanamco have launched Ghostlab for Windows!

Ghostlab for Windows has a new interface and is available in both 32 and 64 bit versions. There’s even a free seven day trial and a licence costs just $49 US.

Ghostlab for Windows may be just what you were ho, ho, hoping for.

Unfinished Business and The Net Awards

The Net Awards returns for 2014, but unlike previous years, this time I’d actually appreciate your vote.

Unfinished Business episode 48: Enjoy those potatoes!

Illustrator Josh Cleland is back on Unfinished Business this week to talk about his work on the new Stuff and Nonsense go, go, go, rillas header, the difficulties of designing our own branding and how we can make visits to our sites more memorable by improving the design of pages we often forget.

Nominate Unfinished Business for the Net Awards 2014

One way you can say thanks for the time we take making our podcast every week is to nominate Unfinished Business for Podcast Of The Year at the Net Awards 2014. We’d love, love, love you if you did that.

The Guardian’s take on Mobile-first Responsive Web Design and IE8

The Guardian’s Kaelig Deloumeau-Prigent recently wrote about their struggles and strategy for dealing with Internet Explorer 8. People visiting my site using Internet Explorer 8 are few and far between these days, but those that do could be good customers, so with our redesign I wanted to make a real effort to give them a good experience.

Handheld’s Welsh Veterans Male Choir

I’m not going to link to all of the videos from Handheld Conference, but if this one doesn’t make the hairs on your neck stand up, there must be something wrong with you.

In fact, the only criticism I have of the conference is that the audience didn’t stand to applaud the end to that excellent day.

Querying Apple’s Nelson Mandela billboard

Apple doesn’t have what many of us would consider to be a fully responsive website, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes use two of Ethan’s ingredients; flexible media and CSS3 media queries, to improve the placement of some elements on an otherwise fixed page.

Falling foul of iOS’s 3 megapixel resource limit

One of the most important elements in our recent redesign is our new portfolio. We ran out of time during the redesign week and couldn’t include all of the portfolio pieces we’d planned. This week we’re adding more and while we were doing that I discovered something I hadn’t known before about large images and iOS.

An Open Letter (to the web industry) from Handheld 2013

How could you follow this? (With a male voice choir, obviously.)

Unfinished Business episode 47: A mobile phone is not a Tardis

This week on Unfinished Business, I’m joined by Elliott Kember. We talk about listening to feedback and the differences between client feedback on design projects and customer feedback about apps. Then I amuse Elliott with my adoration for LINGs CARS and that I think Ling is a marketing genius.

Bugshot

I’m not a one man QA department so I sometimes miss minor implementation issues, even on my own sites. Just this week, despite having looked at the Stuff and Nonsense redesign for countless hours, I still kept finding small alignment and padding problems, especially on my iPhone and iPad where those issues are magnified.

Unfinished Business episode 46: Let zygones be bygones. A Doctor Who 50th anniversary special

In this week’s extra length special episode of Unfinished Business, Jon Hicks and I talk exclusively about Doctor Who, so there isn’t a single piece of business advice anywhere in the show — not that there’s usually much.

In particular we talk about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode, so if you haven’t seen that yet — spoilers! Before that we talk about ‘An Adventure In Space And Time,’ the story of the First Doctor William Hartnell and ‘The Night Of The Doctor’ mini episode that set the scene for the 50th Anniversary last week.

Go, go, go, rillas! The all new Stuff and Nonsense

If you’re reading this in RSS, switch over to a browser, as we just launched ‘Go, go, go, rillas!’ It’s our late 2013 version of Stuff and Nonsense.

Unfinished Business episode 45: The sharpest knife in the drawer

This week on Unfinished Business, I’m joined by James Young to talk about his recent, first conference presentations and why confidence in front of people is as important as a designer’s skills with Photoshop. We discuss his knives business and how a side business can improve the work we do on the web and give us more varied content to talk and write about.

Accidentally speaking at Handheld Conference

While we’re on the subject of unexpected conference talks, I’m stepping in to fill Sarah Parmenter’s high heeled shoes at Handheld Conference this month as Sarah’s had to unfortunately cancel.

Closing the show at An Event Apart Atlanta

I can’t quite believe I just wrote that, I’m pinching myself to make sure it’s still true. And it is. Next February, we’ll be heading out to Georgia again where I’m speaking once again at An Event Apart in Atlanta.

Unfinished Business episode 44: Love me like a reptile

On this week’s Unfinished Business, regular co-host Laura Kalbag and I talked candidly about hosting workshops and whether they make commercial sense and how we make money from them. Laura asked me about choosing Stuff and Nonsense for our business name and we talked about how people can make the best, first impression when you write to us. (Sorry for Laura’s audio quality. We’ll try to do better next time.)

I’m number 41 in the Drum Digerati

Yep. Number forty-one of one-hundred. To be honest, when I was told about being part of the Drum Digerati list I wasn’t at all happy about it.

Unfinished Business episode 43: Hanging out at truck stops

This week on Unfinished Business, I’m joined by CSS hero Harry Roberts to talk about being typecast (literally,) going Keynote commando and Harry’s first week on the dole. We talk about how people can improve the way they think about sending and dealing with email and why we’re both obsessed with the backends of vans.

Should you buy Hardboiled Web Design for information about responsive web design?

Bob Asbille asked me this week if my Hardboiled Web Design book is worth buying by someone who’s looking to learn about responsive web design.

Unfinished Business episode 42: My favourite Belgians

This week, I’m joined by fabulous designer Veerle Pieters to talk about whether cycling or eating toasties is the best exercise, when working on retainer for long-term projects makes sense and the right questions to ask in our customer enquiry questionnaires.

Hosting a CSS3 For Responsive Web Design workshop in Zurich in December

Smashing Magazine are hosting a series of one day workshops across Europe throughout November and December.

Slides for my talk, Designing an atmosphere of accessibility

Today I’m over in Oslo, Norway, giving a talk at Accessibility Day 2013 (Google translated link). My topic is “Designing an atmosphere of accessibility” and I cover how I think focussing on content first as part of responsive design, and in particular working on design ‘atmosphere’ (typography, colour and texture) helps better, more accessible design.

My slides for the talk are already available on SpeakerDeck, but of course, you really had to be here.

‘Doctor Who: 50 Years’ Trailer

Getting excited yet?

With the 50th anniversary episode and the Day Of The Doctor just over a month away, I am. I’m also looking forward to the Unfinished Business Doctor Who Special with Jon HIcks too. We’re recording that the day after the Day and publishing it the day after that.

Unfinished Business episode 41 Rush and the tragically hip

On Unfinished Business this week, Designer and author of A Pocket Guide to CSS Animations Val Head joins me to talk about practical uses for CSS animations, how small publishers have made publishing books more accessible to first time authors and, of course, The Sooty Show.

Ten years of Sliding Doors of CSS

Exactly ten years ago today, on October 20th 2003, A List Apart published Doug Bowman’s Sliding Doors of CSS.

CSS3 for responsive web design workshop at Smashing Conference in 2014

2012’s Smashing Conference in Freiburg had the best atmosphere of any European conference I’ve been to and, while I wasn’t there, I hear this year’s was pretty special too.

Unfinished Business episode 40: 100% satisfaction guaranteed

This week, illustrator Josh Cleland joins me to talk about how far we can go using a movie or TV character’s likeness, the differences between an illustrator’s and a web designer’s contract and Josh’s “100% satisfaction guarantee.”

Brad Frost’s Development Is Design

Brad Frost:

As multi-device Web design quickly becomes the norm, the throw-it-over-the-fence style of creating websites is going to be increasingly difficult. The modern Web design process requires intense collaboration between designers and front-end developers. Real collaboration and communication are difficult, but we must get over that awkwardness in order to overcome the design/development divide.

His post reminds me a little of my Walls Come Tumbling Down presentation slides and transcript. It is often quite scary how alike our thinking is.

Two upcoming talks

It was lovely to hear Laura Kalbag talk about accessibility at Revolution in Shrewsbury a week or more ago. Especially as I’ll be doing the same in Oslo in a couple of weeks. I’m returning to conference speaking at Accessibility Day 2013 (Google translated link) run by those fine people at Northern Beat. My topic is “Designing an atmosphere of accessibility” and I’ll cover how I think focussing on content first as part of responsive design, and in particular working on design ‘atmosphere’ (typography, colour and texture) helps accessible design.

Then the following day (gulp) I’ll be in Scarborough at #TIDE 2013. I’m looking forward to this event enormously as I finally get to meet my CSS hero Harry Roberts and see a few old friends there too. I’ll be talking about “How to call your client an idiot without getting fired” (no guarantees) which is a lot more serious than it sounds as it’s all about encouraging better client participation in design projects. I’ve given this talk once before and this time, like the last, there’ll be no slides, just me.

It’s been a while and I’m justifiably nervous about both talks for different reasons, but it’ll feel good to be back.

Using pro-bono design projects as example files

On this week’s Unfinished Business, Alex’s friend Brad Frost and I talked about designing in the open, pro-bono projects for great causes like the Pittsburg Food Bank and the open project he and Melissa are starting for them.

Unfinished Business episode 39: You could be Snake Plissken

In this week’s show, Alex’s friend Brad Frost, who having survived his trip to Brighton, returns to talk to me about designing ‘in the open’ and what the benefits for us and the people and organisations we’re working for can be.

Listen now

Unfinished Business episode 38: Pocahontas got syphilis

In this week’s episode, designer and co-host of ‘that other podcastLiz Elcoate joins me to talk about the difficulties of working alone for long periods, the difficulties of keeping your portfolio full of new work when you work under non-disclosure agreements and why we should never apologise for working with small businesses with smaller budgets.

Listen now

Unfinished Business episode 37: Kangaroo with an AK-47

Special guest Dan Cederholm joins me on Unfinished Business this week to talk about making money by making things, how making great schwag makes a great impression and what happened to Foamee. We discuss why on Dribbble it’s important for business to not get in the way of a great service and with Dan’s new book coming up, we talk about the process of writing and whether second editions are worth it.

Preserving the history of web design

Talking to Dan Cederholm on Unfinished Business this coming week, our conversation to book writing, in particular working on second, maybe even third editions of books we wrote years ago.

Unfinished Business episode 36: Take regular dumps

On this week’s show, Designer, icon artist, author and possibly Doctor Who’s next companion Jon Hicks joins yours truly to discuss differences in the ways that Jon approaches different types of clients, how publishing his day rate and availability on his web site has improved the ‘quality’ of his enquiries and who ultimately owns the work that we do. As you might expect we couldn’t spend an hour together without talking about Doctor Who. Quite a lot.

Unfinished Business episode 35: Mad as a box of ferrets

In the latest episode of your favourite soap ‘apera,’ Anna and I go off on a tangent (no really) about the winner of out ‘Daft Proposal Of The Week Award.’ We talk about how to respond to proposals and whether it’s ever appropriate to not respond at all.

It’s not Narnia, you can get there by train

Back from my holidays, all tanned and gorgeous (obviously,) I rejoined Anna to talk about Laura Kalbag’s ‘Good Designers, Good Clients’ article on A List Apart. We discuss how I was inspired by Seth Godin to start speaking again and the best bits from the last three episodes including our ‘double our day rate Fridays,’ Sarah’s approach to handling low budget enquiries and the problem of doing work under NDA and having little to show for it in your portfolio.

Unfinished Business episode 33: 400 Likes and someone will win an elephant

My friend Sarah Parmenter co-hosted this week’s show with Anna while I was driving back from holiday. This week’s topics are money related — Sarah and Anna talk about fair pricing, taking payment before site launch and educating clients with unreasonably low budgets. Anna also asks Sarah about her new venture and what drove her to start a completely different business. They discuss the importance of honesty and how working on side projects can help with motivation.

Star Wars styling (a silly idea that might just work)

I sometimes work with other designers helping them to translate their design atmosphere and wide screen layouts into responsive designs. Breaking down their designs into systems is big part of what I do. In practical terms that means working through what are sometimes dozens of static visuals to identify patterns of typography, use of colour and layouts, both smaller modules and whole page compositions. From these patterns I classify and identify elements and compose stylesheets based on them.

Seth Godin on Happy Monday

I cannot pass up this opportunity to link to this week’s fabulous Happy Monday interview with Seth Godin.

Unfinished Business episode 31: Almost as controversial as putting the milk in first

I’m generally bored of interview shows, that’s why we have guest co-hosts instead of guests and this week on Unfinished Business, my CSS hero Harry Roberts steps in while I’m on holiday. Anna asks him about his sudden decision to leave his full-time job, the events that led up to it, and what he plans to do next. Harry shares his advice for people struggling to balance work and personal projects. They also have a sneaky chat about object oriented CSS at the end even though it’s not really business related but something had to replace the usual ten minutes of banter about soap and apes.

I ain’t got no home (in this world anymore)

It seemed apt to post these lyrics today. My person favourite version of this song is on Billy Bragg’s Tooth & Nail album. Listen on Spotify.

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