Stuff & Nonsense. Website designers in North Wales

And all that ‘Malarkey’

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

15 years of Dao

It’s amazing to think that John Allsopp’s oft-quoted article, A Dao of Web Design was published fifteen years ago today. A List Apart asked me what John’s article means to me now, but rather than focus on Dao’s flexible design principles, I wanted to talk about a passage that never seems to get a mention.

New branding for Code Enigma

Our friends at Code Enigma relaunched their website at DrupalCon in Amsterdam. The launch included the branding we designed for them.

Creating a colour palette inspired by Martin Scorsese’s film Hugo

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with a client on the design of a mobile analytics ‘web app.’ I’ll show more of it when we add it to our portfolio, but because lately one or two people have asked me about how we choose colour palettes, I thought I’d share how we came up with the colours for the Elemez app.

Some early thoughts on Sketch 3

I’m a Fireworks man.

What man, laid on his back counting stars, ever thought about a number?

Spoiler alert: I’m discussing a theme from the first half of the latest series of Mad Men, season 7, but I don’t mention what happens to major characters.

Towards the end of the 1960s, technology had begun to creep into advertising and in ’68, Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper and Partners agency (SC&P) install their first computer, a room-filling, low-humming IBM System/360.

I wrote ‘A different letter to a junior designer’

Last week, Cennydd Bowles wrote his Letter to a Junior Designer. It was widely shared and commented on, but while I enjoyed Cennydd sharing his experience—he is, after-all, an experienced product designer—I felt that his message and tone were profoundly negative.

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.


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:

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.

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.

Ghostlab for Windows

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.

Brad Frost’s Development Is Design

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.

An extract from Designing Atoms and Elements

This post is an extract from my chapter in Smashing Book 3, titled ‘Designing Atoms and Elements’ written in March 2012.

Has a client ever said to you:

“I don’t like the design”?

Google Visual Assets Guidelines

The CSS Zen Garden at 10

I’m struggling to believe it quite frankly, but The CSS Zen Garden was planted ten years ago today. I don’t think we should underestimate the importance of The CSS Zen Garden in the history of the web. Its influence still resonates today. Now it’s back accepting submissions and making some of us feel very old.

Responsive Finn

Nutty responsive assumptions

The Stuff and Nonsense nutty boys header is pretty tall and I decided I wanted to reduce its height for small screens, such as phones, in landscape orientation. When I wrote the CSS to make this happen I made some nutty assumptions. In the spirit of sharing our mistakes:

One Step Beyond

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s new, Madness-inspired home page header. We certainly enjoyed making it.

Complete Madness

I like to think that at Stuff and Nonsense, our house isn’t so much a place to work as it is a house of fun and although we take the work we do very seriously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously at all. We hope that sense of fun comes across on our site and today we’re putting aside our embarrassment, putting on our baggy trousers and unveiling a new header on our home page.

Dan Barber: Design Eye for the Developer Guy

Subtle Patterns

A suggestion for Responsive Design toggle icons

Jordan Moore (who wears rattlesnake skin shoes) on how to give users the option to “Toggle a Responsive Design On and Off”:

The Web Standards Project’s work is done

I’d always admired the work of, and the people behind the Web Standards Project. What they had achieved in only a few short years in bringing browser vendors and tool authors together behind open standards was nothing short of magnificent, so when I was asked to join the project on March 31st 2005 it was an ambition fulfilled.

Why didn’t I have this yesterday?

BLOKK font

Dan Mall: A problem of expectations

The complete slides from my ‘Fashionably flexible responsive web design’ workshop at New Adventures

I thoroughly enjoyed hosting another Fashionably flexible responsive web design workshop at New Adventures on Wednesday. I got the feeling that everyone enjoyed the day. I know that I did.

ITV’s rebrand and responsive home page

Touchy subject

Two great reads this week, on connected subjects:

Two things about the iPad mini

Two things about the iPad mini as I’ve owned one since Friday:


You might think — because all the talk at the moment is about seven inch tablets, in particular the iPad mini vs Google’s Nexus 7 vs Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD — that a seven inch tablet was a seven inch tablet was a… Right? Wrong.

The Guardian’s Pasteup

Matt Griffin’s ‘Responsive Comping: Obtaining Signoff with Mockups’ A List Apart double bill

Chris Armstrong’s The Infinite Grid on A List Apart

Grippy grabby and those three horizontal lines

Thibaut Sailly added an extra dimension to the three-lines responsive navigation icon discussion by suggesting that the three horizontal lines could represent a gesture.

More about that bloody three lines navigation icon

I’m glad that the three-lines icon I suggested first, back in March is now being established as a sort of standard.

Jordan Moore: The Semantic, Responsive Navicon

TrentWalton: A New

Don’t confuse design testing with device testing

There’s been a lot written about device testing over the last year. Jeremy instigating open device testing labs has rightly generated a lot of column inches like Smashing Magazine’s Establishing An Open Device Lab. However, I think we need to be clear just what we mean by testing.

Designing for the Hillsborough Independent Panel

It was January, 2011 and an email arrived from a name I recognised.

Would you be available for me to phone you to discuss a potential project? I’ve attached an NDA. Could you sign a printed copy, scan and send it back to me?

John Jones
Jones Olson

About those long line lengths

Thank-you to everyone who tweeted and emailed about the site. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. More than I’d hoped for. And I’d hoped for a lot. Some of the comments came with bugs I need to fix and suggestions for improving the site and its performance overall. I’m really grateful for that. A little bit of follow up from yesterday’s site launch.

We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, we are the mods

If you’re reading this in anything other than a browser, open Chrome, Safari or Firefox (if that’s your thing,) because I’ve designed a new website for Stuff & Nonsense.

Divya Manian: Designing in the browser

Bringing a knife to a gunfight — my slide deck from An Event Apart, Austin 2012

I’ve just come home from a ten hot days in Texas, where I had the honour, again, of speaking at An Event Apart alongside some of the best speakers in the industry. I enjoyed the trip, and especially the conference, enormously.

I’ve spoken at conferences regularly since my first time (again alongside Jeremy and Jeffrey) at @media 2005. (I’d never have guessed then that we’d still be friends, still doing this thing, all these years later.) But in the last couple of years I started to enjoy speaking less and emotional risk/reward ratio that goes with public speaking tipped too much toward risk. So I decided to not speak at all in 2012. That is until Jeffrey persuaded me to speak in Austin.

Unlike Jeremy, this wasn’t my first not-SXSW visit to Austin as Elliot, Simon, Tim and I and a bunch of design globetrotters went there to redesign a bank a few years ago.

I’m glad I went. Every An Event Apart conference feels special, but at this one the (unplanned) recurring themes were spooky. My talk was about designing, design process and particularly how our conventional design tools — drawing tools like Fireworks and Photoshop — are not equipped for designing today’s web. They’re ‘Bringing a knife to a gunfight!’ From the website:

In the mid-nineties, when designers started making their mark on the web, they did it with software tools and processes that they’d brought with them from print. But the web’s a different place now than it was ten, five, even two years ago; the tools and processes we’ve relied on for years are no longer capable of properly designing today’s flexible, responsive web. In this session, we’ll find new ways to design that better serve the needs of today’s responsive web, and investigate better, alternative tools and approaches to design. We’ll learn too how new tools and approaches can improve communication between designers and developers and our clients.

I hear that the talk was well received and I had a great time giving it. In fact, it’s definitely helped me to get my speaking mojo working again.

For everyone not at An Event Apart in Austin:

iA: Responsive Typography: The Basics

Andrew Kim: The Next Microsoft

Say hello to the new ISO

In the later part of last year, my good friend and colleague David Roessli and I started a new project together — to redesign ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. I wrote about it a little in November 2011.

Luke Wroblewski: Off Canvas Multi-Device Layouts


Roger Johansson: An alternative to select elements as navigation in narrow viewports