As I mentioned last week, I’ve written a new talk to help me cope with my obsession with making layouts that are different from what we mostly see on the web these days. It’s called ‘Art Directing the Web’ because in the talk I make the point that we should make different layouts not just for difference sake, but to better communicate the meaning of our content and to tell better stories.
While I’m finalising the table of contents for my ‘shot,’ I’ve been thinking about the things that I regularly do when I’m ‘Designing with a Browser’, one of which is using the contenteditable attribute in the templates that I share with clients.
I can’t quite believe that it’s been almost two years since we launched the previous, Go, go, go, rillas! design of the Stuff & Nonsense website. Today, I’m very pleased to present our next design, ‘It’s the taste.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On this week’s Unfinished Business, Alex’s friendBrad 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.