I completely agree with Cennydd (and Peter, and Leisa). If anyone working on a project—whether they’re a designer, developer, or anything else—isn’t considering the user experience, then what’s the point of even being there? By extension, labelling your work as “UX Design” is as redundant and pointless as labelling it “Good Design.”
But my complaint is with the label, not the activities. It’s the UX Design label that has little value for me. These activities happen in all good design: if you’re not trying to create positive experience then I don’t really understand what you are doing.
One failure mode is ‘I have run out of paper’, another is ‘my data has been sold to a company I don’t trust’, another is ‘my country has been invaded and they’ve seized all the servers’.
These are things to be designed for. These are user needs too. They have to be embraced.
Just like Nick, John Willshire has put his slides together with the audio from his gobsmackingly good dConstruct presentation on metadesign.
Nick Foster has put the audio of his fantastic dConstruct talk together with his slides.
It’s a terrific, thought-provoking presentation, superbly delivered …and it even has some relevance to progressive enhancement! (you’ll know what I mean if you watch/listen to the whole thing)
Here’s a classic. David Siegel—of Creating Killer Websites fame—outlines exactly why he turned his back on that 1×1 spacer .gif trick he invented.
A nice combination of style guide and pattern library, with plenty of documentation.
Very thoughtful and sensible thinking from Paul.
An old-school styleguide.
A lesson on the importance of handling each state of an interface:
- the blank state,
- the loading state,
- the partial state,
- the error state,
- and the ideal state
…instead of just focusing on that last one.
I kind of want to link to every one of John’s post chronicling his 90 days at Clearleft, but this one is particular good, I think: how narrative ideas from the world of storytelling can help unlock some design problems.
A wonderful, wonderful history of the web from Dave at this year’s Beyond Tellerrand conference. I didn’t get to see this at the time—I was already on the way back home—so I got Dave to give me the gist of it over lunch. He undersold it. This is a fascinating story, wonderfully told.
So gather round the computer, kids, and listen to Uncle Dave tell you about times gone by.
Alla has taken the ideas she presented in her superb talk at Responsive Day Out and published them as a great article in A List Apart.
The video of Richard’s great talk on responsive typography at the Up Front conference.
Kelli Anderson’s thesis on the Human Interference Task Force project set up to mark nuclear waste sites for future generations (a project I’ve referenced in some of my talks).
Lara’s fantastic book is now available online in HTML for free. Have a read and then order a copy of the print book for your library.
Sounds like a good exercise for explaining just about anything. Smart.
A detailed and humorous deep dive into motion design and spatial depth in digital interfaces.
When another company achieves success, there’s a lot of pressure to investigate what they did right and apply that to our own organizations.
But we still have a chance. As long as we run brave organizations made up of even braver souls who are willing to embrace expression, trust their intuition and experiences, and stand up when everyone else is sitting down, we will survive.
The text of Nicole’s excellent talk on writing helpful, human microcopy.
This piece by Cennydd on ethics in digital design reminded me of something Jonathan Harris wrote a while back.
I like that he cautions against hiding the seams:
Designers should also strive to give digital products a healthy balance of seamlessness and interrogability. While it’s appealing to create technology that needs little human intervention, this sort of black box can be a breeding ground for dishonest behaviour.
Smart thinking from Harry here on a common issue when it comes to naming and styling. As he points out, the solution is not technical, but lies in how you form your mental model:
The design issue here is solved by subtly inverting the problem.
This is a deep, deep dive into responsive images and I can only follow about half of it, but there are some really useful suggestions in here (I particularly like the ideas for swapping out images for print).
You’ll want to back this—you’ll want to back the hell out of this!
The full text of Aaron’s magnificent closing keynote from Responsive Day Out.
This one-day workshop that Cennydd is running in London on July 22nd looks like it’s going to be really good.
A fantastically-detailed write up of the whole day out. Each talk is described, and then the threads are tied together at the end. Great stuff!
As may have become clear from my notes above, Responsive Day Out 3 was a day full of variety. I had the feeling it could have easily been called Web Day Out, and I guess that makes sense, as responsive web design has naturally grown to be a pleonasm in the past few years.
I really like the way that Paul’s talk builds on top of ideas laid down by Ethan and Frank. Good stuff.
The slides from Paul’s talk-in-progress on design principles for building responsive sites. He gave us a sneak peak at Clearleft earlier this week. ‘Sgood.
I can relate 100% to what Dave is saying here:
I’m disenchanted with desktop. That conviction runs so deep, I groan when I see a desktop layout JPEG.
All too often we talk the talk about taking a mobile first approach, but we rarely walk the walk. Most designers and developers still think of the small-screen viewport as the exception, not the norm.
I think the distinction between ‘how it works’ and ‘how it looks’ is blurrier than we think.
For once, Betteridge’s Law of Headlines doesn’t hold true, because the data in this article shows that the answer is a resounding “yes!”
SmashingConf Oxford 2015: Richard Rutter on Don’t Give Them What They Want, Give Them What They Need
A great case study from Richard, walking through the process of redesigning the website for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
On the fifteenth anniversary of A Dao Of Web Design people who make websites share their thoughts.
Paul Ford’s is a zinger:
I don’t know if the issues raised in “A Dao of Web Design” can ever be resolved, which is why the article seems so prescient. After all, the Tao Te Ching is 2500 years old and we’re still working out what it all means. What I do believe is that the web will remain the fastest path to experimenting with culture for people of any stripe. It will still be here, alive and kicking and deployed across billions of computing machines, in 2030, and people will still be using it to do weird, wholly unexpected things.
Here’s a talk give at a community event in London last summer.
Aaron documents his process of implementing Heydon’s clever quantity queries in CSS.
I am really looking forward to hearing Heydon’s talk at Responsive Day Out.
This gets nothing but agreement from me:
For altering the default scroll speed I honestly couldn’t come up with a valid use-case.
My theory is that site owners are trying to apply app-like whizz-banginess to the act of just trying to read some damn text, and so they end up screwing with the one interaction still left to the reader—scrolling.
A look at the risks of relying on a purely graphical icon for interface actions. When in doubt, label it.
Results of a survey of over 1000 people working on the web. It’s beautifully put together and the overall trajectory regarding responsive design looks pretty positive to me.
Get your next design game off to a quick start with this handy generator of nonsensical-yet-vaguely-plausible product ideas.
Inspired by Responsive Day Out, the gang at Cloud Four are organising a one-day event on responsive design in Portland on September 25th. It’s gonna be a good one.
You might want to keep an eye on what the Clearlefties are doing here for the next hundred days.
One down, 99 to go.
The responsive BBC News site is live! Hurrah!
Here’s a look at the highs and lows of the site’s story, emphasising the importance of progressive enhancement and all that enables: feature detection (by “cutting the mustard”), conditional loading, and a mobile-first approach.
A profile of the great work Aaron and Seb have been doing at the Cooper Hewitt museum. Have a read of this and then have a listen again to Aaron’s dConstruct talk.
The launch of the Apple watch prompts Brad to remind us of the benefits of being future-friendly.
Once again, responsive design is not about “mobile”, “tablet”, and “desktop”. It’s about creating experiences meant to look and function beautifully on anything that can access the Web. We don’t know what gizmos will be sitting underneath Christmas trees two years from now, but there’s a damn good chance those gadgets will be able to access the Web.
The slides from Katie’s recent talk.
Performance is a rising requirement for building successful websites, but successful performance begins far earlier than development. So how do you get your entire team excited by it, specifically aesthetic-heavy designers?
Superb. Absolutely superb.
A magnificent tour-de-force by Frank on the web’s edgelessness.
Read. Absorb. Read again. This is the essence of responsive web design, distilled.
These are principles of visual design—hierarchy, rhythm, etc.—nicely explored and explained.
Any sufficiently advanced vision piece is indistinguishable from Black Mirror.
This time it’s a great article by Karen Menezes filled with practical examples showing where you can use flexbox today.
This would be better titled “Futures of texting” but it’s an interesting grab-bag of observations. I’ve always felt that SMS has been overlooked as an input mechanism.
(Conversely, I’ve always felt that voice is really over-rated as input mechanism, but under-rated for output.)
A great investigation into the usability benefits of allowing users to fill in their passwords in plain text.
Major caveat: make sure you still offer the ability to mask passwords too.
Lea wasn’t happy with the lack of styling and extensibility of the datalist element, so she rolled her own lightweight autocomplete/type-ahead widget, and she’s sharing it with the world.
A beautiful website for ISS-based biology experiments.
The Guardian have hit the big red button and made their responsive site the default. Great stuff!
(top tip: don’t read the comments)
This Eno-esque deck of cards by Scott could prove very useful for a lot of Clearleft projects.
Brad’s writing a book.
Insert take-my-money.gif here.
An important clarification from Stephen:
You don’t actually design in the browser
When I speak of designing in the browser, I mean creating browser-based design mockups/comps (I use the terms interchangeably), as opposed to static comps (like the PSDs we’re all used to). So it’s not the design. It’s the visualization of the design—the one you present to stakeholders.
Personally, I think it’s as crazy to start in the browser as it is to start with Photoshop—both have worldviews and constraints that will affect your thinking. Start with paper.
You can now read Aaron’s excellent book online. I highly recommend reading the first chapter for one of the best descriptions of progressive enhancement that I’ve ever read.
Some good practical advice from Tim on setting a performance budget.
Use rule-based metrics to make sure you haven’t overlooked simple optimizations.
Use quantity-based metrics as guides to help designers and developers make better decisions about what goes onto a page.
Here’s a fun little interview I did recently, mostly about work stuff. It’s available for your huffduffing pleasure.
One thing that really bothers me is the way I repeatedly said “guys” to refer to my colleagues at Clearleft. I must stop doing that.
Dave’s great slides from a presentation on performance and responsive design.
As we may understand: A constructionist approach to ‘behaviour change’ and the Internet of Things by Dan Lockton
An epic braindump by Dan, covering connected devices, product design, co-creation, DIY, and knopening stuff up. That’s right: knopening.
Knopen, a fairly obvious portmanteau of know and open, can be a verb (to knopen something) or an adjective (e.g. a knopen tool).
A great primer on using
picture. I think I’ll be referring back to this a lot.
This was a fun podcast—myself and Cyd from Code For America talk to Karen and Ethan about how we worked together. Good times.
The audio is available for your huffduffing pleasure.
Patty Toland — Design Consistency For The Responsive Web (Smashing Conference Freiburg 2014) on Vimeo
Patty’s excellent talk on responsive design and progressive enhancement. Stick around for question-and-answer session at the end, wherein I attempt to play hardball, but actually can’t conceal my admiration and the fact that I agree with every single word she said.
I share the concerns expressed here about the “sizes” attribute that’s part of the new turbo-powered img element (or “the picture element and its associates”, if you prefer). Putting style or layout information into HTML smells bad.
This is a concern that Matt Wilcox has raised:
Change the design and those breakpoints are likely to be wrong. So you’ll need to change all of the client-side mark-up that references images.
I can give you a current use-case: right here on adactio.com, you can change the stylesheet …so I can’t embed breakpoints or sizes into my img elements because—quite rightly—there’s a separation between the structural HTML layer and the presentational CSS layer.
Following on from that post of Jason’s I linked to, Chris also emphasises that, for most use cases, you probably only need to use srcset (and maybe sizes), but not the picture element with explicit sources.
It’s really, really great that people are writing about this, because it can be quite a confusing topic to wrap your head around at first.
A deeply thoughtful piece (as always) by Wilson, on the mindset needed for a sustainable way of working.
When we start with the assumption that optimizing for rapid, unbounded growth is a goal, we immediately narrow the possibility space. There are only so many choices we can make that will get us there. The same choices that made annual monoculture and the shopping mall the most efficient engines for short-term growth and profit are the same qualities that made them unsustainable in the long term.
There are more ways to scale than growth. There are more ways to deepen our impact than just reaching more people. What if we put just as much effort into scaling the impact of our work over time? Can we build digital products around sustainable systems that survive long enough to outlive us, that are purpose-built to thrive without our constant cultivation?
This is four years old, but it’s solid advice that stands the test of time.
A really nice little documentary about my friend Jeffrey.
I had a good ol’ chat with Justin Avery from Responsive Web Design Weekly. We talk about performance, Responsive Day Out, and yes, progressive enhancement.
A fantastic collection of short videos from Luke on interaction design for devices of all shapes and sizes.
Make yourself a nice cup of tea, hit “Play all”, sit back, relax and learn from the master.
Those lovely people at Filament Group share some of their techniques for making data tables work across a range of screen sizes.
Dave wanted to figure out if having a responsive site necessarily meant taking a performance hit, so he ran the numbers on his own site. It turns out all of performance-related issues are not related to responsive design.
A nice profile of BERG’s Little Printer. That Matt Webb is a smart cookie. He is also a very thoughtful cookie.
If you’re going to check out the New Yorker’s nice new responsive site, might I suggest you start here?
A look behind the scenes of gov.uk. I like their attitude to Photoshop comps:
We don’t want a culture of designs being “thrown over a wall” to a dev team. We don’t make “high fidelity mock ups” or “high fidelity wireframes”. We’re making a Thing, not pictures of a Thing.
We don’t have a UX Team. If the problem with your service is that the servers are slow and the UX Team can’t change that, then they aren’t in control of the user experience and they shouldn’t be called the user experience team.
The first in a series of posts looking at the process behind builfing this “quantified self” site:
As with most decisions in my life, I asked myself: What would Tony Stark do?
Here’s an intriguing approach to offering a navigation control that adapts as the user scrolls.
I’m not too keen on the way it duplicates the navigation in the markup though. I might have a play to see if I can find a way to progressively enhance up from a link-to-footer pattern to achieve this.
John peers behind the surface veneer of the web’s current screen-based setting:
The challenge for us as developers and designers for the web becomes less about screens and pixels and buttons and much more about how the web augments our lives, both actively and passively; how it makes us know ourselves and our homes and workplaces and environments better.
A concise case study from gov.uk:
Designing for the constraints of mobile is useful – if we get the fundamentals of the service working on small screens and slow network speeds, it can work on more capable devices.
Neil Berry writes down his thoughts prompted by Responsive Day Out 2.
A great blow-by-blow account of Responsive Day Out 2 from Simon R Jones.
Phil Baker writes up his thoughts on all the day’s talks.
What follows here is not a full account of each talk, you can listen to the audio recordings for that. This is more a collection of my main take-aways for the day, and what I found most interesting.
Marc Jenkins shares his thoughts on Responsive Day Out 2.
Another lovely write-up of Responsive Day Out 2.
Now this is what I call a conference write-up. Paul synthesises the talks from Responsive Day Out 2 into five principles for responsive design: