Tags: dao

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A Dao of Web Design by John Allsopp is a document that stands outside of time. It was a perfectly crafted message for its own era, and amazingly it’s even more relevant now, a full fathom fifteen years later.

We once took on the tropes of print design and tried to apply them to the web. I fear that today we run the risk of treating web development no different to other kinds of software development, ignoring the strengths of the web that John highlighted for us. Flexibility, ubiquity, and uncertainty: don’t fight them as bugs; embrace them as features.

A dao revisited

Pretty much every time I give a talk—be it on progressive enhancement, responsive design, or web development in general—I almost always make reference to John’s A Dao Of Web Design. Invariably, I ask for a show of hands: “Who’s read this article?” I ask. I try not to get too dispirited when only a few hands go up. Instead I encourage everyone—in the strongest possible terms—to seek it out and read it.

It’s not just that I consider A Dao Of Web Design to be part of the canon of great writing and thinking for web designers and developers. I’m also continually amazed by its longevity. Thirteen years is a very, very long time on the web, and yet just last week Richard referenced John’s article when he was describing how best to approach designing for the web today.

The only other article I can think that matches its importance is Ethan’s unveiling of Responsive Web Design three years ago, also on A List Apart. It’s no coincidence that Ethan’s article references John’s article from a decade before. Both pieces are essentially making the same rallying cry: stop fighting the flexible nature of the web. Embrace it.

I think that finally, finally we’re beginning to do just that.