Tags: aws

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Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Designing, laws, and attitudes. — Ethan Marcotte

Ethan ponders what the web might be like if the kind of legal sticks that exist for accessibility in some countries also existed for performance.

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Robustness and least power

There’s a great article by Steven Garrity over on A List Apart called Design with Difficult Data. It runs through the advantages of using unusual content to stress-test interfaces, referencing Postel’s Law, AKA the robustness principle:

Be conservative in what you send, be liberal in what you accept.

Even though the robustness principle was formulated for packet-switching, I see it at work in all sorts of disciplines, including design. A good example is in best practices for designing forms:

Every field you ask users to fill out requires some effort. The more effort is needed to fill out a form, the less likely users will complete the form. That’s why the foundational rule of form design is shorter is better — get rid of all inessential fields.

In other words, be conservative in the number of form fields you send to users. But then, when it comes to users filling in those fields:

It’s very common for a few variations of an answer to a question to be possible; for example, when a form asks users to provide information about their state, and a user responds by typing their state’s abbreviation instead of the full name (for example, CA instead of California). The form should accept both formats, and it’s the developer job to convert the data into a consistent format.

In other words, be liberal in what you accept from users.

I find the robustness principle to be an immensely powerful way of figuring out how to approach many design problems. When it comes to figuring out what specific tools or technologies to use, there’s an equally useful principle: the rule of least power:

Choose the least powerful language suitable for a given purpose.

On the face of it, this sounds counter-intuitive; why forego a powerful technology in favour of something less powerful?

Well, power comes with a price. Powerful technologies tend to be more complex, which means they can be trickier to use and trickier to swap out later.

Take the front-end stack, for example: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML and CSS are declarative, so you don’t get as much precise control as you get with an imperative language like JavaScript. But JavaScript comes with a steeper learning curve and a stricter error-handling model than HTML or CSS.

As a general rule, it’s always worth asking if you can accomplish something with a less powerful technology:

In the web front-end stack — HTML, CSS, JS, and ARIA — if you can solve a problem with a simpler solution lower in the stack, you should. It’s less fragile, more foolproof, and just works.

  • Instead of using JavaScript to do animation, see if you can do it in CSS instead.
  • Instead of using JavaScript to do simple client-side form validation, try to use HTML input types and attributes like required.
  • Instead of using ARIA to give a certain role value to a div or span, try to use a more suitable HTML element instead.

It sounds a lot like the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. But whereas the KISS principle can be applied within a specific technology—like keeping your CSS manageable—the rule of least power is all about evaluating technology; choosing the most appropriate technology for the task at hand.

There are some associated principles, like YAGNI: You Ain’t Gonna Need It. That helps you avoid picking a technology that’s too powerful for your current needs, but which might be suitable in the future: premature optimisation. Or, as Rachel put it, stop solving problems you don’t yet have:

So make sure every bit of code added to your project is there for a reason you can explain, not just because it is part of some standard toolkit or boilerplate.

There’s no shortage of principles, laws, and rules out there, and I find many of them very useful, but if I had to pick just two that are particularly applicable to my work, they would be the robustness principle and the rule of least of power.

After all, if they’re good enough for Tim Berners-Lee…

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

Design Laws in Nature by Jordan Moore

A deep, deep dive into biomicry in digital design.

Nature is our outsourced research and development department. Observing problems solved by nature can help inform how we approach problems in digital design. Nature doesn’t like arbitrary features. It finds a way to shed unnecessary elements in advancing long-term goals over vast systems.

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

The Eponymous Laws of Tech - daverupert.com

Dave has curated a handy list of eponymous laws.

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Laws of UX

  1. Fitts’s Law
  2. Hick’s Law
  3. Jakob’s Law
  4. Law of Prägnanz
  5. Law of Proximity
  6. Miller’s Law
  7. Parkinson’s Law
  8. Serial Position Effect
  9. Tesler’s Law
  10. Van Restorff Effect

Not listed:

  1. Murphy’s Law
  2. Sturgeon’s Law

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Back to Bradshaw’s / Paul Robert Lloyd

I really like getting Paul’s insights into building his Bradshaw’s Guide project. Here he shares his process for typography, images and geolocation.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Setting up CloudFront and TLS (HTTPS) with Jekyll – olivermak.es

Remember when I mentioned that you can get free certificates from Amazon now? Well, Oliver has written an in-depth step-by-step description of how he got his static site all set up with HTTPS.

More of this please! Share your experiences with moving to TLS—the more, the better.

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

New – AWS Certificate Manager – Deploy SSL/TLS-Based Apps on AWS | AWS Official Blog

If you’re hosting with Amazon, you now get HTTPS for free.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The Tink Tank » Understanding screen reader interaction modes

Léonie gives a great, clear description of how screen readers switch modes as they traverse the DOM snapshot.

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Bradshaw’s Guide For Tourists in Great Britain

Keep it under your hat, but Paul has soft-launch his Project Portillo. And very nice it is too.

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Like A Rounded Corner (Bruce and The Standardettes) - YouTube

Bravo, Bruce, bravo.

I heard Glen Campbell’s “Like A Rhinestone Cowboy” on the radio and began absent-mindedly singing “Like a rounded corner” to it.

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Google, Microsoft, Apple sued over preview icons | Business Tech - CNET News

Further proof, as if any were needed, that the patent system turns into a steaming pile of shit as soon as it has dealings with software.

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

IESB Sues Over Unauthorized Use of Spy Photo in Iron Man - Film Junk

Here's a depressing counterpoint to my feel-good story about Iron Man: someone else who's picture was used in the film (in good faith) decided to sic the lawyers on Jon Favreau.

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

AJAX and Screen Readers - Content Access Issues - The Paciello Group Blog

Steve Faulkner gives a rundown of the current state of play between screen readers and Ajax.

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Thursday, October 26th, 2006