Paul Rand: Modernist Master 1914-1996
A lovely fansite dedicated to the life and work of Paul Rand.
A lovely fansite dedicated to the life and work of Paul Rand.
Today marks ten years since the publication of HTML5 For Web Designers, the very first book from A Book Apart.
I’m so proud of that book, and so honoured that I was the first author published by the web’s finest purveyors of brief books. I mean, just look at the calibre of their output since my stumbling start!
Here’s what I wrote ten years ago.
Here’s what Jason wrote ten years ago.
Here’s what Mandy wrote ten years ago.
Here’s what Jeffrey wrote ten years ago.
They started something magnificent. Ten years on, with Katel at the helm, it’s going from strength to strength.
Happy birthday, little book! And happy birthday, A Book Apart! Here’s to another decade!
Brendan describes the software he’s using to get away from Adobe’s mafia business model.
Last week I wrote a post called Dev perception:
I have a suspicion that there’s a silent majority of developers who are working with “boring” technologies on “boring” products in “boring” industries …you know, healthcare, government, education, and other facets of everyday life that any other industry would value more highly than Uber for dogs.
The sentiment I expressed resonated with a lot of people. Like, a lot of people.
I was talking specifically about web development and technology choices, but I think the broader point applies to other disciplines too.
Last month I had the great pleasure of moderating two panels on design leadership at an event in London (I love moderating panels, and I think I’m pretty darn good at it too). I noticed that the panels comprised representatives from two different kinds of companies.
There were the digital-first companies like Spotify, Deliveroo, and Bulb—companies forged in the fires of start-up culture. Then there were the older companies that had to make the move to digital (transform, if you will). I decided to get a show of hands from the audience to see which kind of company most people were from. The overwhelming majority of attendees were from more old-school companies.
Just as most of the ink spilled in the web development world goes towards the newest frameworks and toolchains, I feel like the majority of coverage in the design world is spent on the latest outputs from digital-first companies like AirBnB, Uber, Slack, etc.
The end result is the same. A typical developer or designer is left feeling that they—and their company—are behind the curve. It’s like they’re only seeing the Instagram version of their industry, all airbrushed and filtered, and they’re comparing that to their day-to-day work. That can’t be healthy.
Personally, I’d love to hear stories from the trenches of more representative, traditional companies. I also think that would help get an important message to people working in similar companies:
You are not alone!
An online documentary series featuring interviews with smart people about the changing role of design.
As technology becomes more complex and opaque, how will we as designers understand its potential, do hands-on work, translate it into forms people can understand and use, and lead meaningful conversations with manufacturers and policymakers about its downstream implications? We are entering a new technology landscape shaped by artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and synthetic biology.
So far there’s Kevin Slavin, Molly Wright Steenson, and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, with more to come from the likes of Matt Jones, Anab Jain, Dan Hill, and many, many more.
Something that I am increasingly uncomfortable with is our industry’s obsession with job titles. I understand that the landscape has gotten a lot more complex than when I started out in 2009, but I do think the sheer volume and variation in titles isn’t overly helpful in communicating what people actually do.
I share Andy’s concern. I kinda wish that the title for this open job role at Clearleft could’ve just said “Person”.
Dan compares the relationship between a designer and developer in the web world to the relationship between an art director and a copywriter in the ad world. He and Brad made a video to demonstrate how they collaborate.
Interviews with designers, where they talk about their backgrounds, tools, workflows, and day-to-day experiences.
Mike lists five tool skills he looks for in a designer (not that every designer needs to have all five):
Swap the first one out for some markup and CSS skills, and I reckon you’ve got a pretty good list for developers too.
Six years ago I wrote a book and the brand new plucky upstart A Book Apart published it.
Six years! That’s like a geological age in internet years.
People liked the book. That’s very gratifying. I’m quite proud of it, and it always gives me a warm glow when someone tells me they enjoyed reading it.
Jeffrey asked me a while back about updating the book for a second edition—after all, six years is crazy long time for a web book to be around. I said no, because I just wouldn’t have the time, but mostly because—as the old proverb goes—you can step in the same river twice. Proud as I am of HTML5 For Web Designers, I consider it part of my past.
“What about having someone else update it?” Well, that made me nervous. I feel quite protective of my six year old.
“What about Rachel Andrew?” Ah, well, that’s a different story! Absolutely—if there’s one person I trust to bring the up to date, it’s Rachel.
She’s done a fine, fine job. The second edition of HTML5 For Web Designers is now available.
I know what you’re going to ask: how much difference is there between the two editions? Well, in the introduction to the new edition, I’m very pleased to say that Rachel has written:
I’ve been struck by how much has remained unchanged in that time.
There’s a new section on responsive images. That’s probably the biggest change. The section on video has been expanded to include captioning. There are some updates and tweaks to the semantics of some of the structural elements. So it’s not a completely different book; it’s very much an update rather than a rewrite.
If you don’t have a copy of HTML5 For Web Designers and you’ve been thinking that maybe it’s too out-of-date to bother with, rest assured that it is now bang up to date thanks to Rachel.
Jeffrey has written a lovely new foreword for the second edition:
HTML5 for Web Designers is a book about HTML like Elements of Style is a book about commas. It’s a book founded on solid design principles, and forged at the cutting edge of twenty-first century multi-device design and development.
I use my walk to and from work every day as an opportunity to catch up on my Huffduffer podcast. Today I started listening to a talk I’ve really been looking forward to. It’s a Long Now seminar called Universal Access To All Knowledge by one of my heroes: Brewster Kahle, founder of The Internet Archive.
As expected, it’s an excellent talk. I caught the start of it on my walk in to work this morning and I picked up where I left off on my walk home this evening. In fact, I deliberately didn’t get the bus home—despite the cold weather—so that I’d get plenty of listening done.
Round about the 23 minute mark he starts talking about Open Library, the fantastic project that George worked on to provide a web page for every book. He describes how it works as a lending library where an electronic version of a book can be checked out by one person at a time:
You can click on: hey! there’s this HTML5 For Web Designers. We bought this book—we bought this book from a publisher such that we could lend it. So you can say “Oh, I want to borrow this book” and it says “Oh, it’s checked out.” Darn! And you can add it to your list and remind yourself to go and get it some other time.
Holy crap! Did Brewster Kahle just use my book to demonstrate Open Library‽
It literally stopped me in my tracks. I stopped walking and stared at my phone, gobsmacked.
It was a very surreal moment. It was also a very happy moment.
Now I’m documenting that moment—and I don’t just mean on a third-party service like Twitter or Facebook. I want to be able to revisit that moment in the future so I’m documenting it at my own URL …though I’m very happy that the Internet Archive will also have a copy.
I’ve just finished speaking at An Event Apart in Washington DC (well, technically it’s in Alexandria, Virginia but let’s not quibble over details).
I was talking about design principles, referencing a lot of the stuff that I’ve gathered together at principles.adactio.com. I lingered over the HTML design principles and illustrated them with examples from HTML5.
It’s been a year and a half now since HTML5 For Web Designers was released and I figured it was about time that it should be published in its natural format: HTML.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: HTML5forWebDesigners.com.
Needless to say, it’s all written in HTML5 making good use of some of the new semantic elements like
figure. It’s also using some offline storage in the shape of appcache. So if you visit the site with a browser that supports appcache, you’ll be able to browse it any time after that even if you don’t have an internet connection (and if you’re trying it on an iOS device, feel free to add it to your home screen so it’s always within easy reach).
You can read it on a desktop browser. You can read it in a mobile browser. You can read it in Lynx if you want. You can print it out. You can read it on the Kindle browser. You can read it on a tablet.
And if you like what you read and you decide you want to have a physical souvenir, you can buy the book and read it on paper.
I love hearing stories like this. Anything that breaks down the perceived designer/developer divide is a good thing, in my opinion.
Writing a book is hard. Ask someone who’s writing a book right now how it’s going and chances are you’ll catch them at a bad moment.
But there are good moments. Writing the final words of a book: that’s a good moment. Having conversations with a kick-ass editor: those are good moments. Hearing that the book has been sent to the printer: that’s a really good moment.
The best moment of all is when you finally have the physical book in your hands.
HTML5 For Web Designers was delivered to the Clearleft office last week. The moment had arrived.
Joe once told me that the thing to do when you finally have a copy of your own book in your hands is to open it a random page and immediately find a typo. I’m happy to report that that little test returned no results.
Instead, I opened up the book at a random point, pressed my nose into it and breathed deeply. Ah, that new book smell!
It looks as good as it smells, which is hardly surprising given the care and attention that Jason poured into the design. Clearly I’m not alone in that appraisal. As the book gets delivered to discerning readers across the globe, Flickr is filling up with pictures of HTML5 For Web Designers fresh out of the box. I’ve added my own unboxing set to the mix.
Twitter is also abuzz with reports of the book’s arrival, although it’s also filled with an oft-repeated question:
when will HTML5 For Web Designers be available in digital format?
It is with great pleasure that I give you… HTML5 For Web Designers on the iPad:
Seriously though, there will be an ePub version available at some point, but we want to make sure that it’s top quality. In the meantime, get yourself the fragrant dead-tree version and enjoy the physical feel of it. You may even want to take a picture.
A nice resource (built in HTML5) to connect developers and designers who want to Make A Thing.
Beyond the personal annual report; it's the personal brand identity guidelines.
A logo designer accused of ripping off his own work — kind of like what happened to Dan.
Cindy is now working for nclud. That's good for Cindy and good for nclud.
Beautiful artwork in a minimalist interface. But you'd better have your browser window maximised on a big monitor. *sigh*
Leslie is on the telly! How freakin' cool is this?