Tags: principles



Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Take a closer look at the patterns in our language. | Clearleft

Ellen goes through the principles behind the tone of voice on the new Clearleft site:

  1. Our clients are the heroes and heroines, we facilitate their journey.
  2. Speak as an individual doing whatever it is you love. Expose lovable details.
  3. Use the imperative, kill the “-ing”.
  4. Be evocative and paint the picture. Show don’t tell.
  5. Be a practical friend.
  6. Be inquisitive. Ask smart questions that need solving.

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Principles of Web Development · Jens Oliver Meiert

Some proposed design principles for web developers:

  1. Focus on the User
  2. Focus on Quality
  3. Keep It Simple
  4. Think Long-Term (and Beware of Fads)
  5. Don’t Repeat Yourself (aka One Cannot Not Maintain)
  6. Code Responsibly
  7. Know Your Field

Monday, December 19th, 2016


The styleguide, design principles, and pattern library for British Airways. It’s the “global experience language” for BA …so it’s called BAgel.

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Design principles

Andrew Travers wrote about designing design principles at Co-op Digital. I’m somewhat obsessed with design principles—hence my collection—so I’m also obsessed with figuring out what makes for “good” design principles.

One of my favourite design principles (yes, I have favourites) is from the HTML Design Principles. It’s the priority of constituencies:

In case of conflict, consider users over authors over implementors over specifiers over theoretical purity.

The emphasis my own. It demonstrates how the design principle can be put to use (“in case of conflict”). Andrew also describes uses for the design principles they’re putting together:

What we’re building towards is a set of principles, few enough to be memorable, short enough to be repeatable, relevant enough to be usable. When we’re running a design crit, it’s these principles that we want to lean on. When a sole designer in an agile delivery team is talking about a design approach, it’s these principles that back her up.

Those sound like good use cases to me. Those are situations when design principles can help people reach agreement on priorities, without it having to be about ego or who shouts loudest.

I think it was from Cennydd that I heard about a really good test of a design principle: is it reversible? In other words, could you imagine the exact opposite of the design principle being perfectly valid in a different organisation or on a different project? If not, then the principle may be too weak to be effective. (Cennydd points out that he heard this from Jared who has written a lot about evaluating design principles.)

“Make it easy to use” would be an example of a weak design principle. It’s hard to imagine a situation where “make it hard to use” would be a reasonable guiding principle.

Frankly, there are plenty of “bad” examples in my collection of design principles. Many of them wouldn’t pass the reversibility test. Just recently though, I spotted some that would pass the test with flying colours. They weren’t even labelled as design principles—they’re the tips that Heydon includes at the end of his excellent 24 Ways article on inclusive design:

  • Involve code early
  • Respect conventions
  • Don’t be exact
  • Enforce simplicity

I could easily imagine endeavours where the complete opposite of those tips would be valued. Personally, I think they’re really great design princples.

I should add them to the list.

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

What the Heck Is Inclusive Design? ◆ 24 ways

I really, really like Heydon’s framing of inclusive design: yes, it covers accessibility, but it’s more than that, and it’s subtly different to universal design.

He also includes some tips which read like design principles to me:

  • Involve code early
  • Respect conventions
  • Don’t be exact
  • Enforce simplicity

Come to think of it, they’re really good design principles in that they are all reversible i.e. you could imagine the polar opposites being design principles elsewhere.

Monday, July 25th, 2016

AMP Design Principles

These design principles are meant to guide the ongoing design and development of AMP. They should help us make internally consistent decisions.

I’ve added these to my collection of design principles.

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Qualities of Successful Pattern Libraries: Pick Any Two - Cloud Four

I think Tyler’s onto something here:

I noticed three qualities that recurred in different combinations. Without at least two, the projects seemed doomed to failure.

  1. User-Friendly
  2. Collaborative
  3. Integrated

I certainly think there’s a difference in how you approach a pattern library intended as a deliverable (something we do a lot of at Clearleft) compared to building a pattern library for an ongoing ever-evolving product.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

DRY: Do Repeat Yourself - QuirksBlog

Y’know, I think PPK might be on to something here. It’s certainly true that developers have such an eversion to solving a problem twice that some users end up paying the cost (like in the examples of progressive enhancement here).

I will be pondering upon this.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Design systems and Postel’s law | Journal | The Personal Disquiet of Mark Boulton

Marvellous insights from Mark on how the robustness principle can and should be applied to styeguides and pattern libraries (‘sfunny—I was talking about Postel’s Law just this morning at An Event Apart in Boston).

Being liberal in accepting things into the system, and being liberal about how you go about that, ensures you don’t police the system. You collaborate on it.

So, what about the output? Remember: be ’conservative in what you do’. For a design system, this means your output of the system – guidelines, principles, design patterns, code, etc etc. – needs to be clear, unambiguous, and understandable.

Monday, February 29th, 2016

The New Web Typography › Robin Rendle

A wonderfully thoughtful piece on typography, Jan Tschichold and the web. This really resonated with me:

It’s only been over the past year or so in which I’ve recognised myself as a ‘Web designer’ with a capital W, as I now believe that something happens to information and technology, and even typography itself, when people pass through these interconnected networks and interact with hypertext.

It’s for these reasons that I don’t believe in “digital design” or “designing for screens” and it’s why I’m often attracted to one particular side of this spectrum.

Robin proposes three “principles, suggestions, outlines, or rather things-that-I-ought-to-be nervous-about when setting text on the web”:

  1. We must prioritise the text over the font, or semantics over style.
  2. We ought to use and/or make tools that reveal the consequences of typographic decisions.
  3. We should acknowledge that web typography is only as strong as its weakest point.

There’s an in-depth look at applying progressive enhancement to web type, and every single link in the resources section at the end is worth investigating.

Oh, and of course it’s beautifully typeset.

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Ethical Web Development

I really, really like these principles. Time to add them to the list.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

BBC iWonder - Who made the web so hard to control?

A great little primer on the origins of the internet and the web, by Aleks.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Paul Robert Lloyd | Responsive Principles | CSS Day on Vimeo

I really like the way that Paul’s talk builds on top of ideas laid down by Ethan and Frank. Good stuff.

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Responsive Principles (Front-end London, May 2015) // Speaker Deck

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.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

The Many Faces of The Web

Instead of coming up with all these new tools and JavaScript frameworks, shouldn’t we try to emphasize the importance of learning the underlying fundamentals of the web? Teach those who are just stepping to this medium and starting their careers. By not making our stack more and more complex, but by telling about the best practices that should guide our work and the importance of basic things.

Sunday, April 26th, 2015


Contrary to popular belief, web standards aren’t created by a shadowy cabal and then handed down to browser makers to implement. Quite the opposite. Browser makers come together in standards bodies and try to come to an agreement about how to collectively create and implement standards. That keeps them very busy. They don’t tend to get out very often, but when they do, the browser/standards makers have one message for developers: “We want to make your life better, so tell us what you want and that’s what we’ll work on!”

In practice, this turns out not to be the case.

Case in point: responsive images. For years, this was the number one feature that developers were crying out for. And yet, the standards bodies—and, therefore, browser makers—dragged their heels. First they denied that it was even a problem worth solving. Then they said it was simply too hard. Eventually, thanks to the herculean efforts of the Responsive Images Community Group, the browser makers finally began to work on what developers had been begging for.

Now that same community group is representing the majority of developers once again. Element queries—or container queries—have been top of the wish list of working devs for quite a while now. The response from browser makers is the same as it was for responsive images. They say it’s simply too hard.

Here’s a third example: web components. There are many moving parts to web components, but one of the most exciting to developers who care about accessibility and backwards-compatibility is the idea of extending existing elements:

It’s my opinion that, for as long as there is a dependence on JS for custom elements, we should extend existing elements when writing custom elements. It makes sense for developers, because new elements have access to properties and methods that have been defined and tested for many years; and it makes sense for users, as they have fallback in case of JS failure, and baked-in accessibility fundamentals.

So instead of having to create a whole new element from scratch like this:

<taco-button>Click me!</taco-button>

…you could piggy-back on an existing element like this:

<button is="taco-button">Click me!</button>

That way, you get the best of both worlds: the native semantics of button topped with all the enhancements you want to add with your taco-button custom element. Brilliant! Github is using this to extend the time element, for example.

I’m not wedded to the is syntax, but I do think it’s vital that there is some declarative mechanism to extend existing elements instead of creating every custom element from scratch each time.

Now it looks like that’s the bit of web components that isn’t going to make the cut. Why? Because browser makers say it’s simply too hard.

As Bruce points out, this is in direct conflict with the design principles that are supposed to be driving the creation and implementation of web standards.

It probably wouldn’t bother me so much except that browser makers still trot out the party line, “We want to hear what developers want!” Their actions demonstrate that this claim is somewhat hollow.

I don’t hold out much hope that we’ll get the ability to extend existing elements for web components. I think we can still find ways to piggy-back on existing semantics, but it’s going to take more work:

<taco-button><button>Click me!</button></taco-button>

That isn’t very elegant and I can foresee a lot of trickiness trying to sift the fallback content (the button tags) from the actual content (the “Click me!” text).

But I guess that’s what we’ll be stuck with. The alternative is simply too hard.

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Design Principles

These are principles of visual design—hierarchy, rhythm, etc.—nicely explored and explained.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

BBC - Future Media Standards & Guidelines - Accessibility Guidelines v2.0

The minimum dependency for a web site should be an internet connection and the ability to parse HTML.

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Five Easy Ways to Be a Better Web Professional — sixtwothree.org

  1. Know Your History
  2. Know Your Medium
  3. Respect Those Who Came Before You
  4. Respect Your Audience
  5. Get Involved