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Responsive Images

I come here not to bury img, but to praise it. Well, mostly. Historically, I like img just fine. It‘s refreshingly uncomplicated, on the surface: it fires off a request for the file in its src attribute, renders the contents of that file, and provides assistive technologies with an alternative narration. It does so quickly, efficiently, and seamlessly. For most of the web‘s life, that‘s all img has ever had to do-and thanks to

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Your Emails (and Recipients) Deserve Better Context

Email communication is an integral part of the user experience for nearly every web application that requires a login. It‘s also one of the first interactions the user has after signing up. Yet too often both the content and context of these emails is treated as an afterthought (at best), with the critical parts that users see first-sender name and email, subject, and preheader-largely overlooked. Your users, and the great application you&l

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What is Typesetting?

A note from the editors: We‘re pleased to share an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Tim Brown‘s Flexible Typesetting, from A Book Apart.Typesetting is the most important part of typography, because most text is meant to be read, and typesetting involves preparing text for reading. You‘re already great at typesetting. Think about it. You choose good typefaces. You determine font sizes and line spacing. You decide on the margins that su

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So You Want to Write an Article?

So you want to write an article. Maybe you‘ve got a great way of organizing your CSS, or you‘re a designer who has a method of communicating really well with developers, or you have some insight into how to best use a new technology. Whatever the topic, you have insights, you‘ve read the basics of finding your voice, and you‘re ready to write and submit your first article for a major publication. Here‘s the thing: mo

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Onboarding: A College Student Discovers A List Apart

What would you say if I told you I just read and analyzed over 350 articles from A List Apart in less than six weeks? ‘You‘re crazy!‘ might have passed through your lips. In that case, what would you say if I was doing it for a grade? Well, you might say that makes sense. As a part of an Independent Research Study for my undergraduate degree, I wanted to fill in some of the gaps I had when it came to working with the World Wid

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Discovery on a Budget: Part III

Sometimes we have the luxury of large budgets and deluxe research facilities, and sometimes we‘ve got nothing but a research question and the determination to answer it. Throughout the ‘Discovery on a Budget‘ series we have discussed strategies for conducting discovery research with very few resources but lots of creativity. In part 1 we discussed the importance of a clearly defined problem hypothesis and started our affordable

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Fixing Variable Scope Issues with ECMAScript6

Variable scope has always been tricky in JavaScript, particularly when compared to more structured languages like C and Java. For years, there wasn‘t much talk about it because we had few options for really changing it. But ECMAScript 6 introduced some new features to help give developers more control of variable scope. Browser support is pretty great and these features are ready to use for most developers today. But which to choose? And wh

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Breaking the Deadlock Between User Experience and Developer Experience

In early 2013, less than 14% of all web traffic came from mobile devices; today, that number has grown to 53%. In other parts of the world the difference is even more staggering: in African countries, more than 64% of web traffic is from mobile devices; in India, nearly 78% of traffic is mobile. This is a big deal, because all 248 million new internet users in 2017 lived outside the United States. And while internet connections are getting faste

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Priority Guides: A Content-First Alternative to Wireframes

No matter your role, if you‘ve ever been involved in a digital design project, chances are you‘re familiar with wireframes. After all, they‘re among the most popular and widely used tools when designing websites, apps, dashboards, and other digital user interfaces. But they do have their problems, and wireframes are so integrated into the accepted way of working that many don‘t consider those drawbacks. That‘s a sha

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The Slow Death of Internet Explorer and the Future of Progressive Enhancement

My first full-time developer job was at a small company. We didn‘t have BrowserStack, so we cobbled together a makeshift device lab. Viewing a site I‘d been making on a busted first-generation iPad with an outdated version of Safari, I saw a distorted, failed mess. It brought home to me a quote from Douglas Crockford, who once deemed the web ‘the most hostile software engineering environment imaginable.‘ The ‘works

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The Problem with Patterns

It started off as an honest problem with a brilliant solution. As the ways we use the web continue to grow and evolve, we, as its well-intentioned makers and stewards, needed something better than making simple collections of pages over and over again. Design patterns, component libraries, or even style guides have become the norm for organizations big and small. Having reusable chunks of UI aids consistency and usability for users, and it lends

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Design with Difficult Data

You‘ve been asked to design a profile screen for a mobile or web app. It will need to include an avatar, a name, a job title, and a location. You fire up Sketch or Figma. Maybe you pull out your drafting pencil or head straight to markup and CSS. What‘s your go-to fake name? Regardless of your choice in tools, you‘re probably going to end up with some placeholder data. Are you the type that uses your own name, or do you conjur

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We‘re Looking for People Who Love to Write

Here at A List Apart, we‘re looking for new authors, and that means you. What should you write about? Glad you asked! You should write about topics that keep you up at night, passions that make you the first to show up in the office each morning, ideas that matter to our community and about which you have a story to tell or an insight to share. We‘re not looking for case studies about your company or thousand-foot overviews of topi

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Orchestrating Experiences

A note from the editors: It‘s our pleasure to share this excerpt from Chapter 2 (‘Pinning Down Touchpoints‘) of Orchestrating Experiences: Collaborative Design for Complexity by Chris Risdon and Patrick Quattlebaum, available now from Rosenfeld Media.If you embrace the recommended collaborative approaches in your sense-making activities, you and your colleagues should build good momentum toward creating better and valuable end-t

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Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet

Over 1 million Webmentions will have been sent across the internet since the specification was made a full Recommendation by the W3C-the standards body that guides the direction of the web-in early January 2017. That number is rising rapidly, and in the last few weeks I‘ve seen a growing volume of chatter on social media and the blogosphere about these new ‘mentions‘ and the people implementing them. So what are Webmentions and

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Conversational Semantics

As Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and even customer support chat bots become the norm, we have to start carefully considering not only how our content looks but how it could sound. We can-and should-use HTML and ARIA to make our content structured, sensible, and most importantly, meaningful. Content, confined Most bots and digital assistants work from specially-coded data sets, APIs, and models, but there are more than 4.5 billion pages of content on th

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The Cult of the Complex

‘Tis a gift to be simple. Increasingly, in our line of work, ‘tis a rare gift indeed. In an industry that extols innovation over customer satisfaction, and prefers algorithm to human judgement (forgetting that every algorithm has human bias in its DNA), perhaps it should not surprise us that toolchains have replaced know-how. Likewise, in a field where young straight white dudes take an overwhelming majority of the jobs (including

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Coding with Clarity: Part II

As any developer who works with other developers can attest, if code is unclear, problems occur. In Part I of this series, I went over some principles to improve clarity in our code to prevent problems that can arise from unclear code. As our apps get larger, clarity becomes even more important, and we need to take extra care to ensure that our code is easy to read, understand, and modify or extend. This article discusses some more-advanced princ

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Order Out of Chaos: Patterns of Organization for Writing on the Job

A few years ago, a former boss of mine emailed me out of the blue and asked for a resource that would help him and his colleagues organize information more effectively. Like a dutiful friend, I sent him links to a few articles and the names of some professional writing books. And I qualified my answer with that dreaded disclaimer: ‘Advice varies widely depending on the situation.‘ Implication: ‘You‘ll just have to figure o

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Make Something Great: Become an Open Source Contributor

My first contribution to Bootstrap was a tiny line of CSS. It was a no-brainer to merge, but the feeling of seeing that bit of code in the project‘s codebase was unreal and addictive. You may think that open source is not for you. After all, it has always been a developer-dominant ecosystem. But code is by no means the only thing a piece of software is made of. Open source is first and foremost about community. Whether you‘re a desig

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