¬Daily Nerd

Yes indeed, it’s 1396301308

Thinking About Mozilla | Incisive.nu

Mozilla has a new CEO, Brendan Eich. To some he's the person who invented JavaScript — a hero — and to others he's a bigot who donated money to a homophobic organisation. Many people are quite emotional about this appointment. Many emotional tweets and posts have been written about it. In this post Erin Kissane, who works for Mozilla, links to many posts and tweets, but also makes a fantastic point. She writes: The moment we let “open internet” become synonymous with progressive causes—inside or outside Mozilla—its many conservative supporters will be forced into an impossible position. If you've been following the discussion, this is a very good post to read since it eloquently describes many different viewpoints. And if you haven't, you should read this post too, since it is so wonderful and passionate.

Content-out Layout · An A List Apart Article

Layout is hard on the web. Grids can help, but grids can be hard to. Nathan Ford explains how we can use proportional grids to create relationships between elements on a page. They turn out to be easier to use than column based grids. An impressive article, based on years of research. (There's a list of resources too)

2014 State of Element Queries - Tab Completion

Mediaqueries are nice for changing the style of an element when the viewport changes. But sometimes we want an element to change when the size of the element itself changes — like we can do with SVG. Tab Atkins explains why element queries still don't exist in CSS. He thinks that Web Components might solve this.

Web Components: concerns and opportunities - Broken Links

Web components give us much more freedom — and much more responsibility. Many articles have been written about the freedom they give us, but lately the discussion focuses more and more on the responsibilities. Here's a great post by Peter Gasston which highlights (and links to) and explains most pressing concerns.

Can we track how many users with disabilities access our site? – Karl Groves

Many people want to know everything about their users so they can optimise/cripple their site based on what they detect. Karl Groves answers the question if we can detect if a user uses assisitive technology. And he looks at the ethics of that question: should you be allowed to know this? An interesting discussion.

Why I dislike the rem unit ⚒ Nerd

I think the rem unit is excellent for defining margins and paddings. But it's not the best unit for defining font-sizes. In this post I explain why.

What? 1396220230 already? Time for some links

Responsive Design Sameness | The Haystack.

I'm not sure how the situation in the rest of the world is, but the situation that Stephen Hay describes about the web design workflow and the relation between different professionals is exactly the situation I know. The difference is that Stephen knows how to describe that situation much better.

The Git Parable

Understanding Git can be hard. Explaining Git is pretty hard too. Not everybody understands every explanation, so it's always good to see different stories. Maybe this parable by Tom Preston-Werner is the explanation that works for you.

Favicon checker

A website needs icons. Without favicons and touch icons our work is not done. There are many, may different types of icons, and they're all handy for some people. It's hard, if not impossible, to remember all the different sizes and formats. Instead of remembering them, it's probably simpler and better to just use this tool.

Make it Simple - viewcontent.cgi

There are some very good tips about writing clear texts in this document about writing text that are accessible to everybody. Most tips for optimising texts for people with disabilities are actually pretty useful for optimising text for anybody.

Understanding 3D Transforms - Dev.Opera

CSS transforms are cool. They enable us to transform things. CSS 3d transforms are even cooler, since they enable us to transform things even more. Here's a great explanation of how they work.

Adactio: Journal—Dealing with IE again

Jeremy Keith explains that we don't have to <p>come up with clever hacks and polyfills for dealing with older versions of Internet Explorer. We choose to. This post is more than a year old. We can now savely choose not to.</p>

Adactio: Journal—Dealing with IE

I think the most clever way to serve styles to old versions of Internet explorer is by only sending them the basic styles. If you really want to serve them layout styling too you might want to read this article by Jeremy Keith. Be warned, it's more complex that you might think. And it's probably a waste of valuable time.

Classics according to Robert Jan Verkade

I decided to ask some of my favorite nerds to send me a list of classic articles that every web professional should know. Here’s the list of links to articles that Robert Jan Verkade — one of the smartest Dutch web design thinkers — sent me. — Vasilis

Robert Jan Verkade:

A while back, Vasilis asked me to make a list of web classics. A lovely question to get, but what exactly are classics? I’ve decided to do a list of books and articles by those people who have influenced me most, from the beginning of my career on the web up until the present.

As with any list, there will always be unfortunate omissions. Some people whose work has been very important for me (like Eric Meyer, Molly Holzschlag, Joe Clark and Kristina Halvorson) haven’t made it into this list, even though they definitely deserve a mention.

Anyway: the list!

Jeffrey Veen - The Art & Science of WebDesign

The first book ever that made me sit still and read. It’s dated by now, of course, but in 2001 it was really, really modern. And I’m willing to bet that a large number of the things Veen wrote are still true today. The performance of your web site is the most critical factor of its success.

Jeffrey Zeldman - To Hell with Bad Browsers

Any list of web design classics should include Jeffrey Zeldman. Zeldman has been an enormous influence in the world when it comes to working according to web standards. The article’s title suggests the article is a call to arms to exclude visitors who use outdated browsers. But that’s not its point: It’s about the separation of presentation from structure, which will allow us to do amazing things.

Steve Krug - Don't make me think

The classic among classics. Fourteen years after publication, ‘Don't make me think’ is still relevant. So relevant that a new edition has just been published. Steve Krug doesn’t just give you instructions on what to do or not to do, he teaches you how to think like a usability expert. Design is a complicated process and the real answer to most of the questions people ask me is 'It depends.'

Christina Wodtke - Information Architecture

The web grew and grew, and by 2003 you could also see this in individual web sites: sites became larger and larger. Large sites need a lot of care and thought put into their structure, which is why the field of information architecture became important. Too many site creators think that ... visitors have two hours and not five minutes.

Erin Kissane - Typography Matters

There are lots of great articles and books about typography, but this is an article about the small details, which really spoke to me. Small details that make a difference – like curly quotes and em dashes. Nor should web developers who aspire to professionalism leave the typographical details of their sites incomplete and unconsidered.

Stephen Hay - The Design Funnel

My good friend, design thinker Stephen Hay, should of course be included in a list of classics. ‘The Design Funnel’ helps you to not think in solutions too early on in the design process, but to first concentrate on getting a really clear picture of the actual problem you are trying to solve. The problem is defining the problem.

Marrije Schaake - Mobieltjes in het wild

Much of our time – perhaps too much – is spent within the confines of our offices. While using the internet has long moved beyond surfing at the office or in living rooms and dens. To really know how people use their mobile devices, what they do and how they hold the device (important for knowing how to design screens) research in the field is indispensable. … een mevrouw die op een bankje op station Utrecht op haar redelijk eenvoudige Android-telefoon een lang en gecompliceerd formulier aan het invullen was.

Andy Budd - My response to the question of speculative pitches

Pitches, and more specifically speculative pitches, exist and are probably here to stay. Anyone is of course free to give away his or her best work, in hopes of getting paid work in return. But Andy Budd is clearly (and I think rightly) quite negative about the practice. As his earlier article Creative pitches are toxic says: When you hire a creative agency, they will spend time learning about you, your industry and your business. This allows them to understand the problems at hand and come up with creative solutions.

Blair Enns - The Win Without Pitching Manifesto

This book isn’t strictly about the web profession, but it’s a great manifesto for any professional in our field. In 12 steps Blair Enns shows you that you’re hired by your client to do something they themselves are unable to do – and that you bring unique and valuable expertise to the table. When the client comes to us self-diagnosed, our mindset must be the same as the doctor hearing his patient tell him what type of surgery he wants performed before any discussion of symptoms or diagnoses.

Jared Spool - Beans and Noses

A large part of our job is giving advice. And no matter how wonderful that advice is, in some cases, for whatever reason, the person receiving the advice will not act according to it. Your sensible recommendations will be ignored! And you will have to deal with that. Which may be very frustrating, but Jared Spool recommends you pick your battles.

Every so often, you’ll run into someone with beans who has, for no good reason, decided to put them up their own nose. Way up there. In a place where beans should not go.

Mark Hurst - The Google Glass feature no one is talking about

Is this a classic or a look towards the future? In any case, it’s an article that encourages you to think about how the thing you are designing will be used out there, in the real world. Your designs will have an impact on people and their lives. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.

The Web Classics according to Paul Robert Lloyd

I decided to ask some of my favorite nerds to send me a list of classic articles that every web professional should know. Here’s the list of links to articles that Paul Robert Lloyd — one of the brightest web design thinkers, and one of the best web designers of our day — sent me. — Vasilis

Paul Robert Lloyd:

Vasilis asked me to curate a list of classic articles, but what constitutes a classic? In an industry as fast moving as ours, to choose articles of a certain vintage would mean excluding thought provoking articles published in more recent—and possibly more enlightened—years.

My selection mixes articles whose timelessness has been proven with those whose status has yet to be determined. In time they may not be thought of as classics, but they will inform the classics that have yet to be written.

Landmark Web Sites, Where Art Thou? (2007)

Armin Vit also wondered what constitutes a classic when he asked where the landmark works of our profession could be found. He feared the ephemeral nature of the web would prevent any website from achieving such status.

A Dao of Web Design (2000)

Perhaps landmark sites could only be created once we acknowledged the true nature of the web. This nature has come into sharp focus in recent years, largely thanks to John Allsopp’s earlier description of it. I consider his words to be a manifesto for modern web development, and this the classic article about web design.

Responsive Web Design (2010)

John’s words were later reprised by Ethan Marcotte, who looked to the permanence of architecture to find a path across an unpredictable landscape faced by web designers. By combining fluid grids, flexible images and media queries, we could build websites that adapted to whatever device they appeared on.

Designing with context (2013)

There used to be a clear understanding about how users experienced the web—where, when, how—but the proliferation of web-enabled devices revealed these assumptions to be false. Here, Cennydd Bowles considers the real complexities of context.

Universal Design IRL (2012)

Much has been written about the universality of the web, yet this isn’t always reflected in own communities and organisations. If you think inclusivity has little to do with design, Sara Wachter-Boettcher will set you straight.

Web Design is 95% Typography (2006)

With designers making their work ever more adaptive, its become clearer that the most fluid format is text, further elevating the importance of typography. When this was highlighted by Oliver Reichenstein, his words were met with controversy; if published today I doubt anyone would disagree.

Upping Your Type Game (2013)

Jessica Hische’s thorough and highly practical overview is a good place to start if you need to improve your understanding of typography. Unsure how to choose a typeface, what to look for or where to find good fonts? Jessica has it covered.

Five simple steps to better typography (2005)

Written prior to Oliver’s article (as if to further stress the importance of typography), Mark Boulton wrote a series of posts covering the basics, from measure to typographic hierarchy—providing a scale I’ve referenced many times since. This post was also a precursor to the independent publishing company later set up by Mark.

Baseline Grids on the Web (2012)

Having learnt the underpinnings of typography, the next step is to recognise which aspects are relevant to the web. Having long tried to align type to a baseline, Jason Santa Maria’s post made me realise that this was not only a thankless task, but one that fails to acknowledge the underlying technology; CSS does not require us to manipulate pieces of lead, after all.

A Real Web Design Application (2010)

Beyond reappraising our practice, we also need to look at our tools. Jason Santa Maria’s wish list described what an application for web design might look like. While nothing matches these requirements yet, we’re getting close.

Our Best Practices are Killing Us (2011)

Front-end development is undergoing a revolution, perhaps the biggest since the move from table-based layout. Terms such as DRY, modular and agile have become part of our vernacular. Nicole Sullivan was the first to realise that we needed to change our practices to meet the demands inherent in building large, complex systems.

About HTML semantics and front-end architecture (2012)

The need for more componentised markup has introduced class names that were previously seen as unsemantic. I found these changes unsettling, but Nicolas Gallagher put my mind at rest by describing what we actually mean by the word semantics.

Performance As Design (2013)

Web designers need to think about how an interface feels as much as how it looks. The speed of a website can adversely effect the overall experience if not considered from the start, a case brilliantly made by Brad Frost.

Responsive Design on a Budget (2013)

Mark Perkins provides some practical advice on how to involve a whole design team in thinking about performance; setting a page size budget makes designing speedy websites a shared goal.

So, that’s my selection. I’ve undoubtedly missed many other seminal works—articles covering content strategy and accessibility are notable by their absence. Hopefully other’s will be able to fill in these gaps.

It’s 1386598224, time for some links

Programs and Pragmatism · ART=WORK

Nathan Ford explains that things like flat design could very well be more than just a hype: they are caused by pragmatic limitations. Designing for a more and more complex web might simply require such an aesthetic.


This looks like an excellent little JavaScript library for smooth animations.

Unicode character table

Here's an overview of all unicode characters. When you scroll the page the map on the right shows you where the characters you looking at are used. Nice little detail!

Jan V. White

Eight books by Jan V. White about grids, page layout, typography, statistical storytelling, colour and more are available for free, right here.

CORS 101 — Anne’s Blog

About a year ago Anne van Kesteren explained that it's completely safe to augment any resource with Access-Control-Allow-Origin: * as long as the resource is not part of an intranet. This makes it much easier to share your data with others. And yes, that's something you want.