The Web is ruled by Geeks

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How many times have we seen Star Wars used to help us learn about the Web?

There's the mnemonic to help us remember the proper order of CSS states of a link:

a:link {}
a:visited {}
a:hover {}
a:active {}

L,V,H,A or 'Lord Vader Had been Anakin'. (Or to include the :focus, it's: 'Lord Vader's Former Handle, Anakin' attributed to Andrew Krespanis)

And there's the brilliant way to explain specificity numbers with Stormtroopers and Emperors:


Designers who can't code

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With all the old 'architects don't need to know how to do the plumbing' arguements. True, but they better know how a person sits on a toilet or their designs aren't going to work.

To restate my position, as a web builder, I don't care if the designer handing me a .psd knows about the double margin float bug. What I do care about is that they know not to shove tiny lorem ipsum into a fixed height layout. They must understand what happens when the browser, content or font size scales, and design for it. 

All to often design decisions have to be made after the comp is approved. When it's a developer making those decisions, the designer has failed. 

If I have to ask whether a design will be centered in the browser, or what happens when the copywriter gives me a headline with more than two words, their failure has nothing to do with ignorance of CSS.

Designing with lorem ipsum in Photoshop is a flawed process, and it's beyond that the designer doesn't know CSS, it all to often shows the designer has a weak knowledge of the medium itself.

Things I need to read

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"Ketchup is a slim jQuery Plugin that validates your forms."

Pros And Cons Of 3 Popular CSS Meta Frameworks "Frameworks like 960 and Blueprint focus on how things look and where they are placed on a page. [Meta] Frameworks like SASS and Less focus on the logical representation of styles and the augmentation of the CSS language."

Wow, there's a whole lot more going on about HTML5 politics than I want to know about. The Widening HTML5 Chasm.

And why didn't I know that there was a CSSquirrel Comic? SVGorillas and rgba jokes!

Some links

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MT problems have basically killed this blog. I'm in the process of rebuilding it in Wordpress. In the meantime, in between time, here are some links.

January 14th is jQuery's birthday. They're celebrating with 14 Days of jQuery

In Defense of Lorem Ipsum. "Thinking you'll solve your content strategy problem by signing a purity pledge that you'll never use Lorem Ipsum is like saying 'you're a crapass designer and the solution is you should quit using drop shadows.' "

Optimizing HTML This article clears a few thing up about commenting scripts, using unnecessary or default attributes, especially thing like 'meta http-equiv'. Personally, saving a byte or two (or as the article stresses - just keeping things slightly cleaner) by removing a few characters here and there is not nearly as important as figuring out how much impact the tons of frameworks, libraries, ad network delivery and analytic add-ons have on real world pages. 

JUNE ?

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Seriously, June is the last time I posted? Wow. I even missed the official ten year old birthday last month. (2 out 3 of the links still work on that 10 year old page!)

Here's a link or two to make it look like something is happening while I throw together a re-design.

Why your Web content will look darker on Snow Leopard The Mac switched to Gamma 2.2 after 25 years at 1.8.

This Is a Photoshop and It Blew My Mind No - it can't really... no. I can't believe that.

You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again

Web Development Must-Reads

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American Airlines Web Site: The Product of a Self-Defeating Design Process "The biggest challenge to better design isn't getting better designers. The problem is organizational, and the hub-and-spoke decision-making process that was originally created to slash bureaucracy--that is, to create more decentralized decisions and less hierarchy. But the overriding weakness, which design thinking makes manifest, is that good design is necessarily the product of a heavily centralized structure. Great design at places such as Apple isn't about "empowering decision makers" or whatever that lame B-school buzzword is. It's about awarding massive power and self-determination to those with the most cohesive vision--that is, the designers."

Good comments in the above link too. One of mine would be that often way too much effort goes into the home page, we shouldn't forget that users spend most of their time in the interior pages - where the UX really matters.

Jared Spool's brilliant "Revealing Design Treasures from the Amazon" presentation. A must watch for anyone who's ever heard "Just copy the way Amazon does it" from a client. Of the many things you'll learn: "The simple Yes/No question that increased revenues by more than $1 billion".

Great Site Ranking in Google The Secret's Out "How many years did you register your domain name for? If it was only one then Google could hold that against you. "

Magic Ink, Information Software And The Graphical Interface. Lots of information on information design here.
"In this paper, I suggest that the long-standing focus on "interaction" may be misguided. For a majority subset of software, called "information software," I argue that interactivity is actually a curse for users and a crutch for designers, and users' goals can be better satisfied through other means."

A good look into Iran

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"My biggest concern is that i live in a country where running belongs to those who never get there, while getting there is the right of those who never run."
-Moderate Iranian Presidential Candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi

From Life Goes on in Tehran a photoblog whose mission is to show Iran isn't the dangerous, radical country that we see on the news.

CSS reading

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Eric Meyer is posting lots of feedback on the WaSP Community CSS3 Feedback 2008.  Both of those links help explain the rationale, limitations and functionality of whatever the hell they're saying over at the CSS Working Group.


Object Oriented CSS, "Object Oriented CSS is a different way of approaching CSS and the cascade. It draws on traditional software engineering concepts like extending objects, modularity, and predictability. " Good slideshare presentation on that page too. Some interesting ideas here - and conventions that really should be followed - like limiting the use of ID for styling or not specifying elements on classes and other tips to keep your redundancy to a minimum.  The OOCSS Framework is pretty nice - like most frameworks, it uses presentationally named selectors (left & right columns) and source code order that puts stuff before the main content, but I understand the logic of why they're used.

I'm not sure what to think about the webkit proprietary properties for Safari to do graphical stuff like rotating elements, fading or animated image rollovers etc. Cool and all, especially for iPhone app developers, but are we once again stepping into the muck of proprietary property browser wars? I'm not versed enough in the proposed properties to understand what 'usually' means when Apple says "Properties in CSS that begin with -webkit are usually proposed standards".  

As far as other future CSS support, like CSS3 web fonts, CSS canvas and CSS image retouching - get back to me in a week or so, and maybe I can comment on what it means.

Whatever the opinions on those webkit properties, I'm sold on Safari 4 (beta) soley for it's 'Develop menu', which, while not quite as rich as the Firefox developer plug in, has all the inspection and debugging tools I need. Although I can't find the vital 'view generated source' command. I have a feeling Firefox might be sitting dormant on my machine for awhile.

What all this stuff above means is that it's time to keep up on all this stuff again. There's lots of stuff to be excited about and try to learn, and try to teach. Maybe it's just me, but for the last couple of years, CSS growth seems to have been all about the newest image replacement or clearing method and the discussions were all about things like whether CSS frameworks are evil or not. Now it looks like I have some real learning to do again. 

Some links

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Cederholm: How I Might Deal with IE6 - is it time to hide all styles from IE6 users? I'd say not before the release of IE8 for most sites.


Eye-tracking studies: more than meets the eye. Google shows what some of the eye-tracking data they collect looks like.

Reading Assignments

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The $300 Million Button How Changing a Button Increased a Site's Annual Revenues by $300 Million

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web

Design Meltdown An incredible collection of examples of design principles, elements, techniques, color usage and site types.

PVII Equal Height CSS Columns "This article covers one way of doing equal-height CSS columns, using our javascript solution."