I’m really tired of designing a simple, standards-compliant layout that looks fine in every browser but IE6. Aren’t you? Almost every web developer has something to say about this topic. I’ve found some interesting sites recently that suggest action we can take as a design community get IE6 out of our hair. The suggestions range from mild to extreme; either helping IE6 gracefully exit the stage or die a quick, painful death. We obviously want to make life easier for ourselves, but we can’t alienate our audience. I’m most concerned about those who don’t have the ability to upgrade their system because they work for a public institution with ancient machines or proprietary apps that don’t work on other browsers. For the rest of the world, maybe a little tough love is a good thing. Here are some of my favorite ideas: Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a quick reference on how to style all of your font properties (and one text property: line-height) in one rule.
font: weight | variant | style | size/line height | font-family
font: bold small-caps italic 1em/1.25 Georgia, "Times New Roman", Times, serif;
For this to work, you must include font-size and the font-family (in that order). They must also be the last two values listed. If you leave out values, those values will render in their default state, ignoring inheritance and other group selectors.
Line height is optional. Note that line height doesn’t have a unit. Eric Meyer explains why.
Nearly everyone has an opinion about education. It’s an emotionally charged topic, like politics or religion. Sir Ken Robinson adds profound insight into the discussion using humor in his talk at TED called, Do schools kill creativity?
This video has been widely circulated on the web for the past few years, but it seems that the message becomes even more important as time goes on.
I just watched Endward Tufte’s video review of the iPhone and pulled out some interesting principles of UI design and usability. The inherent challenge of a designing for a small screen is the lack of screen real estate. To overcome that challenge, Apple gives their users a high resolution screen and amazing design to mange the information. Watch the video and see for yourself how the iPhone reduces cognitive overload by keeping information on just a levels rather than deeply stacked hierarchies.
If you’re like me, you’ve been learning how to design and build websites on your own, mainly by finding a site that you like and reverse engineering the code to see how the author made something work. There are some really great books and web resources out there to teach you the fundamentals. Sometimes it’s difficult to sort through the massive about of information and decide what is the most important to grasp. I believe that the thing the separates great artists and technicians from everyone else is how well they understand the basics. Here are a few of the foundational concepts regarding well-formed XHTML to make your CSS pages display more predictably across browsers and platforms.
Creating web pages that are accessible for people with disabilities is also a step in the right direction for making your site user-friendly for the rest of your audience. Observing your work from a different perspective will give you insights on how you can improve. For instance, what does your page look like when style sheets or images are disabled? What will your site sound like when read by screen reading software? How does the page look when loaded on a mobile device? There are a few simple things everyone can do to avoid acessability problems.
I recently read the very likable and popular book Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. I think it should be required reading for anyone who does anything with web design and development or software. The author’s examples are clear, authoritative, and presented with humor, which makes cruising through this book enjoyable and interesting. I can’t tell you how many “Head Slappers” (to borrow Krug’s usage of the cliché) I experienced while reading. So many of his ideas seem obvious, but are not common place yet.
Web design is a surprisingly healthy discipline considering the fact that the web is a very new medium. My journey into a career as a designer was not a direct one, by any means. In fact many of the more famous web-design luminaries really only began their careers on the web sometime within the last ten years. As you might expect, many people who design websites studied graphic design or a related discipline in school. On the other hand, a whole bunch of people like me either studied other things, or didn’t go to a post-secondary school at all. My personal opinion is that there isn’t a perfect path to becoming a web designer. In fact, the diversity of backgrounds of people working in the field can only result in more powerful and interesting solutions for new design opportunities.