The Best of the Internets

And Now, a Brief Definition of the Web

This is an excellent and well-argued piece from Dieter Bohn. In it, he argues that “the web” is characterized by two things:

  1. URLs and
  2. Client agnosticism.

Reading this, I’m reminded of a lot of Jeremy’s writings about products being “on the web” rather than “of the web”. It’s an incredibly important distinction in my mind because, as Dieter so eloquently puts it

The openness of the web allowed small companies to become big ones without seeking permission from the biggest ones. Preserving the web, or more specifically the open principles behind it, means protecting one of the few paths for innovation left in the modern tech world that doesn’t have a giant company acting as a gatekeeper. And there’s reason not to trust those giant companies: there’s much less incentive to encourage openness when you have a massive empire to defend.

These are important things to consider when deciding where to invest your time and energy.

The Unbearable Inaccessibility of Slideshows

Carousel’s and slideshows are the red-headed stepchild of the web design world, but they are still used (and useful) in many scenarios. That said, they are often horribly inaccessible. This article offers a step-by-step walkthrough of common accessibility issues with this interface and details how to address them.

How to Choose the Right Look for Your Portfolio

A good overview of considerations here. In particular, this bit particularly resonated with me:

I also secretly judge [agencies/freelancers] based on whether or not I would actually hire them for work. Many designers with a strong sense of aesthetics are lacking in the UX department, and their site is nearly impossible to navigate. Sometimes the the UI is easy to navigate, but there are possible functional problems. Sometimes they’re issues that could easily be solved with progressive enhancement, but no one bothered.

There are two reasons for this: bandwagon-hopping, and misplaced experimentation.

Using the Chrome DevTools New Code Coverage Feature

While the name is a bit confusing, this new tool helps you compare the volume of code you’ve authored to the the amount of code that is actually executed by the browser. It’s a cool idea, but you should take it’s results with a grain of salt: This tool is only diagnosing your project based on the current page and/or flow (if it’s a single page app). Be careful not to take the results as gospel and start eliminating code without knowing whether it’s actually unused in all scenarios.

Now… tie this into an automated testing tool and gather results from a complete run-through of an app or site and you’ve got something you can actually use to improve your site’s performance.

It’s worth noting that there are static analysis tools for many task runners that can actually run queries against your HTML templates and remove unused styles automatically. I’ve used gulp-uncss on a few projects and found it to work reasonably well (though you have to tune it for any JavaScript-related styles since it only consults your HTML to find matches).