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It's probably time for another redesign

Posted Aug 09, 2015 in Web Design Comments 0

This will not end well.

(Well, it didn’t but I’m still thinking about it!)

Design Process on Android Posted Jul 22, 2012

Sebastiaan de With on the Herculean task of designing and testing an attractive app for the Android platform.

Overflow Image with vertical centering for Responsive Web Design Posted Nov 30, 2011

Fricking responsive images, how do they work?

Shape Type Posted Oct 30, 2011

From the people who brought you the Type Kerning game.

Tangle.JS Posted Oct 23, 2011

Clever way to add interactive calculations to a data-rich document.

SASS and Colour

Posted Oct 16, 2011 in Web Design Comments 2

One of the things I love about SASS is how it makes colour so mutable and interactive. Traditionally I’d preset my colours laboriously in Photoshop and transfer them to the CSS file via cut-and-paste, going back and forth to tweak hues and shades. Or I’d stick to basic, easily remembered values such as #ccc (shortcut for #cccccc, a light grey).

SASS’s variables and colour functions change all that.

Take the following code block:

	h2 {
		padding: 0.2em 0.5em;
		background: lighten(rgba($accent_colour, 0.7), 80%);	
		clear: both;
		font-weight: 500;
		text-align: right;

I’ve already defined the accent_colour, so for its background colour I just take the variable, and pass it to the lighten function, and lighten it by 80%. Easy, and useful.

But wait, there’s more! You’ll see I’ve also used the rgba function to set the opacity of the background colour to a value of 0.7, without having to write out the entire rgba(0,0,255,0.7) value. The rgba function even allows me to pass hex colours to be transparentised, like so: rgba(#ccc, 0.6). Almost too easy. The usual caveats about checking the resulting colours for appropriate contrast levels apply (and, usefully, there’s a contrast function that you can use to ensure the colours you generate conform to accessibility standards).

Links Round-Up: October 16 2011

Posted Oct 16, 2011 in Culture and Design Comments 0

Rounding up the week that was:

The "Branding" link at Salon was particularly sobering. Outlets for bread-and-butter, professionally produced, creative labour are drying up fast.

Forge for Wordpress Theming Posted Oct 14, 2011

Nice development package that makes using SASS and CoffeeScript in Wordpress theme creation a breeze.

Nimbus Chameleon Posted Oct 13, 2011

A library to let designers style iOS application layouts in CSS rather than by using Interface Builder. Huge.

Why Aren't We Converting? Posted Oct 12, 2011

How to respond to a client when a good redesign doesn’t give the tangible results you’d expect.

Make Pixel Art! Posted Oct 11, 2011

Beta version of a web-based pixel art creation and sharing service. Very cute. (via

A Sociology of Steve Jobs Posted Oct 11, 2011

Kieran Healy lays down some cultural analysis.

iOS UI Patterns Site Posted Oct 11, 2011

Fantastic and elegantly designed gallery site.

Voice Control and Social Norms

Posted Oct 09, 2011 in Technology and Usability Comments 0

Siri’s social dilemma:

Secondly, voice assistance carries a whole host of privacy issues. Some are basic: How do you prevent others from using your phone with voice commands? What kind of access security is built in to a system like Siri? In some cases, it can become more complex. Consider how much private information is contained in your smartphone. How much of that information would you be comfortable broadcasting around you to strangers and people you know? Would you be willing to have Siri dictate your texts, emails or appointments out loud in your workplace? At home? You can imagine a thousand and one scenarios where that would be undesirable. Would you want a secretary dictating your next appointment out loud into your doctor’s iPhone for everyone in the waiting room to hear?

I have no idea if Siri’s voice control service is as good as the hype claims (let me be uncharacteristically pessimistic and assume not), but if it is — and if becomes widely used — then we’re probably looking at a shift in social norms around communication technology as significant as the shifts following the adoption of the mobile phone. Remember when conspicuous mobile phone usage marked you out as an irredeemable wanker? And how that marking changed almost overnight?

In Lieu of a Colophon

Posted Oct 09, 2011 in Design and Meaningful Labor Comments 0

A few notes about the latest redesign.


  • Still XHTML 1.0. It won’t be hard to convert the site to HTML5, but I adjusted the markup only minimally this time around. I do want to improve the site’s semantics, though.
  • See if you can find where I’m using an ARTICLE element in the markup, though!
  • Future plans include custom styling for code examples. I want to dive into more technical topics in the future.

CSS and graphics

  • Reasonably restrained use of CSS3 properties, such as text-shadow and RGBA colour (for semi-tranparent panel backgrounds, etc)
  • Fewer gradients!
  • For the first time on one of my own sites, I’ve constructed the CSS with SASS, the Syntactically Awesome Stylesheet Language, and Compass, the SASS CSS3 framework. Together, these tools make it easier to write well-structured, scalable, cross-browser-friendly stylesheets. It’s the future, man.
  • I’m also experimenting with what’s called a “semi-fluid” layout. Fixed width over 900px wide, narrowing dynamically as you resize your browser window. A Compass plugin called Susy made that possible without me going mad at the maths.
  • Next step will be to make it even more dynamic and resize to a mobile-friendly view where appropriate.
  • I’m basically not worrying about IE support right now. Feel free to let me know how the site works in your browser of choice, however.


  • Still with Textpattern, though I’ve finally upgraded to TXP 4.4.1. Still does everything I want it to. Still easier to use than any other option.
  • I do need to spruce up some of the plugins I use, though.


I count this as a work-in-progress, but I’m pretty pleased with the outcome so far.

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