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Mobile-First CSS: Is It Time for a Rethink?

The mobile-first design methodology is great—it focuses on what really matters to the user, it’s well-practiced, and it’s been a common design pattern for years. So developing your CSS mobile-first should also be great, too…right?  Well, not necessarily. Classic mobile-first CSS development is based on the principle of overwriting style declarations:...

Designers, (Re)define Success First

About two and a half years ago, I introduced the idea of daily ethical design. It was born out of my frustration with the many obstacles to achieving design that’s usable and equitable; protects people’s privacy, agency, and focus; benefits society; and restores nature. I argued that we need to overcome the inconveniences that prevent us from acting...

Breaking Out of the Box

CSS is about styling boxes. In fact, the whole web is made of boxes, from the browser viewport to elements on a page. But every once in a while a new feature comes along that makes us rethink our design approach. Round displays, for example, make it fun to play with circular clip areas. Mobile screen notches and virtual keyboards offer challenges...

How to Sell UX Research with Two Simple Questions

Do you find yourself designing screens with only a vague idea of how the things on the screen relate to the things elsewhere in the system? Do you leave stakeholder meetings with unclear directives that often seem to contradict previous conversations? You know a better understanding of user needs would help the team get clear on what you are actually...

A Content Model Is Not a Design System

Do you remember when having a great website was enough? Now, people are getting answers from Siri, Google search snippets, and mobile apps, not just our websites. Forward-thinking organizations have adopted an omnichannel content strategy, whose mission is to reach audiences across multiple digital channels and platforms. But how do you set up...

Design for Safety, An Excerpt

Antiracist economist Kim Crayton says that “intention without strategy is chaos.” We’ve discussed how our biases, assumptions, and inattention toward marginalized and vulnerable groups lead to dangerous and unethical tech—but what, specifically, do we need to do to fix it? The intention to make our tech safer is not enough; we need a strategy. ...

Sustainable Web Design, An Excerpt

In the 1950s, many in the elite running community had begun to believe it wasn’t possible to run a mile in less than four minutes. Runners had been attempting it since the late 19th century and were beginning to draw the conclusion that the human body simply wasn’t built for the task.  But on May 6, 1956, Roger Bannister took everyone by surprise....

Voice Content and Usability

We’ve been having conversations for thousands of years. Whether to convey information, conduct transactions, or simply to check in on one another, people have yammered away, chattering and gesticulating, through spoken conversation for countless generations. Only in the last few millennia have we begun to commit our conversations to writing, and only...

Designing for the Unexpected

I’m not sure when I first heard this quote, but it’s something that has stayed with me over the years. How do you create services for situations you can’t imagine? Or design products that work on devices yet to be invented? Flash, Photoshop, and responsive design When I first started designing websites, my go-to software was Photoshop....

Asynchronous Design Critique: Giving Feedback, Part 2

“Any comment?” is probably one of the worst ways to ask for feedback. It’s vague and open ended, and it doesn’t provide any indication of what we’re looking for. Getting good feedback starts earlier than we might expect: it starts with the request.  It might seem counterintuitive to start the process of receiving feedback with a question, but...

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