I try to repeat that at least 2 times a day:
The problem with Photoshop is that what’s being created is actually a fiction. It somewhat resembles what the final product might look like, but it’s not real. Layout and typography decisions are made that often don’t translate accurately to HTML. We spend hours designing for a medium that’s interactive and responsive, but we start by producing mockups that are static and inflexible. If great design is not only aesthetics but also how it works, then it’s time to make development part of the creative process.
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There’s this HTML element meant for marking up keyboard keys named
<kbd>. Obviously it can be styled with CSS so why not use it to make those elements look a bit more like hardware or the iOS and Android software keys.
Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 make it possible to pin your site to the Metro start screen as a new tile. The tile then is a bookmark to your site and you can control the icon and background color being used.
There was a great post about that in the H5BP issues section and Microsoft has a full explanation. It all comes down to this:
Skeuomorphism on mobile devices has come a long way:
Using a second unit, Steve Capps, one of Newton’s creators, showed how you could use it to order a pizza by moving topping icons onto a pie and then sending out a fax. In 1992, that was show-stopping stuff.
But instead of another Newton history article, this one is an interesting “hands-on assessment” of Apple’s first PDA. Almost 20 years after its release, Harry McCracken got himself a fully working MessagePad H1000 over eBay and tested it.
Would be interesting to know if the same could be done with an iPhone 4S or Galaxy Nexus in 2032. I doubt it.
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This has been said many times, but it bears repeating:
Files are abstraction layers around content that are necessary for interoperability. Without the notion of a File or other similar shared content abstraction, the ability to use different applications with the same information grinds to a halt, which hampers innovation and user experience.
A good example are all those note taking apps on iOS which usually only require plain text. When using Apple’s iCloud to sync their data, they lock your content into one app without any way to access this from another app. Compare that to apps using Dropbox for note syncing: I can throw as many apps I would like at my notes folder full of .txt files. The note app you’re using has some new quirks after the latest update? Just switch to another app. Apple’s iCloud syncing Notes.app having some new quirks after the latest update? Well, you and your content are doomed.
But the solution can’t be throwing a full file system at the user:
Now, I agree with Steve Jobs saying in 2005 that a full blow filesystem with folders and all the rest might not be necessary, but in every OS there needs to be at least some user-facing notion of a file, some system-wide agreed upon way to package content and send it between applications. Otherwise we’ll just end up with a few monolithic applications that do everything poorly.
Just applying the PC concept of a file system to post-PC devices, like Android and Dropbox did, makes only geeks happy but not the majority of users. While useful it’s still too abstract for most users. That’s why even Android kind of hides the file system, there’s no built in app to browse it directly. But at least Android has Intents, allowing users to send any data between different apps.
Apple already solved the problem of a file system being too abstract for users a long time ago, but without any app lock in. The Newton OS on MessagePads stored everything in object-oriented databases called soups. The “union soup” could be accessed by any app (“packages” to be exactly) on the system. Today, this is happening only rudimentarily on iOS, like when you start typing a recipient in Mail and it gets auto-completed from the Address Book data which obviously is only possible with Apple’s apps.
Soups took away the need of manual file management without cutting access to the content. iCloud needs to be the new soup.
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Apart from a nicely responsive admin area, WordPress 3.4 now includes retina assets for all the icons in the admin area to make them look crisp on devices with high-dpi screens like the iPhone or iPad 3, most flagship Android devices and of course the new ÜberMacBookPro.
And it looks gorgeous. Here’s a detail screenshot of the admin area in 3.4 in full scale, taken on the iPad 3:
So if you’re a plugin developer you absolutely want to make sure to include retina assets for your plugin, like a double sized admin menu icon.
There’s just one problem: WordPress doesn’t include anything to make this easy for developers. The functions
add_menu_page() only allow you to define one image as menu icon which then gets inserted as
If you want to include retina assets, you have to do it via CSS and media queries. Have a look at the code examples in my WordPress icons template post or peek around in the github repository to see how this can be achieved.
And no, SVG for your icons are not the solution.
Much has been written about the good and bad of skeuomorphism. Tom Hobbs wrote a great piece putting everything together.
Digitally re-creating real materials and analog objects very quickly becomes aesthetics for aesthetics sake. It’s hard to believe that all but a minute percentage of Apple’s user base has a tan-suede–bound calendar or book of any sort, or anything else that looks remotely similar. Unfortunately, these are the characteristics of skeuomorphism that a vast majority of UI designers employ when they use this approach (see Blackberry’s Playbook). Ultimately, it encourages designers to become less critical and less inventive, which is detrimental to evolving new and improved solutions.
He argues skeuomorphism hinders designers in creating something truly innovative. Also, some good arguments on why Microsoft’s Metro interface isn’t the answer:
Sure, these graphic elements don’t use “superfluous” drop shadows and renderings, but they don’t really use space any more efficiently than many skeuomorphic iPhone apps. It is highly debatable whether they need to be as graphically dominant or whether the aesthetic form is purely driven by function. Metro’s graphic elements are largely abstracted representations of their function, so from a modernist point of view, it is interesting to think of what else could be stripped away to enhance their function.
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Chris Coyier on an accessible implementation for icon fonts:
Where are we at right now in terms of the best markup for using icon fonts? Let’s cover some options I think are currently the best. [...]
And our major goals here are:
- As good of semantics as we can get
- As little awkwardness for screen readers as possible
Spoiler: the key is to map the icons to the Private Use Area instead of “real” characters in the font files and injecting them with pseudo elements.
I’m using Font Awesome on this site which comes with icons mapped to PUA, so everything should be good for screen readers. Only concern to me are the quite ineffective CSS selectors like
[class*=" icon-"] but this makes it nicely flexible.
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Good overview about the patterns currently being discussed:
Recently, all of the ongoing discussion around responsive images just got real: a solution is currently being discussed with the WHATWG. And we’re in the thick of it now: we’re throwing around references to
img set; [...]
The markup pattern that gets selected stands to have a tremendous influence on how developers build websites in the future. Not just responsive or adaptive websites, either. All websites.
Naturally I’m in the
picture camp, this just makes most sense to me.
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