UX in the Wild – Sept. 25, 2012

This is from a podcast on UIE with Stephanie Sullivan Rewis and Greg Rewis titled, “What Designers Need to Know About HTML5 and CSS3.”

The interview focuses on what designers should be aware of when handing off files to a front-end developer. I found the tips relevant to UX Designer and Information Architects because we must understand the technical constraints, as well as, what is possible with HTML5 and CSS3.

Here are a few:

One Web. There has been a lot of discussion/debate about how to design across web, mobile, tablet, and more platforms. Should each be a customized site and content as in the Jakob Nielsen camp? Stephanie suggests that we can – in some cases – use one set of content that adapts to all platforms, via the magic of code. Stephanie loves Modernizer and used the example where Javascript for sniffing the type of device is bad UX because sniffing can break with browser updates. She said in many cases, the code can adapt the design to fit the platform. That means, it doesn’t always work, but it’s something to consider in the early design and requirements phase.

Accessibility. Stephanie and Greg reminded us that, besides being too often overlooked, accessibility has a range of user types. It may be someone with carpal tunnel who needs to use the tab key to access the content or a low-sighted person (anyone over 40). In the low-sighted case, there are new tricks in CSS to keep the graphics from blowing apart when the type is enlarged.

Consistency. Stephanie targeted this more to skin designers, because that is who she works with directly, but consistency definitely applies to UX. She used an example of a designer handing off 39 subtle variations of a gray gradient, and a number of almost identical buttons with slightly different sizes and shapes. In her world as a developer, the more she can reuse a file the better. So the moral is: minimize the number of styles and files. This will make better UI because consistency is a heuristic. As UX designers, we are using shapes and colors as patterns and language. These need to be clear so the cue can be ingested and understood at-a-glance. Subtle variations create more noise for the user to process.

Beyond the technical tips. I find the husband and wife team, Stephanie (Sullivan) Rewis and Greg Rewis an inspiration because they love what they do, and remind me how powerful that is to my career and to the people around me. Yes, they are super heroes out saving the world with clean and smart front-end programming. They know the code, and that is loving what you do. That is what generates the enthusiasm and curiosity to rise above the chaos, client changes, new learning experiences and complexity of our roles, to go beyond survive and to thrive.

Listen to the full podcast,



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