Beware the dangers of Helvetica

Tuesday, 17 February, 2009

I didn’t know that the Helvetica font has been plotting world domination

I came to an alarming discovery: in the 7 years since the BBC first mentioned the dangers of Helvetica – which it dismissed as a “very, very rare occurence”-, the menace has made the leap from calcium atoms and humans to the Web itself. A quick search on Google revealed that Helvetica is lurking in the cascading style sheets over 15,000 web sites, and in fact almost every Mac and PC includes some variant of this terror.

Only 15,000 websites? That seems like a conservative figure?

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Caught with their pants down, websites in underwear

Monday, 10 November, 2008

Don’t end up on this list, check your website straight away.

Jeffrey Zeldman’s latest project aims to name and shame websites whose designers don’t take time to properly check that their background colour settings are in synch.

It’s astounding how many web designers forget to specify a background color on their site. They’ll spend months iterating wireframes and design comps; write CSS hacks for browsers predating this century; test their work on everything from Blackberries to old Macs running System 7; and of course they’ll validate their markup and style sheets. But after all that, they’ll forget to apply a background color to their site, and they won’t think to check for it.

View the Flickr gallery for some examples.

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And one day we’ll all love Cascading Style Sheets

Monday, 3 November, 2008

It’s been reasonably lovey-dovey here at disassociated this morning, with talk of Star Trek babes, dating psychology, and public love letters . I have no idea why. Maybe it has something to do with seeing Brideshead Revisited last week.


Part two of the CSS wishlist has just been published, with a number of well known web professionals offering their suggestions for inclusions in future Cascading Style Sheets specifications.

And after reading Jonathan Snook’s thoughts it seems to strike me that the current CSS specs are a little lacking.

I’d love to see consistent implementations across all major browsers for CSS3 features like multiple backgrounds, border-radius, and border-image. CSS Transforms would be handy, too. They might seem gimmicky but there are plenty of practical reasons for it like long headers names for narrow columns in a data table. Being able to rotate elements would improve the design while maintaining accessibility (and avoiding have to resort to images). The landscape in 5 years will, I believe, offer us plenty of functionality we don’t enjoy now.

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CSS Tables come to the party

Friday, 24 October, 2008

Possibly one of the most eye-catching, and alarmingly, titled articles I have seen in a while, Everything You Know About CSS Is Wrong, a primer in the execution and use of CSS tables, by Rachel Andrew at Digital Web Magazine.

CSS tables solve all the problems encountered when using absolute positioning or floats to create multi-column layouts in modern browsers. Specifying the value table for the display property of an element allows you to display the element and its descendants as though they’re table elements. The main benefit of CSS table-based layouts is the ability to easily define the boundaries of a cell so that we can add backgrounds and so on to it – without the semantic problems of marking up non-tabular content as a HTML table in the document.

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Ems are dead, long live pixel font sizes

Monday, 13 October, 2008

An interesting read over at Ordered List proclaiming that the use pixel font sizes are now off the no-no list in stylesheets.

The other day as I started a new project, it hit me. Safari is now on ‘roids. Firefox 3 is not too far behind. And Internet Explorer 7, well IE7 now does the ‘zoom’ of the whole page rather than just shifting font sizes up. The only browser that has problems with resizing pixel-based font sizes is Internet Explorer 6, right? And now is the time, if there ever was one, to begin IE6’s deprecation. I’m not gonna lie, I immediately fired up my text editor and starting littering, nay, joyously smashing ‘13px’ and ‘48px’ (just because) all over my stylesheet. And you know what? It felt great. Now there are those who enjoy percentages and em’s already and they probably won’t take kindly to this but frankly, I just don’t enjoy math that much. I hereby declare pixel font sizes safe to use once again.

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Hide your stylesheet from Internet Explorer 6

Friday, 26 September, 2008

Could this be the answer to the prayers of web developers fed up with trying to accommodate IE 6’s CSS rendering quirks and bugs? A way to hide your stylesheet from Internet Explorer 6.

We have been able to hide styles from older browsers such as IE 4 and Netscape using the @import declaration (and IE 5 using the filter /**/), but this won’t work for IE6 and above. Digging around in the Textmate HTML bundle, I accidentally stumbled upon a Conditional Comment basically saying, “if you’re not IE, show this”… Ah ha!

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Signed and sealed with a design signature

Tuesday, 26 August, 2008

A lovely euphemism for rehashing previously used design methods and even raw code: it’s called your design signature:

If you’ve designed more than five sites in your site, you likely have a design signature too, although it’s probably different than most other designers and coders you know. You may not even know you have it, but you do.

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Don’t know HTML? Great, you too can be a web designer

Wednesday, 30 July, 2008

I’d say if you want to be a web designer then having a working knowledge of HTML would be pretty much be a prerequisite. But not necessarily… an art director I once worked at a web design studio didn’t even know what H T M L meant…

If you aren’t proficient in HTML, you may be wondering why it is necessary to learn HTML when there is so much else you need to know. Knowing HTML can only enhance your productivity and value as a developer. After all, it will be much easier to track down a bug in a Web interface with intricate knowledge of how the page is delivered to the browser. In addition, HTML knowledge (along with CSS) means you can work with an application regardless of the tool used to create it. You are no longer bound to your preferred development tool or the one used to build the site. Also, knowledge of the source code gives you greater control of the end result. You can use your favourite tool to build the application and dig into the source code to tweak it.

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12 Examples of Paragraph Typography

Monday, 14 July, 2008

A cool collection of paragraph formatting techniques and experiments, some of which unfortunately don’t work across all browsers and platforms, using a little CSS trickery.

Great reference point though if you want to try something new and different with your paragraph formatting.

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The ultimate Web design job description

Monday, 30 June, 2008

Back in the day being a web designer meant knowing a little HTML (no CSS) and how to use image creation software like Photoshop. That was about it. That was a long time ago. There is just a little bit more to the role today however.

You may find that there are plenty of job listings where the job requirements are described as, “must be expert with Photoshop and Illustrator…” or something long those lines. Ignore those job listings; they’re placed by inept and sick companies looking for decorators, not designers. Take a job with a company asking for a Photoshop expert and I promise you’ll never be allowed to engage in design.

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