Web Design News 15/06/10

Paul Boag

This week: We look at emerging trends coming from Web Direction @Media including microcopy, HTML5 and CSS3 and inclusive design.

Relly talks about microcopy

The one talk I am most passionate about is Relly Annett Bakers talk on Microcopy. As web designers we constantly moan about the quality of copy produced by our clients and yet make the problem worse by producing poor copy of our own.

The problem is that we think we don’t write copy. However that is simply not true. We are forever writing error messages, instructional text and labels. We are also involved in information architecture where we make decisions about the naming of navigation and page elements. All of this is copy.

Whether you get to hear Relly’s talk at @media or not, it is worth learning about best practice in microcopy. Fortunately there is no shortage of online resources available.

For a start Relly has written extensively on the subject including her 24 Ways post ‘construction of instruction‘.

However this is a subject others are tackling too. Joshua Porter has written a great post entitled ‘Writing Microcopy‘. It is well worth a read and is a brilliant introduction to the topic.

example of microcopy from Joshua's article

Finally Joshua has also created a Microcopy Flickr Group which showcases great examples of microcopy. If you are looking for some inspiration as you write, this is a great place to start.

Bruce and Rachel talks about HTML5 and CSS3

Unsurprisingly this years @Media will be focusing on HTML5 and CSS3 with a number of great talks including ones from both Rachel Andrew and Bruce Lawson.

Without a doubt these are really hot topics and open up a world of possibilities for us as web designers.

Of course this is also a topic that has been done to death online. However because there is so much material it can be hard to know where to start. That is why being able to see a presentation from the likes of Rachel or Bruce is invaluable.

That said, there is some material out there worth checking out.

When most people think of CSS3 they think of border-radius, gradients and shadows. There are literally hundreds of articles dedicated to this subject. However there are also a couple of tools for those of you who cannot face yet another blog post.

The first is a simple tool for generating border-radius code. Simply type in the values for each corner and it creates the code for Mozilla, Webkit and the W3C spec.

The second tool does a similar job for gradients, box shadow, text shadow and transforms.

A tool for creating advanced CSS3 effects

However, CSS3 isn’t just about new effects. As Rachel Andrew points out in her 24 Ways article it can also help you create cleaner code.

As for HTML5, I have seen Bruce talk about coding in HTML5 before and it is well worth watching. He demonstrates just how easy it is to start coding HTML5 today even though the spec is not fully supported across all browsers.

Bruce has written extensively on the subject of HTML5 as a quick Google will testify. However I recommend you check out his website html5doctor and a previous presentation he gave that introduces HTML5. Both provide a great starting point.

Inclusive design

The final talk I wanted to highlight is Inclusive Design by Sandi Wassmer.

Inclusive design is not a term I have come across before, which is why this talk interests me. However according to Sandi it brings together Accessibility, Usability, User Centric Design, Progressive Enhancement and User Experience. It recognises that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not always appropriate and that we need to provide users with more choice in how they interact with our content.

I get the impression Sandi chooses to talk about inclusive design rather than accessibility because accessibility is so strongly associated with the disabled and in particular those who use screen readers.

In fact accessibility is a much broader subject that includes accessibility for all, even those who still use IE6!

Sandi has actually created a very interesting PDF on the subject of inclusive design that is worth downloading. It will certainly get you thinking in a different way about what it means to make your website accessible.