There’s already a book on responsive web design. Want to win it?

Since Ethan Marcotte wrote his seminal article on responsive web design less than a year ago, the concept of creating liquid/fluid designs that make use of media queries to adapt to the user’s screen has taken off. I’m ecstatic about this. I’ve been designing and building primarily liquid sites for several years now, and I want others to do the same. Responsive web designs can offer tremendous usability and accessibility benefits, while still looking beautiful, not dumbed down.

From a technical standpoint, creating liquid designs with media queries is not that complicated, in theory. But doing so requires a sometimes huge shift in mindset and design process, and this is where brief online articles on the topic fall a little short, simply due to the nature of their publication medium. What we really need is a whole book on responsive web design, covering all its intricacies. Ethan Marcotte is working on one, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it comes out later this year.

But it turns out that there’s already a book on responsive web design. OK, technically, it’s more like 1.2 books. My first book, Flexible Web Design: Creating Liquid and Elastic Layouts with CSS, is the only book out there that’s entirely devoted to designing and building robust and attractive web sites that adapt to the user’s viewing preferences. It includes not only detailed instructions on how to create the CSS for the layouts, but also how to make the images within them flexible and how to design them from the comp stage with flexibility baked in. All you need to add to any of the layouts you learn about in Flexible Web Design to make them “responsive” is media queries—and I cover those fully in chapter 6 of my new book Stunning CSS3: A Project-based Guide to the Latest in CSS. Put them together, and you have a detailed, comprehensive guide on how to create awesome responsive web designs.

I want everyone to start making responsive web designs, so I want to give away a bundle of both my books. Actually, I want to give away two bundles. So two people will get a copy each of Flexible Web Design and Stunning CSS3.


30 things I’ve learned in 30 years

Inspired by Noah Stokes’ blog post Thirty Four, as well as the book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal that I read recently and loved, I decided to share 30 things, in no particular order, that I’ve learned in the 30 years of my life.

  1. If something electrical isn’t working, turning it off then on again is a good way to fix it.
  2. Pregnancy affects every piece and function of your body, not just the parts you would expect.
  3. People don’t wear silver clothes and use jetpacks in the future (which is now, of course), sadly.
  4. Having someone sincerely compliment your child feels even better than a compliment to yourself, surprisingly.
  5. It feels immensely satisfying to peel sunburned skin.
  6. When I say my name on the phone (ZO-ee), people often think I’m saying Ellie.
  7. When you get an unexpected sum of money, you will usually get an unexpected car or home repair right afterwards, which seems like a bummer, until you realize you’ve been blessed to have that money to take care of it in the first place.
  8. It doesn’t feel good to over-eat.
  9. People often don’t do what’s in their best interest (see above).
  10. I hate yoga and yoga hates me.
  11. Cheese is not overrated.
  12. Chocolate chip cookies are extremely common, yet it’s sadly very difficult to find excellent ones.
  13. When excellent chocolate chip cookies cannot be had, mediocre chocolate chip cookies are still hard to resist.
  14. People follow the rules, even when it would be more fun or beneficial not to, an impressive amount of the time.
  15. Time flies when you’re having fun.
  16. It’s OK to kill thousands of people in a movie, but don’t you dare kill the dog. (Unless the whole point of the movie is killing the dog, aka Old Yeller.)
  17. The zombie apocalypse is inevitable.
  18. When you call a customer service phone number, the automated phone recording will make you input your member number. But when you finally get to a real person, they’ll ask you for it again.
  19. Do a job that you love.
  20. A less-nice house is worth the shorter commute.
  21. You can do it yourself, but paying someone else to do it is more enjoyable.
  22. The tiniest amount of mustard can be detected, and it ruins an entire dish.
  23. Harry Conick Jr is a serial killer. Just wait. It’ll come out. You’ll see.
  24. When you have extra money, spend it on trips and activities, not stuff. When you’re an old lady, you won’t reminisce about the beautiful couch you once had, but you will think about how much fun you had at Yellowstone. (I learned this one from my paternal grandma, through my mom.)
  25. You could be angry, but wouldn’t it be more pleasant to be happy?
  26. Everything at Kohl’s is always on sale, regardless of whether it’s marked on sale or not.
  27. I’ll eat anything once. Almost anything.
  28. When coming up with a time estimate for a project, figure out what it would take, then double it. Or triple it.
  29. Some people are reliably unreliable.
  30. It sounds so trite, but it really is all about love.

Videos of screen readers using ARIA

Note: This article is out of date. The new post “Videos of screen readers using ARIA, updated” contains all the original content that is still relevant plus new content that’s arisen since this piece was written.

I’ve been doing a lot of investigation into WAI-ARIA for work recently, mainly revolving around educating other developers. I’ve found a lot of great demos of pages and widgets that use ARIA, but not too many videos of screen readers using said widgets. This is a shame, because it’s often hard to understand the impact of ARIA without hearing how a screen reader announces the content both without and with ARIA in place, and not many people have or know how to use screen readers. I can certainly show developers who are accessibility-newbies the ARIA demos, but their accessibility benefits aren’t that clear without a recording of a screen reader using them and their non-ARIA counterparts.

Nevertheless, I was able to find a few videos of screen readers using ARIA, and I wanted to share the links here. I’m willing to bet there are more out there—it’s just hard to find them, since simply searching for “aria” on YouTube will get you a bunch of videos of people singing opera, not screen readers! So if you know of others, please let us know in the comments.