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Hardboiled Web Design

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Hardboiled Web Design, 9781907828003 (1907828001), Five Simple Steps LLP, 2010

Every web designer harbours tales of frustration, limitation and despair. Web design requires skills and knowledge beyond mere manipulation of form, shape, language, colour, message and meaning. What users don’t see behind those visuals is just as important as what they do see. We have to think about moving parts and engineering solutions, and consider language, metadata, user experiences, and so much more.

Whether we work alone or in teams, we need to follow rules, constantly extend our skillsets, and sometimes even predict the future, dealing with social networks, web apps, microformats, geolocation, magical new devices and augmented realities. Our work goes beyond borders, accessible at any time from any location, on any number of browsers and devices, at varying speeds, on multiple resolutions. And it is consumed by humans, each with a brain a little different from the next.

The rules will never be set in stone. Technology evolves, and battles over minutiae will rage publicly, whilst also causing us private headaches that keep us awake at night. There will always be misunderstanding, contention, and limits. Our immediate remits will always be open to question, and the pile marked ‘things to learn’ will grow beyond our ability to cope with it. What programming languages and tools do I use? Am I up-to-date with accessibility and usability best practice? Should I learn that new method everyone is talking about? Will I ever understand JavaScript? We can only do our best.

The web presented a fantastic new opportunity to us, but from the outset we made the mistakes typical of every new industry — we ran before we could walk, and forgot to take notice of the lessons learned by those that came before. We started building things without any thought for the future: no accountability; no standards. Every industry needs to be accountable. Every industry needs standards.

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