This Week: Improved Reading, Neural Networks, and Google’s Site Warning

Paul Wilkins
Paul Wilkins

Developing a Better Experience

With the wide variety of devices people use to browse the web today, steps are being taken to try and maintain peoples quality of experience. Google are now calling out pages that will not work well on your device with messages like: “Uses Flash. May not work on your device.” After news that China has over half a billion people who access the web from their mobile devices, this is an even larger impetus to improve our techniques.

Coca Cola's logo was given a responsive once-over
Coca Cola’s logo was given a responsive once-over

If you’re a freelancer developing sites you may want to think about moving from responsive design to adaptive design, or using A/B testing to improve your click-through rate. Responsive design has a beneficial place, as is nicely demonstrated by these responsive logos of famous companies, but as you can see in this Media-Query Mario, you can take things too far. Finally, here are 5 ways to never run out of freelance work.

Improve your Design

“Creating Distraction-Free Reading Experiences is a highly instructive read about how to improve your design, and if you’re after more, here is a comprehensive reading list for designers. When you want to jump in and try out some designs, Kite is a simple and flexible layout helper that can help you layout your design horizontally or vertically, nest groups and justify content, or fill sections across an area. Mind you, native CSS is proving to be highly capable too when it comes to layout, as is masterfully demonstrated in this A List Apart article on 10 CSS one-liners to replace native apps.

Getting fancier with your CSS, Patrick Catanzaritibreaks out of the box and explores the CSS shapes spec that lets you use other shapes such as circles or pentagons instead of boxes, or to wrap text around a curvy design. As with any new spec it will take time until it is supported by most browsers, but it’s a nice glimpse at what’s in store for CSS.

What’s happening in JavaScript?

Plenty of surprises were found from reading jQuery’s source code, with good details and techniques explored that can be applied elsewhere.

Other interesting things that we’ve come across this week are:

  • ScrollMe is a nice jQuery library for assing scrolling effects to web pages, where you can change many aspects of the elements on your page as it scrolls down, such as scale, rotate, translate, and opacity.
  • VanillaMasker is a light-weight library to coerce the values of form fields to any format that pleases you, such as comma separated dollars and cents, phone numbers, dates, and other custom patterns that you may wish to use.
  • Brain is the implementation of a neural network in JavaScript, that you can use to train for just about any task imaginable, for example, to recognise color contrast.

Dealing with too much info?

And lastly, with so much going on in the web industry, it can get to be too much at times, so here’s some advice on how not to get overwhelmed as a web developer. Related to dealing with too much information, Jacob Gube has done the unthinkable and deleted all of his RSS feeds in a controversial project called RSS Zero.

Thanks for tuning in, we’ll have more for you next week.