Tagged “css”

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Buttons and links: definitions, differences and tips

Some of the web’s design and development practices have led to buttons and links becoming conceptually bundled together, confused and misunderstood. Practitioners can be guilty of seeing the surface-level commonality that “you click the thing, then something happens” and mistakenly thinking that they are interchangeable. Some might even consider this all in terms of a single “component”. However this mentality is harmful for effective web development and causes our users problems. In this post I’ll address why buttons and links are different and exist separately, and when to use each.

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Harry Roberts says “Get Your Head Straight”

Harry Roberts (who created ITCSS for organising CSS at scale but these days focuses on performance) has just given a presentation about the importance of getting the content, order and optimisation of the <head> element right, including lots of measurement data to back up his claims. Check out the slides: Get your Head Straight

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Astro

Astro looks very interesting. It’s in part a static site builder (a bit like Eleventy) but it also comes with a modern (revolutionary?) developer experience which lets you author components as web components or in a JS framework of your choice but then renders those to static HTML for optimal performance. Oh, and as far as I can tell theres no build pipeline!

Astro lets you use any framework you want (or none at all). And if most sites only have islands of interactivity, shouldn’t our tools optimize for that?

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Inspire.js

Lean, hackable, extensible slide deck framework

I’ve been on the lookout for a lightweight, web standards based slide deck solution for a while and this one from Lea Verou could well be perfect.

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Container Queries in Web Components | Max Böck

Max’s demo is really clever and features lots of interesting web component related techniques.

I came up with this demo of a book store. Each of the books is draggable and can be moved to one of three sections, with varying available space. Depending on where it is placed, different styles will be applied to the book.

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Observer APIs in a nutshell

I’ve played with the various HTML5 Observer APIs (IntersectionObserver, ResizeObserver and MutationObserver) a little over the last few years—for example using ResizeObserver in a container query solution for responsive grids. But in all honesty their roles, abilities and differences haven’t yet fully stuck in my brain. So I’ve put together a brief explainer for future reference.

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How I subset web fonts

On my personal website I currently use three web fonts from the Source Sans 3 group: regular, italic and semibold. I self-host my fonts because that’s a good practice. Additionally I use a variety of special characters to add some typographic life to the text.

When self-hosting it’s important from a performance perspective to minimise the weight of the font files your visitors must download. To achieve this I subset my fonts so as to include only the characters my pages use but no more. Here’s how I do it.

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Front-of-the-front-end and back-of-the-front-end web development (by Brad Frost)

The Great Divide between so-called front-end developers is real! Here, Brad Frost proposes some modern role definitions.

A front-of-the-front-end developer is a web developer who specializes in writing HTML, CSS, and presentational JavaScript code.

A back-of-the-front-end developer is a web developer who specializes in writing JavaScript code necessary to make a web application function properly.

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Use CSS Clamp to create a more flexible wrapper utility (on Piccalilli)

Here’s Andy Bell recommending using CSS clamp() to control your wrapper/container width because it supports setting a preferred value in vw to ensure sensible gutters combined with a maximum tolerance in rem—all in a single line of code.

If we use clamp() to use a viewport unit as the ideal and use what we would previously use as the max-width as the clamp’s maximum value, we get a much more flexible setup.

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A Utility Class for Covering Elements (on CSS { In Real Life })

Need to overlay one HTML element on top of and fully covering another, such as a heading with translucent background on top of an image? Michelle Barker has us covered with this blog post in which she creates an overlay utility to handle this. She firstly shows how it can be accomplished with positioning, then modernises her code using the inset CSS logical property, before finally demonstrating a neat CSS Grid based approach.

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Newsletters, by Robin Rendle

A fantastic so-called “Scroll Story” from Robin Rendle. In his own words it’s “an elaborate blog post where I rant about a thing” however given the beautiful typography, layout and illustrations on show I think he’s selling it a little short!

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Minimalist Container Queries

Scott Jehl’s experimental take on a container/element query aimed at letting us set responsive styles for our elements based on their immediate context rather than that of the viewport.

I made a quick and minimal take on approximating Container/Element Queries using a web component and basic CSS selectors.

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Cheating Entropy with Native Web Technologies (on Jim Nielsen’s Weblog)

This is why, over years of building for the web, I have learned that I can significantly cut down on the entropy my future self will have to face by authoring web projects in vanilla HTML, CSS, and JS. I like to ask myself questions like:

  • Could this be done with native ES modules instead of using a bundler?
  • Could I do this with DOM scripting instead of using a JS framework?
  • Could I author this in CSS instead of choosing a preprocessor?

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How to hide elements on a web page

In order to code modern component designs we often need to hide then reveal elements. At other times we want to provide content to one type of user but hide it from another because it’s not relevant to their mode of browsing. In all cases accessibility should be front and centre in our thoughts. Here’s my approach, heavily inspired by Scott O’Hara’s definitive guide Inclusively Hidden.

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Note · 10:15 PM · Glasgow

Daniel Post shared a really cool performance-optimisation trick for Eleventy on Twitter the other day. When statically generating your site you can loop through your pages and, for each, use PurgeCSS to find the required CSS, then inline that into the <head>. This way, each page contains only the CSS it needs and no more!

Check out the code.

I’ve just installed this on my personal site. I was already inlining my CSS into the <head> but the promise of only including the minimum CSS that each specific page needs was too good to resist.

Turned out it was a breeze to get working, a nice introduction to Eleventy transforms, and so far it’s working great!

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Three CSS Alternatives to JavaScript Navigation (on CSS-Tricks)

In general this is a decent article on non-JavaScript-based mobile navigation options, but what I found most interesting is the idea of having a separate page for your navigation menu (at the URL /menu, for example).

Who said navigation has to be in the header of every page? If your front end is extremely lightweight or if you have a long list of menu items to display in your navigation, the most practical method might be to create a separate page to list them all.

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Color Theme Switcher (on mxb.dev)

Max shows us how to build a colour theme switcher to let users customise your website. He uses a combination of Eleventy, JSON, Nunjucks with macros, a data attribute on the html element, CSS custom properties and a JavaScript based switcher.

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CSS Section Separator Generator (on wweb.dev)

A handy tool that generates the required HTML and CSS for various section separator effects (including diagonal lines, spikes, and waves) by cleverly manipulating backgrounds and generated content.

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BEM Methodology

Documentation for the BEM component and CSS class-naming notation

methodology BEM was invented at Yandex to develop sites which should be launched fast and supported for a long time. It helps to create extendable and reusable interface components.

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CSS Triggers

Check whether or not a CSS property is a good candidate for smooth animation based on whether updates to its value trigger expensive changes (to, for example, “element geometry”) causing layout updates and repaints.

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The Contrast Triangle

Removing underlines from links in HTML text presents an accessibility challenge. In order for a design to be considered accessible, there is now a three-sided design contraint - or what I call "The Contrast Triangle". Your text, links and background colors must now all have sufficient contrast from each other. Links must have a contrast ratio of 3:1 from their surrounding text. By not using underlines, a design has to rely on contrast alone to achieve this.

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BBC GEL Inclusive Components Technical Guide

The BBC Global Experience Language (GEL) Technical Guides are a series of framework-agnostic, code-centric recommendations and examples for building GEL design patterns in websites. They illustrate how to create websites that comply with all BBC guidelines and industry best practice, giving special emphasis to accessibility.

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You Don't Need

A nice list of tips and tools on how to use simpler browser standards and APIs to avoid the added weight of unnecessary JavaScript and libraries.

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Old CSS, new CSS (eev.ee)

I first got into web design/development in the late 90s, and only as I type this sentence do I realize how long ago that was. Here’s a history of CSS and web design, as I remember it.

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Webfont loading strategies

When it comes to webfonts, if you want to serve an accessible and high performance experience across device types it’s not as straightforward as just specifying your fonts in CSS then hoping for the best.

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Intrinsically Responsive CSS Grid with minmax and min

Evan Minto notes that flexible grids created with CSS Grid’s repeat, auto-fill, and minmax are only intrinsically responsive (responsive to their container rather than the viewport) up to a point, because when the container width is narrower than the minimum width specified in minmax the grid children overflow.

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Using aria-current is a win-win situation

The HTML attribute aria-current allows us to indicate the currently active element in a sequence. It’s not only great for accessibility but also doubles as a hook to style that element individually.

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Box Shadow around the full box

Sometimes when coding a UI element you want a shadow around the whole box. However, most CSS box-shadow examples/tutorials tend to show inset box-shadows or ones that otherwise sit off to the side.

Here’s how to apply box-shadow to the whole box for a simple but nice effect.

.box-with-shadow {
box-shadow: 0 0 4px #ccc;
}

And here’s how it looks:

Lorem ipsum
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Styling a Select Like It’s 2019 (Filament Group, Inc.)

Recently, we’d seen some articles suggest that things haven’t changed a great deal with select's styling limitations, but I decided to return to the problem and tinker with it myself to be sure. As it turns out, a reasonable set of styles can create a consistent and attractive select across new browsers, while remaining just fine in older ones too.

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Image Color

A handy tool for identifying colours – provided in numerous different CSS-ready formats – and creating a complimentary colour palette from an image you upload or provide as a URL.

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