Articles by
Robin Rendle

Technical writer, CEO of staring blankly at a screen full of CSS, pro-blogger

lite.cnn.io

This little website pulls in all the main stories from CNN and strips almost everything from the design; styles, images, fonts, ads, colors. Nada, zilch, gone. At first it looks like nothing but hypertext and it feels like an extraordinary improvement but Sam Saccone made a thread about potential improvements that the team could use to make that experience even faster such as server side rendering and replacing the React framework with something smaller, like Preact.

Either way this approach to news design is refreshing. However, I can’t find anything more about the the motivations for building this version of CNN.com besides the announcement on Twitter. It would certainly be fascinating to learn if CNN built this specifically for people caught in disastrous situations where battery life and load time might be a serious matter of life and death.

Building a design system for HealthCare.gov

Sawyer Hollenshead has written up his thoughts about how he collaborated with the designers and developers on the HealthCare.gov project.

In this post, I’d like to share some of the bigger technical decisions we made while building that design system. Fortunately, a lot of smart folks have already put a lot of thought into the best approaches for building scalable, developer-friendly, and flexible design systems. This post will also shine a light on those resources we used to help steer the technical direction.

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Using Custom Properties to Modify Components

Instead of using custom properties to style whole portions of a website’s interface I think we should use them to customize and modify tiny components. Here’s why.

Whenever anyone mentions CSS custom properties they often talk about the ability to theme a website’s interface in one fell swoop. For example, if you’re working at somewhere like a big news org then we might want to specify a distinct visual design for the Finance section and the Sports section – buttons, headers, pull quotes and text color could all change on the fly.

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Making A Bar Chart with CSS Grid

Editors note: this post is just an experiment to play with new CSS properties and so the code below shouldn’t be used without serious improvements to accessibility.

I have a peculiar obsession with charts and for some reason, I want to figure out all the ways to make them with CSS. I guess that's for two reasons. First, I think it's interesting that there are a million different ways to style charts and data on the web. Second, it's great for learning about new and unfamiliar technologies. In this case: CSS Grid!

So this chart obsession of mine got me thinking: how would you go about making a plain ol' responsive bar chart with CSS Grid (more…)

Chrome 60

The latest version of Chrome, version 60, is a pretty big deal for us front-end developers. Here’s the two most interesting things for me that just landed via Pete LePage where he outlines all the features in this video:

Designed Lines

Ethan Marcotte on digital disenfranchisement and why we should design lightning fast, accessible websites:

We're building on a web littered with too-heavy sites, on an internet that's unevenly, unequally distributed. That’s why designing a lightweight, inexpensive digital experience is a form of kindness. And while that kindness might seem like a small thing these days, it's a critical one. A device-agnostic, data-friendly interface helps ensure your work can reach as many people as possible, regardless of their location, income level, network quality, or device.

How the minmax() Function Works

Another swell post by Ire Aderinokun, this time on the curious minmax() CSS function and how it works alongside the CSS Grid features that we've been experimenting with lately.

What's especially great here is the examples where Ire explains how we can avoid media queries altogether. With just a couple of lines of CSS we can now build pretty complicated layouts.

An Introduction to the `fr` CSS unit

With all the excitement around CSS Grid, I haven't seen as much talk about the new fr CSS length unit (here's the spec). And now that browser support is rapidly improving for this feature, I think this is the time to explore how it can be used in conjunction with our fancy new layout engine because there are a number of benefits when using it; more legible and maintainable code being the primary reasons for making the switch.

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World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web

Bruce Lawson explores many of the misconceptions that web designers might have when building websites. The crux of his argument is that we should be focusing on designing for users that are just getting online and for those that have frustratingly slow internet connection speeds.

He even makes a bold prediction:

Many of your next customers will come from the area circled below, if only because there are more human beings alive in this circle than in the world outside the circle.

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