This month we asked a few web designers and developers we admire the following question: what’s interested you this year when it comes to making websites? What’s caught your attention and what have you learned? What have you been thinking about throughout the year that’s had the biggest impact on your work? Their answers were pretty astonishing!

Folks talked about how the language of CSS is slowly evolving into a more mature and comprehensive language for us, and how a vanilla workflow with just CSS, HTML, and JavaScript is still the best cocktail in town, or how after making websites for 25 years it’s possible to learn what kind of development it is that you like.

We’ve captured a few choice abstracts below—but!—we’re also super interested in your thoughts, too. What did you find particularly interesting in either the web design industry or on the technology side of things this year? Did you notice any trends? Did you find a tiny CSS trick that surprised you? Let us know! We’re @css on Twitter.

And now get ready to fire up those read later apps and services because we have a whole bunch of interesting articles you’re going to want to read right away:

We are Programmers • Lara Shenck

Building websites is programming. Writing HTML and CSS is programming. I am a programmer, and if you’re here, reading CSS-Tricks, chances are you’re a programmer, too.

The thing is, the details in programming layout with CSS are different, for example, than the details in programming API endpoints with Ruby. Or machine learning with Python. Or programming a browser engine with C++.

But those differences are details! A lot of details, but still… details. It’s all programming.

The New Good Ol’ Days • Pete Barr

Looking around today you can see how advancements like Grid have helped elevate the rise of more asymmetric layouts, with design styles like Brutalism design going through a bit of a trend over the last year or so. But over time it felt as though typography might have taken the back seat a tad with all the other successes happening in pushing the web forward. Now enter variable fonts 🥳

Growing Accessibility Conversations • Christopher Schmitt

With over 97% of sites having WCAG failure of some kind, it’s a stinging indictment on our industry. There’s a lot of work to be done — that means outreach and education, helping other developers incorporate accessibility into their workflows, coding pull requests with accessibility fixes, making certain components for design systems are accessible and much more.

Smarter Design Systems Tools • Jina Anne

In the ever-so-hot-right-now world of design systems, one of the most common phrases people use is “bridging the gap” (between designers and engineers). This was on several résumés I reviewed during my time at Salesforce when we were hiring for the Lightning Design System team. It’s a fair endeavor to strive for, as we want to bring alignment, coherence, and unity to our product design and engineering — all with the goal of having a quality-consistent experience for the people using our products and services.

However, “bridging the gap” still implies there is a gap. Why is that gap there in the first place? Is it due to many years of legacy process and workflows that still seep into our day to day work? I could see legacy being a real-world scenario need to work through. But what about newer, smaller startups? Why do many of them have a gap, too?

How Building in the Open Can Change Our Industry • Amina Adewusi

After a couple minutes thinking about this question, I realized I wanted to write about who gets to build websites and how and where we choose to build them in order to welcome new people. I’ve spent this year giving conference talks on this topic because I have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to become a developer with little time and money. It’s not easy being on the “outside” trying to get into our industry. How can we make it easier for new people to join us here? How can we welcome under-represented groups to the table? In 2020 you can make a huge difference to our industry by welcoming new developers, especially those from under-represented groups.

Embrace the Political • Mel Choyce

What excites me is that finally, our industry is starting to admit that yes, our work is political. Our work has repercussions. And we can use our talents for good — not just to line the pockets of our capitalist technocrat overlords. And maybe, just maybe, we have a civic duty to engage with politics.

(This piece actually reminds me of something that Miriam Suzanne tweeted this weekend.)

What the web still is • Eric Bailey

If you do it right, you can build a website or a web app so that it can survive a lot of damage before it is rendered completely inoperable. Frankly, the fact that the web works at all is nothing short of miraculous.

The fail-safes, guardrails, redundancies, and other considerations built into the platform from the packet level on up allow this to happen. Honoring them honors the thought, care, and planning that went into the web’s foundational principles.

Embracing the Universal Web • Miriam Suzanne

Whatever we want to call it—Intrinsic Design, Resilient CSS, Progressive Enhancement, Universal Accessibility, or something else—I think we’re poised for a new movement and a new era of web creation. It’s time for us to take the lessons we learned from Responsive Web Design, adapting to screen sizes, and expand out: adapting to screen readers, legacy browsers, “smart” speakers, and any number of other interfaces.

No, Absolutely Not • Robin Rendle

The true beauty of web design is that you can pick up HTML, CSS, and the basics of JavaScript within a dedicated week or two. But over the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that building a truly great website doesn’t require much skill and it certainly doesn’t require years to figure out how to perform the coding equivalent of a backflip.

What you need to build a great website is restraint.

The future is bright, because the future is static • Andy Bell

The future is bright with the JAMstack and SSGs—especially when what is delivered to the end-user is fast, progressively enhanced websites. I honestly think that they are creating a momentum wave towards a bigger focus in performance, too.

If we chuck in some serverless technology: suddenly, designers and front-end developers really are all powerful and this really excites me because suddenly, we give lots of people power to have great ideas that might not have been able to before.

Oh, the Places JavaScript Will Go • Tim Kadlec

I tend to be pretty vocal about the problems client-side JavaScript cause from a performance perspective. We’re shipping more JavaScript than ever to our user’s devices and the result is increasingly brittle and resource-intensive experiences. It’s… not great.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t like JavaScript. On the contrary, I enjoy working in JavaScript quite a bit. I just wish we were a little more selective about where we use it.



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