No Analytics

I think that analytics are the reason why some quality newspapers turn into cheap populist leaflets over time. They focus on this is what people want to read instead of on this is what we want to tell people. If I wrote about the things you want to read about, this blog would be about cats. That’s why, every time I have to write a column, I ask on Twitter what I should write about. And that’s why I always ignore your suggestions. That’s also one of the reasons why I don’t use any analytics on this site. Ben Brooks wrote down a few more reasons why you should kill the analytics scripts on your site.

Love Letters by the Alphabettes

I’m a bit behind with my RSS-feeds so it’s only now that I stumbled upon the wonderful Love Letters on the ever brilliant typography website Alphabettes. I read about the things you can find out about your great great great grandparents by reading these beautiful Greek notaries. I learned a thing or two about languages I know nothing about, like Hebrew and Chinese. Such an inspiring series, you should really take your time to read them all.

There’s much more

Progressive enhancement is saddening. Don’t use it.

I’ve always been a proponent of progressive enhancement. I promoted it with clients when I still had those, and I teach it to my students now that I’m a lecturer. But this will have to change. Heydon Pickering, a true master in using valid arguments, wrote this very convincing article called Progressive Enhancement Makes Me Sad. Here’s one final reason not to use it: We do not want sad Heydons.

The Principles of web development

I really like these Principles of Web Development. For some reason Adam Scott, the author of these principles, thought it necessary to add the word ethical to the name, but to me that seems redundant. These are simply the Principles of Web Development.

What are they?

About a new web typography

My neck hurts a bit. I’ve been nodding along while reading this essay about typography on the web by Robin Rendle. It starts with a nice introduction about Jan Tschichold. About his life, and more importantly, about the context of his ideas. And then he goes on to translate these ideas about book typography to our current time, to web typography.


Parsing CSS

I remember the first time I wrote some JavaScript I was very, very disappointed in how stupid computers are. They only understand loops, ifs, and elses. That’s it. And if you type esle instead of else it doesn’t understand what you mean. On the other hand I was surprised that I was able to create wonderful stuff with just these ifs, elses and loops. Breaking a problem down to these building blocks made me understand the issue better. I had a similar aha-erlebnis while I was reading the part in this article about parsing CSS with JavaScript by supernerd Peter van der Zee.

That’s a very nerdy article

Storing written stuff is hard

The things we write online cease to exist when our servers stop working. This can happen when we stop caring about the things we wrote, when we run out of money, when the host goes bankrupt and eventually when we die. I really don’t know how to reach this exact article under this exact URL in 500 years time. Joel Dueck says it like this in his essay The Unbearable Lightness of Web Pages:


Now you know Ilonka Karasz

I had never heard of Ilonka Karasz before reading this great introduction to her work. She was an incredibly talented designer who created some highly mathematical yet beautiful things. Things I wouldn’t mind possessing at all. I always think that creating geometric things is easy, because it’s something I know how to do. But maybe I only know how to do geometric stuff because I don’t know how to create real things. Ilonka Karasz did know how to create real stuff as well. According to the article, she created 186 eye-catching New Yorker covers published between 1925 and 1973. Again a fantastic addition to the wonderful series of Designing Women.

The Active Idler #2

I just sent out the second edition of the Active Idler, my already irregular newsletter. It’s about the free meetups I organise, and which you should attend. It’s about the stuff I wrote, and the stuff I read, and about the stuff I enjoyed. You might want to subscribe, if you like receiving these kinds of things via e-mail.

De eigenschappen van de browser

In zijn prachtig vormgegeven, en briljant geschreven essay What Screens Want legt Frank Chimero uit dat het een tijdje duurt voordat we goed begrijpen wat we met een nieuw materiaal kunnen. De eerste films, bijvoorbeeld, waren toneelstukken die met een camera met een vast standpunt werden gefilmd. Later ontdekten we pas dat de eigenschappen van film, zoals montage en cameravoering, de boel een stuk spannender kunnen maken. Het duurt even voordat een materiaal echt goed begrepen wordt.

Hoe lang dan?

Layout on screen is like a sculpture

Last week, while I was looking at some layouts for websites my students presented, it occurred to me that a layout for a webpage should be compared to a sculpture, and not to a painting. There is a very big difference between how you see a poster, or the cover of a book, and how you see a webpage. A poster is seen as a whole, and should have a single, striking composition. Whereas a webpage is viewed in stages, while scrolling. Which means that it doesn’t have one single composition. This also means that it’s much harder to make the layout of a webpage look balanced, wherever you are on a page.

Tell me more

The Active Idler

I sent the first edition of my newsletter to 34 more people than I ever thought would be interested in such a thing. If you, like me, don’t really like e-mail, here’s a good old clicky thing that links to it.

Follow me via email

I call it blogging via e-mail. And it reminds me of spam. And I want the things I write to have a URL. I’m not a huge fan of e-mail newsletters. But it turns out not everybody dislikes them. So if you’re one of those, and you want to stay up to date about some of the things I do — all related to design, the web, education and random stuff, I won’t bore you too much with my private life — and if you don’t mind an occasional e-mail, you can join the 28 early adopters here.

But I don’t like email!

Only unfinished designs need a logo

I wrote about the futility of logo’s before. A good design doesn’t need a logo. I won’t go as far as saying that every logo makes every design worse, but especially on the web, logo’s are of very limited use.

Get rid of those logos