Web Dev Links: Making Opus Faster, Web Development Complexity, Slack’s Dark Side, Scrolling Myths & more

Also: Google AMP controversy, licensing designers, and an awesome fieldtype for the Statamic CMS
Matrix Code
(Markus Spiske)

You may have noticed that Opus loads a bit faster these days, especially on mobile devices. There are several reasons for this. First, images are now lazy loading (i.e., images only load if/when they’re actually needed for display in the current viewport). After considering several methods for doing this, I went with bLazy.js, a lightweight, easy-to-use script written in vanilla JavaScript (so you don’t need to use any external libraries like jQuery).

Second, I’ve added preconnect hints that improve the loadtime of the site’s webfonts. From the artice: “These hints essentially tell the browser what origins will be used for resources, so that it can then prep things by establishing all the necessary connections for those resources.” In some informal tests, webfonts loaded more than half a second faster thanks to preconnect hints.

Finally, I completely rewrote the site’s CSS. Eventually, I’d like to write an article on the topic of “extreme” CSS optimization, but suffice to say, I’m very pleased with the fact that the site’s global CSS is just over 9kb, and that’s before minification and compression. (I say “global” because I did split out some CSS that’s only used on specific layouts, like the archives page or articles that use a non-standard layout.)

Now, on to some other topics…

Frank Chimero laments the cycles of increasing complexity in web development. “I was unsure if I even wanted tackle a website after seeing the current working methods. Eventually, I agreed to the projects. My gut told me that a lot of the new complexities in workflows, toolchains, and development methods are completely optional for many projects. That belief is the second thread of this talk: I’d like to make a modest defense of simple design and implementation as a better option for the web and the people who work there.”

Speaking of complexity, Eric Meyer considers the changing complexity of CSS. “CSS has a great deal more capabilities than ever before, it’s true. In the sense of how much there potentially is to know’, yes, CSS is more of a challenge. But the core principles and mechanisms are no more complicated than they were a decade or even two decades ago. If anything, they’re easier to grasp now, because we don’t have to clutter our minds with float behaviors or inline layout just to try to lay out a page.” Meyer’s article works as a nice counterpoint in some ways to Chimero’s article.

Slack is all the rage — we use it at my office, for example — but Abe Winter sees a dark side. “It normalizes interruptions, multitasking, and distractions, implicitly permitting these things to happen IRL as well as online. It normalizes insanely short reply times for questions. In the slack world people can escalate from asking in a room to @person to @here in a matter of minutes. And they’re not wrong to — if your request isn’t handled in 5 minutes it’s as good as forgotten.”

Google’s AMP platform seemed like a good idea for webpages, but it’s not without controversy. And now, they want to make AMP for email, and there’s more controversy. “Why do this? Are we running out of tabs? Were people complaining that clicking yes’ on an RSVP email took them to the invitation site? Were they asking to have a video chat window open inside the email with the link? No. No one cares.”

Here we are in 2018 and we’re still combating the “people don’t scroll” myth. “Given the size of today’s screens, even the shortest text on mobile requires scrolling. Popular social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have therefore ingrained the concept that continued scrolling will reveal continued content. As the patterns has become commonplace, people have stopped expecting web content to stay above the fold.’ ”

In a wide-ranging essay, Mike Monteiro argues that designers ought to be licensed. “As professionals in the design field, a field becoming more complex by the day, it’s time that we aim for a professional level of accountability. In the end, a profession doesn’t decide to license itself. It happens when a regulatory body decides we’ve been reckless and unable to to regulate ourselves. This isn’t for our sake. It’s for the sake of the people whose lives we come in contact with. We moved too fast and broke too many things.”

In case you missed it, I recently wrote about Statamic’s new “Bard” fieldtype and its cool approach to content management. “Bard looks like what I wish Medium’s UI was: an unobtrusive text editor combined with very customizable content block functionality.” I’ve had some time to experiment with Bard since I wrote that article, and it really is as cool as it looks. The Statamic developers have done a phenomenal job with it.

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