Ask Me Anything: @zeldman, here

4 years ago from Jeffrey Zeldman, Principal, Creative Director

  • Jeffrey Zeldman, 4 years ago

    Hi, Justin. That’s a great question.

    I sometimes wish I had the time and resources to write a fourth edition of Designing With Web Standards. Not because I want to spend a year of my life, like a monk, isolated in a writing booth. :) But because I worry about the direction our industry is going. There are many incredibly exciting things happening in web & digital product design, as you know. But along with that progress has come a Great Forgetting™ of the basic and vital lessons of accessible, semantic web building. It’s DIV soup and long strings of classnames and everything in JavaScript ... and it worries me.

    HTML and CSS were made for progressive enhancement. These other tools, at best, "gracefully degrade." If that. We’ve brought back a lot of the terrible assumptions of the earliest period in web design, when web experiences were for people who had the right equipment, the right connectivity, and the right physical and cognitive abilities. That's a step back. Even with all the whizzy neato cool shiny stuff we can now do, if we’re leaving people out because of our biases and assumptions, we’re not building a future any of us should want to be part of.

    So there's that.

    A lot of great people are carrying the lessons of accessible, standards-based design forward in their talks and their books, so even though I'm not in a place where I can write DWWS 4th Ed., I'm confident that my smart colleagues are getting the message across (including at conferences like An Event Apart and in A Book Apart books I publish).

    Currently I'm interested in slow and fast design. I'm particularly drawn to slow design and its relationship to readability. It’s what I'm speaking about now. It also influences the work I'm doing. Perhaps there is a book in that.

    Recently my daughter and I wrote a story for a children's book that is being sold to raise money for UNICEF. So that's pretty cool. Another children's book, maybe a short work of fiction or even autobiography. On the one hand, autobiography seems extremely narcissistic, and I'm not sure the world needs another story about how someone like me grew up. On the other hand, the specific is universal, and the more I share about my weird life, the more other people with very different and unique stories could somehow relate. So I think about that.

    At the moment I'm very happy with the work I do at Automattic, so I don't have the lust to write another book. And it takes a strong desire to make yourself write a book!

    5 points