Privacy and advertising

If there’s little difference in the way contextual and targeted ads perform, why do we collect that data?

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Liam Shaw on Unsplash

Jeremy Keith’s piece on Clean Advertising is an excellent read. One of the key takeaways is that behavioural advertising may not be as effective as its contextual counterpart.

To recap:

Selling Digital Products

What’s the difference between these two services?

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Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Gumroad is one of the most well-known platforms for selling digital products. I’ve used it to sell on both Work Notes and CSS For Designers.

After some recommendations and exploring the features, I switched both sites over to Payhip. About a month later, I switched CSS For Designers back.

The two platforms offer similar functionality. Integrating the services is similar but not the same and even the design of the dashboards is similar.

So, why the change and why the change back?


One of the most obvious differences between the services is pricing. Gumroad offers:

Digital Minimalism

Improving the Twitter experience by going all-in on lists.

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Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Twitter is pretty much the only social media platform I use. It’s a useful platform, but not without problems.

I try to balance the time I spend on there. I don’t have the app on my phone and recently switched to TweetDeck on desktop.

TweetDeck took a little getting used to, but the best feature I’ve found is the ability to browse using Twitter lists by default.

Still, it’s easy to get sucked into reading replies about fairly depressing stuff. Especially on mobile, where the default is the timeline, rather a list.

So, taking inspiration from Anil Dash’s article, I unfollowed everyone on Twitter and copied everyone I’m following onto a list. …


Why do so many companies ignore cookie laws?

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Photo by Stephen Phillips on Unsplash

Cookies present issues for website owners and users alike, and they’re nothing new. While the GDPR and PECR legislation have encouraged companies to proactively consider user privacy, the basic cookie requirements are neglected on a large number of sites.

Cookies fall into two categories: essential and non-essential. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) describes essential cookies as:

…strictly necessary to provide an ‘information society service’ (eg a service over the internet) requested by the subscriber or user. …

Privacy & Small Business

What does it mean to run a small business that considers customer privacy?

Silhouettes of tree trunks in front of a green trees hanging over a white wall.
Silhouettes of tree trunks in front of a green trees hanging over a white wall.
Photo by Nick Wright on Unsplash

What does it mean to run a privacy-focused business? What does that look like and involve? Is it just GDPR — cue eye-rolls — or is there more to it than that?

These are some of the questions I’ve been thinking about recently.

The introduction of GDPR in 2018 created mass panic as businesses raced to meet the deadline. To many, compliance was — and in some cases still is — seen as needless hassle.

I’d guess that’s in no small part due to the nature of the topic and its role as regulation. But it’s also a complex area with plenty of nuance, something borne out by the number of larger companies that either don’t understand or choose to ignore the legislation. …

Uncommon CSS Properties & Techniques

What is outline-offset and how is it a useful CSS property?

Photo of a person with a green glow outline.
Photo of a person with a green glow outline.
Devin Avery on Unsplash

When we’re styling :focus states, we often use the outline property to override the browser's default styling.

This works well, but the outline can feel very close to the text that’s outlined. Right click or [tab] to the link in this Codepen to see:

To create more space, we could add padding on focused elements.

Alternatively, we could use outline-offset, a little-used property that creates some space between an element and its outline:

Is it supported though?

Browser support is very good except for IE and pre-2016 versions of Edge.

Found this useful?

CSS For Designers is a practical guide to CSS, helping people bring their CSS knowledge up-to-date and learn how the language actually works. …

CSS Fundamentals

Understanding how and why CSS works is critical to writing better code.

A laptop in the dark.
A laptop in the dark.
Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

I learned how to build websites the old fashioned way: looking at website source code and trying to replicate the things I saw. I threw in the odd book for the stuff I couldn’t see (like PHP/MySQL), and I was on my way.

This was back in 1999, when we’d write things like <font size="4" color="#000000"> and DHTML was a thing.

When CSS came along my approach to learning didn’t differ. But I really wish I’d taken the time to learn CSS properly: there was so much fundamental stuff I missed.

Here are some things I didn’t know that I wish I’d learned earlier. …


Getting design feedback can be tricky.

Man working at a computer.
Man working at a computer.
Austin Distel on Unsplash

Everyone knows you shouldn’t just send a mockup and ask what do you think? But in an age of online meetings, Sketch, Figma, Invision and whatever else, how do you get away from that?

Introducing video

On the Boagworld podcast, Leigh Howells talks about presenting designs through video. He says this tackles a few common issues:

Are ‘premium’ freelance platforms worth the effort?

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=Frederick Warren on Unsplash

Over the past few years, there seems to have been an increase in the number of premium freelance platforms.

High-quality clients post work that pre-vetted freelancers apply for and everyone’s a winner…or are they?

These platforms are an attractive prospect for clients and freelancers alike. The theory is that clients are willing to spend more on guaranteed quality work and freelancers have access to a steady stream of well-paid opportunities.

This is the key differentiator between premium platforms and marketplaces like Upwork.

I’ve been accepted at two premium platforms. In both cases, it quickly became apparent that any hopes about a high quality experience were misplaced.

In one case, the platform’s application process was as follows:

Controlling space in CSS can be tricky – how can we make it easier?

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Omar Flores on Unsplash

Achieving consistent vertical space between elements with CSS can be hard. Margins are usually to blame — or at least they should be — how can we make them more manageable?

Collapsing margins

One of the main sources of layout frustration is that vertical margins collapse. There are some exceptions to this, but that’s the general rule.

Rachel Andrew published a fantastic breakdown of how CSS margins work, where she states:

When margins collapse, they will combine so that the space between the two elements becomes the larger of the two margins. The smaller margin essentially ending up inside the larger one.

Collapsing margins are seen frequently when we have two block elements stacked on top of each other. …


Dave Smyth

Independent Web Designer · · · ·

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