Joshua Johnson

Equal parts editor, writer, designer, & photographer. Hit me up on Twitter, read my Mac tutorials or check out my photos.





CSS / 21 Jun 2013

What the Heck Is CSS Specificity?

CSS specificity is a topic that many new front end coders avoid for as long as possible. It sounds complicated, there are all of these rules, you might even have to do some math! How lame is that?

Ultimately, you can only avoid it for so long. Specificity is an essential concept that you need to grasp to be an effective developer. Today I’ll walk you through the concepts of specificity in a simple and easy to understand manner. It’s easier than you think!

JavaScript / 10 May 2013

40 Awesome jQuery Plugins You Need to Check Out

The jQuery developer community has to be one of the most generous and hardworking group of people on the web. They’re constantly churning out amazingly useful and completely free tools that they share with anyone and everyone who wants to use them.

The quantity and quality of free jQuery plugins simply never ceases to amaze me. I’ve been keeping a list of some great ones that I’ve found lately and I thought I’d share it with you. Here are 40 awesome and free jQuery plugins that just about every web developer should check out.

Business / 3 May 2013

Should You Be Designing With QR Codes?

QR codes are all the rage… aren’t they? Their presence certainly seems to have increased in recent years, indicating an impressive adoption rate among marketers. But does that mean that you should be using them? If a client asks you whether or not using QR codes is a good idea, what will you say?

Join us as we take an honest and critical look at both sides of the QR debate so you can decide for yourself whether or not you should be designing with QR codes.

CSS / 12 Apr 2013

Focal Point: Intelligent Cropping of Responsive Images

The practice of implementing responsive images is still in its infancy. We’ve seen a lot of ideas and suggestions for how it should be done and we’re bound to see a lot more.

Today we’re going to look at a fascinating little framework that allows you to not only automatically resize your images when the viewport changes, but also crop the images with a specific important focal point in mind. Amazingly enough, it does all this with pure CSS. Read on to see how it works.

CSS / 5 Apr 2013

Mobile First Design: Why It’s Great and Why It Sucks

Historically, most web designers and their clients have approached the desktop side of any project first, while leaving the mobile part as a secondary goal that gets accomplished later. Even with the rise of responsive design, many of us begin with the “full size” site and work our way down.

There’s a growing trend in the industry though to flip this workflow on its head and actually begin with mobile considerations and then work up to a larger desktop version. Why would you ever approach a project this way? What are some of the pros and cons of this strategy? Read on to find out!

Business / 28 Mar 2013

Don’t Be a Pansy: Great Design Is About Making Decisions

What sets the great designers apart from the good ones? What goes wrong when a project with so much potential turns into something lackluster and subpar?

Decisions decisions decisions. Great designers recognize the key decisions that have the ability to make their projects special and have the courage to make those decisions. Read on to see how.

CSS / 24 Mar 2013

Using Checkboxes to Toggle CSS and Create Click Events

More and more lately I’ve seen developers utilizing tricks to create toggle states using pure CSS. This allows you to skip the JavaScript without sacrificing the interaction. How does this work? Is it an acceptable practice?

Today we’re going to examine two distinct methods for utilizing a checkbox to create a click event that swaps between two images using good old HTML and CSS. We’ll finish off with a brief discussion on semantics and the pros/cons of this technique.

CSS / 6 Mar 2013

How to Center Anything With CSS

Recently, we took a dive into the very core concepts behind CSS layout and explored the differences between absolute and relative positioning. We’re going to follow that up with another CSS layout talk, this time based around a fundamental question that almost every new developer asks: how do you center something?

There are a bunch of different types of web elements and layout situations, each calling for a unique solution for centering (both vertically and horizontally). Today we’ll go over a bunch of these scenarios so you can wrap your mind around how they work and come away with the confidence to center anything!

CSS / 27 Feb 2013

Zen Grids: A Responsive Grid System Built on Sass

Building grids was moderately complicated before responsive design, these days they can be downright intimidating. When you dive into a complex layout, it’s easy to get lost in all of the math and percentages. Sure, the hardcore nerds among us love to play with this stuff, but some developers just want to get to work!

Today we’re going to look at an awesome grid system that will help you set up your responsive grids with very little effort. It’s semantic, built for responsive design, completely flexible to the way you work, and powered by Sass. Meet Zen Grids.

CSS / 22 Feb 2013

5 Simple and Practical CSS List Styles You Can Copy and Paste

Who doesn’t love a good list? We use them constantly in our markup for a variety of different situations. Today we’re going to take a look at a few simple and practical examples that you can steal and use in your own work.

We start off with a fun animated vertical list, then style up a list with thumbnails and text, another with just images and finally an ordered list where the numbers are styled differently than the rest of the type. There’s a ton of great things to learn here so let’s jump in!

CSS / 15 Feb 2013

Code a Fantastic Animated Circular Thumbnail Gallery With CSS

Thumbnail galleries are a constant source of fascination for me. There’s so much more fun to be had than simply creating a grid of squares and calling it a day. Especially since CSS3 gives us so many powerful new tools to work with.

Today we’re going to mix up the boring old standard image gallery by turning it into a series of animated circles. Along the way we’ll learn a ton of helpful CSS knowledge that will help you in all manner of future projects.

Layouts / 8 Feb 2013

How to Use Centered Alignments: Tips and Examples

Today we’re going to go back to basics with a “design 101” discussion on alignments. Centered alignments are an easy place to go wrong and if you don’t know how to wield them properly, the result is a very poorly structured page.

Join us as we take a look at why centered alignments tend to be weak, where you should avoid them and how you should be using them.