Web Standardistas - HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions

A Dozen Questions for Ms de León

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Yaili – full name Inayaili de León – is a web designer, writer and Hipstamatic evangelist, with a passion for handmade web design. Originally from Portugal, she now lives and works in London.

When not working for brand consultants FoxLand, Yaili runs the highly regarded Web Designer Notebook, an invaluable resource for anyone interested in standards based web design, HTML5 and CSS3.

Not afraid to dive deep into the most esoteric specification documents, Yaili has a talent for translating even the geekiest module specification into human, and explaining its relevance to her audience of web designers and developers. She’s proven this talent (over and over again) in her articles for, amongst others, 24 Ways and Smashing Magazine.

We asked Ms de León a dozen questions.

Handmade Web Design

Where did you learn your craft?

All the knowledge I use on my day-to-day job I’ve learned from the web: reading blog posts, viewing source, reading books, listening to those who have something to say and teach, and asking questions. Sadly, none of the things I’ve learned in school proved useful.

Who inspires you?

People that truly love what they do. It doesn’t have to be people that work on the web; it can be a fashion designer, a shoemaker, a coffee shop waiter… anyone that exhibits happiness while working – that’s how I want to feel.

What are your influences?

Tough question! I like to find inspiration in places like: Flickr; fashion and graphic design magazines; people in the street; the bits of design that are scattered around the streets that you usually don’t look at, or don’t think about; the music I’m listening to… I guess that means I like to be influenced by the world around me.

ReNewAddington [Detail]

How does it feel to have the entire front page of Google? 1

Ha ha! :) It’s a bit scary. Having an unusual name makes every single thing you say online discoverable, so I have to be careful with what I post on forums, blog comments, etc. — these things don’t go away.

It makes it easier to hand out business cards with just my first name on them though, and my username is always available!

Why are there so few women in web design?

I guess, in general, there are fewer women than men in technical jobs, not just web design. I have no scientific explanation for that, but I’m sure there is one. It’s not something I think about, to be honest.

You seem to have an intense passion for your subject; what fuels that passion?

Seeing that, even with so many freely available information on the web, people still: do things the wrong way and have no interest in changing that; I still receive markup from seasoned web designers that makes me cringe; and I realise that there are people genuinely interested in reading more about the subject.

Richard Kindersley

You’re well known for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with CSS; what is the source of your magic?

I’m not sure I push the boundaries. I think one of the things that works in my favour is the fact that I’m more than happy to read what most people classify as “boring specs” and translate them into a more human piece of text and working examples — something less scary and more practical and friendly.

The stuff I’ve been writing about lately is stuff I’ve known for a long time, just because I took a little time aside to read and experiment.

You enjoy writing. What role does writing play in your overall strategy to take over the world?

I really do love writing. As I mentioned above, I like to take a little bit of a scary specification and make a simple and understandable example out of it. It’s not rocket science, but I like to know I’m helping someone by doing that.

I also enjoy writing less technical posts; they’re actually quite enjoyable to write since you don’t have to keep making sure all of your markup is working cross-browser, you can just let the words flow as they come into your mind.

I have no interest in taking over the world though, I’m sure that would bring a whole assortment of worries that I don’t really need.

You’re quite the internationalist; how, and why, did you settle in London?

It happened so fast, I had nothing planned! I saw a job opportunity in London that I liked, I applied for it, I got the job and I came to London. It all happened in a matter of two or three months, if I remember correctly.

I had always wanted to live in London though, it’s my favourite city in the world, and I feel happier just by being here.

Bulletproof Ajax

What’s your favourite typeface?

Today? :) I’ve been obsessing over Microsoft’s ‘C’ fonts - Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Constantia, Corbel - for a few weeks (perhaps months?) now.

What’s your favourite plain text editor?

Oh dear… I use Dreamweaver — in code view, of course — and I’ll defend it fiercely. I’ve tried others, like Coda, Espresso, CSSEdit, Textmate… but I always go back.

What’s your favourite tea?

I’m in love with Yumchaa’s Raspberry Vanilla blend, with a hint of honey — yum!

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