I have been noticing more and more how much bad, bland, and otherwise forgettable writing is running rampant on the web. So much emphasis has been on breaking out of the boring layout rut we are in that boilerplate copy crept in there and created a whole new mess.
This past week I was asked to write down what makes a good website. In other words, what makes the sites I build better than the ones a non-professional could make on their own with an online service like Wix, SquareSpace, or WordPress.com. I’ve had this list of ideas in my head forever, but until now I’ve never written them down. Doing so has given them even more importance in the work I do. They guide the decisions I make. Coming up with metaphors to make some complex, and seemingly unnecessary, parts of web design more accessible has given me more confidence to explain why they are important to clients in language they can understand.
You make the time to do what you want to do. That gets back to the other thing that I say all the time, which is busy is a decision. If you say, “I’m to busy to make self-generated work, or to make work that I feel is different, or attempts to be original in some way,” then it’s just not a priority. It’s just not something you really, really, really want to do. Because, we somehow find the time to watch Game of Thrones, or House of Cards, or Homeland, or whatever it is. If we have time to binge watch a TV show, or spend three hours last night watching the Grammys, you have time to make work.
I recently listened to that Overtime Podcast interview with Debbie Millman. In it, she had that great quote up there that I absolutely love because she basically described me and my work habits to a “T”. The only thing that would have put this quote closer to the bullseye would be to replace Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Homeland with Seinfeld, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Bob’s Burgers.
My boss gave me this book to read. I don’t normally read business books because so few of them explain anything in a way that you can actually put to use. Usually it’s all theoretical and the authors never address their natural gifts… or luck… or massive fortunes. The Business of Expertise is different though. Not only does David C. Baker explain the importance of expertise, he tells you how to define your expertise and become an expert in your field. Its plain spoken, logical, and objective. Most importantly, with just a little bit of focus and hard work the goals are achievable. No jargon. No bullshit. No “advice” that requires a pantload of money; living in New York City; or, being profoundly lucky.
I had every intention of getting my Day 3 take-aways up on the day of, but after a great talk with two other awesome AEA attendees after the show; a four hour drive home (featuring a minor fender bender—not my fault); I was too burned up to even start it. I still want to give a summary though. It helps me cement what I learned, and I apparently have a reader or two now. Neat!
Day 2 is in the books, and what a day it was. Brad Frost, Una Kravets, Val Head, Derek Featherstone, Eric Meyer, and the incomparable Gerry McGovern gave incredibly good talks on working together, image optimization, animation, accessibility, real life design and measuring customer experience, respectively. Continue reading The Event Apart 2017 – Day 2
It’s the end of August again, so that means I am back in Chicago for my yearly recharge, attending An Event Apart. This is the fourth year I’ve come, and once again the show is living up to it’s billing. A few of the talks felt a little too familiar and others were so crammed with information that the speakers were breathlessly racing through them. I suspect that is only because I have been to enough of these conferences (and read enough books, and listened to enough Podcasts) that what I am learning is sticking! I’ve caught up (for now). I’m not drinking from the fire hose, and I guess, in a sick sort of way, I miss that. Chris Coyier and Rachel Andrews gave me my fix though, and by the time things wrapped up I had a head full of ideas and was getting excited about some new possibilities all over again. Continue reading The Event Apart 2017 – Day 1
I first heard Brad Frost give a talk on Atomic Design back in 2014 at An Event Apart: Chicago. I didn’t understand everything he was saying, but it looked like a glimpse into the future of development. Up until that time, I had never heard of Atomic Design, modular design, or pattern libraries. When it came time for me to build a site, I just sat down and built it. Top to bottom. You know the drill; header, navigation, main content, side content, footer. Copy. Paste. Repeat. Changes sucked, but whatever.
Finally getting back into this. It’s been too long since my last post on the site, but a lot has been going on with family and work.
“A build tool is a name for any bit of software that facilitates tasks that help us build better websites. […] You know, things computers are faster and better at than humans.” — Chris Coyer, Practical SVG
This sentence perfectly clarifies the answer to a long running problem I have had with myself. That being, where to draw the line on when to create by hand, and when to use software. I suppose the answer was there in front of me all the time, I just needed to read it exactly like this to finally get it.