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Topic: Design

The dark side of the background video fad

Accessible HTML video as a background

It’s always important to keep in mind that just because a design fad works for one site doesn’t mean it will work for all sites. Background video is a great example of when it’s probably best to not blindly follow a design trend. There are several important accessibility considerations to think about before throwing content over a video and this article (plus the comments) does a great job breaking them down.

Happy Monday

Lovely watercolor by Natalia Tyulkina

Lovely watercolor by Natalia Tyulkina

Monday, Monday, Monday, here you are again! Last week was unexpectedly busy at work (hello 12 hour days! It’s been a while!) hence the quiet couple of days. Luckily my weekend was slow and peaceful, the perfect breather after a super busy week! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to tackle whatever is in store for this week. How about some good links to get the day going?

  • Apple finally announced a smart watch! It’s definitely interesting, from an industry point of view, but I’ll personally be passing on this version. This piece does a great job of voicing my own issues with the new device. It all boils down to this: the Apple Watch feels like a computer you happen wear on your wrist, not a watch that happens to check my email.
  • Use Your Interface is hands-down the best gif-based interface collection around. Definitely check it out if you haven’t come across it before!
  • Need some designy retail therapy to really get Monday going? I love this charming (and appropriately named!) script font Monday. Check out those pretty loops, swashes, and ligatures!

Voice vs. Tone

Voice vs. Tone

I picked up Nicely Said a few weeks ago and am seriously loving it. It focuses on writing for the web and covers everything from writing for communities to making interface elements easy to understand. Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee make everything super approachable with common sense advice and reusable patterns. Basically, it’s great! The chapter on defining a writing style has been extra helpful since I’m starting to write here more often. This quote about voice vs. tone stood out especially; I’ve never really considered the difference and have probably used them wrong in the past. Now I know!

I’ll be sharing more quotes and things I’ve learned in a few weeks, once I finish reading. In the meantime, you should pick up your own copy and let me know what you think!

Happy Monday

Welcome to a new week! Start your Monday with some good reads:

Happy Monday

This coming week is all about returning to office life for me. I can’t wait to meet all my new R/GA teammates! Normally I would have some links to share today but to be honest this past week has been a blur of getting all our unpacking done and enjoying the free time before getting back to work. Not much time left for finding interesting things to learn online! So, instead of things to read, here are some pretty things to look at:

Alyssa Steiner / Clare Freeman / Dominique Byron / Kathy Zheng / Valerie Jar

One way sticky notes help you build better products

One way sticky notes help you build better projects

Last month on my portfolio I wrote all about being a product designer at local startup Chirpify. One highlight of that case study is a post-up exercise that I held with the team just after I joined the company. That workshop has come up a few times since I posted the case study so I thought a more in depth look at how it worked would be fun. Enjoy!

Sticky notes are an experience designer’s best friends

My favorite part of being a user experience designer is facilitating between people with different roles. I love getting strategists, developers, designers, and managers together in a room, speaking the same language, and solving problems together. This post-up exercise is all about letting the team get their thoughts out and creating a safe space to discuss those thoughts.

So a post-up exercise is a design thinking workshop. A facilitator (you!) guides a group of participants through jotting ideas down on sticky notes and arranging the notes on a wall in ways that provide insight about a problem. There are a lot similar of exercises that UX-ers use in their work. Affinity mapping is one super common exercise that is the base of the post-up. In an affinity mapping exercise you focus on collecting similar ideas together into groups. We’ll also encounter bits of plus/deltas and general brainstorming techniques. I first experienced this exercise while working with the excellent team at XPLANE, a visual thinking consultancy here in Portland. They use plus/deltas as follow-up exercises to see how the team feels at the end of a project. I love to use this exercise as a way to realign a team around common goals and help focus everyone in the same direction.

Exercises like this have a lot of benefits for both your team and your project. Maybe my favorite feature of this post-up format is that it’s introvert friendly. Sometimes in open brainstorming sessions the most extroverted participants can take over (usually on accident!) because the conversation tends to move fast and free. Giving participants a chance to think before expressing to the rest of the team can help quieter teammates feel more comfortable speaking up. Another awesome benefit is you get pollination between teams that sometimes don’t otherwise talk to each other. Having developers hear what the sales team is thinking and worrying about—and vice-versa—is a great way to build empathy within your company. 

Okay, let’s get to it.

Keep reading →

Happy Monday

Leap and the net will appear

One week to go in August! September is looking especially exciting for me…next week I’m starting a new job! I’m joining R/GA here in Portland as an experience designer and I am so. excited!

More exciting news: near the end of next month I’m teaching a two-day Intro to HTML & CSS class for the brand new Portland chapter of Girl Develop It. I can’t wait to help some awesome women make their first websites!

Also I wanted to direct you to Learn to Code with Me, a fantastic blog by Laurence Bradford who happens to be one of the nicest people on the ‘net. She interviewed me recently for her Women in Tech feature. Check out the rest of the blog if you’re a new programmer (or are code-curious) and want help and motivation to keep pushing through the bugs.

Okay okay I think that’s all my news. (Whatta month!) Here are a few articles I’ve enjoyed over the past week—use ’em to kick your brain on this morning.

Have a great Monday!

(illustration via Motivational Monday)