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Topic: Technology

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!

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)

Continuous learning with Gibbon

Continuous Learning with Gibbon on Miss Venn

Have you discovered Gibbon yet? It’s a still-young startup based in the Netherlands that is my new favorite learning app. Gibbon harnesses the amazing wealth of content already published online to power its peer-to-peer learning network.

There are a bunch of other options out there to help you learn. Some, like Treehouse, focus on tech and offer lessons in web design and development. Udemy offers classes in all sorts of things (including how to teach online courses!), but many of them cost money. Most of the services use videos and other rich media to attempt to replicate a classroom setting that caters to visual learners. The courses tend to be more formal and sometimes even scheduled as with the Stanford online courses.

Gibbon, on the other hand, is a more casual, “set it and forget it,” kind of learning experience. Once you choose topics that interest you and set how often you want to learn you don’t have to do anything else. Well, nothing besides actually learning! Gibbon will send you a daily, weekly, or monthly selection of readings from your chosen topics as a reminder to check in and read or watch something.

All the learnable content in Gibbon comes from its users, which is another reason I love it. Anyone can sign up and create a “playlist”, which is a topic full of educational content. For example, this User Experience Design from A-Z playlist is full of 99 articles about user experience, all curated specifically to take a learner from “what is UX?” to solving complex experience problems.

Gibbon figures out an approximate reading time for each “chapter” in a playlist which the system uses to build the reminder emails. Every morning I get an email with around 10 minutes of content in it. And because I subscribe to more than one playlist I sometimes get articles on different topics. I’ve been loving the wake up call! Each day I get a cup of coffee and settle in to spend 10 minutes focussed on learning. The articles are shown in a beautiful distraction-free view that let’s you read without wandering away. And the end of each playlist “chapter” has a big “Mark as Learned” button for a satisfying this-is-done feeling.

Gibbon - Playlist view
Gibbon - How much do you want to learn?
Gibbon - Article comments
Gibbon - Learning view
My Gibbon profile

What I’m Learning

My own profile is mostly full of design- and management-focussed playlists. Gibbon and I haven’t been close for that long but I’ve already found several articles to tuck away for reference later. “Jumping Through the Hurdles of Brainstorming” from Pete Sena’s Leadership playlist and “Dare to be Boring” from Gibbon co-founder Wouter de Bres’s Becoming a Better Designer playlist both resonated with me.

Gibbon is free to join as a learner or teacher, but paid plans are available for private playlists. I see a few interesting applications of the paid plans. Teachers could ask students to create playlists throughout a semester, for example, to help teach continuous learning. Or accelerator mentors could build playlists for specific teams to help them grow and succeed. So many options!

What are you learning?

Happy Monday

It’s a big week y’all: we’re moving house! This time next week I’ll be up on the fourth floor in a cozy apartment. Can’t wait until we’re settled in! To kick this week off right I collected a few thought-provoking pieces from Medium to get your gears moving:

(image via)

Always, always, always, have respect for your users

“What is responsive web design if not an attempt to treat users with respect? In adopting this practice, we no longer dictate how websites should be viewed but have moved towards a more discursive approach, one that is adaptive to user needs. Yet this responsibility should extend beyond concerns about page layout; performance and accessibility are just as important (if not more so) as these aspects actively limit who can and can’t access the products we’re building.”

Paul Robert Lloyd

The Pursuit of Laziness: Thoughts from Responsive Day Out

Treating users with respect should be a key component to any design, not just responsive ones! Click through to read more about some potential responsive web design principles.