Sara Wachter-Boettcher | Talk: Design for Real Life

In July, I opened the Design & Content Conference with a brand-new talk based on my book with Eric Meyer, Design for Real Life. In it, I go deep on some of the topics that have been keeping me up lately: bias and blindspots in tech products, and why it’s on all of us to spend less time thinking about “delight,” and more time designing inclusive experiences.

I’ve read Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer’s book Design for Real Life, and I’m pretty sure I’ve watched this talk with the same title a couple of times before. But any time a video of Sara’s presentations comes across one of my feeds, I take the time to re-watch it. It’s just that important to keep reminding ourselves of our responsibilities when making things that others will rely on.

Writing Less Damn Code | Heydonworks

My favorite thing about aiming to have less stuff is this: you finish up with only the stuff you really need — only the stuff your user actually wants.

One of my mantras: frugality in everything.

Conferences Shouldn’t Cost the Earth / Paul Robert Lloyd

In weird sort of way, after attending Abstractions in Pittsburgh this past weekend, I had similar thoughts as Paul Robert Lloyd:

There’s nothing amazing about being handed a bag full of items you never asked for, don’t need, and may never use. Nobody is forcing me to accept this bag of course–though arriving at a conference bleary-eyed and half-asleep, I’ll mindlessly accept anything thrown in my general direction! But should choosing to accept a bag or not even be a choice?

Abstractions wasn’t all that bad. I arrived home with:

  • A drawstring bag (that I have doubts about whether I will ever use)
  • Two t-shirts to go into an already overflowing closet filled with similar shirts (one of which I only sought after because of some shady marketing strategy from a sponsor of the conference)
  • Yet another stress ball
  • A keychain bottle opener
  • Stickers

This is probably pretty tame in terms of conference giveaways, but I feel like I would have been better off not accepting the bag. I have really no use for any of this. Sure, I’ve stuck the bottle opener on my keychain, but I don’t know how long it’s going to last there, and it’s not like I didn’t have a keychain bottle opener already. And I’ll probably wear the t-shirts, mainly to sleep in or wear to the trail. But really, I think I would have been much happier not having to deal with trying to figure out where to put all of this stuff. I appreciate the sentiment. Honestly, I do. But the fact of the matter is, swag like this is only going to end up in the back of my closet, where it’ll sit for a couple of years until I decide to throw it out. Then it’ll most likely sit in a landfill for all eternity. There are better ways to promote events. There are better ways to make impressions on event-goers. I think.

So that’s why I think I’m in total agreement with Paul on this.

Adactio: Journal—Why do pull quotes exist on the web?

Jeremy Keith muses about pull quotes and their place on the web:

There you are reading an article when suddenly it’s interrupted by a big piece of text that’s repeating something you just read in the previous paragraph. Or it’s interrupted by a big piece of text that’s spoiling a sentence that you are about to read in subsequent paragraphs.

I had been pondering the same thing. It seems wasteful to have this kind of redundant content (and markup) on a page. I’ve seen ways of using fancy pseudo elements (::before, ::after) and data- attributes on elements in an effort to at least not duplicate markup. But even still, I hate reading through an article and coming across phrases or sentences duplicated like this.

It also is very jarring when you come across these pull quotes in RSS, where the style has been stripped away and you are literally seeing the same string of text twice.

Runs Previous Command with Replace - David Walsh Blog

Holy crap! I need to remember this the next time I am working in iTerm:

I recently learned a cool trick for executing the previous command but with a text replacement shortcut:

# `gut push` -- Oooops!
`^gut^git   # Replaces "gut" with "git" and executes previous command!

# `hg ammend` -- Oooops!

Why You’re Good With Faces But Terrible With Names -- Science of Us

Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with their memory or grasp of detail; they can provide personal data about someone that would put a Wikipedia page to shame. But so many people say they struggle with names, even when they’re looking directly at the person whose name they’re trying to recall. I’ve done this myself. It makes for a very awkward wedding ceremony.

Warhol Showcases Accessibility-Focused Initiatives At National Conference | 90.5 WESA

This is a really cool story about how the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is using some accessibility techniques in their space. Always cool to learn about accessibility approaches, even if they aren’t really web-related.

226: Rapidfire 64 - ShopTalk

The most recent episode of Shop Talk—a Rapidfire episode—lead off with a question concerning opening links in new browser windows:

I know I’m not the average web user, but personally I prefer to manage this myself and find it offensive when a website would presume to know how I want to manage my windows and tabs. While this makes clients happy, is target=_blankactually good for users?

I think Chris and Dave did an amicable job responding.

My personal opinions kind of echo their thoughts. Opening links in the same window is the default behavior of links. You need to have a reason to break that default. And there certainly are times where this makes sense. Again, bring one of these scenarios up in the episode: clicking on a link found on the show notes page of a podcast’s website where an embedded piece of media is playing. In this situation, it makes sense not to interrupt that playback when a link is clicked, if at all possible.

I really like the way 5by5 handles this on their website. By default, links in show notes open in new tabs/windows. But there is a checkbox that a user can uncheck to allow links to open in the same window.

Quick aside: I would probably change the way this is handled by only showing the checkbox when JavaScript is available. As it stands right now, if you don’t have JavaScript enabled and uncheck the box the links still open in a new window. But this is a minor quibble. The overall pattern is a really nice touch for this type of page.

Regardless, I really think opening new windows/tabs for links is a bad from a user experience perspective for merely the fact that it disorients the user when the back button is unavailable to the user. Power users know about the control shortcut for when they actually want a link to open in a new window. And intermediate users might now about right-clicking on a link and having the option to control how a particular link is handled. But deciding for every user that a link must pop open a new window and then running the risk of that user becoming disoriented as a result seems very foolish.

“Essence of a bowl being its emptiness”

Another quote from Frank Chimero that I really dig:

There’s this whole Buddhist thing about the essence of a bowl being its emptiness—that’s why it’s useful. Its emptiness allows it to hold something. I guess that means that design must talk about something else. If you make design about design, you’re just stacking bowls, and that’s not what bowls are for.

Found via this week’s #MotivationMonday on The Dieline.

Microformats | weblog | at 11

I believe has surived as a community, and microformats as a technology, by continuing to focus on solving smaller, simpler problems first, and then iterating only as needed with real world use-cases. It’s an approach I think works as a good starting point for nearly any project.

While I feel like I have a very limited knowledge of the inner workings of Microformats, I have long been a fan of using the vocabulary in the projects I’m tasked with building. I like the open nature of the technology and the sense of the community of support behind the initiative.

I had been a little worried that the Microformats concept had sputtered out, but reading this anniversary blog post that doesn’t seem to be the case. A lot of progress seems to have been made in regards to parser support for the new microformats2 spec. I just wish that the blog had more frequent updates.