For web development folks in Seattle who want to level up on Sass, SCSS, Bourbon, and the like, I’m helping to organize an intermediate-level class sometime in the next couple of months. The teacher is the highly-experienced UI engineer/designer Dale Sande (@anotheruiguy), a great instructor with several years of teaching experience. We dictate the curriculum and you would be hard-pressed to find access to this level of experience for what it costs (see below). Class will be held at the Maritime Building at 911 Western Ave. It will be a total of 4 evening classes, and cost around $400 for the whole …
I recently needed feedback on a product I’m creating and wanted to figure out the easiest way to get feedback from contacts who were generous enough to give it. There’s a balance, though, between making feedback as easy as possible to give (a reply to an email is about as easy as it gets) and making it as easy as possible for me to act on (easiest, in my world, is an Asana task). I don’t want to make it a pain in the butt to tell me what they found but I also don’t want to waste time parsing out bullet …
Like most people reading this, I have many, many ideas going on at once and many, many tasks that need my time and attention, both of which are in short supply. Recently, I’ve been cleaning up files and cleaning out my Dropbox and found countless lists and documents and mind maps signifying repeated attempts to wrap my head around big, complex issues surrounding work, web strategy, and my life in general. I’m a list addict, I’ve come to terms with that, and I would argue that writing it all down is better than not. I don’t do obsessive digital organizing …
May 18th of 2012, I decided to take a personal day to figure out what the next steps were, in a general sense, with my professional life. I had spent the last few months listless, intentionally overworked, and doing all the things I know make me less capable – too much coffee, staying logged into email 24/7, not getting any exercise, rarely taking breaks from the computer.
I started a journal exactly a month before this meeting with myself. Professionally, I felt stagnant. I was committed to my clients and still very much enjoyed what I was doing every day. I knew then, as I know now, that working on the web is where I’d be until I died, my crooked hands resting on a trackpad (or whatever newfangled control device we’re using in the future). But something had to change.
So I took a meeting with myself. I blocked off half the day and went to a Starbucks in the Columbia Center downtown (I’m not at all a fan of Starbucks but this place is one of a kind … see above). I turned off my phone, swore off email, and went to work. During this meeting, PROPER Web Development was born.
I think a lot about focus, what it means, and how to find it. Focus is something that does not come naturally to most people and can be very difficult when you live an over-connected lifestyle. It’s something that you have to commit to, practice, experiment with, and make a priority. I think Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has some excellent thoughts on the subject which he compiled into a free ebook called, appropriately, “Focus.” I read it and wanted to share my thoughts on the subject. That’s me below, reading it with my phone on.
As soon as I started working for myself, I understood the importance of focus. It took running a business, though, to really make the time to start building a system that works for me. Like all good processes, this system is a work in progress and I learn something useful every day. Read more >
I have a lot of fun building things, both in and out of WordPress. I have even more fun watching great businesses perform better using the simple tools at their disposal. Being as web-centric as I am, this usually equates to online tools surrounding organization, conversions, search engine performance, and other website-related tasks. There is something that trumps your website, though, both in my mind and in reality.
Your business’s money.
How much do you know about how well your business is performing? If you had to correct your most critical financial problem right now, how would you do it? Do you even know what that problem is? How confident are you that your business will be around for the next 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?
What if there was someone you could talk to for an hour and get definitive answers to the questions above and a lot more? We’re talking no-punches-pulled, brutally honest, incredibly accurate information about your company’s financial situation. What if that meeting didn’t cost anything?
I think I have someone you should talk to… Read more >
Let’s just get this out of the way: I’m a total WordPress fanboy. Most projects that come through my door can be – and are – built on the platform and I’m always finding great new ways to extend and improve the basic functionality. Most of my clients love the backend and I’ve yet to find a WYSIWYG system that works as well as WordPress’s. I feel silly even making a list like this but these ideas have popped into my head over the last year and I wanted to get them down in one place.
One caveat here: I’m trying to leave out anything that’s easily relieved with a plugin or some easy template code. The decision to incorporate something into WordPress core or leave it to the plugin authors is likely a constant struggle and far be it for me to try and play back-seat driver for the development phases. Read more >
I was having coffee at a local coffee shop recently and came across one of the worse examples of in-person self-promotion I’ve seen in a while. This was a chance encounter and I certainly don’t know all the details of the situation but I left with a name, a URL, and a bad taste in my mouth. Because I’m sure this person wasn’t completely aware of their impact, I wanted to share the experience so you know where this kind of thing can go wrong.
I’m a very retrospective person, particularly when it comes to how I do business. I’m always looking back at projects, looking for what I could have done better and making changes to my planning process along the way. During this retrospection, I find myself coming back to the design process far, far more often than any of the other steps. There’s a million reasons why this portion can become so sticky, but that’s only indirectly why I’m writing this. This post is about helping me help you to come up with the best design we possibly can.
Design is just one of those things, isn’t it? First of all, it’s hugely relative … to a point. There are rules – alignment, sizing, consistency, contrast, etc – but even adhering to those leaves you with a near-infinite number of combinations of colors, fonts, shapes, photos, and sizes, all of which have fans and foes. What looks clean and elegant to one person can look boring and uninspired to another.
On top of that, design has to actually do something, it has a goal. Some of the best-looking web sites out there are hard to use, incompatible with various devices, and disturbingly hard to maintain. On the web in particular, looking good is just one component of a long list of requirements.
Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the pink elephant in the room here: budget. Maybe, just maybe, given an infinite budget and a due date of “at some point during your life,” perfection is possible (doubtful). But that’s just conjecture and, besides, it’s not the reality. There are limitations to how much money someone can spend, how long they can wait, and how long a designer can look at the same mock-up without ending up in an institution.
Despite these obstacles, there is a path of least resistance and it’s our job to find that path. So where do we start? Read more >