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glamorous

A kindness

Dino works six days a week as a porter in my apartment building, cleaning walls and floors, removing trash, distributing recyclables. He’s one of those essential workers who are suddenly on the front lines. We’ve always been friendly.

I’ve been hibernating in my apartment for days, because it’s what we’re all supposed to do, and also because I have a bad cold. Today, when I ventured out of my apartment for 30 seconds to toss a trash bag down the chute, Dino was hard at work decontaminating the hallway. For the first time that I know of, he was wearing a respiratory face mask. I stood about twelve feet from him, smiled and waved, embarrassed to be in sleepwear in the middle of the day but glad to see a friendly pair of eyes.

Dino asked if I had a respiratory mask. I told him no—the stores have been sold out for months—but not to worry about me. He said he had an extra. I was, like, you need it more. He insisted. Won’t you take? For when you go shopping?

Finally I stopped being polite and guilty and class-conscious and embarrassed and allowed him to give me the mask. Finally we stopped being two players in an economic system and were just two souls in New York trying to survive the day and the next few months.

It has been eight hours since Dino’s act of kindness, and I’m still thinking about it, still thinking how I can pay it forward to someone who needs my help.

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glamorous

My Glamorous Life

At 4:00 PM, I went to bed to rest up from my head cold, and promptly fell asleep.

When I awoke, the clock said 7:15. Oh, no!

I banged on my daughter’s door. “You’re going to be late to school!” I shouted.

She cackled with laughter.“It’s 7:15 AT NIGHT,” she explained.

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Advocacy art direction Design Designers Ideas industry interface IXD Jason Santa Maria links Off My Lawn! Redesigns Responsive Web Design State of the Web Tech The Profession User Experience UX Web Design Web Design History webfonts

The Web We Lost: Luke Dorny Redesign

Like 90s hip-hop, The Web We Lost™ retains a near-mystical hold on the hearts and minds of those who were lucky enough to be part of it. Luke Dorny’s recent, lovingly hand-carved redesign of his personal site encompasses several generations of that pioneering creative web. As such, it will repay your curiosity.

Details, details.

Check Luke’s article page for textural, typographic, and interactive hat tips to great old sites from the likes of k10k, Cameron Moll, Jason Santa Maria, and more. 

And don’t stop there; each section of the updated lukedorny.com offers its own little bonus delights. Like the floating titles (on first load) and touchable, complex thumbnail highlights on the “observer” (AKA home) page. 

And by home page, I don’t mean the home page that loads when you first hit the site: that’s a narrow, fixed-width design that’s both a tribute and a goof.

No, I mean the home page that replaces that narrow initial home page once the cookies kick in. Want to see the initial, fixed-width home page again? I’m not sure that you can. Weird detail. Cool detail. Who thinks of such things? Some of us used to.

And don’t miss the subtle thrills of the silken pull threads (complete with shadows) and winking logo pull tab in the site’s footer. I could play with that all day.

Multiply animated elements, paths, and shadows bring life to the footer of Luke Dorny’s newly redesigned website.

Now, no site exactly needs those loving details. But danged if they don’t encourage you to spend time on the site and actually peruse its content

There was a time when we thought about things like that. We knew people had a big choice in which websites they chose to visit. (Because people did have a big choice back in them days before social media consolidation.) And we worked to be worthy of their time and attention.

Days of future past

We can still strive to be worthy by sweating details and staying alive to the creative possibilities of the page. Not on every project, of course. But certainly on our personal sites. And we don’t have to limit our creative love and attention only to our personal sites. We pushed ourselves, back then; we can do it again.

In our products, we can remember to add delight as we subtract friction.

And just as an unexpected bouquet can brighten the day for someone we love, in the sites we design for partners, we can be on the lookout for opportunities to pleasantly surprise with unexpected, little, loving details.

Crafted with care doesn’t have to mean bespoke. But it’s remarkable what can happen when, in the early planning stage of a new project, we act as if we’re going to have to create each page from scratch.

In calling Luke Dorny’s site to your attention, I must disclaim a few things:

  • I haven’t run accessibility tests on lukedorny.com or even tried to navigate it with images off, or via the keyboard.
  • Using pixel fonts for body copy, headlines, labels, and so on—while entirely appropriate to the period Luke’s celebrating and conceptually necessary for the design to work as it should—isn’t the most readable choice and may cause difficulty for some readers.
  • I haven’t tested the site in every browser and on every known device. I haven’t checked its optimization. For all I know, the site may pass such tests with flying colors, but I tend to think all this beauty comes at a price in terms of assets and bandwidth. 

Nevertheless, I do commend this fine website to your loving attention. Maybe spend time on it instead of Twitter next time you take a break?

I’ll be back soon with more examples of sites trying harder.


Simulcast on Automattic Design

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Accessibility Diversity video

A panel on accessibility, design inclusion and ethics, hiring and retaining diverse talent, and landing a job in UX.

It’s one thing to seek diverse talent to add to your team, another to retain the people you’ve hired. Why do so many folks we bring in to add depth and breadth of experience to our design and business decision-making process end up leaving?

Hear thoughtful, useful answers to this question and other mysteries of UX design and tech recruitment in this Live User Defenders podcast video recorded at An Event Apart Denver. Featuring Mina Markham, Farai Madzima, and Derek Featherstone. Discussion led by Jason Ogle. Thanks to Todd Libby for the 4K recording.

The last An Event Apart conference of 2019 begins next week in San Francisco.

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Blue Beanie Day glamorous industry State of the Web

Another Blue Beanie Day

Yesterday was the nth annual Blue Beanie Day. (I’ve lost track of what year the standardista holiday started.) I was awake at 1:00 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning, so I tweeted “Happy #BlueBeanieDay,” then slept. No blog post, no prelude—just a past-midnight tweet, over and out.

Saturday, once or twice, I checked Twitter and retweeted most of the Blue Beanie Day tweets I found.

Most, because I omitted a soft-porn one that seemed to be capitalizing on the hashtag to advertise its Instagram feed (which, to judge by the tweet, consists of reposts of old Suicide Girls pictorials). So maybe the hashtag trended briefly for that person. One measure of social media success on Twitter is when someone who doesn’t understand or care about your hashtag uses it to draw attention to a tweet that has nothing to do with your cause—which tells you a lot about Twitter, and social media, and where we are as a culture. But I digress.

That shrinking feeling

Generally, each year, Blue Beanie Day gets smaller, possibly in part because I’m too busy to promote it beforehand (or during, or after). And because it immediately follows U.S. Thanksgiving, so gets broadcast when many U.S. web folks are offline and in food comas.

Blue Beanie Day also gets smaller each year because web design as a practice and as a discipline keeps shrinking … even though frontend UX, or whatever we’re calling it this week, clearly continues to grow.

Mainly, though, Blue Beanie Day is receding from view because our industry as a whole thinks less and less about accessibility (not that we ever had an A game on the subject), and talks less and less about progressive enhancement, preferring to chase the ephemeral goal posts of over-engineered solutions to non-problems.

If web design were automotive design, we’d be past the invention of mass production and on to designing self-obsoleting tail fins. But I digress, and I regret the negative spin this mini-memoir is taking.

Because, really, I’m happy and grateful.

Blue Beanie Day matters

In spite of our industry’s (I hope temporary) focus on complexity for its own sake, there are still a lot of you who do this work in the service of people we used to call “end-users,” and who will care about web standards and inclusive, accessible design for as long as you’re here to practice it.

To you, the true believers, whether you knew about/celebrated Blue Beanie Day or not, I give thanks.

Thanks for showing up every day to try to make the web a little better. Thanks for your optimism, especially when it gets harder to stay positive. You make an inclusive web possible.

Thanks for keeping Blue Beanie Day alive, not just on your head, but in your heart.

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Community music

Let’s hang (Spotify)

Love music? Follow your own tastes? Let’s share.

Connect on Spotify.
Connect on Last.fm.

As a bonus, if we connect on Spotify, you not only get access to An Event Apart’s playlists from the past decade, you also get a preview of the 2020 playlist in progress.

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A Book Apart Advocacy art direction Best practices Design Designers Happy Cog™ industry

Expressive Design Systems

Yesenia Perez-Cruz started her career as a designer at Happy Cog Philadelphia. From the first day, her design gifts were unmistakable. As her career progressed, she moved from one challenging role to another. At companies like Vox Media and Shopify, and at conferences around the world, she has been a design team leader, a popular speaker, an advocate for design systems, and a voice of our industry. Today that voice took book form.

Expressive Design Systems, the first book by Yesenia Perez-Cruz, is now available from A Book Apart.

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business Career client management client services clients Design experience glamorous industry IXD Microblogging Own your content project management The Essentials The Profession twitter UX Web Design Wit and Wisdom work

Design Kickoff Meetings

Posted here for posterity:

Design kickoff meetings are like first dates that prepare you for an exciting relationship with a person who doesn’t exist.

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blogger Blogroll Blogs and Blogging Design Designers glamorous

My Brunch with Jen

Today my daughter Ava and I had brunch with my old friend Jen Robbins at P.S. Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in the Theater District/Hell’s Kitchen. Jen was present for, and actively participated in, the very beginnings of the creative and blogging web, and her famous book, now in its umpteenth edition, is still the best introduction to web design I know—probably the best that will ever be written.

One of Jen’s early sites, “Cooking With Rock Stars,” consisted of short video interviews she made with the likes of Jack Black, Rufus Wainwright, and others. Her show predated YouTube by five to ten years and podcasts by fifteen. It was way ahead of its time while also being a great reminder of what the web, in its infancy, was like. The rock star interviews are also fun and fascinating and deserve to be seen again.

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Advocacy An Event Apart climate change Design Designers eric meyer film

Rams

By arrangement with the director, we show our audience Gary Hustwit’s “Rams”—a documentary about product design icon Dieter Rams—during the extended lunch hour on Day II of our three-day UX & front-end conference event. I just finished watching it for the fifth time.

We’ve shown Gary’s film in every city of our tour this year, and each time I’ve watched it with our attendees, I’ve seen new things in the film, and been ever more deeply moved by it.

Rams’s work, and his message to designers seems more important now than ever before. Not only should every designer see this film; I wish every human being would see it.

Brian Eno’s ambient minimalist score feels like an audio correlative to Rams’s design principles. Although it’s used sparingly, every sound counts.

The film’s final shot, where Dieter walks off into the woods, always makes me tear up.


You can watch Gary Hustwit’s film at special events worldwide, on Vimeo, at upcoming An Event Apart San Francisco (our last show of 2019 and the last time we’ll screen Gary’s film), or by ordering it from the director’s company.