Two workshops today at the Future of Web Design conference: Real-World Accessibility for Web Designers with Derek Featherstone and Design Secrets of Digg with Daniel Burkha. It was tough to narrow down to these two - all of the sessions looked great - but I chose these for important reasons. [I’ll be adding more about Daniel’s talk in the next day or two - it’s too much to cover now!]
thoughts on pixels
I’ve had this idea of ‘thinking in pencil’ for a long time. The notion that one’s thoughts, opinions and ideas can shift and grow based on the information at hand, on any given day, at any given moment. Every new experience, sight and sound informs you as a person, an artist and as a designer. That commitment to exploration and the ability to admit and even embrace being wrong is one of the aspects of my own personality that I strive to improve every day. It makes me a better designer, a better manager, a better partner to clients - and a better person.
I try to focus on things relevant to web professionals, designers and other creative thinkers. Not always a successful endeavor, but variation keeps things interesting at least.
Well - had to be done. I needed to get my site updated from Drupal 5 to 6 in order to implement some better features and in general keep up with what I do for clients. It was also useful to go through the upgrade process on an existing site to get used to the pitfalls.
Overall it wasn't all that bad, but I did have to reimagine how I wanted to deal with some views, and recreate some of them from scratch. I haven't had time to really dig into the design, but this had to come first and setting a deadline helped move things forward faster.
While I've been 'away' from posting here, a big change has come about for me professionally: I've decided to leave (add)ventures and start my own web strategy and design consultancy. There's been a huge amount of interest in my work, and it seemed like the right time to move. My role previously was far too focused on just implementation, and this way I'll more often get to bring my full experience to projects rather than only a small slice.
So there it is: the shingle has been hung: web strategist, designer, technologist - now for hire.
I’ve traded a few tweets over the past day or two on the subject of good books for web professionals. I use that term to avoid ‘designer’ - as that seemed limiting or possibly a bit arbitrary. I think that information architecture, understanding business requirements and translating them into web site features and functionality, usability/user exerience, interaction design and visual design are all distinct enough that they can be a specialization unto themselves.
I’ve been working full-time at (add)ventures since late 2007, but thought it would be worth it to share my thoughts on the process of interactive projects. When I was interviewing at (add)ventures I was asked the question ‘how do I tackle interactive projects,’ and this got me thinking about not just the steps, but the philosophy behind them. While I think this might have been more than was anticipated, I thoroughly enjoyed the process!
I was invited to a book talk given by Steven Johnson about his latest work, The Invention of Air. This is the story of Joseph Priestly and the contributions he made in 'natural philosophy', religion and politics during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I picked up the book and was pretty intrigued with the first chapter and went to the talk. I have to say it was one of the best events I've attended recently.
My friend Steve Cross sent this along yesterday - a post from lifehacker that talks about how for some people doodling can actually increase focus on another task, such as listening. I don't pretend to have gone that deeply into all the other reasons why I sketch, but I got a good chuckle out of the positive reinforcement. Thanks Steve!
Drupal is a quite capable platform, and I've used it quite a lot, both for work and for personal projects. Its Achilles heel though is the admin interface - with ultimate flexibility comes a lot of configuration choices. While the simple solution is to tell the client 'just don't look at that stuff' - it's not ideal, and can be intimidating. Enter some key modules: jstools, form_store and formfilter.
I was a bit annoyed with Drupal when I started working with it about a year ago. Much of the annoyance stemmed from my own inexperience with the platform, but a lingering issue is regarding META tags and Drupal's lack of native support for creating them dynamically. Eventually I found the 'nodewords' module, which does a nice job.