Hide on Mobile: A display: none; allegory

Once upon a time, a traveler entered a nondescript pizza palace. On each of the red-and-white clothed tables were squat shakers of parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper. The air smelled of garlic, oregano, and all the trappings of traditional East Coast pizzerias.

The traveler approached the counter, surveying the options available. Pepperoni sounded good. “Shopkeep! I’d like a pepperoni slice, if you will.”

A mustachioed man, wiping his hands on a stained, white apron, waddled out from the kitchen. His name tag read: Sal. “You want that to go?”
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Debating opinions is bad communication

Two safe words in web development are “user error.” Something doesn’t work? Not my problem—it’s user error. And while this does happen, it’s also kind of a cop-out.

I have been the user in many “user error” stories, when a website feature did not work as I expected. I reported the issue to those who could fix it, and was told I was “doing it wrong” and my difficult was simply user error. When you’re having issues, being told you’re wrong isn’t helpful. Undercutting my experience as flawed isn’t a proper fix.
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Should you apply to WordCamp US?

For the next two months, the organizers of WordCamp US will be accepting speaker applications for their second annual event. Taking place December 2-4, 2016, in Philadelphia, it’s being billed as the largest WordCamp in the world (that is, until I finally get funding for WorldPress). To put it another way, it’s kind of a big deal.

Which begs the question: should you apply to speak at WordCamp US 2016? And before I tell you the answer—SPOILER ALERT IT’S YES – I mean seriously, why would I write a whole blog post just to dissuade you from applying. It’s not like you not applying would improve my chances of being accepted to speak…unless—

Where was I? Ah yes, so as I was saying, before I tell you the obvious truth that, yes, you SHOULD apply to speak at WordCamp US, let’s review some 2015 schedule stats which may inspire you to apply.

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Two years at 10up

There’s nothing wrong with treating a job as just a job, punching in at 8 and out at 5. I have had jobs that either warranted (or elicited) that level of engagement, resulting in an arm’s-length attitude.

Happily, that has not been the case with my current employer: 10up, a WordPress-centric web agency focused on delivering simple (maybe even fun) online publishing experiences.

Today is my two-year anniversary at 10up. I can honestly say that this has been the best job of my life, delivering equal parts challenge and reward. Despite only being here two years, the experience I have gained feels more like a decade’s worth.

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WordPress: In crisis

One of the selling points for (the free software that is) WordPress is its user friendliness. Intuitive, accessible, open—all of these words are at the root of what WordPress is and why it is of such benefit to the publishing world. I largely agree with this.

That said, I know I am an insider (albeit peripherally) to the WordPress community, so need to remember that I am an unreliable narrator of WP’s story. I’ve taken a critical eye to WordPress before, and I’m inspired to do so again from the wonderful book “Design for Real Life” by Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer. Comprised of examples of developer choices in language and quirkiness that hurt people in real-life, the book’s thesis aims to shift design thinking toward creating technology that is less assumptive, less witty, and therefore, less alienating.

In choosing to examine WordPress—specifically its onboarding process—I’m not out to indict the product in any way. I know WP well, make my living from it, and honestly, when something powers 26% of the internet, there exists the most potential to influence the web dev industry through leading by example.

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Managing internal projects

As a project manager, being assigned an internal project can be a breath of fresh air, albeit one with caveats. Perhaps you’re overseeing work on an internal productivity tool, or migrating a business process from a legacy system to a new one. Regardless of the circumstances, when your colleague suddenly becomes your client, there are steps you need to take to ensure the project is a success.

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Battery Status API: Empowering Device Batteries to Be In Charge of UX

Let me set the scene: you’re in an unfamiliar city and you’re on the move. Through a series of travel delays and general unpreparedness, you are about to be late to interview for your dream job. Frantically, you try to continue to make progress on foot while not knowing the actual address of the place. Your phone’s map app doesn’t recognize the business’s name, so you need to search for their address in your smartphone’s browser.
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Ixnay on the “you guys,” yous guys

Word choice is important, a fact not lost on famed Norse explorer Eric the Red. When he discovered a semi-inhabitable landmass northwest of his native Iceland, he knew he needed a snappy name to attract settlers. How else would you get people to move to a giant, rocky ice slab roughly the size of the midwestern United States?

And so he dubbed it “Greenland” and tapped into the verdant dreams of his people, thereby successfully pulling off the greatest bait-and-switch ever.

And while some word choices can birth a nation, others have the power to elevate (a Subway “sandwich artist”) or deride (literally any racial slur). But many words are more nuanced in how we use them and how they affect both people, or an environment. I’ve written before about seven words you can’t say to client, but there’s one phrase that I constantly hear that just plain bothers me: “you guys.” Continue reading →

Being Bitten By Bytes: You May Have an Image Issue

Collective nouns are single words for a group of things and I love them all (except for “guys”—that’s a bad one). I especially enjoy animal group names. Get three or more bears together, and it’s known as a sleuth. Same with a pride of lions, a bale of turtles, or a romp of otters. Bird collectives have the best names: a murder of crows, a chain of bobolinks, a deceit of lapwings.

Group terminology goes further than animals. A collective of houses could be a town. Words group together to form sentences. And a website is nothing more that a collective of files. A pile of files.
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