While we’re on the subject of design systems, it seems worth taking a stop by the United States Digital Service and their release of the Web Design System 2.0 this month. The USWDS has provided a framework for creating successful government websites, while building patterns that can help anyone’s web strategy moving forward. We also chat briefly about app usability and the dark patterns in use in tax platforms this week.

Followup Resources

Tax Software Platforms

Design Systems


The following is a machine-generated transcript of this episode. It will contain errors until it has been reviewed and edited, and we apologize for the difficulty that may cause for screen readers. Do you want to help us speed up our transcribing process? Consider sponsoring an episode.

I ran my Roomba today and I actually ran it twice because I had forgotten and haven’t done it in a while. And after emptying that been a couple times, I now feel like the grossest of human beings.

Every time I think of a Roomba, I think of that security robot that drove into a pool and found itself.

I just imagine it going back to its little docking station. And as it pulls in, it just lets how the sign says like, Hello designers and designer rats, you are listening to the drunken UX podcast. This is episode number

35. mean 3435. It is 35. I updated

one title, not the other one. When I copy. I’ve, it’s you know what it this is what we call a good problem to have right that we’ve done enough episodes, and it’s starting to get confusing as to which number we’re on if we don’t check. So. I’m, I’m all right with that. So let’s see. How are you? I’m doing well. I’m one of the hosts of the show. If you haven’t heard us before, your this is your first time listening to us. My name is


Hello Michael My name is

. I’m also hosting the show. It’s nice to meet you. We we enjoy

Aaron’s presence, he is a light of our life. And I he sits in this room I get to watch him in these in these chats. And I can see all of his kids pictures hanging up behind them. And

yeah, so some of those are from them. Some of them are pages I’ve colored.

And wait, wait, what?

Color stuff I like adult coloring or grown up coloring books, not adult coloring books. That’s a different kind of thing. Oh,

I’ve that I’ve only got one thing on my wall back behind me. And you’d commented on this before because you’ve seen it in the background, but you never knew what it was. I don’t have a kid so I don’t have drawings or anything. But I do have a Judas Priest record. That is right. Add wings of destiny. And so that’s framed up.

It’s funny, you posted a photo of your desk on Twitter the other day, and that was the first time I’d ever seen the other side of your room before. It sounds like connecting the dots like okay, I know that quarter is in that corner.

I have an accent wall. Yeah, so, folks, Episode Number 35 of the drunken UX podcast is brought to you by our friends over at New cloud. They do interactive maps, illustrations, they have a whole platform that can embed stuff on your site. Go check them out if you’re looking for anything interactive map related for whether it’s a school City Hospital. Sure they can do a theme park or your backyard if you really wanted to. Really big haunted house. Really big haunted house? Sure. There’s one up in Kansas City that’s like two haunted houses side by side. Apparently, it’s like supposed to be one of the best ones in the country. I don’t know. I’ve been there right at one point.

So so you just get scared half to death on one side. And then the other side, they finish the job.

Yeah, hopefully. And that’s the one you go into. And like you don’t get to come out of unless you sign a release and all this and

literally murder Yeah.

So if you want to check us out, go by either Instagram at drunken UX podcast. Or you can catch us on twitter or facebook at slash drunken UX. If you want to chat with us, at some point, feel free to drop into slack at drunken ux.com slash slack. And that’ll get your right in. And we would love this and have a chat with you at any point.

Hello to Virginia. That goes mon who has recently joined the chat room and has been talking to us. So when you finally get to this episode, hi.

I don’t know how far in she is yet so maybe a few hours. So let’s see. I just want to before we get into everything else, I did want to give a shout out to one of our listeners, Mike Henderson. We always say you know if we get something wrong to let us know. And Mike, send us a message on Twitter and we were talking about accessibility in color palettes with Gutenberg and I made the comment that they didn’t have a contrast checking on the color palette selector re up that is in fact not true and hasn’t been referred quite a while as it turns out. Oh no, I am just dumb on that and that’s all that stuff. So shout out to Mike for calling us out on that I did want to issue a public statement because I don’t want to I don’t want the folks at WordPress to be angry at us and all that because I didn’t want to misrepresent them so they do if you go in and I and play with their color palettes and I was looking at it and it does pop up a thing that if you select two colors will warn you that it has potential contrast issues. So that cool is in fact a solved problem on that front.

Well done WordPress well

done WordPress. Whether he liked Gutenberg or not, they did that part. What are you drinking?

I got a I’ve got some Stoli crushed pineapple vodka with a splash of orange juice in it.

It’s not bad. I used to love Stoli. I do I mean, I don’t not like Stoli, but I definitely when they started putting out like all the flavors. That was kind of one of those moments. It was like yeah, that’s for sure.

It’s like you don’t you don’t

see Grey Goose cherry, you know,

the stories flavored and we’re obviously not sponsored by Stoli, but their their flavored vodkas I think are the better or best of the flavored vodkas. Like I don’t like absolutes flavored vodkas. I love their marketing. And their regular vodka is fine, but like, flavored vodkas, just

don’t sit it’s the flavored stuff is all always ends up coming out really sugary.

Yeah, it’s it’s kind of like the end. I mean, it really is. It’s just grain alcohol and Kool Aid. When I used to serve tables. Our bar manager would always say like, if someone ever orders a mudslide upsell them on getting Stoli vanilla. In it, it was just you know, $1 to up charge. Because it’s really, it makes it taste better. Because the and it really does, too. I mean, it’s, it’s subtle, but but

I can see that and that’s probably fair. I’m old enough now that it’s like, I don’t do much flavored. When and like a The one thing I’ll have is, and I’ve had it on the show, of course is the gingerbread which has fireball in it. And it’s like I voted I’m not going to shoot fireball or something. That’s just that’s humiliating, let’s just be a bit and it does. It’s it. There’s so much sugar in it that it just yeah, is that good, but as like a component to something, I can see it and same with the flavored vodkas. Like if you just want something sweet and flavored, then go for it. But I’m past the age of shooting any of that. That’s for darn sure. What do you got? I’m over here with my bow more 12. I’ve said many times, I’m not a big fan of Iowa scotches. But Bowmore is not bad. It’s still strong, and I took a sip of it to get started here and it definitely it still has a good little socket. But it’s it’s still generous in its flavor. Like it’s not overpowering. And it’s definitely not like I love frog and Ardbeg that have just this really like it doesn’t it doesn’t have that iodine flavor that comes from the peat. It’s it’s got a smoky flavor that stands kind of apart and on its own.

So a couple episodes ago, you listeners probably don’t know. But we had to do a whole bunch retakes and a whole bunch of pauses. Now, the scotch is kicking here.

That’s that is I patented by I don’t know what it’s talking about.

I think that was I think that was one of those things where you were you thought you were more drunk than you were? Or maybe it was just like the alcohol was making the difficult to connect thoughts. I’ve definitely had a couple episodes where with guests where my I just kind of zone out. And I’m like, wait, what are we talking about?

I can’t say anything more than that. That’s what makes it fun. That’s why I hope you speak drunk humans, though, I want to talk for a second. This is just totally weird and random. And it came up in my one of my dev chats today. This Instagram post is going around. And I don’t know if folks have seen it. And if you if you haven’t, I’m going to have it linked in the show notes on the website. So stop by drunken ux.com. And you’ll be able to see this. It’s a chimp. And so there’s there’s this chip and they gave the chimp a cell phone with Instagram on it. And the video is absolutely enthralling. Because this chimp is sitting there looking at Instagram, and using Instagram.

Yeah, it’s if you if you didn’t, if you didn’t see that it was a chimp like if you just cover the right side of the screen, you would think it was like a kid with a really wrinkly hand.

And I thought for a minute like, Oh, well this is just you know, somebody has done some good CG us. Yeah, people do that. You know, you’ve seen this on Instagram. But sure. It’s it’s a verified account. It’s not just some random like, I don’t know, the real Tarzan. I don’t know who that is. But it’s probably somebody super famous that I should know. We say it’s Mike whole Boylston Mike Colston, animal education and conservation doesn’t seem like the type of dude who would fake videos. So I want to take it at its word, so that they’ve opened up I don’t know if it’s his feet or somebody it’s clearly a wildlife animal feed. And it starts with this chimp is watching a little video and Instagram video of another monkey with I don’t know if it’s a chimp or what it is I don’t I build websites. I don’t do animal so maybe at a monkey, I don’t know. What are the types in around Bhutan? I don’t. I don’t

think that’s a chip.

That’s a chair. Does it? Yeah. chimpanzee. Yeah, that’s the scientific word. So he’s, but he’s watching it. And yeah, you can tell like he’s, he’s actively. It’s not just like staring at the screen, you know how like, animals will sound like a dog or a cat or something to stare at a TV, but they’re not necessarily watching it.

But then, but then he clicks out and go and start swiping upwards, go through the feed, and then he taps on a photo or an image. And then he is viewing that one. And then he goes back in does the same thing. Again, he

understood the flow of the app and was making I think the thing that really makes it like super bizarre is you realize that he is making active choices as to which ones he wanted to look at,

there are preferences and desires being expressed through his interactions. Yeah,

and if to make this valuable to the listeners at home, this, whether you like Instagram, or don’t like Instagram, I’m not here to judge. But it really says a lot about the usability of the thing you have made, if you can hand them to an animal, even if it’s a super smart animal. And they can use and understand that interface like that says something you know about about the, the barrier to entry, so to speak. When when my kids were really little, my son

was about three, I think, and we got them this little like, digital camera that it was like a by 600 pixels, or whatever, and really durable frame. But it was fascinating to see the things that he would go around and take pictures of, you know, it’d be like, some of his toys were like a show he was watching, or a lot of pictures of the fish, pictures of me and his mom and the cat. And, and they would just like it would be things that he wanted to kind of save, or that he felt were important to take pictures of and I that I would like to see what a chimp like giving the chimp the camera app. Yeah. And what does it take a picture, that’s what I want to see.

It also reminds me of things like if you’ve seen that video of a champion, a zoo, and a person is sitting in the window with them with a cup and is doing like a real, real simple magic trick. Just a very simple, like, put something under the cup, make it vanish and show that there’s nothing in the car. And the champion, you know, they their ability to establish object permanence is such that when he showed Hey, there’s nothing in the cup. The chimp was like, Ah, that’s Hello. But they understood a thing happened. Yeah, there’s there’s so much to that. I don’t know. It’s, it’s just very, very neat. Go go look at the video if you haven’t seen it yet. Because I do think that it’s an interesting thing. And I guess, good. And you say like kids? Don’t they say, yeah, chimps are basically like a three year old child or something like that, like on a psychologist level. Right?

I can see that. So yeah,

there’s there’s definitely something to be said there, especially when you think about user interfaces and usability. So the other thing, though, that we want to do just kind of start off and seed in here. Being that it’s the end of April, this is this will be the last episode for the month, all of you by this point. And many of you who are, you know, freelance web developers or anything like that, or have done moonlighting or all this stuff, are probably painfully aware of the process of getting your 1099 together, you know, if you got a Schedule C or something like this and trying to file your taxes online, pro public had an article they put out about Turbo Tax and their use of dark patterns to basically trick you into paying for software that you don’t need. Yeah, this is something I complained about on Twitter actually, very recently, as well. So the timing on this is all very auspicious. From a subject standpoint, I’ll throw some of that in the show notes, too. But the the way in which tax software now approaches its users is bordering on, in my opinion, unethical. Yeah. It makes me sad, as a web developer, to know that there are web developers not pushing back against the things they are doing in those platforms.

But so I filed my taxes by hand, from age 14, until man, probably like 27, or 28, maybe it was the first time I ever had, um, and knowing how to make those decisions and everything, it’s really complicated. It’s not, it’s not easy. I mean, it’s definitely doable, you don’t need to go to a professional, every tax situation isn’t too complicated, but it’s not easy by any means. And so there’s a lot of opportunities for a company to bamboozle a customer into thinking they need something that they don’t it.

And so for, like our web developer friends out there that do a lot of freelancing of any kind, or if you’re self employed in general. And this, this goes back to like our episode with Joel Goodman talking about starting your own web business, you know, if you’re, if you are your own entity, so to speak, and you are filing, if you’ve got even a very small like sole proprietor LLC, you’re probably filing all your income under your 1040, which is perfectly legitimate and appropriate. That one of the things that Turbo Tax was getting called out on is you get to the end of their funnel. And they would say, Oh, you are doing all this stuff about self employed, you need to pay for our hundred and $20 advanced self employment platform instead. And they you know, they get you through the whole process before they tell you any of that. And the reality is that from a legal standpoint, the IRS has an agreement with many of these companies that if you make under $66,000 a year, yeah, you do not have to pay to file your taxes, period, right? No, like, that’s not, there’s no complicated thing about it. That’s just the rule.

So just to establish, in this case, I can actually I do actually have a degree degree in accounting. So I can actually say that some authority that you don’t have to pay to file your taxes if you do them yourself, like by hand with paper, submitted by mail, it’s free, totally free. state and federal paper stamp. Okay, yeah. Do you have to pay for a stamp? But otherwise, it’s totally free, free. So there’s no like, they’re not covering some costs that you would have had to pay otherwise? Second thing is that Turbo Tax is not the only game in town. There’s a whole bunch of them. I think we’ll have a link. Yeah, we do. We have a link in the show notes for a site where you can go to find all the other tax filing options for Who else can file your things online? I don’t use Turbo Tax. I used 10 forty.com this year, which seems like it would be official because it has 1040 in the URL, but there. I mean, it’s another private company. It was a good UI, though. Like I had a good experience. I’ve used other services before.

I haven’t used to forty.com. Before, I’ll have to check that out. I somebody recommended. I think it’s tax hoc. To me. It was one I’ve used Tax Act since the early 2000s. But even they have fallen prey to this use of dark patterns in and like, it cost me over $70 to file all my taxes this year after paying the fees filing fee, the state file if you know, I don’t fall under that that free filing limit. But they so yeah, there is a link that’ll be in the show notes to the Free File listing from the IRS. That gives you a list of all the services that will let you file for free and the deal. It’s weird, though, because that list also includes a lot of very strange exceptions. Some of them are just like, yeah, if you make under $66,000, you file for free. Here’s how. But then others have different limits and different conditions. And I don’t know, yeah, legally, why that is the case, because it was part of a settlement kind of thing that they put together with the with the tax prep people.

The link has a form that with some pretty basic questions that you probably will know the answer to if you’ve ever filed your taxes before her. And those questions will tell you, which of the forms will apply to you. For free filing. Generally, generally, if you make under 66,000, and you do like a nine to five job and you get a W two at the end of the year, and you don’t have anything weird like you know, buying and selling property or doing a whole lot of stuff with stocks or whatever, you’re probably be able to qualify for the free fun. Yeah. Anyway.

Let’s go though, because here’s the thing with the with the dark patterns, some of the stuff that not just Tax Act, but all you know all these words, h&r block, Turbo Tax, all these folks were doing. One is the way they were doing their SEO and keyword bidding. So if you tried to do a search for something like IRS file free, or file free taxes or something like that, you would get results, of course, but like the top four or five results would be one of those Google Ad panels. And they would all link you into their funnel. That would not give you free taxes. Or free filing rather.

Right? That’s well because they’re trying to make money off.

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And so there’s in the pro publica article, there’s this comment that it turns out, if you start the the process from Turbo Tax com, it’s impossible to find the truly free version. And the company itself admits this. What they did was they went in and looked and they they were actually looking at like the cookies and the local storage stuff that was getting set. And they found the value that was getting set that literally defined you regardless of how you started your taxes. If you started on Turbo Tax. com, it flagged you as a non free filer. And so even if you click the button that says I’m going to file my taxes for free, you are it’s it’s a carnival game. That’s what it is, right? It’s a total Carnival game that they are dangling a prize in front of you that you can never really win.

So there’s there’s another promo blog article and I thought this was the one we’re making too, but it’s not. So I just added it to the show notes. But I’m into it, the company that makes Turbo Tax has been lobbying government to stop you from being able to do free e filing, you would still be able to file by manually by hand. But e filing like like electronic filing, they’re trying to make it where you have to go through a third party.

Yeah. And which and try to go through their checkout process as a consequence. Yeah, they they’ve done stuff like the naming the nomenclature of this. I mean, on one hand, it’s like, it’s brilliant. But it’s also insidious, because oh, yeah, the name if you go to Turbo Tax, they have a product called free edition. Oh, Aaron, what would you expect to the free edition to be? Let me just quickly, just throw it out there. I mean, what do you think the free edition implies?

I think that if it says free edition, it’s probably be no money, it should probably not have a cost associated. And

of course it is. But again, it’s it’s like any weirdly Good deal. It’s like if you are not absolutely meeting every checkbox on a 12 point lyst you don’t qualify and most people don’t. Because the free edition is not the free edition as defined by the IRS. Their version of that is called the freedom edition.

And so they have course that illiberal

Lee misnamed the products in such a way that the way you would search for it the way you would look for that information and the nomenclature the user uses is being actively used against them in in the platform and on the website.

Yeah, I mean, that’s,

that’s, I said to start. It’s unethical, at the very least in my opinion. I

I know that other articles have been much more strongly worded about this, but there are alternatives to Turbo Tax. Turbo Tax is doing bad things here. And I can’t, I would never recommend them to anyone. There are plenty of good alternatives that do justifying job. I won’t say which one you should use, that’s up to you, but maybe don’t use Turbo Tax

at all reminds me and it doesn’t I mean, like I said, I don’t use Turbo Tax, I use Tax Act, but I still see the same stuff. It all comes down to this fear very, anybody who’s ever used GoDaddy, which at some point we do, I don’t know why that’s a weird rite of passage. But at some point, we’ve all had to deal with GoDaddy, but the their approach to up selling, and trying to trick you into paying for things like, you know, if you want a Privacy Guard on your DNS registration, yeah, you know, what does that cost? Like? 10 bucks, 12 bucks a year or something extra? Oh, my gosh, really, I don’t I don’t know how much it may not be. And I may be wrong on that. And don’t don’t take that as what they charge they charge extra for Privacy Guard a little doesn’t. That’s literally part of what you’re paying for. Like it’s just free. It never used to cost any money. I remember, I used to register domains through dream host and like, you know, the privates, the who is privacy. And optimization was always part of it. I was just a recent thing when they made it feel like a Yeah, I mean, I may have that wrong, it may be much cheaper than that. But the fact of the matter is, they try to upsell you on it. Yeah. Which is not great what what the text software does, and like it and what I saw in Tax Act, they’re like, hey, let us run these reports for you. And you know, will will do this planning will will offer you these planning services for your next year. And that gives that as an extra service they want to charge you for, if you have to attach extra forms, that’s where they start funding you into all of these other versions of their product. Adding on states or anything is always extra, that my favorite one is the audit protection. And they’re like here, yeah, as extra and will give you audit protection, and I just want to look at them and be like, what are you the fucking mob?

Okay, so all right, I actually paid for that this year was the first time I ever did. And the only reason was because my, I had some inheritance last year and some other stuff. And the tax situation was weird. And I wanted to just, it was like, 30 bucks. And I was like, You know what, it’s just 30 bucks, peace of mind. Sure, I’ll take

and I think, you know, in certain circumstances, I’m sure it’s well worth it. And if you if you’re paying for tax preparation, you probably should pay for that or have it, you know, as part of the package, I would argue if you feel like you need that level of protection, you probably should go to an X, you should do an account, you should actually go to a tax accountant and have them do it for you. Because most of the time, they do include that protection as part of what you’re paying. Yeah.

There’s there’s a, there’s a line on the 1040 that says if it’s if it’s a paid prepare than the paid prepares as the cya

separately, and the thing comes down to like when you get to these pages, it’s always in the final steps. It’s always in like the, I’m ready to eat file, points point. And it’s always a case of like, a big button to continue quote, unquote, or the little text link that says, No, thanks, I wave protect, right. And so it’s like, they’re all they’re doing all of these little things, try and trick you there. They keep stopping you. That’s the other part is they keep interrupting your experience, and trying through fatigue to convince you to click a certain button, or take a certain action that will result in you paying them more money.

I’m surprised they don’t word it like, like, Yes, I want to be protected or No, I’ll handle my own audit. Right? I just for the for visitors, you’re probably not ever going to get audited unless your tax situation is really weird. It’s the IRS has funding for doing audits has gotten reduced a lot in the past day. Yeah, they have almost

no capacity to do audits anymore. And it means they only go after people who’s got like they have income deviations that are like off the charts kind of stuff.

If you’re if you’re texted you like basically like if your tax situation is such that a computer could flag you as like likely needing an audit. For example, if you have a lot of weird deductions. Or if you have a business that mysteriously wipes out all of your income because of deductions or something like that, and you’re more likely to get an audit. But if you’re just if you’re making a good faith effort to file your taxes, like chances are, if you get any kind of audit at all, it’ll just be a form letter that says like, Oh, hey, you owe us an extra hundred and $2, or whatever. I had that happen a couple years ago, I forgot Mr. 1099.

I mean, it all comes down. I know this, this is kind of a Randy way to start the show. And I apologize to the listeners for that. But it is something that I think reflects an ethical obligation as web developers. And it’s I’ve talked about this before. And I think it really shows up in cases like this when dark patterns come into play, especially in a service that everybody has to use. And even though Yes, you can absolutely file by paper. Most people don’t want to do that. Because it is a lot of it’s a pain in the ass a lot of extra work.

If I’m just a PSA On that note, though, if you have a simple tax situation, like I mentioned earlier, if you do a nine to five job, you just click the W two and that’s it. Go to your post office for tax season, and look for 1040 easy, yeah, and 40 easy. If your situation is just a little bit weirder, like maybe you have student loan interest or something or deducting 1040. A, those are both very simple. You don’t have to save your receipts or anything like that you just put you find the numbers in the boxes and you fill them out on the form, you use a very simple math you can do on a calculator or on a piece of paper. And then you sign it and mail it in. It’s it’s really it should take you 30 minutes to an hour. And

here’s the real crux of this situation is that all of these companies h&r block, Turbo Tax Tax Act into it, take your pick, all of them have a vested interest in ensuring that you think it is too complicated to do your taxes yourself. Yeah, and that you can’t trust yourself to accomplish that math. They have a vested financial monetary interest in making you feel that. And you have to resist that whether it’s in their commercials in the calls to action on their website, whatever that case may be. Trust yourself more than them in those situations.

Well, the revenue models are based on selling the services and charging and they make more profit if they get more up sold services or premium service. So

I promised I wasn’t going to go like political on this point. But it is political. But it comes back to this idea that these companies that they’re part of the reason our tax code is so complicated, because again, they have a vested interest in that they can afford to make sure that they have ways to work out that math. And the more complicated it is in the systems it takes to figure it all out, the better off they are because they know that they convince people that they can’t handle it on their own. And they, they have to create that dependency, otherwise, the model doesn’t work.

Oh, one last PSA, if you do do freelancing, or you collect 1099 income, file your quarter, please don’t don’t pay the penalty. Yeah. And if you do end up owing money to the IRS, you can set up a payment plan, they will give you I believe, four months, like until August with no interest at all. And then if you need to go beyond that the interest rate is very manageable. So don’t feel like you have to put yourself out and certainly don’t put it on a credit card, because they’re going to pay more. And that’s and

that’s really important for folks who do any kind of freelancing. And while this may, you know the the idea of dark patterns is one thing, but the idea of just tax issues in general is another. Yeah, I do think that’s really important for people who do a lot of freelance web development to think about because I’ve had years where I’ve done like, consulting contracts on the side. And I mean, it’s, we’re talking like five figures worth of of consulting work that, that adds up. And if you don’t pay the court and the quarterly tax thing, like they you can complain about like education and all that all you want to about, well, they don’t teach you how to do taxes. And yeah, one of the things that you really don’t learn about until you’ve sat down and talk to other people is that the axes, that’s something that until you realize it’s a thing, it’s not something that just comes up, you know. So they’re the endpoint of this before. And we’re going to, I swear, we’re getting into our real topic. This idea of ethics in web development. And I, the thing I said on Twitter the other day was this idea of, I feel like as an industry, we, we almost need a Hippocratic Oath as web developers. Because we have nothing else that keeps us in check when it comes to marketing and business decisions affecting the things that we build. And this idea that I’m going to build, the thing that I’m being paid to built, because they’re being paid to build is a very damaging mentality to take on because it’s very turnkey, and it makes you not think about the consequences. And at the end of the day, web developers are literally the last line of defense between the thing people, you know, the business thing people want to build. And the thing that is right for users.

I know you’re a fan of Larry Lessig, the guy behind the Creative Commons and also ran for president, at least one, um, he had a thing for the route strikers, nonprofit that he ran, which was, it was I forget the name of the pledge, but what it was like a few bullet point items, Congress people and another representative representative government, people could could, like assert, I like I pledge or I will not do this, like, I will not take money from these people where I will not do these things. It would be cool to have something like that for web developers, you know, just with with a very short, half dozen items of kind of some ethical things that we will abide by as web developers. And kind of just, you know, asserting these things. And

because I don’t, I don’t want to call out developers and the folks who have built these systems and things like that, but at the end of the day, you did build it. And you know, it’s it’s the Oppenheimer quote, right. And now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds, like, he understood the consequence of building the bomb, so to speak, like that was a that was a big deal. And it the impact of that was not lost on him. And I think as web developers, while Yeah, we’re not building nuclear weapons to you know, wipe out cities. And that’s, boy, this this metaphors going weird. But we do I think we do have that ethical obligation to consider the things we are building, how it impacts people and how it impacts business. That’s all Yeah, man. Dude, can we change the subject?

Yes. I’m really excited to talk about our next topic. It’s gonna

Yeah, cuz it’s all about government?

Well, no, because it’s going to extend expand. So like the last episode, we expanded on web components. And we talked to

depended on the previous talk on the hacks editor and what they were doing. We’re changing. We’re full small. Yeah.

So we also last episode, we also talked about accessibility with design systems. And this time, we’re going to talk about the design system that the US government built, called the web, us, WGS 2.0. So and this, see what see what you will about the US government, but like, this is

the stuff I have so far. And with the folks I’ve talked to their and all this, like, I have nothing but good things to say about the folks who have done work at the USGS. That’s the United States digital services. It’s a department of the federal government. Now, they work kind of like, it’s kind of the Peace Corps, sort of like, people go there and like work, since basically like a year, they’ll they’ll work a year on contract or something like that. And they’ll go and they put teams together, and they send these teams out to places like the VA or something like that. And

they say, Hey,

we’re going to help you with your website, we’re going to fix it. And these are folks that are genuinely good at what they do. These aren’t like, you know, the way we have thought about web development. From a government standpoint, like it’s frequently not good. I hate to say that, but I mean, there is this idea that right, the people who it’s kind of that the people can’t do teach mentality, you know, the people who can’t really do web development end up in government of web development jobs, which is not fair. But it was for a while.

Um, we talked about healthcare.gov, although I would say, in the defense, their healthcare.gov was done by,

yeah, party conduct. And the front end versus the back end, there is I think, an important Unknown Speaker engine.

Having I someone who worked in web development in the government, I can say that there are smart people, many smart people that work in there. And I really like I’m excited to see this product, because it’s really neat. It’s and it’s a design system, like we talked about. Last episode. Yeah.

So last episode, we were talking about this idea of how web components can help you build a design system and the value that they added there. In in 2015, USPS stepped up and said, Hey, government websites are bad. They aren’t working well. They aren’t fulfilling the contracts with the users from a usability standpoint, let us help. And so they came out with the first version of their design system. And at that point in time, it was very much like a foundation or bootstrap kind of system. They Yes, pattern library, they had a few different philosophical points mixed in and things like that. They brought in some ideas like accessibility and how that works in and how to, you know, make that part of your process. And they tried to put together this package. And at that point, even, it was good. Like, it was for its time

it was service. Oh, yeah,

it was, it was entirely usable. It was open source on GitHub. So if anybody wanted to go play with it, or adjusted or help with it, they could certainly do that. That’s actually something that I’ve kind of been interested in, but I need more hours in my day. Like, I think it’d be cool to go in and sit down with with that repo and look at it. And they do public calls, where you can sit in and listen to what they’re working on. So yeah, this last in the last couple weeks, they announced that the two point O has finally gone gold for them. Yeah, it has included, I’m just going to read the list here. It has incremental adoption. So you can basically bring it into a project and use the pieces you need. Very, again, very much like a foundation. If you use MPM or something to build a foundation project, you can import it and then turn on just the parts that you want. they’ve introduced it at practical design tokens, function functions and mix ins, again, trying to focus on this the small bits and just what you need. Accessible colors this them were where we heard that before. expressive feeling, which is an attachment to this idea of they don’t want to break up or disrupt the existing layout and templates of sites that exists currently. And so they have built in these, these catches and hooks so that you can bring in existing stuff very easily.

Right, because it doesn’t need to be grayscale, or of drab or boring colors, like its colors free. Like we can use whatever color we want.

Utility classes, that’s something we’ve seen many places, they’ve gone to a 12 columns, simplified layout grid, feelings about grids, but that’s a topic for another time.

Wait, before we get to the next point, because it’s a really big one. And I don’t want to interrupt it. But on the WGS, on the design system site, they have a page called design principles, right? It’s got a lot of content on here. I just want to read the headings. If you are listeners, if you recall our our guest episode with Gregg Popovich, which I know we go back to all the times good episode. It was a good episode. That was one of the ones where I spaced out. Great. Greg was talking from a couple minutes. We

had a lot of martinis that night.

But anyways, so we’re talking about design philosophies. And it was just sort of like the, the overarching like principles or like, almost ethos that you have regarding your, like direction with design. So this is the design principles for this design system. Put user needs First, make it easy to do the right thing. Accessibility is fundamental. Start from existing solutions, be consistent, not static, and share what we do. And like and that’s it, those six things.

You know what I think one of the big ones there that be consistent, not static? Yeah, that’s, it doesn’t feel like much when you say it. But when you think about it from a how you do work standpoint, it really starts to mean a lot, I think. Yeah. And this idea of consistency doesn’t mean not changing. Right? Right. You know, as you become more fluent in a language, a foreign language or something like, you’re still you, you’re still using your own vernacular and your own inflection and technique. But you get better you get, you get smarter about how you think do things. And that growth is necessary, you are still consistently you, but you haven’t stayed static, you haven’t stayed in that sort of very base level of thinking about the language. I think that’s how that translates into a design system.

Right. So I interrupted, you’re about to talk about this last item that I think is super cool, you’re fine.

Up? Wait, I’m gonna I’m going to skip because there actually is one after that. But I don’t have any bullet points after that one. That’s the it’s a stable foundation that is built to help grow, which Yeah, sure. It is, of course, everything is. So the one though, and this is silly, but it’s it’s also fun. They have introduced the public sands type face, public, public sands, public sands. So you know, we’ve got open sands, we’ve got all of these different open license, sensor thoughts. And they came out and said, you know, what we’re going to do our own to, I’m going to link it, there’s an article in the show notes from vice of all places, but they they wrote up some details on the spot. And it’s it’s very, it’s an interesting idea. It does make sense from the standpoint of them trying to express their own sort of standard, and they wanted a typeface that would reflect the scalability that they wanted across all of their governmental properties, which is vast, right? We’ll talk about that in a minute.

So the well, it’s public, like, like, Open Sans is one thing, but like public sands, like I just like how that sounds. Yeah. Like, it’s like the San Sarah font that belongs to all of us. But they released it, they could have done it as like public domain, right? They could have just said this is public domain, anyone can use it. But they did they use the OSI they is the Open Source Initiative license. So it’s under the open font license. So it is like using and if like an official, you know, tech community, flagship standard that’s sort of like not owned by any governmental body, like the Open Source Initiative is just like, collectively owned by all all of us. And, and they released it have that license. And I think that’s really neat.

It goes back to that idea, right of the folks who are working at USPS. They’re on their game like these, just random guys that got hired and decided to, like these are folks who are are looking towards they still have 30 years of career ahead of them in many cases. Oh, yeah. They’re young, they’re, they’re engaged, they’re enthusiastic, and they care about the way work is done. Hmm. There. The one thing I don’t get, I’m going to read this quote, because I

don’t know about

my response to this type face was probably what a lot of folks will look at. And it’s like, just Why, what’s the point in having your own type face when there are so many out there, there was a quote from them. And this is quoted in this vice article. It says, during the US web design system two point O development process, it became clear that this typeface could be a useful target for our font normalization feature the GSA spokesperson explained, since other faces are normalized to the optical size of public Sans and common system fonts of us w DS two point O, using public Sams in our design file ensures that when designs go into production, the balance of the type hierarchy remains similar, even if the chosen font eventually changes. In other words, public sands is somewhat of an internal test case for w R Us web. Two point O is ability to adapt whatever typeface a designer may wish to use into the visual language of the rest of the US WGS framework.

What I don’t mean, I don’t I don’t get

like I get that you know, thought scale differently and things like that. And I think that’s kind of what it’s dealing with. But at the same time, I really don’t understand that when you start talking about using whatever font the designer wants to use, well, if other fonts scale differently, because yeah, you know where their baseline is, because I’ve let me tell you, I’ve got some thoughts that I have a real love hate relationship. It’s just a hate hate relationship with and how they play in practice. I don’t I don’t fully understand that as the explanation for why they did their own typeface.

I like the color that’s further on in that paragraph. And that describes the public sands as simple neutral, and isn’t Helvetica.

Nothing wrong with Helvetica?

Nothing wrong at all?

Yeah, yeah. There’s a couple of things with dealing with thought that was very interesting to me as part of this. One was their introduction of type scale. So with type scale, and if you’ve used other other CSS frameworks, and we’d like we’ve got this baked into ours as kind of a convention that we did ourselves. But, you know, it’s basically this idea of having like, size, small size, medium size, large size extra large, and you set like, not breakpoints, but like stopping points for each of those. Right, they’ve introduced a scale system that has 20 steps in it. So you can dynamically if you use their design system, you can go in and say each stop, you know, at large, I want my scale to be eight, at you know, double x large, I want it to be 16. And small, I want it to be four. And so you can use that scale as a means of controlling the way it sizes, abstractly. Hmm, the other part of hat that I found at my initial reaction, and I really hope and before, before we say what it is, let’s let’s call back to our episode with Tatiana Mac, where she said

that your site, the font size 16 rifles, that’s that’s the readable font size 16 pixels. Right Michael

I get it. I am getting old. I understand. When I said this, and to his credit, Aaron had the same reaction I did and I hope the route font size in US WGS is 10 pixels.

Which is not, which is not 16. It’s not lower than 16.

But after I had my initial reaction was what? And then it almost instantly made sense, right? Because now, every ram calculation you do and your CSS is based on a 10 x multiplier. So you need 16 point font, your RAM calculation is 1.6. If you need to write d3 pixel font, your RAM is 5.3. It’s actually kind of brilliant. And I’m really disappointed that it has never occurred to me to do that. Because so many of us we always, like take foundation of us Foundation, I believe it’s based on is 14 pixels. Right? It may be 16. Now, but I think it’s still 14. So sorry, if I’m wrong on that point is the same. If you need a 27 pixel font, what’s the ram calculation on that off the top of your head? From 4814? To what if your basis 14 and you need 27? What’s the ram calculation off the top? Oh, come on.

1.1 point five, or no? Nope, that would be 21. a cot 14 to 27. Unknown Speaker See, Unknown Speaker because that’s what we get.

That’s the kind of things we get handed by designers. Sometimes you open up your envisions get or your envision do your sketch, or x d or whatever the case may be. And you get these specs that are like Wait, what font did you use?

Just under 1.8? I think

it’s a weird number. It’s not something you can just rattle off.

Right. Right. But

if your basis 10 and you need 27 the calculation is 2.7. It’s Yeah, it kind of brilliant. I sort of love it.

This is this is like the difference between using Imperial standard measurement versus metric. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

This is the the two Americans that room here realizing importance of the metric system, right. So to everybody who listens to us overseas, we get it we understand. It really it is it’s it’s a very intuitive thing. And honestly, the next time it comes up, I’m going to advocate for a 10 pixel base spot. And yeah, and then use that as the ram calculation on everything. Because man, talk about making it easy like, and I don’t know if you do that, Aaron, but when I look at when I’m working on a SAS file, and I’m trying to calculate a particular font size, I always do the comment out to the side that is like, you know, right. This is 1.125 Ram, and it’s meant to be 18 pixels.

Right? And I do something, something like that.

Yeah. Because you need that reference for other people and everything but right. Yeah, I mean, this eliminates it. It’s it’s silly. It’s such a weird, like, small thing. But man that attention to detail. Yeah, absolutely speaks volumes to the folks who have been this and and my hats off to them. Because I don’t think I’ve ever read an article from Chris coy or Ethan Marcotte or any of these folks that have advocated for a 10 pixel based font. And, and just by that way, and if they’ve written that, and I missed it, I apologize. Don’t scream at me. But

hey, did you check check it out the links in the show notes? That’s a

good thought to I let’s just say that, because we didn’t mention that the fight is a perfectly good font.

It’s super here, I can actually read the URL because that easy, it’s v2, design system. digital.gov. That’s it. v2 design systems digital.gov. Yeah, it’s it’s cool. Check it out.

So okay, let’s see here. It’s worth noting that this isn’t like a little niche product that isn’t being used anywhere. The digital services have worked hard to roll this out within the federal government of the United States. They’ve now got it on, like 200 websites, which I mean, the federal government has, I think a lot more websites than people realize, Oh, my gosh, yes. But yeah, and we’ll have a link in the show notes, they have a list actually, on their documentation of every place, they have rolled it out. And it’s everything from the White House uses it, the VA uses it. It’s deployed on parts of health.gov. All of these different departments of agriculture, and folks like that have it as well as lots of like fringe sites and small services and things and one offs that get produced now all start with that as the base layer. And I even remember Aaron talking to you a few months back about this. And and you were real excited about the idea of like, trying to introduce this because you were Yeah, you were a government contractor. And so it was like this idea of, hey, let’s look at bringing this into our work since it’s already kind of a government standard.

Yeah, yeah. And I was a, the people that I talked with on my team at the time, they were aware of it, and they were working on changing our templates for it too.

And based on the two point O rollout, part of what they’re emphasizing is, it’s easy to adapt to. So it’s not a matter of bringing it in and changing your whole website, it’s a matter of bringing it in and accommodating the website and adapting it over time to the new features, which makes it a good starting point and a good a good starting point for anybody trying to build a website at that point, or update a website. You know, if you go from using, you know, your own code to something like bootstrap or foundation, you frequently find yourself having to rewrite your entire website. And they have tried. There’s, there’s gonna be a video actually, in the show notes of this where they it’s a video from a couple months ago when they were still beta testing this, but they talk a lot about, you know, this ability to say scope, the CSS, and do things that limit its ability to leak into your existing design so that you only use the parts of it you want. Yeah. And they were they were very cognizant of that. And again, back to this credit, like, this was built by people who get it, they understand these challenges that we have as boots on the ground.

It’s awesome.

So this idea of design systems certainly isn’t new and not new in government even. And you had mentioned to me a presidential candidate for this year. And he has a fun yeah, that’s all I remember.

It’s Um, oh, the way that I do remember

I do remember it’s the marketing campaign. But it’s

Buddha judge. Is it is it boot edge

edge? Or is it but edge because boot? I’ll tell you, the marketing thing literally says but edge edge. I just I mean,

I think the T shirts a boot edge. I just don’t

i don’t buy me a T shirt. And I’ll wear it. That’s all

I did is the say I advocate for anything. I it says an endorsement at all. Unknown Speaker I just know literally aware of him guy. Yeah.

He, uh, he’s got a he made some press recently, where there was kind of a media, like, ooh, about the design system that his campaign rolled out. Yeah, like,

and to be clear, like, this is in Fast Company. It’s not just like some random Slashdot article or something like that, like, their what they did made fastcompany. And so we’ll have a link to that as well in the show notes. So check that out. Because it’s, it’s neat, to say the least.

Yeah. The design system, it’s basically just a color palette set, and maybe like some graphics, and just some like pre made marketing collateral that can be used by like, you and I, or anyone who wants to endorse our campaign, this particular candidate. I only briefly going to mention this, but there was also a Twitter clap back. Because Nina Markham, I hope I’m saying her name, right. She had done a design system called pantsuit for the Clinton campaign, and there was a bunch of people who were like, you know, Pete’s not the first person to design system, and rightfully so like she legitimately did one for that campaign. And I guess, you found a book designing Obama by Scott Thomas. Yeah,

yeah. So I don’t

know if this is a design system. But it’s similar. It’s Well, yeah,

it I think it definitely qualifies. And this goes back a fairly long way. In terms of, you know, web technology. Certainly. This goes back to the original Obama campaign in 2008, Scott Thomas put out his book designing Obama, where they went into like, everybody remembers that Oh, logo. But the design concept that they had for the campaign overall, was certainly much bigger than that. The books like 338 pages, it’s, it is a comprehensive look at the way they approached design and branding for that campaign, not just online, of course, you know, covered the spectrum. But that was maybe one of the first really big political sort of like, Hey, we’re actually putting thought into this marketing camp. Like, let me ask you, name, name. One thing associated with George W. Bush. from a marketing standpoint, Logo Logo Design colors, aside from a red, white and blue. w. w. w. Yeah. Yeah. What What was the what was the anchor of this campaign? Yeah, I challenge anybody to tell because I honestly, I don’t remember anything about his campaign. And I’m old enough to remember so. But Obama came out with this idea of hope, right? Yeah. That the hope branding and the Oh, and the way that just the colors that were used, but the specific color blue, that that sort of mix between a powder and a royal blue that he used,


There was a specific texture that they used in some of the backgrounds, and things like that. And so this, this book goes into that, but it was this first real dive into this idea of using a design system, what what Buddha judges doing, Buddha judge, I’m going to say it both ways now. You know, they have released their design system as a utility effectively, and said, Here it here are the colors that define us. You know, here are the ways we present our brand. And here’s a toolset you can use to show your support for us. So that anybody can create a a logo for his campaign. And to an extent,

and say, I think that is really cool. And I think that this is something that we can perhaps extend beyond just Pete’s campaign and beyond just politics in general, you know, like you and I used to work in higher ed, and I don’t know what your campus was like. But on our campus, we had style guide, with branding guidelines. And they were really strict about it, you know, central communications was like, You will only use the IMU, in this image, literally this pink file that we’re giving you, you only use these Pantone colors for print. And like, you’ll use these fonts, etc. You have to pay us for them, etc. But it was a lot of like really technical marketing stuff. But if you’re not a trained designer, like you know, are you Do you notice, you know, what a Pantone color is like?

It was a style guide. Yeah,

yeah. But it used a lot of like lingo and a lot of industry jargon. This doesn’t. This says like, these are the colors we like, these are the like, here’s the names for them that we’re calling them. And here’s the hex colors, because you’ll need those. But this is the colors. And you know, if you want to do stuff that’s on brand for us, these are the colors you will use. This is some images you can use, we’ve made this vector art for you already. It’s like, like, we’re kind of like in the age of memes right now, right? Like, everyone’s creating stuff, we’re all creating images and content, and whatever else, whether you’re doing an image macro, or a weird YouTube video, or whatever, like, people create stuff now. And so this is giving people the correct configuration and settings, because if they want to do it, they want to support your campaign, they want to use the correct colors. And if you just give them that correct colors, and that information, they’ll use

it that this kind of overlaps with the broader scheme of what a design system is. And, and what Pete has done is a very good interpretation of a design system, which is producing a means of not just enforcing your branding, but producing things based on it, then are inherently in compliance with that branding. Right. So it gets into what we talked about, for what a design system is designed systems are a confluence of the philosophy and values that drive you as an organization, which, like you, you quoted from the WD s, they’ve got six design philosophies that anchor what they built, the styles that go along with that styles are an abstract expression of the colors, you know, the branding, the voice, the things that define you culturally, and then the patterns, the patterns are the implementation of those things, you know, they are the strict well, and and so the, the one thing that us WGS two point O said, we’re releasing practical design tokens. They use rat race tokens. tokens are that sort of abstraction and application of patterns. And so we’ll I’ll throw a link in the show notes to the design principles as well, because I think those translate all that really well. But that’s really what we get to because at the end of the day, design systems help developers, they help designers. Absolutely. But what they really help are the people who bring you the things to design and to develop,


the things you’re gonna have to build.

And for for a campaign, especially, especially one that’s positioning itself was kind of grassroots extensively. This one is the their design tool kit offers with the logos, the colors, like I mentioned before, type, so which fonts to use. And then there’s a thing called team P, and that has designed state names, like your state, so New York, for Pete, or whatever I had, like a logo for your state. Um, but if you were if your organization and so if your university campus, or your, I don’t know, local sports team, or whatever, if you want to allow your fans or your supporters to show their support, this is a really cool way to do that. You You just tell them this information, and you make it public available and say like, hey, show up, like wearing your best design or your best t shirt or sign or whatever. here’s, here’s the stuff you need to know about us.

Yeah. So what this is all designed to do is get you to the point as a developer or designer that you can deal with the ad hoc work that comes your way. One of the things that you know, I’ve had a problem with for the last god 15 years is stuff coming to me that styles are easy stuff, a style guide is actually very simple. And a lot of kids let’s take Satan Pepsi, the Pepsi style guide is very simple. The Pepsi font is extremely distinctive, you know that that’s the thing that Pepsi uses that color blue, and the color red they use in their logo is very distinctive, it’s very specific, it’s something that’s going to be expressed through the work. And so if somebody is contracted outside of Pepsi, to help build a landing page, let’s say, it’s very easy to tell them use this font use these colors, you know, here’s our voice, whatever. Where it gets harder is then when that gets handed off to a developer or some designer to refine it, or whatever the case may be, because it starts to impact. And you’ll see this is much, much more in larger organizations. In all fairness, folks who work freelance, you know, I don’t know what to tell you, you can certainly have an internal design system that you use, you can develop design systems for the folks you contract with small organizations don’t care. You know, I mean, for me, for better or worse, they don’t because they’re small. And it’s that’s not the value that they bring. But any kind of larger organization. If you can hand off a design system to that third party,


is kind of a contract into the reliability and confidence of your workflow. Because Yeah, one of the things and this is where things get gnarly is I’ve worked with my company for seven years, it’s a large organization, we have many brands, not just one brand, but the brands are related. And so we run into problems, because each brand is of course, distinct but connected. And so what we’ve been after is this very nice balance of each brand needs a style guide, certainly. But our design principles, our design philosophy are at an organizational level, not at a brand level, right. And our pattern library needs to be at an organizational level, because what we get is, you know, if one part of our company goes out and contracts with a third party to bring in a design for a landing page or something, and they come in with, let’s say, a 5050 panel that has an image on one side and content on the right side or something like that. I mean, we internally have already developed some solutions to that. But if that other group doesn’t know that, and we don’t have any, like defined value, organizational value attached to that layout, they give us something else, now we’re stuck maintaining to different 5050 panels that are maybe close Yeah, not quite, the padding is a little different, the treatment of the image is a little different. And it results in an enormous amount of overhead, to then maintain things that are effectively the same. That’s one thing that when you bring in a design system, you can start to eliminate because when you contract with somebody, the first thing you do is you say, here is our system, it’s like walking into a kid, and pouring a bucket of Lego blocks in their lap. There may be 1000, Lego blocks in that in that bucket, but you know that the thing they build out of it is something that you can reproduce every time without going out to the to Walmart and buying more Legos. Right. Right. That’s the value of the design, at least to me, that’s the value that I see in it. It reminds me

a little of we had a social media consultant, and I was I you, Brad Ward, his name? Yeah. Any. And he said that he was telling our some of our leadership, you know, like regarding social media and why we needed to be on that was because people are going to be talking about you on various platforms, Twitter, Facebook, etc. And so like that’s going to happen whether or not you like it. And so your participation in that online discussion is something you can opt into. And so you’re like, you’re affirmatively choosing to be part of that and to potentially steer it. And I think that that’s sort of one of the advantages of creating a design system like this is that, you know, if other people are going to create content, or whatever for you, regardless, because they love your brand, or whatever, you can at least make sure that they’re getting your colors, right. Yeah, are getting your laundry.

Yeah, because you want to reduce work at the tail end. And this is always that risk. And I’m I’m going through that right now. I’m working on a project where what was designed was designed entirely in a vacuum. It didn’t take into consideration the technology being used the CMS, it had it didn’t take any of that into account. And yes, I can solve every problem that is presented in that design. But the difficulty associated with something like how the menu is presented, and this is one that a lot how I responsive menu is based on a mobile design versus a desktop design. Right and mobile design was such that I couldn’t use the markup that was generated because the system, it’s WordPress, I don’t know why I’m being cagey about it. WordPress is menu output has a very specific structure to it. And it’s a very flexible and useful structure. But I couldn’t produce the mobile navigation without either creating can totally different menu, or by adding on an enormous amount of extra JavaScript to completely rewrite the DOM to account for it. That’s where these things like design systems come in. Because you can account for all of that well ahead of time. You can adapt, you can know that these problems are there. And it silently kind of enforces a rule set upon the people who will then pick that up and use it, they don’t need to care what CMS you’re using, or what output it has. All they know is this is, you know, when I look at your design system, I can look at the pattern component that and know this is the way menus or output or right I can look at your accessibility standards and know that if I give you yellow text on a white background, that that is not something that you’re going to find acceptable, you know, those are the things that we strive for when we bring all of this together gather because I think that in the end, it makes everybody better, doesn’t it? I mean, even the most developer is developers amongst us, you may never touch CSS, you may have one have nothing to do with it. But at least understanding the values that your company has. that directs the way that you build the thing that is coming next.

Like I would say the hardest part of creating something is going is having that initial vision of going from nothing at all, and then making those decisions to will something into existence. And so when you have a design system that’s given to you, all those decisions are already made. And so now you have kind of a defined University you can work in, and it just it really simplifies the process a lot.

And there’s another big piece to design systems, something that has been argued, my God, I’ve been going to conferences, as long as I’ve been a professional in this industry, and it’s been a topic, website redesigns. I almost got him, I almost got it. Oh, they are a waste of time and money. website redesigns are the ultimate admission of failure, from a strategy

standpoint, the way you except except when they’re necessary.

But if they become necessary, it is still out of failure. The only time that is not true is if your company has been bought by another company and you are forced to literally change the entire identity of your brand.

I’m thinking more like, and this really isn’t doesn’t apply that much anymore. But I’m thinking more like, you know, in the early 2000s, you’ve got HTML that was written without CSS at all. Yes, or it was rampant with CSS, but it wasn’t done using modern best practices. It was done using crappy CSS or whatever. But like, sometimes technology changes. And there are new, there’s new hotness out there now and it’s just time. Sure. But that’s not every year, though. And I think that some companies or organizations are like every year, they feel like they have to do like an overhaul. Like why? Why would you spend that money and,

and one thing like we have tried to do over the last few years to insulate us from that is we have worked very hard to kind of almost develop an adversary against our CMS, which is to say, like, we went out of our way to make sure every drop of code is in GitHub is as as part of a build process that goes through Jenkins and all this stuff, and then gets deployed through scripts to the CMS so that if the CMS is ever changed, in theory, we could, you know, still work involved. But we could still inherently pick up what we have, and bring it with us. And so but it that’s fair, that is a fair point. The the bigger argument is this idea of in place, you know, just deciding we’re going to redesign stuff because we’re tired of it or whatever. And

yeah, the whole like homepage refresh, right, that came up constantly,

always, let’s redesign the homepage. Let’s redesign the templates. Let’s fix this. And it’s a failure. Because in if you do your web development correctly, you should just always be iterating. Yeah, you should always be in a cycle of improvement and measuring and adjusting. And it’s very, it’s, I joke about it. With my co workers, we are an agile shop. But we are of course, like anybody, we are a flavor of agile, we are not purely agile, because nobody is purely agile at this point. But we do try to approach that idea of let’s build something and iterate on it. Let’s make it work. Get it out the door and then measure it and then improve upon it. Let’s not try to be perfect out the gate. And let’s not build it and then wait two years before we touch it again. Yeah, we’re not great at that yet. But we’re, we’re trying.

I was just thinking, I think almost every time that I was told we needed to do a homepage refresh. It involved adding a carousel. Yeah. If you have whatever your homepage may look like on your organizational site, like you probably have places that can have content swapped out, like images changed, and maybe content modules replaced or whatever. And, and I don’t think that that that’s fine. Like, that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t think it’s what you’re talking about, either. Um, we’re talking about, like, gutting the template completely, and then rebuilding it from from nothing, or changing entirely changing the style guide or whatever.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a you know, it comes back. And let’s let’s tie this all up with a neat little bow because when we go back to last week’s discussion, or last episodes discussion on web components, the idea is a good design system is organic, and is constantly growing and changing with you. So that while from today, to next month, it’s not different. But today, to six months from now, you could see different changes different improved meditation.

I would even extend that further with the talk about design philosophy earlier that your design philosophy will kind of steer the growth of your design systems like a design system would be the manifestation of that design flaws.

You’re right, your design system should be a reflection of the evolution of your users. Because chart, your users will get smarter over time and change over time and their abilities and capabilities will change over time. My God, we’re giving Instagram the chimps talking about putting the perfect bow on this subject, right.

I want to see more animals you stick around. I just I want to see like what, like cluster these animals like dolphins dolphins could probably use it if you gave them a way to interface with it. Yeah, I know smart. I don’t want to know what other animals like I’m gonna get my hamster out there. We’re gonna try using Instagram.

I’ve seen cats play the the ant game on iPhones, you know, where they smash the ants or frogs. You see the ones the frog trying to eat the ants on the screen? They can they have perceptive ability there. So guess that that is clearly the end of this episode. At this point. I don’t think we can end it better than that. So at any rate, look at design systems, go look at what you can do there. And and think about them that way. Because they are designed to be a growth mechanism for your organization, you should be able to evolve them and change them and adapt them.

You know what, I don’t mean to bury the lead on this. But, um, I learned about architectural design records today, ADR? Have you

heard I do not have a clue what the hell you’re talking about.

Okay, maybe maybe we need to have another like maybe this deserves a lengthy discussion in episode, but it is related to what we’re just talking about. So like a design systems for the front end, right, like, you know, HTML and CSS, and on guns, that layer. So the architectural design record is for the, like the back end decision, right? It’s it’s a kind of a log or historical archive of decisions that were made about your software architecture for your application, or sir. Um, there’s a really cool GitHub page that has a lot of like, explanation about this. I just learned about it this morning. It’s really neat. I haven’t read a lot about it. But maybe we could talk about it more another. Because I think it’s a really cool concept. It’s

that reminds me I had a conversation earlier today with some folks from a company that I think this sounds very similar, right, that they are working with a company. It’s a legacy company. So the company has been around for decades. And it’s a large, publicly traded organization. And their consumer system, their their their customer system, their CRM. Yeah, das based on fairness, I’ve talked to folks who have had like Fortran based systems that are still out there. Or if anybody’s ever used info basic, I know a place where that is still in use. They bet this dossier system that they have to run emulated. Because not only is the company that built it out of business, but the companies that came in to support it after the factor out of business. And so they’re stuck trying now to figure out how to bridge the gap. Costco is a company that is in this position. Actually, Costco is like commentary management system is all command line das based. It may not be Doss specifically, but it is command line of some flavor. But But I can see immediately where you’re going with that that idea of Yeah, let’s apply the design system to the development side so that we know why technology decisions were made and things like that. That’s

so the the main website, that I mean, at least from the discussion that I was in is at our github.io. And I’ll add a link to the show notes. Yeah, but yeah, do does. Yeah, it’s it’s pretty cool. And I want to learn more about it. And I think that it definitely, I’ve been worked on far too many apps where I come into it. And I’m told, like, oh, man, if you Yeah, if you could document some stuff as you’re learning it, that would be great. Because we don’t have that.

So my my direction to Aaron this week is going to be to go figure out who the key contributor is to that repo. And we’re gonna get him on the show. That’s my goal. By the end of the year, we’re going to get that person on because

that I’ll see if I can find that.

Now, that’s very interesting. And it’s something that just goes to show that we we’d speak a little off the cuff here, that didn’t come up in our, our free plan. So that’s very cool. Folks, stick with us. We’re gonna go to a break for just real quick, give me a little commercial do that thing. Then we’re gonna come back and we’re going to wrap up and holy hell I don’t know. The drunken UX podcast is brought to you by our friends at New cloud. New cloud is an industry leading interactive map provider who has been building location based solutions for organizations for a decade. Are you trying to find a simple solution to provide your users with an interactive map of your school, city or business? Well, new clouds interactive map platform gives you the power to make and edit a custom interactive map in just minutes. They have a team of professional cartographers who specialize in map illustrations of many different styles, and are ready to design and artistic rendering to fit your exact needs. One map serves all of your users devices with responsive maps that are designed to scale and blend in seamlessly with your existing website. To request a demonstration, or to view their portfolio, visit them online at New cloud.com slash drunken UX that’s in you cloud.com slash drunken UX. Everybody, thanks for joining us this week on the drunken UX podcast. Hey, if you have a topic that you’d like to hear us cover at some point, feel free to drop by the website, drinking UX calm, click the Contact link in the main navigation. And you can submit the form there. And if you want to hear us talk about something that’s important to you, let us know. I’d love to hear what you want to hear us drink scotch and vodka. Whatever else may be. I don’t know. Hey, Aaron, save me. Yes.

Oh, so you know that Twitter thing we’re talking about? Yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re on there. It’s twitter.com slash truck and you add more

and more fortunately, I’m having to commit more time to that it’s a blessing and a curse

facebook.com slash truck new x and then Instagram, where the chimps hang out. All the chimps our fans instagram.com. Sasha, can you x podcast and oh, and Slack, truck direct comm slash slack.

all the places we are a popular bunch of people. And we love talking mostly because we love hearing the sound of our own voice. I mean, I do anyway, folks. Genuinely thanks for tuning in this week. If you have anything you want to hear coming up, we’ve got a bunch of stuff coming up that you’re going to want to tune in for from book reviews to interviews to guests and other topics. I promise you, it’ll be worth your time. Otherwise, I think I only have one thing left to say and that’s before me gets here. I guess just keep your personas close and closer. Later.

This episode of The Drunken UX Podcast brought to you by nuCloud.

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