Selected just for you this week, a hearty crop of the best from around the web development news circles. Two stories on WordPress – one with advice on how to avoid the upcoming Gutenberg editor, and the other looking more broadly at how WordPress has affected the  web development industry. We also look at research into user needs for health care providers, some tips in how to create good, usable links, and finally we go off the beaten path to think about ergonomics and standing desks.

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Transcript

Do you know why web developers hate staying on the 4th floor of hotels? They’re always worried that if they get room 404, they won’t be able to find it.

This is Real Time Overview for August 1st, 2018, and I’m your host Michael Fienen. Be sure to watch the feed next Monday when we’ll be back with a new episode The Drunken UX Podcast, Jeff Stevens is joining us for a chat about how to jumpstart your understanding of content strategy. That’s coming to you on August 6th. Right now though, we start our weekly roundup with Gutenberg.

Like it or not, Gutenberg is coming to a WordPress install near you very soon. Word on the street has it that the upcoming 4.9.8 patch will include the official notice in the backend encouraging you, the intrepid developer, to install the Gutenberg plugin and try it out.

Believe it or not, a lot of people are less than enthusiastic about that prospect. Others just want to wait until WordPress 5.0 releases, and still more will be managing sites for others and won’t want those people to be confused by the alert. If you count yourself among any of these groups, there are some steps you can take to ignore this request.

Over at Gutenberg Times, Birgit Pauli-Haack has put together 10 Methods to Avoid Gutenberg On Your Website.

This post reviews the hooks available in WordPress that will be useful for selectively enabling or disabling Gutenberg, then looks at some plugins that are explicitly designed to help suppress the nag in 4.9.8, and then there are a handful of other tools that include various options for either specific control of where Gutenberg can be used, along with also suppressing the nag.

We also talked a little about WordPress updates in episode 15 of The Drunken UX Podcast, and we mentioned that there are some values you can set to control how it auto-updates. If you want to put in a hard block, just set WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE to false in your wp-config file, and it will flat stop 4.9.8 and future updates from installing automatically. It’s a little bit of a brute force solution, but if you absolutely, positively must keep your sites and users from seeing Gutenberg, that’s the way to go.

If there’s one thing I think we can all agree on, I think it’s that if I tell you this next story is how important health care sites are to hospitals and their patients, it’s super confusing when I say it’s written by the AMA. This particular story isn’t written by the American Medical Association, but rather it’s brother in acronyms, the American Marketing Association.

They’ve released a story about a research project that involved over a quarter of a million households to help determine what people are looking for when it comes to getting information from health care providers. More people than ever are turning to hospital websites to help them make decisions – in fact, 20% more people in the past four years. As a result, there are a lot of lessons to be found here in how content can help drive health care business as well as others.

One great lesson, regardless of what the specific things people want in health care, is that the best way to understand what people are looking for is to simply ask them. Users who come to your website have goals in mind, after all, and blind analytics can only take you so far and they’re bad at giving you a user’s intent. The AMA talks about four of those areas for hospitals, and all of them focused on highly goal-oriented users.

There’s another interesting point made towards the end of this article that cross-pollinates with other industries well. They mention that health care providers would do well to serve the needs of site visitors to avoid losing them to third party sites. Basically, they are talking about places like HealthGrades. But this could just as easily apply to folks who lose visitors to sites like Yelp or BeyondMenu, or others.

In the end, if you don’t listen to the needs of your users and what they’re after, they’ll go elsewhere for it, if that happens, you lose some or all of their value.

This article is a quick read that doesn’t go too in depth into the results of the research, but it gives you a good cursory look into how taking your time with user surveys can help you surface extremely valuable business data.

This next article caught my attention from the very first story it includes, which is too good not to read. This comes from 8 Secrets of the Perfect Link by Ben Moss. In it, he tells a story that concludes with this observation about a colleague that was trying to figure out how to get a printer working:

“An intelligent, professional person, had spent two hours searching for the right driver for a Canon printer, never realizing that the Download Driver instruction was a link. As he slunk back to his workspace, it seemed impolite to enquire as to whether or not he’s color blind, but I’d put good money on it; if he is, that link probably appears mid-grey, blending in with the rest of the text.”

In the user’s case, what he needed was a button which would function as a link designed to perform an action and convey intent. A button makes the command visually distinct, and identifies it as an action-oriented step you can complete in the context it exists in. A plain text link – which in this case also wasn’t underlined, loses a ton of its contextual value and becomes difficult to understand, especially if you can’t see the color used. All it does is simply provide a vague instruction then, rather than a point of interaction.

And in the case of links, arguments about not changing from things like the default blue coloring are points that refer back to things like the 4th Law of UX, Jakob’s Law, which tells virtually all users spend their time not on your site. Blue, underlined links come from browser conventions in the 90s that are now universally understood.

Whether we’re talking about buttons versus text, or “read more” links compared to links with semantically useful keywords, link UX is easily as important as other forms of UX you’ll run into when building an interface or content.

If you want to read all eight of Ben’s considerations for good link UX, you can check out his article at Web Designer Depot.

If you’ve ever wondered why we talk so much about WordPress, Eric Karkovack has written up an article at SpeckyBoy that demonstrates The Impact WordPress Has Had on the Web.

If you exist in a world where WordPress has simply always been available as a tool, it’s hard to appreciate how much it did for helping to unify and lead the world of content management systems. For starters, it established something of a standard for how a CMS should function and operate, and what tools it should give to users.

WordPress also redefined what it meant to have an open source community, and it continues to do so today. It brought the idea of being involved in the platform off of listservs and SVN, and into forums and in-person events.

The other, broader impact it’s had is in how it has created and galvanized business opportunity in the web development space. From site support and development, to theme design and service integration, WordPress laid the foundation for the professional web developer in a big way. Supporting WordPress sites was one of the first really big hooks you could hang your hat on as a freelance developer in the late part of the 2000s.

For more of Eric’s thoughts on how WordPress has impacted us, check out his article at SpeckyBoy, then tell us what you think. What would our landscape look like without WordPress? Would we all be Typo3 developers today? Would something entirely different have happened? Shoot us a message and let us know what you think.

I grabbed this one not so much because of a web development angle, but because it’s something I identified with as a developer that spends way too many hours at his desk. Mark Wilson from Fast Company has a piece that looks at how convertible sit/stand desks might benefit you.

I got my UpLift desk nearly 4 years ago, and I genuinely love it. I find it to be a great break from my normal, arguably terrible ergonomics I deal with otherwise. Should I get up and just walk and stretch more? Yes, I should. Now stop judging me.

There’s a lot of data taking shape that implies taking the time to stand for a while each day can be really beneficial to you, not just in that moment, but overall. Why? I have no idea. But the article attempts to tackle a few ideas about the increased movement, being looser, and how you choose the tasks you complete based on your position.

I won’t preach that everyone should get one. They can be pricey at the end of the day, but if you make your livelihood at a desk, I suggest it’s at least worth looking into if it’s something you can leverage to impact your overall quality of life. A good desk can be easily as valuable as proper monitor setup, a good chair, and other resources.

Read more about the results in Mark’s article at Fast Company.

Thanks for clicking into Real Time Overview this week and as always, we hope you found one of these selections helpful for what you’re doing. I’m your host Michael Fienen and if you want to track me down, just look up @fienen on Twitter. If you want links to any of the stories in today’s episode, be sure to swing by our website at drunkenux.com, they’ll all be linked in the shownotes there. And if you have any articles to suggest for a future episode of Real-Time Overview, we have a form on our site that you can use to submit a link to us, or just shoot us a message on social media, we’d love to see what you’re reading!

Until next time my friends, keep your personas close, and your users closer.

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