Man, today’s articles will give you some great material, and some even better debate opportunities. We get started thinking about what defines success, and how we talk to others about it. Then, NNG has put out another piece on the problems with carousels – this time as it applies to mobile. Then the fight starts. Is WordPress at a crossroads? What does the future look like there? After that comes my favorite article in a while, that looks at “slow design,” or the idea that maybe MVP isn’t the best goal. We wrap up with some technical points on HTTPS, specifically as it applies to static sites.
- Defining a Successful Web Project
- Carousels on Mobile Devices
- WordPress is at a Crossroads
- The Case for Slow Design
- Here’s Why Your Static Website Needs HTTPS
I’ll be real, I was having a hard time this week coming up with a joke. Luckily, I found a great one about UDP. I’d tell you, but you probably wouldn’t get it. It’s all in the timing.
This is Real Time Overview for Wednesday, August 29th, 2018, I am your host Michael Fienen. Stay tuned for a brand new episode of The Drunken UX Podcast coming up next Monday. Aaron and I will be joined by Tatiana Mac in a chat all about the challenges of accessibility and universal design, what it means to work those into your projects, and how you can get better at it. I think you’ll really enjoy what we’ve put together there. In the mean time, on with the news!
Success comes in many shapes and sizes. If you’ve ever sat in a job interview, or tried to get a client to buy into the services you offer, you understand the value of being able to explain and showcase your success. At the same time, success can be judged a lot of ways by a lot of different people depending on their perspective, and it’s why this week we start with an article by Eric Karkovack called Defining a Successful Web Project.
This article dives into the topic headlong by explaining how easy it is to look at success in terms of what we accomplished, or challenges we overcame, but how those personal achievements need to handled with some care. The context that comes in can very much impact whether or not the person you are talking to connects with it. Find a novel solution to a tough bug is great, but the accomplishment can be lost on someone that doesn’t understand that challenge.
Eric emphasizes focusing on results and outcomes for clients, and use that as a way to frame the work you did. You still get to talk about your particular talents that the people will be hiring, but you do it with an eye towards anchoring it with why that will be worth their money.
I would also suggest keeping a small notebook for various projects, some place you can jot down the good things that happen, the feedback you get, and the outcomes you discover. It’s much easier to do that in the moment and refer back sometimes, rather than trying to put them together after the fact.
How do you measure success in your projects, and what do you tell people when they ask about it? What’s been your most successful project given that criteria? We’d love to hear your stories and also your advice. You can leave a comment on the shownotes at drunkenux.com.
The Nielsen Norman Group has taken a shot at a topic near and dear to my heart with their recent post about Carousels on Mobile Devices. See, I hate carousels. I hate them. It’s a war I’ve been fighting for nearly a decade. So any opportunity I have to share data talking about how bad they are, I’m going to take.
In this article, you’ll get a dose of cases that show why carousels can be particularly problematic for mobile user, where different interaction methods combined with tight screen real estate create a scenario where your carousels will simply be avoided.
First is the issue of simply getting through one. Presuming you’re interested in what’s in it, if the list is long, it can take ages to rotate through one if only 3-4 items are showing at a time. The example they give is Netflix, which is arguably one of the few cases where carousel navigation does at least make a degree of sense. This is only because you’re specifically trying to navigate catalogs of information though, so don’t get too excited about following their lead.
There’s also the issue of users ever realizing that a carousel is there, whether that’s because your visual identifiers like dots or arrows might be hard to see, or they might just scroll past it too fast to know. This, as opposed to a desktop where the carousel might at least stay in view long enough to change while they’re looking at it. It’s still terrible though, don’t be fooled.
Control is a big issue, especially as it applies to swiping. Swiping is both a familiar gesture on mobile devices, but it’s also one that can be problematic and misunderstood by the device. Did you mean to cycle the carousel, or go back a page? The difference between those relies on the invisible spatial relationship of the application on the device, and a user doesn’t necessarily know or expect that.
Carousels are bad and you shouldn’t use them except in very specific use cases. If you need more ammo to make that argument to stakeholders for a project, here you go. I’ll toss a couple other articles in the shownotes too on that note. And if you disagree, well, you’re wrong. Keep fighting the good fight, people, and death to carousels.
Gutenberg has started a lot of conversations in the WordPress community lately. But, so has time. WordPress today is exists in an ecosystem dramatically different from the one it started with in 2003. Jonathan Bailey addresses the future pain of this growth in his article WordPress is at a Crossroads, posted, of course, on Medium.
What Jonathan tackles in his piece isn’t necessarily a cheap shot on the platform that tries to use Gutenberg as a crutch for how broken WordPress is. He’s looking at a system that has a challenge that demands updates, but also the challenges that are posed when a system becomes some integral to so much of the internet, that the very growth it needs is the same thing that can alienate the community.
It’s a tough draw, and a case of the platform falling victim to its own success. I’m not saying I personally agreed with every point Jonathan makes in this article, but I think they are all points worth talking about. Ideas about access to the platform for new users, the upward pressure from new and evolving competitors, and the big question – what happens when your most important changes might not be practical?
I like this topic, because I like thinking about where we’ve been and where we’re going. I’ve been with WordPress through most of its life at this point, so it’s an arc I’ve seen pretty much start to finish. I agree that things are getting challenging. I also think they’ve done incredibly well in building something that has remained relevant and powerful.
I’d love to hear some listener thoughts on this one. Has WordPress become its own enemy? Is Gutenberg a turning point, for better or worse? And if I can, I want to ask a really hard question – is it time for WordPress to fork, rather than try to plumb in newer, more modern features? Hit us up over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you think.
MVP is that never ending pursuit of the smallest useful component. How small can we make something that works? What is our minimum viable product? It’s a hard question that Jesse Weaver tackles in The Case for Slow Design.
Don’t be fooled by this title, his arguments can easily and equally apply to coding just as much as design. The argument he makes is that we are ultimately doing a disservice to what can make us successful by not being more mindful of the craft we are executing.
To tell a story, think of a great painter like da Vinci. Recently, a painting of his was discovered and sold at auction. This was a revelation, because it wasn’t even known that there were works left to find. For years, the work, Salvator Mundi, was thought to be the work of a student, or some other unknown painter. It took years of meticulous research and science to determine the work was from da Vinci’s hands. The key? It was in the detail, the work, and the craftsmanship. They used scanners to look through layer after layer of paint, looking at changes that were made as it was created, and how finishing touches were applied. In the end, the craftsmanship told the story.
I explain it this way, because men like da Vinci didn’t rush a watercolor out the door overnight that looked vaguely like the person they were painting. They took the time that was necessary, sometimes laboring years to get it right. And we know their names because of that.
Our world is certainly much bigger than theirs, and our work somewhat less influential. But it’s important nonetheless. And there’s an argument to be made that success doesn’t necessarily follow speed. It follows quality. The companies that have been fast and successful manage it by having a process driven towards quality as well. They don’t forget to come back to it later, when they say they will.
The lesson? Don’t just chase MVP because Agile tells you to, or because your deadline looms. MVP is only as good as your commitment to pursuing quality. If your work stops at putting out the minimal product, then you’re likely to see minimal success as a result.
I loved this article. Loved it. Go read it at Jesse’s blog on Medium, you won’t regret it.
Finally this week, we stop by Troy Hunt’s blog for a technical piece called Here’s Why Your Static Website Needs HTTPS.
Troy offers up some commentary that explains why, even if your website is static and doesn’t send or receive any personal information, you should still consider getting SSL installed on your site. The question that frequently comes up at this point is “Why?” What are you protecting? The answer, as it turns out, is a lot.
A large part of this has to do with a video he shares in the post of a talk he gave on this subject. I’ll leave a link directly to that video in the show notes as well. The argument isn’t so much about what can happen directly to your site or your user, but what might be able to happen in between.
And I’ll stop to just be clear, SSL does not prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. I’m not suggesting that, nor is Troy. But, it can help reduce the risk of one, and take away some attack vectors that can be exploited. If your connection isn’t secured, it makes it much easier to compromise, at which point it’s not about what’s on your site, but rather what can be put on your site.
As he puts it, SSL isn’t nearly as scary or complex as it used to be. It’s also much cheaper. Cheap as in free, if you’re just a little handy. The web is increasingly moving towards HTTPS, and that’s not because it’s the wrong choice, or because people that don’t want to do the work know something everyone else doesn’t. Secure your crap, it’s the right thing to do.
Thanks for clicking into Real Time Overview and we hope you found these selections helpful for whatever it is you’re working on this week. For the Drunken UX Podcast, I am Michael Fienen. 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. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you can find us at /drunkenux. Or check out at on Instagram at drunkenuxpodcast. if you have any articles, blogs, or tutorials you’ve found particularly useful, let us know and we’ll consider it for a future episode of Real-Time Overview. You can submit suggestions using the form on our website.
Until next time, keep your personas close, and your users closer.