🌍 Alan’s World: 01/05/22

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Ok, week two, and I’m shattered! At the beginning of April, I started my new job as Lead Front-End Designer, working on a suite of internal business applications. Due to confidentiality and NDAs, I can’t mention any details of what I’m working on, but I can say that these are huge apps with very complicated business logic that need to be turned into simple, intuitive UIs.

Needless to say, I’m exhausted. I’ve spent the last few weeks building an in-depth understanding of our users’ processes and creating a simplified workflow that places a ton of information and tools at their fingertips (hopefully) without being overwhelming.

Even though I’m knackered, I’m absolutely loving this work. I’m working within a great, (very) small team of people who are equally as passionate as I am about user experience and our roadmap of products is really exciting.

I almost wrote about a rather disappointing, unnecessary debate that I saw and got partially drawn into on Twitter in this post. But to be honest I don’t want to focus on negative things when I review my week. That’s the beauty of writing on my own blog, I have the ability to edit what I’m putting out into the world and somethings just aren’t worth focusing on.

Speaking of Twitter, I did see a very poignant point about web development which does a great job of summing up why it’s such a challenging medium to design for. Effectively, we’re all designing for devices we don’t own or manage, don’t know what software versions they’re running and have no control over how they’re connected to the network… 🤪

🤓 What I Learned This Week

Being so busy at work, I’ve not had much chance to spend on side projects recently, but I’ve been starting to look at the Laravel PHP framework this week. At least once a year I end up being drawn to Laravel, which is an amazingly powerful back-end framework, but it always ends the same way… I never have a need to use it!

I’m planning on writing a post soon about choosing the right tool for the job when it comes to building web projects. The reality is that for most of my projects, I don’t need something as big and powerful as Laravel. At some point, I’m going to come up with a project idea where I can delve into it properly.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve also been looking at 11ty, which is a tool for generating static sites, while also enabling some cool dynamic stuff with serverless functions. This fits well with the majority of work I do since I’m more focused on the front-end.

I’ll be digging into 11ty more in the near future.

🕹 What I’m Playing

There wasn’t much time for gaming this week, but I did finish my re-playthrough of Resident Evil Village on hardcore difficulty. Love this game! I’m really looking forward to the long awaited DLC which should hopefully be announced soon!

I’m probably going to start playing the Mass Effect Legendary Edition again in the coming week, having started it a couple of months ago but dropped it for a while. I’ll be playing through the remastered trilogy for a long time to come given how massive these games were.

I’m about a third of the way through the ME1 remaster. Mass Effect 2 is one of my all time favourite games, so I really can’t wait to get to that one and enjoy it in it’s remastered glory! I only wish we had a 4K TV so I could experience it at its best! 😢

📺 What I’m Watching

My wife and I have been rewatching The IT Crowd on Netflix this week. It’s been a long time since we watched it and I’d forgotten how hilarious it was! I think that now I work in an IT department, I find it even funnier 🤣

Richard Ayoade is hilarious in everything he’s in. I’m always a fan of his deadpan delivery.

🕸 Interesting Things From The Web

As part of the work I’m doing on our internal design system and business applications, I’m leaning very heavily into modern, clean web layout practices. Last week I highlighted the Every Layout website, which introduces new (to a lot of us) paradigms to fluid layout on the web.

This week, I’d like to highlight a complimentary approach to fluid layout – fluid typography and spacing. This is really cool. Pioneered by a designer and a developer from the Clearleft agency, the Utopia website discusses the conceptual overview of what goes into creating fluid type and space. They even include handy generator tools to create your own flavour for use in your own projects!

But what is it? Well, you’ll be able to see examples over on their site, but it allows the typography and spacing on a page to increase and decrease based on the size of the viewport (browser). This means that you get appropriately sized typography and spacing no matter what device you’re using.

Referring back to the Twitter quote I mentioned above, we’re designing experiences for an ever increasing number of devices with an unknowable range of screen sizes. A few years ago, responsive design relied totally on media queries. But setting sizing and spacing based on a fixed set of widths meant that you would get jarring layout bugs if the viewport happened to be exactly at your breakpoint.

Embracing a fluid layout mindset means that no matter what device, existing or not even created yet, your users have a great experience. Very cool.


Anyway! We’ve got a Bank Holiday to enjoy! Until next week…