For the last year I’ve been working at the Guardian under the leadership of a creative director. I’ve never worked with a creative director before – at least not in the traditional sense – and have found this to be a fascinating yet also frustrating experience; for the first time in my career I’ve not the been the arbiter of good taste.
Each month net Magazine run a section called Exchange, where four industry experts each answer three questions on a particular topic, asked by their readers and followers on Twitter. I was asked to be the responsive expert in their March issue, which is on sale now.
I’m leaving the Guardian and going freelance in March.
My contribution to this year’s 24 ways attempts to tackle one of the most difficult aspects of web development, naming things:
Working in-house may mean working with multiple developers, perhaps in distributed teams, who are all committing changes – possibly to a significant codebase – at the same time. Left unchecked, this codebase can become unwieldy. Coding conventions ensure everyone can contribute, and help build a product that works as a coherent whole.
Even on smaller projects, perhaps working within an agency or by yourself, at some point the resulting product will need to be handed over to a third party. It’s sensible, therefore, to ensure that your code can be understood by those who’ll eventually take ownership of it.
Put simply, code is read more often than it is written or changed. A consistent and predictable naming scheme can make code easier for other developers to understand, improve and maintain…
This is the fourth successive year I’ve been involved with 24 ways (including last year’s redesign), although this article rounds out a year in which I have been deliberately quiet in terms of writing and speaking. I don’t intend for that to be the case in 2015.
Last Thursday I attended Break Conference, where content, graphic, product, UX and web design practitioners took to the stage in Belfast’s Assembly Buildings. As the spiritual successor to Build, organiser Christopher Murphy hoped the event would remove the artificial barriers erected between these different specialisms.
Earlier this month I spent a week volunteering at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Last Friday I attended Responsive Day Out 2. The format was the same as last year, but the tenor was a little different. Gone were the theoretical presentations, talk of trying to sell responsive web design to clients and fears of embarking on responsive projects. Instead presentations focused on the actual doing; getting into the nitty-gritty.
John Oliver’s new weekly late-night HBO show Last Week Tonight has seen him deliver a number of cutting satirical observations on current events. His thoughts on net neutrality perfectly encapsulated the blatant corruption surrounding the FCC’s proposed regulatory changes. But on the eve of the World Cup, his comments on FIFA are worth sharing:
[Football] is an organised religion, and FIFA is its church. Just think about it, its leader is infallible, it compels South American countries to spend money they don’t have building opulent cathedrals, and it may ultimately be responsible for the deaths of shocking numbers of people in the Middle East. But, for millions of people around the world like me, it is also the guardian of the only thing that gives their lives any meaning.
Much of the work for which we express the most enthusiasm seems superficial, narrow in its conception of design, shallow in its ambitions, or just ineffective.
A necessary critique of the state of design emanating from Silicon Valley. It would seem its best designers are putting lipstick on pigs; adding gloss to products that most people outside San Francisco neither want or need. Also, this:
Design is about solving problems that humans have, not problems that products have.
John Leicester provides a considered view on the new energy-conscious regulations governing Formula 1:
F1 wouldn’t be F1 without excess. Fans worldwide wouldn’t tune in for world champion Sebastian Vettel driving a Prius. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone got fabulously rich with the sales pitch of bigger, faster, costlier, noisier equals vroooom… But as road cars become more fuel efficient, with electric and hybrid-engine technology making increasing inroads, F1 needed to reconnect with its time or risk becoming an anachronism, racing on regardless the costs to the environment.
I’m loving the new-look Formula 1! Last season had become too predictable, not helped by the leading team favouring one driver. This year we have midfield teams challenging for podiums, and Mercedes allowing its two drivers to battle for the top step. As for the loudness, the squeal of locking wheels and the roar of expectant crowds more than makes up for the lack of growling V8s, however much the new engines sound like a dentist’s drill.
Possibly the most important design talk you’ll hear this year:
For decades, the spaces we live in have been built by consensus. Planners, architects, councils, consultation; and always the watchful eye of the regulators and elected officials. But the world’s favourite digital spaces are largely in the hands of people like you and me. We have to oversee ourselves – and it’s not going very well.
Are we focusing on the right problems? Or just aggrandising the mundane? How do we know what the right problems are? How can we guide ourselves to appreciate the cultural and personal impact of the decisions we make?
It’s time for our industry to become ethically aware, if we’re to have a chance of doing the right thing.
For this month’s net magazine, Martin Cooper asked me to provide some thoughts on this question prompted by a recent exchange between Jeff Croft and Jeffrey Zeldman.
With the British government now able to count itself among the few countries sporting a coherent identity programme, a follow up to my 2009 post on the subject.
Whereas the world’s foremost architects, graphic artists, typographers, iconographers and illustrators are asked to create their best work to celebrate each Olympic Games, still we wait for the Olympic movement to give equal consideration to the design of its websites.
The net Awards return for their fifteenth year, and I’m more than a little surprised to be a nominated for Designer of the Year.
Vasilis van Gemert asked me to curate a list of classic articles for the Daily Nerd, but what constitutes a classic?