A few resources for front-enders

I thought I’d share some of the great things I’ve discovered and used across the web in recent months.

Zepto minimal javascript library
Zepto is a great jquery like framework that’s perfect for mobile based solutions primarily because of it’s tiny footprint (9kb). I’ve used it for a few projects and really enjoyed it. 

Screensiz.es
Screen sizes is great to quickly pull resolutions and a number of other stats for any device.

Subtle Patterns
Sometimes you need to give your projects a little texture. Subtle patterns is a great resource to get repeating patterns for your project.

Google Maps Style Wizard
Most implementations of maps are the default style. I’ve found that my clients and clients of my employer (Big Mobile) enjoy branding extending to their maps. I guess it’s nice to carry-over the theming onto maps. Google maps style wizard let’s you define the colour, styling and visibility of practically everything that goes onto a map. The output is pretty easy to copy-paste into your Google map project.

 

ZAMPLE+me

zample-dribble

In case I haven’t bragged to you already, check out my new side start-up Zample.me. It’s a mix between surveys and data visualisations with a super minimal UX.

We’re starting to get some really positive feedback and reviews that are nice in a validating kind of way.

If you have the time, checkout Zample.me and we hope it inspires how your startup shares data, and builds an experience for the simplest task with a unique solution.

new-startups.com

 

My Gmail got hacked :(

So I got a new Nexus 7 of Santa and I’ve been busy installing apps from anywhere and everywhere. Somewhere along the way I think I aligned my Gmail credentials to some sort of dodgy app/service. At 3 AM on the 28th an email went out to everyone in my contact list with a link to a work from home scam.

I sent a few emails and tweets out to let people know (and apologise). Then, quickly jumped into lockdown mode and after a few minutes of research that I was asking for it.

Not only did I have a poor set of passwords but I also had distributed access to my credentials across hundreds of apps over the years.

But a few hours later I think I’ve got it completely locked down. It was actually good to investigate some of the security options Gmail has inbuilt. I’ve had my Gmail account since it was in Beta and never really reviewed the security.

Step 1 – Change password

Sounds simple but I hadn’t done this in two years. Oops. I use this site to generate passwords. If you Google ‘password generator’ it’s the first result.

Step 2 – 2 Step Verification

As it’s name suggests two step verification essentially adds another layer of security to your Google account. All you need to supply for this is your mobile number. Once added, Google will send you a verification message any time a new, non-trusted mobile device attempts to login to Google services.

Step 3 – Application specific passwords

Step 2 will disconnect all your devices and require a verified login. For third party mail clients (eg. iOS Mail app) you’ll need to generate a one time password. You will use this password instead of your normal Gmail one. This allows you to disconnect particular services as required without changing your Gmail password.

Step 4 – Manage connected applications

I’m such a nerd-whore I sign into everything I see anywhere and hope it’s all kosher. There were about 50 services that were using my Google account – some with full access! You can revoke access to the ones you don’t know.

With any luck, all of that should lock it off. Shouldn’t it? :)

Unboxing UX

I work in a job where there are people selling our teams ‘UX’ skills to clients. UX is something new, almost a buzzword that many people don’t really understand. It’s often just thought of the guys who make it pretty at the end. 

Anyone who actually works in UX (and understands UX) will constantly tell you that UX underpins any digital work and is essential to it’s success. Most of the time we have a number of tools used in different ways … but where does it start? Where does it end? What’s involved? What’s the minimum, what’s the maximum?

I found the easiest way to detail and explain this problem was to document the stages of UX and the processes and deliverables involved. This is what I came up with;

Discover

  • UX Analysis
    • Stakeholder interviews
    • Business needs analysis
    • Process analysis
    • Functional analysis
    • Content strategy
  • User Analysis
    • User Interviews
    • Focus groups
    • Observations
    • Behaviour analysis
    • User surveys
    • Web analytics research
  • Benchmarking
    • Usability testing
    • Competitor analysis
    • Technology assessments
  • Accessibility Recommendations
    • Web
    • Mobile

Define

  • Creative Direction
  • Creative Planning
  • Screenflow/Userflow diagrams
  • Information Architecture
  • Wireframes
  • Prototypes
  • Usability testing
  • Specifications Documentation
  • Copywriting

Design

  • Interaction Design
  • Functionality
  • Legibility
  • Accessibility
  • User Interface Design
    • Web / WebApp Design
    • Mobile design
    • Touch screen/kiosk design
  • Graphic Design
    • Branding
    • Illustrations
    • Animations
  • Design documentation /specification
  • Style guide
  • Creative Development
  • HTML/HTML5
  • CSS/CSS3
  • Javascript*
  • Front end frameworks
  • Themes/skins

Refine

  • Accessibility
    • Accessibility review
    • Accessibility adjustments
  • Creative Review

I guess the main thing to note is that in the design part we venture well outside of what you would typically call UX (html, js etc). This is just the work I actually do and may be different for everyone. I could go on about how I think the best type of UX people are the ones that have a digital background but I’ll save that for another day.

I really hate SharePoint.

I don’t normally say I hate things. But I really hate SharePoint. It’s so frustrating that so many businesses are using this software to essentially run their business. It’s hands down the most complicated mess of a system ever.

I’ve tried to give it the benefit of the doubt. I’ve tried to work with it. I’ve even tried to work ON it. But everytime it fails to do the most basic things. Things like;

  • Search like a modern search should search
  • Be cross browser friendly
  • Not use tables everywhere
  • Compile compliant HTML (too much to ask?)
  • Not give users a confusing mess every two clicks
  • Work on a mobile device

The most annoying thing is that there is so much cheaper, better software out there (Basecamp) that gets overlooked. Gah! I don’t think anyone, anywhere is ever going to disagree on this one. So I might end my bitchy frustrations here.