22nd February 2012
As we adapt our code to adapt to changing contexts so must our process and therefore so must our tools.
Luke Wroblewski mentioned recently on Twitter:
When trying to design in code, I inevitably need to bubble up to Photoshop every now & then.
(via Luke W on Twitter)
This made me think of my own process. Photoshop1 has become an add-on to the design and build process whereas before it was at the core of every design decision and central to the design process itself.
Responsive web design has naturally moved us away from the world of the finite canvas of tools like Photoshop and on to the infinite canvas of the the web. Those I know that design and build responsive layouts no longer use Photoshop as the pixel perfect representation of the site yet to be built and have moved towards designing in the browser instead. We now design in proportions, not pixels2.
So what is the role of a graphics editor in a responsive designer’s toolkit? I can’t answer for everybody, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, but for me the clue is in the name. Photoshop deals with raster graphics like photographs or textures that are otherwise unachievable natively in the browser. I find it ironic that responsive design has changed the role of my tools - they serve a different purpose now, they change, they respond.
15th February 2012
I am a visual learner. I learn best when watching an example, my mind absorbs images and motion better than static words or instructions. One is more visually interesting than the other.
I love watching people passionate about their craft - their traits, techniques and decision making - how they do things. It helps me get better at what I do. It helps shape my approach to my craft.
Ever since I watched A History Of The Title Sequence by Jurjen Versteeg, I was gripped by his attention to detail, the precision and care that he puts into each title painstakingly crafted by his tools. It’s taught me to do the same in my work, with my tools. Although they are different they don’t change how attentive I can be to my work.
Sometimes it’s nice to just take a moment and sit in someone else’s presence and watch them work.
8th February 2012
My parents have a table, a really solid table that has played host to thousands of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and homework assignments. It is the centrepiece of the kitchen and still looks fantastic years after we brought it into our home. I wonder if the woodworker who built the table realised what an important part of our family life it would be, it really means something to us. Ever since I watched Wilson Miner’s talk at Build last year1, I can’t stop thinking about making meaningful things that will last.
Perhaps I’m more concerned about leaving behind a legacy. What do we want to be remembered for when we are gone? Architects, artists, sculptors leave behind a physical representation of their work. We are in a lucky position where we can be the makers of experiences and memories.
Wilson didn’t directly talk about revolution, perhaps this is a feeling of internal revolution that I feel, maybe you feel it too, that we are part of something big. We are well accustomed to the fact that the web is in its infancy and that we as developers and designers have more influence on its direction than anyone else through organisations like the W3C. We shape the future of this platform for all who use it.
I can see many parallels between the industrial revolution during the 18th and 19th century and the current state of the web industry. The industrial revolution was a period in time where major advances in machinery and technology changed how the people of the times lived their everyday lives. It sounds very familiar to the progression of the web from it’s introduction to public consciousness in the 90’s, through the web standards movement in the last decade and now it’s coming of age.
As Wilson mentioned in his talk we spend increasingly large amounts of our day looking at screens. The things we make on these screens: the design patterns, decisions and journeys are building the foundation of the web for future generations. One day we will look back and be proud to say “I was part of that”.
I missed the event in person but the video Andy McMillan posted moved me to write this. I heard reports of Wilson moving the room to silence and some people to tears ↩
17th January 2012
Cameron Koczon wrote a rousing piece for the latest issue of A List Apart today with a lot of useful advice and observations:
We need to think about products over posters and people over page views. We need this to happen at every level: in design schools, in design writing, and in the things we celebrate online and in person. We have a new purpose: elevate design and help change the world. Let’s talk about how to do that.
The web is maturing as a medium. As we move away from the cheap, tacky, disposable designs that accompanied Web 2.0, we enter a phase where quality content is complimented by more considered design. Publications like Method and Craft and The Great Discontent are obvious examples of the shift towards finer content where recently our feed readers were full of sites publishing lists of techniques and plugins.
We strive for timelessness on this medium that is inherently temporary, and I feel that comes naturally as we learn the strengths and weaknesses of the web as a platform and the tools we use. By pushing such boundaries we make better things as a result from our learning. It is no longer deemed acceptable to produce a web product for one device which may be replaced by another device tomorrow.
Just like Jeffery Zeldman led the web standards movement, great thinkers like Ethan Marcotte lead the way for the web’s next phase of making quality things that work where the web works, making things that last.
We get to go make things. Things that nudge the world a little bit in what we hope is the right direction. We get to put a dent in the universe. This is a great job.
~ Wilson Miner
Jordan is a web designer passionate about responsive web design and content choreography. He as a penchant for typography having worked previously with the Typecast team.
He writes occasionally for .net Magazine and Smashing Magazine and currently works for Eyekiller in Bangor, Northern Ireland. You can follow him on twitter @jordanmoore