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Designing the impossible makes it possible


As an interaction designer, I hear a sentence at least once on every project I work on. "We can't do that because [insert mediocre excuse here]."

A lot of the time this is because of technology restrictions. We can't integrate with legacy systems. Or, we can, but the legacy system wants the information in a ridiculous format. So we have to change the design to ask for a mandatory middle name, where people have to write "none" in the box to progress. Urgh.

It's easy to make a snap decision, bow to peer pressure and change the design. After all, we don't want to waste our time designing something that's not possible.

Only, that's exactly what we should do.

Read full article : Designing the impossible makes it possible

What is it like to use a screen reader on an inaccessible website?


Screen readers are amazing things. But they can be difficult learn and use.

When we see with our eyes, we see in 3 dimensions. We can look up, down, left and right, and we can look a things close to us or in the distance.

Almost all websites are 2 dimensional. You can position content top to bottom and left to right.

A screen reader really can only view a website in 1 dimension. It's features are linear. It removes all of the visual positioning, lines all of the content up, then it navigates through it from start to finish.

Read full article : What is it like to use a screen reader on an inaccessible website?

One-page-applications are not accessible


Ok, this maybe should have been called one-page-applications are rarely accessible. Anything can be made accessible, it just takes a lot of effort, and very few people put the effort in.

One-page-applications are on the rise. With them you get funky animations and cool transition effects. Some are a real beauty to behold.

The biggest problem with one-page-applications, is they often create a terrible experience for people using screen readers.

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What can Baloo teach us about design?


The idea of design-reuse has been around for many years. Walt Disney reused many scenes. They also reused entire characters. Cartoon creators called this reanimation. It's the process of tracing over existing frames to save time and money.

You may not have noticed before, but Disney's Baloo and Little John are almost identical. They were even voiced by the same person, Phil Harris.

An image of Baloo and Little John side by side. They are identical apart from their clothes and the colour of their fur.

Read full article : What can Baloo teach us about design?

Mental health and flexible working hours


When I first started working for Government, I found flexi-time awkward.

Until this point, my entire career had been fixed working patterns and strict start times. If I was 1 minute late, my boss would dock my wages by 15 minutes.

So, it seemed alien to me to have any flexibility at all.

Because bad organisations had conditioned me for over a decade, I thought there must be a catch. I assumed it was one of those things where people say one thing but mean another.

I thought if I came in 30 minutes late people would act fine to my face, but there would be a secret strike against my name. If I chalked up enough strikes I'd get disciplined. The last place I worked loved this secret strike system!

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Validation for prototypes


I made a jQuery plugin a couple of years back. It picked up a data attribute called data-required. It also picked up an error message you passed into data-error. Then, it checked if the input was blank or unchecked. If it was, it would append the error messages and prevent the user from submitting the form.

The thing is, I thought I built the plugin off the back of a user need, and I was happy when people praised my work. But in reality, I think I missed the point. As did everybody that used it.

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Own your Alpha


In Government our digital services get assessed at each stage of their journey. From Discovery into Alpha. Alpha through Beta. And Beta into Live.

Every service that ends up on GOVUK will have to go through this. Each one assessed against the service standard for Government.

A panel of trained assessors will conduct the assessment. Each panel member from a different discipline within digital. The panel will cover the team setup. Their design and research, and their chosen technology stack.

From my time as an assessor, I've noticed teams don't always conduct Alphas correctly.

Read full article : Own your Alpha

Semantics and accessibility


As designers, we always like to put our stamp on things. We like to make things fancy and show off our full range of talents. Then when it comes to coding them up, we abuse our design!

We float things right. We use absolute positioning. We style links to look like buttons. We use fancy hover states and chuck in break tags in to create whitespace.

Then, we marvel at how pretty our designs look. After all, as long as it looks good, that's all that matters. Right?

Well, not exactly.

Read full article : Semantics and accessibility