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Rob Brogan – Design, The Recycled Web and Other Thoughts

May 8, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Testing out new things

Hi there! I can already feel this post aging ;)

I've been updating my site lately, and I have a feeling it's going to take a while to get it right. I'm using the Semplice theme/framework for wordpress which has a lot of great front-end perks baked into it. For the time being I'm going to experiment with heavy and pretty front end stuff. I'm usually all about minimal, efficient, bare bones as possible while still looking nice. I might revert to that after a while, and this quickly gets old, but for now that's what's going on.

So if you see some wonky stuff or some pages don't work at all, this is why.

Typography

There are some pretty useful type controls for Semplice. Right now I'm using a slab-like body font, Enriqueta and a super elegant display font, Cormorant.

Not a display font

Actually, it's not just a display font, but I am using it only for H1s and H2s.

This is an H3 header

The rest of the header styles are similar to the body text.

Smaller heading
Smaller than my body text!

Well that's all for now! Adios.

May 4, 2018Comments are off for this post.

This is a micro post :)

March 4, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Little pieces

I’m riding a train this morning to work. Not the subway but an actual train from Philadelphia to NYC. It brings back potent nostalgia for Barcelona.‬

When I was a teacher I would take a regional train from BCN to Molins del Rei. I didn’t mind the commute, in fact I got excited every time I got on the train. I got excited because I was SO new that I could feel myself getting better every class I taught.‬

I also loved the small amount of money. I can’t remember but I think it was about €60. I got paid daily, in cash. The day that it was enough to cover rent that month, felt like such an accomplishment: one more month I could make it as an immigrant.

Aside:
In the United States right now that can be a heavy word, immigrant, but to clarify my circumstance: I moved to Barcelona with two suitcases of clothes, a good amount of savings and a plan to support myself teaching English. I used my savings, taught English, but was unable to secure a visa. So, being undocumented really limited my travel. I couldn’t hop around Europe as I hoped, but Catalunya was enough for me. I also couldn’t go back to the USA until I was comfortable with the possibility I’d be barred from coming back to my new home in Barcelona.

When I filled my envelope under the mattress markered with RENT, the rest was mine. Each day I went to work was another 40 to 60 euros for cheap beer, jamón serrano, galletas Principe, wine, subway tickets, pay-as-you-go cell phone “top ups.” They had ATM style kiosks around shopping centers where you type in your phone number, insert the cash, and then your available balance on the phone gets updated. Wow.

So, each time I got on a train I would look out the window and soak up the sequence of quotidian landscapes. I didn’t know how long I would be there. Each day was an exciting step and I just wanted to keep going.


I can’t help comparing this feeling to present day. Now I ride a train and feel that nostalgia, but rarely look forward to work. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the daily reward and the Pavlovian effect has worn off. I definitely need work to pay the bills, but it’s no longer a day-to-day survival. I also don’t feel that daily progression that I did with being a new teacher. Now I work with a big company that only dares take incremental steps toward some undefined goal of “generate more money/customers.” Most employees aren’t needed for a specific day like a teacher is required each day for a class to happen. My work is spread out over the course of weeks, months, and then I don’t see a final result sometimes for a year.

There isn’t an inherent negative to taking the long view. In fact sometimes it is most valuable. [The Long Now Foundation] I also recall feeling a little lost in Barcelona, taking life in little pieces, with no idea how they added up to a big piece or what the next big piece should be. I’m sitting here on the train again, no longer at a loss for the big pieces, but missing the delight of the little ones.

Perhaps writing is one way to get them. Actually writing this very message feels like mixing the pallet of big and little, but to get meta about it, the act of writing is small in itself. I like that.


February 8, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Hope

Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting.

Rebecca Solnit

January 3, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Time Travel

“In mere Time, all things follow one another, and in mere Space all things are side by side; it is accordingly only by the combination of Time and Space that the representation of coexistence arises.” Schopenhauer, 1813

August 18, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Excerpt: A Prayer for Owen Meany

The quotes of Owen Meany throughout the book are written in ALL CAPS, which is an effective technique in print to encapsulate the character's voice, attitude, and other deeper aspects of who Owen is. I've "translated" the CAPS into regular case letters so that it's not as jarring when reading the excerpt. The Audible narrated version is perfectly done, too. I think he really captures such a unique character.

A Prayer for Owen Meany was a moving book in so many ways, but in an unexpected dimension, the political commentary (mostly against the Vietnam War) still rings so true for our contemporary situation.

What’s wrong with this country?” he wrote. “There is such a stupid ‘get even’ mentality—there is such a sadistic anger.” He turned on the tv, keeping the volume off; when I woke up, much later, he was still writing in the diary and watching one of those television evangelists—without the sound. “It’s better when you don’t have to listen to what they’re saying,” he said.

In the diary, he wrote: “is this country just so huge that it needs to oversimplify everything? Look at the war: either we have a strategy to ‘win’ it, which makes us—in the world’s view—murderers; or else we are dying, without fighting to win. Look at what we call ‘Foreign Policy’: our ‘Foreign Policy’ is a euphemism for Public Relations, and our Public Relations get worse and worse. We’re being defeated and we’re not good losers.

"selling old Jesus-stories like junk food"

and look at what we call ‘Religion’: turn on any television on any Sunday morning! See the choirs of the poor and uneducated—and these terrible preachers, selling old Jesus-stories like junk food. Soon there’ll be an evangelist in the white house; soon there’ll be a cardinal on the Supreme Court. One day there will come an epidemic—I'll bet on some humdinger of a sexual disease. And what will our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state … what will they say to us? How will they help us? You can be sure they won’t cure us—but how will they comfort us? Just turn on the tv—and here’s what our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state will say: they’ll say, ‘I told you so!’ They’ll say, ‘that’s what you get for fucking around—I told you not to do it until you got married.’ Doesn’t anyone see what these simpletons are up to? These self-righteous fanatics are not ‘religious’—their homey wisdom is not ‘morality.’

"What’s wrong with both of them is that they’re so sure they’re right!"

That is where this country is headed—it is headed toward oversimplification.You want to see a president of the future? Turn on any television on any Sunday morning—find one of those holy rollers: that’s him, that’s the new Mister President! And do you want to see the future of all those kids who are going to fall in the cracks of this great, big, sloppy society of ours? I just met him; he’s a tall, skinny, fifteen-year-old boy named ‘Dick.’ He’s pretty scary. what’s wrong with him is not unlike what’s wrong with the tv evangelist—our future president. What’s wrong with both of them is that they’re so sure they’re right! That’s pretty scary—the future, I think, is pretty scary.

A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

June 18, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Finally a new podcast episode!

Letters Podcast — Episode 02: Life

It has been a while but I finally got around to posting the second episode for my little side project!


Letters podcast artwork

In this episode, I received four letters in response to a letter of mine that was part statement and part question. Picking up where Habiba concluded the previous episode, I thought about the connection or disconnection of work and life. I asked Habiba to respond and invited three others to contribute their thoughts as well.

Note: This is episode will be released in two parts. In this first part, you’ll hear from Habiba and Mike. In Episode 02B, you’ll hear Nick and Crystal.

Podcast Players:

April 25, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Make Something Useful

I have found that all ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful, and that all beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful. Oscar Wilde

April 20, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Link Drop newsletter

 tinyletter subscription

April 18, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Link Drops, A TinyLetter

I just created a TinyLetter to dispense the occasional links I'm dying to share with other designers. For a while, it might exist as blog posts too. I might phase that out, though.


Hello You

This first email is a bit of a story, and then some links. I promised links.

When I first thought about making this newsletter – still wondering if I'll just make blog posts instead, I do hate email clutter – I had a bunch of great articles floating around my head that I wanted to share. Now I have no idea what those were, so I'm now getting lost in the blogosphere that, for 2016, is Medium.com.

I hate ending sentences with URLs.

 

What these Link Drops are for:

"Beginner's Mind" comes from Buddhism, but I think it works just great for the attitude required when sharing information about any field of practice, especially design:

It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. [wiki]

 

I consider job experience as a vague measurement or ranking of how many mistakes you've made so far. In this light, I can never imagine experience as a limiting factor on learning – yes, even learning the same thing twice.

 

Great stuff on the internet is usually doing one of two things for me:

  1. Showing me something really different, or something ordinary in a different way
  2. Reflecting my own way of thinking about things

It's healthy to get a mix of both. I know, the second one seems very insulating, but I have found that reading what a like-minded person writes gives you the benefit of learning how to better articulate your own thoughts.

 

Feedback

Yeah, that would be super helpful. Left to my own devices, I will go down tangents about philosophy, freedom on the internet, and such. I'm going to try and stick to articles and resources for learning about design, and specifically about UX Design. If you really want to see "more like this" or "less of that" then feel free to reply directly to this. It goes to my inbox.


Link Drop #1

In my quest for links today I started digging through Medium and found one, two, three, whoa tons of great articles from UX Launchpad. So it's safe to say that clicking any of those will be interesting and informative.

Design Explosions #3

Start here! It looks like an article, but really it's a video. This serious called "Design Explosions" takes a deep look at a finished product and breaks it down to see what's going on. I appreciate the diagrams.

Design Explosions #1

Craaaazy long, plenty of good diagrams though. Okay so this is a really long one and I don't blame you if you can't get through the whole thing in one sitting. What's most important here is: there are multiple ways to design anything.

Junior Designers vs. Senior Designers

Oldie, but excellent. Another person's idea of experience conveyed in squiggly line sketches.

A Faster FT.com

Last week, Nico gave an excellent talk about how people perceive time/waiting. Here's an article giving us a very tangible, and yes, monetary case for an efficient web"

We wanted to understand how much the speed of our website affected user engagement, specifically, the quantity of articles read, one of our key measures of success. Using that data we then wanted to quantify the impact on our revenue.

Designing complex products

I'll finish off on a strong note. This hits both #1 (something new to me) and #2 (reflects a lot back at me).
For example: I'm a big fan of the progressive reveal strategy and that's reflected in a lot of my designs. To each their own, but I enjoyed seeing another designer explain it.

Sincerely,
Rob

Addendum

Some of these were long articles talking about real world examples of a design process in action. I could also include some things in the genre of listicles, like Typography Tips for a Better User Experience, or just general repositories of info and tools. If that's more your speed, let me know.

deep thoughts kitty

I hope you like cats

 

Subscribe!

April 6, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Links for Tools

This is a quick note that I made for a class to have access to some reference links. I might expand on it later.

[edit: updated with moar links for another presentation]


Tools

Sketch Mirror (iOS)

Allows real-time device mirroring.

Prototyping with Invision

+ Craft Plugin

Hint: I don't think it's very clear, but you're downloading an installer. That means after you install what you've downloaded, you actually have to go to Applications and open Craft (the installer) to install for Sketch or Photoshop.

+ Invision Viewer (iOS)

I use Sketch Mirror most of the time, but this does double duty of displaying prototypes as well as some "live" interactions that can't be seen in your screens due to embedded web content. For a ton more about this app, read their blog post.

Sketch Toolbox

Use this to install and keep track of all your plugins. I usually browse around or discover plugins elsewhere, but prefer to use the Toolbox to install them.

Sketch App Resources*


Specific Articles

Discovering Sketch
Older article, mostly to convince people about how great Sketch is. It also works as a decent overview of some features, but not exhaustive.

Sketch Keyboard Shortcuts
If you love getting into the shortcuts like I do, this is a decent list of all you need for Sketch.

Getting Set Up With Sketch

Using Shared Styles & Symbols

Okay, just check out the author's page. He has a lot of handy ones. Aaron Tenbuuren.


Collections of Articles

.Sketch App
Short articles about Sketch on Medium

Design + Sketch App*
Another collection of articles about Sketch, but these tend to lean more toward tutorials.

Sketch Tricks

Pretty self-explanatory ;)


*Warning: try not to get lost in the template swamp. Steal a few good things, make them your own, and build from there.

March 6, 2016Comments are off for this post.

Simple is awesome

Hi there, it's Rob again to go on and on about how amazing Simple is.

I often think of how great it would be to design for this product, but then maybe it'd be a room-mate kind of scenario where you risk souring the relationship - who knows!

In any case, I had a bit of surprise-fraud today. Long story short, I saw an Amazon transaction even though I didn't buy anything on there recently. They quickly disabled my card until everyone could investigate. As it turns out, I had pre-ordered something and it was one big false alarm.

When I let Brenna know (customer service), she was equally relieved. I really cannot say more about how much I appreciate a normal, human response to situations such as these.

Simple Bank customer service screenshot

Yes, you might have noticed. She even included a reaction GIF!