Make the right things easy

07 Apr 2016

When I was at Shopify, I started using a motto: Make the right things easy and the wrong things hard. People are lazy. I’m really lazy. Sometimes I’ll drop something on the floor and think to myself, maybe I should just leave it there. No, don’t be lazy, I say to myself, and I pick it up. Maybe. Sometimes. Anyways. Point is, if I have an easy way to do something, I’ll usually t...

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Staffing a Design Systems Team

22 Mar 2016

A couple really good posts lately on the idea of what it means to have a Design Systems Team. Most recently, Kaelig blogged about Design Systems Ops. This would be a role within the company that bridges the gap between design systems team and engineering. “A Design Systems Ops is a person […] who needs to get into the designers’ shoes, and have a feel what their are trying to con...

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Much ado about Twitter

18 Mar 2016

I’ve been on Twitter for close to 10 years now. That’s a long time. Nearly as long as my first marriage lasted. Much like that marriage, the shine on the service has dulled and, well, it’s not much fun anymore. What is it about Twitter that has made it a less exciting place than 5 years ago and much less than 10 years ago? Negativity Negative emotions can be subtle and vile things...

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Why I Value Truly Responsive Web Design

18 Mar 2016

In my post about values, I mentioned how determining your values can help you evaluate how you work with companies, teams, and people. The first on my list of values was that I value a truly responsive web design. But why? Nate Abele alluded to a bunch of them in his comment on the original post. What do I mean by truly responsive? By truly responsive, I mean that the design is fl...

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Overnight Success

13 Oct 2015

Nobody has ever accused me of being an overnight success but I still really enjoyed this video from Gary Vaynerchuk. In it, he describes all the work he put into becoming “an overnight success”. The years of learning and executing and making videos before things began to take off. I recently read an interview of Christoph Waltz. A delightful interview and again, the subject of becomi...

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Just Right For Me

27 May 2015

You’re doing it wrong. OMG. I can’t believe you still use jQuery. You’d be stupid to use Angular. OOCSS is horrible for building websites! It leads to classitis! Or, you know… maybe it doesn’t really matter. I can be opinionated about how I build things. I have tools and approaches that I prefer over others. I willingly (and hopefully not forcefully) share those opinions. ...

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Design Engineering

25 Nov 2014

“Front End Dev isn’t just JavaScript. FED is a melting pot of design & dev skills to implement accessible UIs to accepted standards.” — Matt Hill When it comes to development on Shopify Admin, we have—up until recently—only had two specializations: designers and engineers. There is a third specialization, however, that has had a tough time finding a solid home: front-end...

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Assumptive Development

01 Feb 2011

As web developers, we want a way to ask "can you do this?" And there are varying degrees to which we can determine this. One of those ways is to use user agent (UA) detection. We ask the browser some information about itself and it tells us. Based on what we know about a browser, we can make certain assumptions. If a browser tells you it is Internet Explorer, chances are you support the HTML, CSS...

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Amazon launches Simple Email Service

25 Jan 2011

Amazon has launched a new API for sending email "in the cloud" called Simple Email Service. Like other Amazon services, one of the biggest draws—besides using the solid infrastructure—is the pricing. You can send up to 2,000 emails a day absolutely free. After that, you're looking at 10 cents per thousand emails and 15 cents per GB of data transfer. Some basic list managem...

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Filling in the Gaps

17 May 2010

HTML started as a very simple language. By many accounts, it's still very simple. You create some text and you wrap some tags around it. The tags provide a small measure of meaning and allow user agents—aka browsers—to present the content in a meaningful way. In the early days of the web, browser developers quickly added features that helped web developers build more exciting sites ...

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Adobe and HTML5's Canvas

07 Jul 2009

I had an epiphany and I hope somebody at Adobe has been paying attention to the HTML5 developments. Adobe is well positioned to take advantage of emerging browser features, most specifically canvas. As great as canvas is, having a visual tool to assist in taking advantage of that would be ideal. Such a tool would smooth out the rough spots of cross-browser issues and could provide a set of pre-d...

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Old Browsers: Do they still exist?

24 Apr 2009

I've been thinking about this for a long time and while I thought I had a solid opinion on the matter, I find myself waffling on the issue. Who cares about older browsers? If you haven't done so, I highly recommend cracking out a copy of Firefox 1. Start bouncing around to a few sites and check out what's broken. Sure, most stuff is fine but you'd probably be surprised at what's broken. What abo...

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Twitter to Lose Auto-follow

31 Mar 2009

Twitter will soon get rid of the auto-follow feature. It wasn't necessarily a public feature. You had to email support to have your account enabled. When a person followed you, you'd follow them back, automatically. Why autofollow? There are two main reasons that I can think of why people use this feature right now: The first are people like Scoble and Guy Kawasaki who are social media sponge...

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A Web Developer's Personal Projects

09 Sep 2008

It's interesting to note that many web developers go through a similar process over the course of their careers. One of those rights of passage is the building of a particular application type. Cutting your teeth on building a larger scale application (at least, larger than a contact form that emails somebody and larger than hacking up an install of WordPress) seems to inevitably involve developin...

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The Shelf Life of a Web Site

06 Sep 2008

In relation to some of the conversation surrounding the still prevalent Internet Explorer 6 and why it's still around, I am reminded of some of my past work. There is a CMS that I developed for a former employer back in 2002. It's been six years since then. It was sold to a handful of organizations of which I know at least one, and I suspect more, who still use it. Six years? That's a long tim...

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Broken Promises

30 Aug 2008

Over at The Register, Hakon Lie feels that Microsoft has broken their promise to ship Internet Explorer in standards mode. There are two issues at play here and I'm not sure either is really that big of a deal. Or rather more interesting, if you were Microsoft, what would you do? (Actually, better to think yourself not Microsoft since many are biased against them.) Intranets The dirty secre...

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Don't bring me down

12 Aug 2008

Designers have blogs for a number of reasons. Often they want to show off their portfolio, maybe to expound theory, or whatever tickles their fancy. But as designers are creationists, they often have the desire to recreate their vision for their web site. Take it all down and build it back up again! The other thing that designers often want is some noteriety. It's not about being some A-list web...

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Why Twitter Survives

30 Jun 2008

...or why I think Mashable is wrong. Mashable has an interesting article that places Twitter's popularity purely on its simplicity. Even more bold, it believes that people haven't left Twitter because of its simplicity. Its competitors are simply too complex. I contend that Twitter has succeeded and continues to succeed because no other service matches its breadth of distribution. Avenues of D...

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Don't Listen to the Hecklers

26 Jun 2008

This is my response to James Bennett's post on the Designer vs Developer debate but I thought it worth sharing my view point here. So it’s high time we all got over our little internecine feuds and started acting like the professionals we claim to be. That means learning to work with with our colleagues, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of specialized industry knowledge. ...

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Web 2.0 has jumped the shark

01 Dec 2007

I'm about as big a fan of "web 2.0" as anybody. I'm all about user generated content and Ajax-ified interfaces. I can't tell you how many times I've had potential clients approach me asking for a web 2.0 look. Or that they've got a wicked application idea....it's like Flickr meets YouTube meets Facebook. You want me to build that for you? Sure, why not. And yet, as I drove home today, ...

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The Joys of Application Development

26 Oct 2007

These days, I'm really enjoying what time I can spend building my desktop application, Snitter. Not because it's released me from the frustration of using the web site but because of the joy it's brought to other people from using it. Creating Passionate Users One of the first unexpected things was seeing the support and passion from the early adopters. A post about some twitter tool would pop u...

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When Advocacy Loses its Edge

18 Sep 2007

In our society, I believe we tend to put greater value into the opinions of those who have a neutral standing in the matter. It's why film critics have the careers they do. They are impartial to the entire film-making process. If comments of disdain come from a competing studio, you cast the opinions aside. "Of course they think it's crap. They don't want the competition to be successful,&quo...

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Telling Your Side of the Story

25 May 2007

I watched with some fascination as the story of Derek Powazek's departure from 8020 Publishing unfolded. Basically, Derek and Paul hit an impasse and Derek left the company. Of course, that simplifies things greatly and leaves out much (if not all) of the subtlety of the debate. This raises a slew of questions and ones that I don't think I have the answer for. Should this debate have been aired p...

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The Death of Comments

18 Apr 2007

It's sad and disappointing but the death of blog comments may be near. It's getting harder and harder to fight against the hordes of spammers and mediocrity and animosity out there. Now, I do have to say that for the most part, I've been lucky. I've managed to escape much of it. I have a custom built spam filter that does a decent job of keeping out the blatant stuff. It's interesting just how pr...

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Pay to Upgrade?

29 Jan 2007

I'm curious why people expect certain things for free. For example, the new version of Mint is out. I've read of a few people who expected to receive the new version for free. EXPECTED. Why is that? When I buy a car, I don't expect free upgrades for life. When I buy Microsoft Office, I don't expect free upgrades for life. When I buy any piece of software or hardware I simply don't expect to get ...

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Is Digg Too U.S.-centric?

05 Jan 2007

That may seem like an extremely obvious statement to some but in taking a look at some numbers after an article got dugg, I was surprised by just how much. First, lets take a look at the country breakdown of the visitors for this site: As you can see, the US is a huge chunk of that and this is fairly average from month to month. Nothing too surprising, really. Four of the top five countries ar...

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Micropatronage

09 Nov 2006

Buy me a boob job I swear that's how this all started. Years ago, I remember some woman looking to raise enough money to get breast implants. Completely unnecessary but lo and behold, she managed to raise the money. And countless others have done the same since. The idea, of course, spread to many people asking for whatever they could (and I'm sure many of the lame-ass requests barely got past $...

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Self Censorship

26 Aug 2006

It's funny. When I hopped into doing freelance full time, I thought to myself — and said to others — "this'll be great! I can now talk freely about all the stuff I've been working on. My blog will be updated constantly, my readership will grow, and I'll have adoring fans from around the world!" And yet here I am, back down on earth in reality. Turns out, there's no freedom i...

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Aren't people tired of arguing?

16 Aug 2006

I don't get it. You run across these discussions like "my Mac never crashes" or "IE sucks" and reading through you see mean comments, one after the next. The vast majority simply use personal experience as their measuring stick of current and future expectations but that level of experience is so small as to paint a completely inaccurate picture. One bad apple I used to do tech support. It was m...

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Finding a Shortcut

04 Aug 2006

Being a self-taught developer, I haven't often been able to compare myself to other developers. At least not in direct ways like, how do you know what solution to use for a problem, or why your coding style is the way it is. The best I've been able to do is go by the code examples I learn from. One thing I've continually done as a developer, though, is try and find shortcuts. "What's the quickest...

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Add Value on the Web

17 Jul 2006

How many times have you worked on a project where it was the client's intention of just taking something they have in a Word document or some other print material and just put it on the web? The problem is that there is no added value to this content. It's not taking advantage of the medium. Well, today, I came across a great example of someone who is taking advantage: the For Better or For Wors...

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Egos and Empires

27 May 2006

Ara Pehlivanian gives a wonderful how-to on becoming a blog snob. I fear that I follow a few too many of his "tips". Communication One of the things I like to do is be available to chat. All my info is sitting there on my contact page and a surprising number of people take the time to say hi. I'll even try and help you out if you have a problem (as Vanilla Ice says, "If you've got a problem, yo,...

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The Bloggies and the Value of Self Promotion

02 Jan 2006

The sixth year of the Bloggies is here and it's time for everyone to do their little song and dance. Of course, you are going to swing by and nominate snook.ca for best Canadian weblog, aren't you? (or maybe weblog of the year if you're feeling really generous) Some characterize it as a Canadian trait but I've always shied away from self-promotion. I've often hoped that if I just tried hard enoug...

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Building Traffic through Networking

07 Nov 2005

This post is a little aside from my usual development topics but it's something I've found very interesting. I've often wondered how people like Jeffrey Zeldman, Dave Shea, Molly Holzschlag and (insert your favourite web professional here) have achieved success. I believe it comes down to passion. You must be passionate at what you do. Jeffrey Zeldman wasn't the first person to use web standards...

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Learning Web Development

21 Jul 2005

This post is actually in response to the book meme passed on to me by Nathan at SonSpring. As it turns out, I'm not much of a fiction reader; pushed aside by an almost obsessive desire to read every blog post out there. Blogs, however, are the embodiment of why I got into web development. Learn by Example Back in 1995 when I first started to learn HTML, I'd learn by example. Scouring the web for...

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Branding is dead?

09 Nov 2004

I've been mulling over this for a bit as it really seems absurd that people are arguing this. D. Kieth Robinson offers up some opinion on the matter as well. Anyways, I find arguments of branding is dead are often really about semantics. That be some specific definition the mere traditional methods of 'branding' no longer apply. Ho hum. I don't care what you call it. What it all boils down to ...

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