I’m taking a bit of vacation this week. Yay vacation. Or as I like to call it, sleep-when-I-want days.
Last night, I decided it would be a brilliant idea to, at 10pm, put together a child theme for the father-in-law’s professional site. He recently installed WordPress on the site. What he asked me to do was to secure WordPress. What I did was secure it, migrate his old professional site content to the new site, and make a twenty-eleven child theme and site banner. So uhm… he could hate it. Or lament not getting to do the initial setup himself. We’ll see.
Anyway… so this is a super simple site. And around 2:30AM it’s good enough. Really. Someone could visit tomorrow, and unless they’re a web designer/developer, a graphic designer, or someone who really cares about whitespace… it’s a totally fine site. And it’s 2:30am. The rest can be done tomorrow, right? Assuming the father-in-law doesn’t hate it so much he wants it gone right now (which would be counter to his very chill demeanor). And then it’s 2:45am and I’m still staring at the not-rightness. I made myself document what was annoying me about the design and go to bed. So here it is. Why I’m up at 3am on a Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
I write this post at 10:30pm. The temperature sensor on the back porch reports it is 80 degrees. That’s right. 10:30pm and it’s “cooled” down to 80 degrees. Such is Denver-land.
Today according to the training plan, I was to run 4 miles. I refuse to run outside in this heat, and I’m not a big fan of night running (not that I would, because, 80 degrees). The best weather for running around here is 40 degrees and sunny, which starts happening around November.
At our local rec center the treadmills look over the pool area. I spent an hour facing a window with the view of the top of a water slide and parents and children getting on the slides. They were having fun. I felt weird. Alternatively, the TVs were showing Golf and Fox News (which was giving constant coverage to The Dark Knight Rises theatre massacre). I ended up focusing on a sign informing patrons of appropriate tv remote sharing behavior.
When the weather is less extreme and there’s no snow on the ground, I normally run on open space paths near where I live. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful the mountains are always.
Today, I began officially training for a half marathon in November. Oh boy.
After the half marathon in January, I had terrible tendonitis. It lingered for a good month, and I fell out of the habit of running. My knees have always been a little prone to this, and between walking in slush and flying a bunch before the race, they just threw down and said, and I quote, “Hell no. We won’t go.”
Fast forward to July. I have a race coming up in November, it’s time to start regularly training. My goal for this race is pain free (which means no tendonitis). I’m doing leg lift exercises which supposedly help strengthen the muscles which support the knee and reduce the onset of the pain. Hoping that’s going to make a difference. Also, steady, regular training and cross training. I would like the Tuesday/Thursday runs to be the week’s easy exercises and do cardio on Monday and Wednesday. Saturday is the long run. Sunday is blob-on-the-couch day.
Facilitating design is hard. I think the hardest part is keeping to the scope of design goals in questions. Design based on user goals is much different than design based on technical requirements. In the early stages of design, it’s important to have as many stakeholders present as possible in order to understand their perspectives as well as any constraints they may provide, and constraints are good. Constraints help to narrow down from all design possibilities into a few or even one design possibility. Unfortunately, with many perspectives comes added difficulty to facilitating design.
The phone robot. The nemesis of many people in this modern age of cutting call center cost. Many of us have lost hours, maybe even days, of our lives trying to navigate automated phone systems and talk to a human to get what we want.
About a month ago something amazing happened to my husband: he had a good experience with the phone robot from Macy’s. When he completed his call in under five minutes, I was sure he hadn’t succeeded in his objective. But he had. This amazing feat has been circling in my mind ever since.
Summary (aka tl;wr): If a website implies that a visitor can get additional information about something (in the case of this post, information about a site being down on twitter), the information must be there when the visitor expects it. In other words, do not set up the expectation that a specific type of information exists on another medium when it doesn’t.
I forget what book this was in and what website I first saw doing this… But here’s the idea. If your website is down, you present the visitor with a page that explains the website is down and tell the visitor they can go to twitter to stay up-to-date on the site status.
Random things really get me when I run across them. Such as a pop-up which asks a visitor for information about their location. I don’t know why, but calling Puerto Rico a country grabbed my ux-senses and shook ‘em. Which inevitably leads to a closer scrutiny.
Puerto Rico is not a country.
Backgrounds with patterns behind text reduce readability.
<x is not a universally understood UI convention (it’s not a convention at all).
White space is sub-optimal.
In a perfect Erin-designed world, these issues would be addressed. Further, the directive to the visitor would be tweaked to be more human, e.g. “Where are you?”. Or, even better, guess their location based on their IP. This isn’t a sure-bet, but I believe it works often enough that 80% of the time, the correct location of the visitor can be chosen.
That, dear readers, is the sound of a bee buzzing. Rob and I are currently enrolled in a beginner beekeeping class at Denver Botanic Gardens (his Christmas gift to me ♥). I think someday, perhaps this year, we’ll set up a little amateur beekeeping operation. As our yard stands now, we do not have enough flowers to support a bee colony. So, that would have to change. Although the apple tree would at least get them started.
Like setting up compost bins, I’m not sure I want to commit to such a thing in our current rental house. I think we’ll stay in this house, at most, another year. Once Rob has found a job, we’ll probably start looking for someplace to really settle. Start a real garden. Have a bit of curb appeal. Have some compost heaps, or, even better, move to a location with community compost services. Set up beehive, perhaps?
Tangent: Denver Botanic Gardens are absolutely amazing. In Seattle, I loved the Pacific Science Center. We had a membership there. It was awesome. Here, it’s the Botanic Gardens. They’re large, interesting, have a range of education programs. If you visit Denver, the Botanic Gardens are a must. Same if you live here. If Mom visits this year, that is the number one place to take her. ∞