December 2018 bookmarks

Adding value, by adding values
This week I had the great honour of being named by the RSA as the first Royal Designer for Industry for Service Design. My hope is to inspire the next generation of designers, just as the current Royal Designers for Industry have inspired me.
Design native userflows right inside Figma and Sketch with Flowkit 2.0
Drawing and editing lots of lines and boxes for user flows in any design tool is is a real pain. If you’ve ever done it, you know what I’m talking about. Even if you manage to get it done for your current project, there’s always the next project that needs almost the same treatment.
Releasing Design Systems
Companies realize a design system’s value when adopting products use a system to make and ship experiences that their customers use. As a part of that value chain, the system releases features over time. This puts the system into the hands of its customer: designers and engineers doing their job.
Reluctant Gatekeeping: The Problem With Full Stack
Much of my career as a web designer has been spent, quite happily, working alongside programmers, engineers, people with computer science degrees. In this symbiotic relationship, each party has a secure job with a well-defined role, and gets to work on the thing they are best at and enjoy the most.
Prototypes and production
When we do front-end development at Clearleft, we’re usually delivering production code, often in the form of a component library. That means our priorities are performance, accessibility, robustness, and other markers of quality when it comes to web development.
Accessible SVG Icons with Inline Sprites
If we were searching for reasons to use icons on a project, we don’t need to go far in order to find them.
Unlocking Accessibility for UX/UI Designers
Tap, tap, one, two… is this thing on? Ahem … My dear designer friends, I have a confession to make, on behalf on anyone who’s ever worked in the field of digital accessibility. We, the accessibility community, have been lying to you for the better part of the last twenty years.
An Alfred Workflow for WebPageTest
By now, I have to be on record at least a few thousand times in saying that is an absurdly valuable tool. Pat gave the performance community an incredible gift by building it and making it available to the broader community for free. I spend a lot of time in WebPageTest.
Sketch plugin for charts
This is a Sketch plugin for creating charts with random data for use in mockups. Change the size of selected rectangles. Chose between random and linear. Works for both horizontal and vertical bar charts. Made with love by Small Multiples in Chippendale.
About HTML semantics and front-end architecture
A collection of thoughts, experiences, ideas that I like, and ideas that I have been experimenting with over the last year. It covers HTML semantics, components and approaches to front-end architecture, class naming patterns, and HTTP compression.
What I Learned in Six Years at GDS
When I joined the Government Digital Service in April 2012, GOV.UK was just going into public beta.
Thinking about iteration
Making incremental changes to prototypes isn’t iterative. When we’re designing prototypes and user journeys to meet user needs we’re not going to get this right first time. We learn more about user needs as a result of designing and testing possible solutions.
The Ecological Impact of Browser Diversity
Early in my career when I worked at agencies and later at Microsoft on Edge, I heard the same lament over and over: "Argh, why doesn’t Edge just run on Blink? Then I would have access to ALL THE APIs I want to use and would only have to test in one browser!"
Addy Osmani's 18-Point Web Performance Checklist
Web performance is critical for user experience. Prioritize it before it becomes a problem.
An alpha alpha approach
Mr Downey spurred a bit of conversation on Twitter about the idea of ‘alpha’ stages in the GDS delivery cycle.
Good design doesn’t just happen
A lot of factors are at play within an organisation that hinders or helps good design to happen. Investing effort into maintaining a strong design culture is important. For a good design culture to thrive certain things need to be in place.
Compress and compare images with different codecs, right in your browser.
Accessible-as-possible colour palettes · Henry Lau
Colours is a big part of what makes up graphics and making colours accessible is important. We’re used to thinking of colours in terms of red, green and blue. Add these colours together and you get white. We can describe colours using RGB, breaking up each colour channel into 256 parts.
Being bolder – reflections 18 months into my work at NHS Digital
On 5 July 2018, the National Health Service turned 70. I was exactly 13 months into my own time with the service.
How to download your Flickr photo library and transfer it to Google Photos or iCloud Photo library
SmugMug, the professional photography oriented company, bought Flickr in April 2018. On November 1, 2018, SmugMug announced changes to its free and paid (or “Pro”) tier. SmugMug said that the 1TB of storage that Yahoo gave free-tier users is not sustainable.
How to design the ultimate Bullet Journal for 2019 (no art skills required)
If you’ve searched for “Bullet Journal” or “BuJo” online, you may have seen the elaborately illustrated interpretations people have created. They’re gorgeous–motivating to some, but intimidating to many others.
Shared Values are Overrated
The other day, I heard a story about a leadership retreat where the goal was to agree upon shared values. They held a vote, and lo, there was an even split between all the values. The group could not agree on which ones represented the company. This makes sense. Our values are part of our identity.
Remove Background from Image –
Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer or selfie lover: Removing backgrounds has never been easier. Spending hour after hour separating foregrounds from backgrounds? There's a better way now - and it's FREE.
Designing Your Future
I’ve had the pleasure of working for a variety of clients – both large and small – over the last 25 years. In addition to my work as a design consultant, I’ve worked as an educator, leading the Interaction Design team at Belfast School of Art, for the last 15 years.
Sloganeering for stickers
01. Minimal viable bureaucracy — I’m not one of those JFDI people. I believe that is the fastest way to get something done that will not stick. If we are in this to make real change then that isn’t good enough.
Putting users first is not the answer to everything
User-centred, user need, user story, person-centred — hmm, I’m trying to think of some other variations, I’m sure there’s more!
Five things Benjy taught me.
As part of a minor org shuffle this week I will no longer be working directly with Benjy. Benjy isnt a showy man, so wouldn't want a fuss, but he is a brilliant writer and his blog is one we should all keep an eye on.
The practical value of semantic HTML
It has come to my attention that many in the web standards gang are feeling grumpy about Full Stack Developer™’s lack of deep knowledge about HTML. One well-intentioned article about 10 things to learn for becoming a solid full-stack JavaScript developer said
Understanding semantics
The word “semantic” is regularly used in the context of web development. We talk about “semantic code” and the “semantics” of a given element, but what do we really mean by it, and why is it important? The word semantic comes from the French sémantique, meaning non-comparable.
Why every design system needs a service designer
They were looking for developers, interaction designers, user researchers, product and delivery managers. There were even spots for a couple of content designers (we’re a depressingly rare breed in design system teams). But there was one glaring omission: they weren’t hiring a service designer.
6 practices for user-centred civil servants
Our boss, Permanent Secretary Jonathan Slater, posted last week over on the Civil Service Blog about how we’re working to make the Department for Education user-centred. This post sets out a bit more about what we mean by that, and what we’re doing about it.