Notes

A collection of thoughts, ideas and everything else that doesn't need a lot of words.

Accessibility Insights

I would have not expected me to say this, but today Microsoft really impressed me! I saw Microsoft’s new Accessibility Insights tool mentioned in a tweet by Marcy Sutton and did have a look. This is a great piece of work with a lot of information and help on how to make sites more accessible and most importantly, allows you to test for accessibility with information on what and how to improve your very own sites. Very cool!

Screenshot of Microsoft’s Accessibility Insights Website
Screenshot of Microsoft’s Accessibility Insights Website

The tool runs as an extension for Chrome and Microsoft Edge Insider and is also available as a Windows application ”to run accessibility testing on other Windows applications“. I gave the Chrome extension a quick whirl and it’s pretty good.

The extension has three main options, which are FastPass, Assessment and Ad hoc tools. The launchpad from where you choose your actions looks like this:

Screenshot of Accessibility Insight’s Launchpad
Accessibility Insight’s Launchpad

After you run FastPass the tool opens a results page with the issues it has found:

Screenshot of Accessibility Insight’s FastPass results page
Accessibility Insight’s FastPass results page

This is only a first look at the tool and I really like what I see here. I hope this will make accessibility testing easier and—more accessible! ;) I recommend to give Accessibility Insights a try and spread the word, since this tool can help web developers make the web a little bit better, one test and improvement at a time.

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A Look at Average Page Load Time

At the beginning of this year we launched the new site for a client, who I’ve been working with for a long time. We only had a few restrictions and that’s when projects usually are more fun and you are able to produce the good work. One of the main goals for this site was to get it as fast as possible. Good performance is good user experience.

It’s been a little while, but today I took another look at the Analytics data and was delighted by what I saw. The average page load time from the time we launched in January 2019 until today, clocks in at 1.0 second. There’s been a few hick ups here and there, but overall this is a great result and I’m very happy about it.

Google Analytics page speed screenshot, results from January to August 2019 averaging at 1 second
Google Analytics page speed screenshot, showing the results from January to August 2019 with an average page load time of 1 second

In case you have a project which you believe can benefit from performance improvements to positively impact your conversions, don’t hesitate to reach out and we can talk about the possibilities of how to speed things up for your project.

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On Taking Notes

Last week Matthias wrote about the importance of writing down ideas immediately. I have to agree, the best way to being able to remember something, is to write it down right away. I have had many thoughts and ideas floating around, but oftentimes when I don’t write them down, I can’t remember or recall them later.

In a follow-up post Matthias now writes about the “The Single Best Way to Take Notes”, why it is important to do so and what he uses himself to write things down. The article also contains a list of apps that came out of a Twitter survey, with responses on which apps other people use.

I personally use iAWriter for most of the things I want to write down. I like it, because I think the writing experience is very good, there’s an app for macOS and iOS available and both of them sync via iCloud. This way I can always have access to my most recent (or any other) files and I can continue writing, so then one day they will turn into something more complete or thought out. Or get deleted.

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Welcome Brid.gy

It’s been a long time in the making—or rather thinking about the making—, but I have finally added Brid.gy to my site. Bridgy pulls in Likes and Mentions from Twitter and displays them below Articles and Notes. I’m not sure if it already works, but in theory it should ;) If you like, or mention a tweet with the article or notes URL in it, your Twitter avatar and type of action should be displayed below. I kinda like surprises, so let’s see what it does.

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On Conference Proposal Rejections

Last week I received an email that my submitted conference talk proposal has not been accepted. This is always a disappointing moment, since of course everyone would rather be selected than rejected.

Important reminder: There is nothing wrong with getting a rejection email for a conference talk and it should not be the reasons to give up submitting your talk again. And again.

I have received many of these emails over the last few years and at some point you will get used to them and be a little less disappointed ;) What I really liked about this last email was that stye included a list of possible reasons on why my talks hasn’t been selected.

  • it did not perfectly fit in We Love Speed’s orientation: feedback and Web Performance;
  • it was only technical, and the jury also had the opportunity to involve a speaker with a feedback to back-up their recommendations;
  • it was close to a topic already discussed last year or another proposal that the jury preferred;
  • the jury had to make financial choices (especially regarding people from outside Europe);
  • finally, it was also necessary to make timing arrangements in order to organise the interventions.

While this list isn’t personal feedback on a specific talk, it’s a good pointer to possible reasons. This way of providing feedback is manageable for organisers, since individual feedback can in some cases be impossible to provide and it is a much better read than receiving a rejection email without any further background.

Well done, We ♥️ Speed team!

It would be great to see more conferences do similar things. Yet, even providing feedback like this, still needs to be well thought through. Otherwise those reasons, might turn into the list of “default rejection reasons”. Simply copy and then paste. Unfortunately such a list wouldn’t be authentic, useful, honest and transparent after all.

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Petbarn Identity Redesigned

I'm a sucker for good design and besides some smart thinking and great execution, this article, or rather its illustrations, on the brand redesign for Petbarn made me smile a lot. (found via DenseDiscovery)

The website also shows the fun illustrations and just hovering the navigation made me smile again :)

Screenshot of navigation on petbarn.com.au
A screenshot of the navigation on petbarn.com.au, displaying a cute cat illustration next to the sub navigation items of the cat section
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“Ethics” and Ethics and the Right Thing to Do

This rather long essay by Oliver Reichenstein looks at the meaning of “Ethics” and Ethics in our world of today. Why do we sometimes need to put it in quotes? What's the right thing to do, anyways?

There is a connection between good and beautiful. Theoretically, this brings to Plato’s ethics. It claims that beauty, justice, and goodness are connected. A strong point of view. Plato is considered to be an enemy of the senses. But if you study Platonic ethics – beauty, goodness, and justice – they’re one and the same idea, the highest idea. Designers have an affinity to see beauty, to see beauty in goodness, beauty in justice.

While this has been true for Plato and might still be for some, it hasn’t been part of the idea of capitalism, which bred greed, which more often than not turns into evil.

Read the full piece here: “Ethics” and Ethics

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Faster Cursor Movement in Terminal

Sometimes when typing a long command or a commit message in Terminal, you might notice a typo, or want to add or change something. Very likely, you’d use the left-arrow key to move the cursor to the desired position, which sometimes can be a little tedious.

Luckily there’s an easier way: Option-click your Terminal prompt line at the position where you want to change or insert text. Your cursor will then blink right where you wanted it and you can start typing away.

Another way to speed things up is by using the option (alt) modifier key in combination with the arrow-keys (⌥→, ⌥←), which lets you jump the line word by word, which is also a little quicker.

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It’s Getting Dark Out There - A Thought on Dark Mode

At Colloq, we’ve recently been playing around with the dark mode preference, to give it a try and see how things turn out. After trying and using it for a while in Safari’s technology preview, I started to wonder:

Do I really want all websites to appear in a dark theme, just because I like my OS interface in dark mode?

I’m really not sure and I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there will be a way to define settings more granularly. Since this is quite a new thing, time will probably tell, but for today, this is just something that has been on my mind for a few days.

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Inviting Conference Speakers

Some good tips on how to write good speaker invites and what information to include by Bruce Lawson. It’s generally about good an clear communication and while some things might be very clear for yourself, always assume the other party might not know all of it. It also helps to easy the effort, because noone wants to do research to understand an email.

How to invite a conference speaker

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Resolving CSS Gridlock

The following article is a nice write up on the possibilities, difficulties and challenges that we might face with CSS Grid in production today. Discussing how we can possibly make the most out of it and learn the best ways to deal with incomplete support, Matthias offers a nice perspective on the topic and explains how prototyping can help us to better understand the limitations.

Dealing with incomplete support has always been one of the challenges of creating things on the Web.
[…]
To make the best use of it, we, therefore, need to learn how to play this new instrument and prototyping in code can be vital to explore the possibilities that CSS Grid offers.

Read the complete article on Matthias’ blog: Resolving CSS Gridlock

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The Problem With Full Stack

There has been a lot of talk about HTML & CSS recently. It's easy! Both languages aren't getting the full recognition they deserve. Many times they are belittled, yet so difficult to truly master. This article by Heydon Pickering is spot on and hits home so many times. Recommended reading.

This is all to say that, if you put someone in charge of all of these things, it’s highly likely they are going to be much weaker in some areas than others (I’m identifying a trend here; there’s no need to comment with “but I can do all the things”, thank you). Worse: they’ll tend to have little interest in improving in areas with which they don’t identify or for which they aren’t rewarded. In my experience, men especially earn kudos for their knowledge of JavaScript, but little from CSS skills. CSS, which makes things look ‘pretty’, is considered feminine (don’t tell that to a peacock).

You can read the full article here: Reluctant Gatekeeping: The Problem With Full Stack

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December

It’s the time of design & development advent calendars again. Hello December. This year went fast again. Since I recently decided to write more again, I was thinking to try to write something every day in December. Quite a challenge, but one can always try.

The start today, December 1st, didn’t go too well, since I’ve been out most of the day and when I remembered that I still wanted to write something, to my surprise my site was down :( Last night I initiated a server move for my hosting package so that I can finally have a better server and some new features. With that, obviously the IP address of the server had changed and I didn’t think of updating the DNS records on time… I have now updated the records and the site should be back up soon again, but this post didn’t make it on time for the 1st, or at least not on HK time for the 1st. Propagation seems to take some time today and I’m not sure if I want to wait for it. Either way, this and more posts will follow.

Happy December!

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