Where Icons Are Headed on the Web

Oak Studios just released Symbolset, an icon set that creates a significant step forward in a long-running trend for iconography on the web. In their words, Symbolsets are “semantic symbol fonts”, which act as replacements for full words in your HTML. This has a clear advantage for accessibility and indexing. Symbolset uses font files as the delivery system and map the icons to standard Unicode values. Continue reading “Where Icons Are Headed on the Web”

Designing Civic Engagement in the Classroom – Our Experiences

How can we get young adults interested in the civic space while better preparing them for life after graduation? I helped facilitate a project at USF which attempted to address these issues. Here’s our results.

This past January, Analisa Lono and myself facilitated a semester-long program at the University of San Francisco. We helped a student team design and build a mobile app aimed to help their local community. This experiment was one of the most challenging and gratifying experiences of my life. With the program now completed, we think this idea has real potential. I wanted to share the idea behind this project, how it worked and what we learned through the process.

Continue reading “Designing Civic Engagement in the Classroom – Our Experiences”

Iconic and Cue on The Noun Project

I am happy to announce that Iconic and Cue have been added as featured collections of The Noun Project. It has been my goal to transition these sets from a personal project to a public resource. Moving Iconic to Github was a step in the right direction, but Github is not exactly a designer’s resource. The Noun Project will get these icons to more designers. Continue reading “Iconic and Cue on The Noun Project”

Bridging the Gap—Making Games Conduits to Real Accomplishment

There has been a lot of talk on the gamification of reality, but the more interesting idea is to make the games we play extend to the real world.

MMOs are a big deal. According to MMOData, there are roughly 20 million players globally. The MMO genre is unique due to its deep social hooks, its never-ending story and its often addictive nature. The addictiveness of MMOs have given the genre (and its players) a bad rap. Many consider MMOs a colosal waste of time. However, I see opportunity… Continue reading “Bridging the Gap—Making Games Conduits to Real Accomplishment”

Introducing Frank

It has been a long time coming. The WordPress theme running this site, which I have named Frank, is now officially available to use. The theme has been available for some time now, but it was not up to snuff for public use. However, I made serious push in the last two weeks and I feel confident it’s ready to go. This release is a big milestone because it signifies making good on a promise I made over 3 years ago to release all work for this site as open source. That promise brought about projects like Iconic, Cue, Off Franklin and coordy. The biggest project however, and the one I am most happy to give away, is the actual site I use to publish my work. Continue reading “Introducing Frank”

Some Random Dude is Now (More) Responsive

In the past two weeks, I was able to update this site (and more importantly, the open source theme behind it) to have a responsive layout. This was the last big hurdle for me to get a final-ish version of the theme out the door.

There are still small issues that need to be addressed, but this was the big one. The next goal is to get a project page up along with some simple starting guides, take a breath and see where the project goes from there. My current site is still imperfect, but I consider it to be a good reflection of how I view responsive web design. As I mentioned in an recently, responsive web design goes beyond a responsive layout. Our designs need to address limited bandwidth and processing power associated with mobile devices.

My hope is this theme will continue to improve so that it can provide a viable option for bloggers who provide a fast, reading-centric experience for their visitors. Due to my limited schedule however, I need to rely on the community to help me push this project forward. If you have enjoyed this site and/or you would like to use this theme, I encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to help make it better for everyone else. So please, fork this theme and get in touch with me if you are interesting in contributing.

The Dichotomy of "Simple"

The word “simple” has varied meanings. This is certainly common in the English language, but the broad definition of the word can create confusion within the design community. This is not helped by the word’s influence and pervasiveness in the designer lexicon. However, the most challenging aspect is that “simple” can often have opposing, conflicting characteristics, creating situations where a design can simultaneously be simple and not simple depending on one’s point of view. Continue reading “The Dichotomy of "Simple"”

Design for Speed

A fast website is not simply a marvel of engineering. Speed can be designed and is an integral, yet under-appreciated, part of our practice.

The homepage of Some Random Dude as of today is 39.6Kb spread across 5 requests (13.1Kb and 2 of those requests are Google Analytics). Over 30% of pages sampled load in 1 second or less. 74.5% of pages sampled load in 3 seconds or less. These numbers increase dramatically when you restrict the sample page loads to countries with high broadband adoption. This site performs this way not because of a plugin I installed or the server’s Apache settings (although they help). It performs this way because of tough decisions made in the design process. This site was designed to be fast. Continue reading “Design for Speed”

Death by Interface

This post was originally posted on the Seabright blog.

Writing on the iPad has inherent challenges. In portrait mode, the keyboard is far too cramped to perform any significant typing. It is clear that landscape was the intended mode of typing due to the more realistic dimensions of the keyboard in addition to the iPad cover’s feature to place the device at a suitable typing angle. However, landscape mode has the problem of vertical space limitations with the keyboard active. With these challenges, I am always interested to see how app designers try to provide more functionality with such significant restrictions. A recent app that has gotten some attention is Writing Kit, which provides advanced writing features as well as in-app researching tools. Unfortunately, it has also followed a design cue I first observed on iA Writer for iPad. Writing Kit adds a formatting bar on top of the iOS keyboard, offering useful features at the cost of exaggerating the problem of writing space. One has to ask themselves how worthy an interface element is if it erodes the experience around the subject it is supporting. Continue reading “Death by Interface”

Font-Embedding Icons the Right Way—A Legitimate Alternative to Images

Using fonts to display icons have shown potential but carry significant downsides. A slight adjustment to the method makes it ready for primetime.

When I released Iconic in font format it got a lot of positive feedback. However, it had one significant technical issues that kept it from being practical. The glyphs in the font had no logical assignment to Unicode characters, making the output semantically unsound. A few months back, Philip Shaw shared a much improved method for glyph assignment which I have implemented in the current version of Iconic. I thought it would be worthwhile to share that approach so that others may adopt it and that a standard can hopefully form. Continue reading “Font-Embedding Icons the Right Way—A Legitimate Alternative to Images”