Around the end of June, I decided it was time to redesign my blog. On a flight back from Disney in Orlando, Florida, I opened up Sketch and began crafting a new design.
This is what I came up with:
I’ve always built my WordPress theme from scratch. I like having as little code as possible, speed, and hand-crafting custom CSS. I’m not against frameworks, I just choose not to use one for my own site. More on that in a future post.
Then I let the design sit for a week. Great.
I was also stuck on what I wanted the mobile layout’s navigation to look like. I still have work to do on that. That’s fine. Ship it. Iterate. Repeat.
In the past, I would have taken my own mockup, put it in Zeplin, and then start coding out the CSS from the top down. However, this time, I decided to try something different: I would look at the code as components. With this task, I was not only creating the HTML/CSS but also cleaning up the PHP & HTML that makes up the current theme.
The site would consist of: the main template structure, a blog template, the main navigation, a blog topic navigation, the search bar, a social media cluster, and the blog post content area.
To build momentum, I started out with the smaller components. Doing that ends up being a quick win, which gives you a boost of creative energy. Then repeat and knock out another; repeat it again.
Earlier this month, Instagram released a new feature for it’s app: Instagram Stories. This isn’t a groundbreaking new feature. It’s a feed of stories from your followers that expire in 24 hours.
Just. Like. Snapchat.
( Admittedly so. )
There is definitely a conflict of attention here. You can’t recreate a spontaneous moment to capture it for another platform. I’ve seen many Snapchat users upload videos to Instagram to share with their audience later. That is, until Snapchat introduced the Memories feature and made it much more difficult to save stories to your phone.
We’ll see if Instagram Stories takes off or not. Just due to the sheer volume of users already on Instagram, most likely it will. That being said, having two feeds competing for attention within the same app does seem to be a bit of an odd user experience.
On the other hand, for any app, increased engagement is definitely the goal and a plus.
“You can now define how layers within groups and Symbols should move/resize when the user resizes a group or symbol.”
This is what excited me the most about the update. I have been wanting this for a long time.
Not only can you change the label of a symbol dynamically. You can now smartly resize symbols and groups. This will save so much time in day to day design activities.
“Introducing the first version of Sketch Cloud (Beta) — a free service that lets you upload Sketch documents and share them with the world.”
How’s that for a headline? Rolls right off the tongue. Let’s dive into creating solutions, getting rid of clouded thinking, and making forward progress.
There are times where I find myself being Artfully Frustrated, again. I have to remind myself that others experience this, it’s a sign that I’m still growing, and to push on forward.
That frustration comes from a drive to constantly be improving. As with all things in life, there is a balance. When that drive escalates to perfectionism, then it can be a problem. Dysfunctional perfectionism is at the heart of depression, anxiety, workaholism, procrastination, and suicide.
How do we change for the better? By focusing on what we do have, being thankful, expressing gratitude, and being authentic.
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we really are.
When we are focused so hard on expectations, even those that are imposed by our own self, it leads to anxiety.
Instead, we should trade those expectations for appreciations.
The best way to get rid of that worry is to express gratitude. The two can not coexist.
In the book Flourish, author Martin E. P. Seligman suggests keeping a gratitude journal or the Three Blessings Journal. At the end of every day write down three things that went well and why they went well.
When I worked at the Apple Store for a summer in 2010, we were trained to ask customers open-ended probing questions. It gets at the heart of why a customer is shopping and how best to meet their needs. This Forbes article paints a clear picture:
Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs. This simply means to ask a series of closed and open-ended question so you can match the customer with the right product, not the most expensive product. In the Apple Store, a closed-ended question elicits a simple yes or no such as, “Will this be your first Mac?” An open-ended question is more general and gives the sales associate (specialist) more information to guide the conversation. For example, “What will you be using the iPad for?”
Asking why probes further and gives clarity. That’s why we do it in the gratitude journal. I’m thankful for my brother. Why? He is always there to talk with me when life seems overwhelming. Even further…Why? It’s great to have someone to talk to when you feel alone in your experience.
In an interview, Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about science boosting the economy. He goes on to say, most companies and politicians don’t have the tolerance for the long term view.
You don’t motivate a group of kids, saying “Who wants to be a mechanical engineer and help improve flight efficiency by 15% compared to the airplane your father flew?”
But instead, ask “Who wants to be an engineer and help develop airfoils to help fly in the atmosphere of Mars?” With the latter, you get the best students in the class.
Flow is the intersection of what you are good at and what challenges you— where difficulty and competency meet.
When your competency exceeds the difficulty of a task, you are bored. And when the difficulty exceeds your competency, you are anxious. That was my problem: I was bored.
— Jeff Goins, The Art of Work
There are times where the day job requires me to do the mundane. That’s fine. We can’t always have constant excitement. It’s called work for a reason.
For inspiration, this is one of the reasons that I have side projects. To keep pushing my limits. It allows me to play. To find out how to make user interfaces for VR, tinker with implementing the Acelerated Mobile Pages Project on content, create a landing page for Snapchat, write books, and so much more.
These all funnel back into the collective of who I am. When you hire me, you get a wide variety of experiences. All of which have added something to my career over the years.
Snapchat made a pretty standard landing page for adding people. Here’s mine. It shows your username, snapcode, and a link to download the app.
As an experiment, I made a Snapchat page to promote what I’m snapping about. Turned out pretty sweet.
As you can see, I’ve customized my Snapcode. You can do this with your brand, image of yourself, favorite pet, or the theme of what you’re snapping about.
A common theme that I see reoccurring in success stories is:
“I stuck it out. I didn’t quit early.”
That extra mile, that commitment, that desire, the action of pushing on when everyone else says you are crazy.
That’s what it takes to succeed.
Finding just one hour a day to work on what you love adds up. It ends up being 7 hours a week or roughly 28 hours a month. Have weekends off? Great, more pockets of time.
It’s budgeting your time. Like Amy Hoy said in her Year of Hustle course, “Time isn’t money. Time is an opportunity cost.”
The wonderful thing about design concepts and patterns is that they can be reused. Whenever you hit on a core idea, it can be expanded to many different applications.
Recently, Apple has introduced Force Touch or haptic feedback into their products.
On the iPhone, as you press harder, you get a slight buzz on your finger and then a contextual menu pops open for a given app. As well as a feature called “peek and pop” that allows, on a harder press, the app to render a bubble with a contextual preview.
On the Mac, when you “click” something, the trackpad feels as if you are pushing it down, but it’s not moving. The click sound is coming from the speakers. It is tricking your brain into thinking that there was a click.
The shopping cart, when the user hits a larger viewport size expands and becomes persistent. This is a nice touch.
The items in the cart show you price, Prime status, and an image thumbnail. Hovering over each product image displays: product title, price, quantity, delete, and “save for later”.
There is also a save for later panel under the cart as well, which expands accordian style.
This experience and the cooresponding interactions are not included on iPad/tablet.
I’ve had my Apple email address since it was Dot Mac. Then it became Mobile Me, and now it is called iCloud.
That’s @mac.com @me.com @icloud.com — so many different aliases, domains, etc. It ends up being a history of junk emails.
On top of that, I’m tied to my Apple email address because it’s now your AppleID.
As that email grows out of control, it becomes harder to find relevant emails. Not to mention notifications from Apple themselves.
Buy something online? You’re now on a newsletter list.
Unsubscribe from a newsletter? Ha! That rarely works.
Have an email address long enough and it will be sold to various “marketing lists”.
It’s super simple. Sanebox scans your emails, then moves the miscellaneous ( sales emails, confirmations, etc ) from the Inbox to a folder called “SaneLater”.
Then it will email you a digest of your emails so that you can glance at them once a day. Anything important is left in your Inbox per usual.
It really is that smart.