Goggles Are In

October 16th, 2012
CSSquirrel #105: Goggles Are In

October 16th is Ada Lovelace Day, where we get to celebrate and support the presence of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I’m reliably informed that web development falls in there somewhere, so today’s comic features three STEM ladies: Brighton developer and console browser expert Anna Debenham, Greek CSS superstar Lea Verou, and Bellingham web designer (from my very own Mindfly Studio) Janae Cram (in her chinchilla alter-ego, Naepalm. Because a CSSquirrel comic wouldn’t be right without a rodent somewhere).

The Countess of Lovelace is traditionally considered the world’s first computer programmer, having been credited with writing the first program for Charles Babbage’s incomplete Analytical Engine. Today, in her honor, people are encouraged to “create role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM.”

As anyone who’s been to a web dev conference can tell you, our field has a habit of being a sausage-fest. As someone working in a studio with a very heavy ratio of women to men (3 women to 2 men in our “production” team), I can tell you that this is a low down dirty shame. Women like Anna, Janae and Lea have a great deal to offer to our industry. It bothers me to know that a sizable (although hopefully shrinking) percentage of the men in our field don’t see the industry’s gender discrepancy as a problem, or believe measures made to make women more welcome is somehow an attack on men.


I doubt any readers of this blog are so backwards. If you are, feel free to just stop reading me, because I’m not interested in catering to dickwads. Sure, I could use traffic, but not that badly.

To those who do care, I’m sure you’ve seen much of this, but let’s point out how these three contribute.

Anna’s becoming the go-to expert on the impact of console browsers on your designs. She’s written a well-received article in ALA on the topic.

Janae is an integral part of the Mindfly team, responsible for many of our designs and a surprising amount of our code (she’s far better than I am with databases despite my having a good five year head start on her with them). She’s also been involved in developing several web apps for our local gamer community.

Lea seems to have an annoying habit of producing awesome, useful tools for web designers that she’s constantly putting online for everyone to benefit from. Just a couple days back she put out this nifty contrast ratio tool.

That’s just three women. There’s tons more in the field contributing to our industry every day, and millions more yet to enter the field who need to be inspired to join. Our species isn’t going to be getting any less involved with technology as we progress forward, each gender should have a strong role in what our future looks like.

Know any women in the field that inspire you? Please share their story. Tell me about them via one of the methods below, or tell people on your own website. And don’t wait for October 16th every year to bother telling people.

Oh, and Tesla coils? They rock. Miss Naepalm and I saw one in action last weekend.

Tesla Coil

That sphere on the right? It’s a cage big enough for up to four people to stand in. Which gives you a clue how big that coil on the left was. It’s blasts weren’t quite as deafening as lightning… but it was pretty damn close.

T-Shirts of the Week: Frankenpersona and Ugh

October 12th, 2012

This week’s two designs are based on the last two comics.

The first, “Frankenpersona” features the UX persona montrosity that was hunting down the squirrel in The Folly of Tool Obsession.


The second design, “Ugh”, is based on the pizza-filled antics of the Squirrel in Gut Glut.


You can buy the shirts either from cssquirrel.spreadshirt.com for $13.99 (on Gildan standard-weight shirts) or $20.99 (on American Apparel), or go for the high-end screen-printing-like process, high durability shirts at skreened.com/cssquirrel for $29.99. Regardless of where you get the shirt, you’ll be supporting my work here at CSSquirrel and wearing a piece of Squirrel history.

Like the designs? Hate them? Have some t-shirt design advice for me? As always I crave feedback to learn from. Respond via any of the options below. Thanks!

Podcast #4: Requiem For A (Flash) Dream

October 12th, 2012

Last night I joined the incomparable Dylan Wilbanks to record the fourth episode of our epic podcast Squirrel and Moose.

In it we spend nearly thirty minutes beating up Flash for its lunch money, officially stating what everyone knew years ago: Flash is dead.

So I guess we were beating up a corpse. Or maybe a zombie. The former would make us deranged, the latter would make us heroes. So I’ll go with the latter. We’re god-damned heroes. We deserve medals. And like Chewbacca, we’ll go overlooked. It’s a cruel world.

Specifically we start by discussing the decisions involving IE10 not including Flash, then begrudgingly including it but white-listing Flash sites. Somewhere along the way we start making fun of most of the Southern Hemisphere. Because let’s be honest, your toilets flush backwards. Which is a sin against all mankind.

I think this ties in beautifully to our last episode, wherein we discussed tool obsession. Flash is a tool, and that tool’s days are drawing to an end. The sooner people jump ship to newer tools, the better off they’ll be. And hey, Adobe is there to help you. They already know Flash is dead and are building all sorts of crazy new tools to replace it.

All this and Dylan’s sexy post-cold voice. Available exclusively at 3rdaverad.io. You can fill your earholes with the podcast there by listening directly at the site, via RSS, or through iTunes.

Flash. IE10. Got opinions? Of course you do. Share them. Respond via one of the methods below, or tweet @dylanw and @cssquirrel with the hashtag #squoose filled with your mind candy.


Gut Glut

October 8th, 2012
CSSquirrel #104: Gut Glut

Today’s guest star is Nishant Kothary, who didn’t work on the new amazing and fully responsive Microsoft.com redesign. The comic also features the consequences of the Squirrel’s misunderstanding the concept of “designing with your gut”.

(I wish it was as simple as eating pepperoni pizzas. I would be the best intuitive designer ever.)

Although Nishant did not work on the new design, he did write a great post telling the Story of the New Microsoft.com (and his own small part in that), which is a great piece that looks at what made the new design so amazing. Which it turns out, is a complex, nuanced combination of many factors, including (but not limited to), designing by the gut at times.

When even Gruber says that Microsoft’s new site looks great, you know they’ve hit the ball out of the park. It makes you wonder what kind of world we live in, where suddenly Microsoft’s design aesthetic seems to be, well, awesome. From their new logo and their new site, to the Metro UI (I know, it’s not called that anymore) of Windows 8, they’ve got it going on.

It’s a crazy world.

As great as the Microsoft.com redesign is, the reason for Nishant’s inclusion in today’s comic instead of one of the site’s designer is the meat and morale of his post: In our reality successful websites (or successful projects of any type) are rarely (if ever) in debt to a single underlying cause. Awesome techniques, rockstar designers, understanding management, these may be some of literally dozens of contributing factors. To me this is great, because it means we can learn dozens of valuable lessons by examining these success stories.

Nishant tells the story like this as well, touching on several aspects that made the Microsoft.com redesign the success that it is, then ending by contributing it all to the twenty-five people that were involved in that project.

There was a tweet by Dan Cederholm last week that touched on the topic of what goes into making good websites.

Web design is getting f’ing complex. Biggest concern is for those just starting to learn.

Which, really sums it up. There’s so many aspects to good design that it’s impossible to find a single magic bullet (as awesome as responsive design is.) I appreciate the new Microsoft.com for reminding us that our industry is about a lot more than just buzzwords.

T(GIF): We Ride To Battle!

October 5th, 2012

Another Friday, another animated GIF!

This week we see the godfather of GIFs, Ethan Marcotte, and the ever enthusiastic Mat Marquis, doing what they do best.

Riding flying rainbow-powered pugs into battle.

What can I say? I’ve had lots of coffee.

Enjoy, and as always feel free to use and abuse the gif as you see fit.

We Ride To Battle!