Mindful Design

I know it’s strange, I’m a redneck and rednecks usually aren’t into meditation, unless it involves beer and fishing (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But, then there’s me I’m into meditation, yoga and qi gong. I’ve recently started yoga, and I have practiced qi going for years. I like to meditate, I’ve even built 2 meditational labyrinths. I walk our labyrinth regularly and recently started taking a mindfulness class.

Meditational Labyrinth by Matt Fitzwater The class is awesome, and it’s really made me realize just how much of the time I spend is just on “auto-pilot”. To be mindful or aware, to be truly present- man, that is difficult to do.

Of course I’m thinking about how to apply mindfulness to web design and that can be tricky to. Designing for everyone, being mindful of all the potential visitors. Here are just a few considerations to think about when mindfully designing a website.

  • What types of barriers could my website’s users have? Could they have a slow connection, a physical impairment?
  • 1 out of 5 people in the U.S. have a disability. Do my users need assistive technologies to access my websites, like screen readers, braille keyboards or maybe a mouth stick or head wand.
  • Is my message clear and concise?
  • Is my code clear and concise?
  • Am I writing to what my users need to hear, not just what I want to say?
  • Is my website, images, music, and videos inclusive, are they empowering people or are they excluding?
  • Am I following best practices for modern web design?

Incidentally, I guess this list could go on for a good while, but I hear some bluegill calling me.

Accessibility Classes, Badges, and Video Disasters

Accessibility has always been important to me, building an inclusive web has always seemed like the right thing to do. I’ve taken some accessibility classes in the past and this year I’ve decided to up my accessibility game. So I am taking a course from Deque University now (I’m going for the IAAP Certification) and I just finished a class from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign “Web Design: Web Accessibility Evaluation Basics” and received their badge. These classes are really helping me become more of an empathetic designer, and realize some of the challenges people struggle with daily, like being deaf or hard of hearing and trying to watch a presentation or video without captions.

I’ve not dealt with a lot of videos on the web and only recently really thought about the accessibility considerations needed when working with video. Making websites inclusive is a serious subject, but this video on the fails of auto-captioning cracked me up, remember always double check the auto-captions. So now I’m in the process of redesigning my website to make it blazing fast and inclusive as possible. Stay tuned for some cool changes:)

New static website theme

demo website template

I have a need for speed, well speedy websites anyway. My goal is to build a bunch of super fast website themes that I can base my future work on, so here’s my first attempt. It’s a lightweight, responsive static website theme.

The entire website CSS is only 1.67 KB and the JavaScript is only 485 bytes gZipped! I’ve set up a demo version on my staging website and it runs like a scalded dog. 🙂
You can download the files on Github.

Making websites more accessible

I passed a blind lady this morning on the steps, navigating the stairs with her cane. It really struck me how much I take my health for granted. According to the US Census of the 291.1 million people in the 2005 population of the United States, 54.4 million, or 18.7 percent, reported some level of disability.

There’s a good chance that some of our website visitors may have some form of disability, with that in mind I try to make sure sites I design meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Some of the tools I use to check accessibility are.

I try to be empathetic in design since I was born with Protanopia, doesn’t that sound awful? It’s not really that bad I’m just red-green color blind and with me being a designer, I guess it’s kind of weird. You will notice I always use a limited palette and for new colors, I will use color tools. I’m pretty safe designing when using a computer, just don’t ask me to paint using traditional tools, my paintings always come out looking like mud:)