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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.

Thoughts on SquareSpace and WordPress

I just published 2 new websites, but you won’t see them in my portfolio. They aren’t original designs, so I don’t feel like I can take credit for them.

Over the years I’ve designed and developed websites using a gaggle of different content management systems. I’ve probably used WordPress more than any other CMS, but I just finished a project using Squarespace. Picking a template was easy enough, they have probably 25 nice looking templates. You can add custom CSS and Javascript easy enough and there’s a developer mode to really get under the hood. I didn’t use the developer mode, the store or even any Javascript so I can’t really comment on those things.

The website came together pretty fast, less than 100 lines of custom CSS to get the right look and feel and we were off and running. I would think
Squarespace would work great for someone wanting to get their feet wet with a new website. Check out the final SquareSpace website here.

The 2nd website was a redesign for a custom website I designed and coded in 2014. Revel Salon picked the theme from Theme Forest and asked me to set everything up.

Setup was pretty typical, I downloaded the theme and installed it. Getting the theme installed wasn’t bad, but If you are new to building websites, there’s going to be a learning curve. Once installed, there were a lot of options for the theme at the site and page level. And that might also be a little daunting for people unfamiliar with WordPress or content management systems in general. The website came together pretty fast, less than 100 lines of custom CSS here as well. Anyway check out the final WordPress website here.

A person with minimal skills could probably get a SquareSpace website off the ground and published relatively quick and I believe it would be easier than getting a WordPress website off the ground. For the control freaks like me, tinkerer’s, and those who just want to learn, it’s just hard to beat WordPress.

Sharing local files

When starting a new project I’ll usually set up a domain on my localhost something like “new-project.local”. However, it presents a problem when trying to show your work to clients, either you publish to a live website or you can use this cool tool with a funky name NGROK.

Just drop the NGROK file in your folder, and type a few commands and bam, your localhost has a public address — something like “https://random-string.ngrok.io” that you can show the world, keep in mind your computer needs to be up and running for them to see. So if you send them a link be sure to tell them it’s temporary.

I’ve also just started playing with code-kit it looks promising and has some great features built in like compiling SASS and JavaScript and external addresses for sharing.