Freelance website almost done – do you need a web designer?

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I’m putting the final touches on my freelance website. Design-wise, it’s simple, and it will definitely change over time (and much more quickly at least in the first year or so), and content-wise it’s a duplicate of my many portfolios around the web, but hopefully will serve as a single repository for my best work that should land me more work.

Speaking of work, if you or anyone you know is in need of a small website or in website design, or if you need a front-end designer on a contractual basis, get in touch with me! When working freelance, I specialize in small businesses (typically agricultural) and brochure websites, also known as informational websites, landing pages, or one-page websites. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Expiration dates for .io domains on Google Domains

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TLDR: As of February 2, 2017, the policy of the vendor that Google Domains uses for .io domain registration is that an .io domain is auto-renewed or deleted 3 days before the expiration date displayed in WHOIS information and the Google Domains dashboard. This means that your “real” expiration date is effectively 3 days earlier than you might expect. While there are email notifications at the 30 and 7 days prior marks that list the “real” expiration, there isn’t any obvious indication in your dashboard and only the email seems to mention the “real” expiration date.

Thoughts on the IFTTT Redesign

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NOTE: This is some user feedback I recently sent to IFTTT‘s CEO per his request on Product Hunt. I love their service, I just wanted to point out some places that this redesign might have missed the mark. Despite these niggles, their redesign was much needed and I believe quite successful, these are just some suggestions of how it could be even MORE successful. If you’ve never used their service, I highly recommend it.

Redesign

The redesign looks nice, but seems like mobile-first has translated into mobile only. What I mean by this is that some designers labor under the false impression that “simple is better” and that a design that works on mobile will be suitable for desktop. The problem is that the condensed and simple nature of a mobile design doesn’t translate well to desktop, and can often decrease usability of the desktop site [3]. In fact, Nielsen Norman Group estimates that less than 40% of desktop screen size is utilized (and that was in 2013!) in modern website design [1]. They talk extensively about the content-to-chrome ratio, or the ratio between website content and UI options (chrome), in this article which is a fantastic read even for non-designers. Stupid statistics aside, some of the “largeness” of the home page and other pages, including header and navigation, screams “not optimized for desktop” to me. Also the usage of “Tap for [action]” instead of “Click” just reinforces the idea.

Home Page

After logging in or signing up, the first thing a user is presented with is the applet discover page. For new or returning users, you are making the assumption that they read the home page and understand what applets are, or that they are familiar with your service already. This might be a fine assumption to make for new users depending on your signup funnel, but after a UX redesign not explaining the changes or what the terminology means to existing users is a misstep. Even new users might sign up assuming there will be onboarding or other startup documentation, and be left a bit in the lurch when landing on this page. I recommend providing some sort of onboarding with some definitions of terminology or even provide a default applet (perhaps notifying users of new blog posts on IFTT?) for users to play with.

Text Effects Sass functions & mixins

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CSS has come a long damned way from the days of having to use tables because positioning wasn’t available. (Sure, dating myself a bit, but as they say: you’re only young once but you can be immature forever.) Time was that if one wanted any sort of effect on text – and we’re talking system installed fonts here, nothing fancy – you had to create an image. Once the semantic web was encouraged, you then had to replace a heading tag with said image to get the best SEO as well as have the creative look. Of course, every browser had different support for the technique so there were dozens of image replacement hacks. (If you’re interested in a history lesson, CSS-Tricks has an entire page dedicated to the different techniques.) Nowadays CSS can do a helluva lot of basic text effects directly in the browser, with fantastic cross-browser support.

Windowfy Sass Mixin

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In my travels around the internet, I see many interesting portfolios for both designers and developers. Often these portfolios include images of the web site or application as it would look in a desktop window, usually an OSX (Mac) window. I really liked the effect, and I wanted to recreate it in CSS. Once I had done that I thought it was pretty cool, and I wanted to share it so I made a Sass mixin, which proved to be more enlightening that I had originally anticipated.

First Evah CodePen Online Meetup

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So last week we had a CodePen online meetup. This was my first ever meetup, online or not, and it was FANTASTIC! We had to present something, and about 2 pens in I was doubting my abilities, but whatever. I’m sure someone out there is doing something similar and my pen helped them. See and read about the glory!

I had this typed up and didn’t post it, but rather saved it as a draft. Then I saw that they posted the video over on the CodePen blog, so I’ll just link to that. We plan on doing it again, so if you’re interested, keep an eye on the CodePen site for more information!

Flat Solar System

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My daughter is learning about the solar system and other bits of astronomy in school, so I thought it would be fun to create a little CSS animation that shows how the orbits work. I found this image on Dribbble that I really liked the look of, and decided to recreate it in CSS. This served well enough to explain to her how much smaller than the sun we are, and the Earth’s place in the solar system. Right now of course, these orbits and sizes are not at all to scale, but maybe someday!

Product page redesign (unused) – Bass Pro Shops

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NOTE: This is an incomplete piece and was never officially presented to Bass Pro Shops for consideration.

In 2014, while working on optimizing the CSS (a project that got postponed indefinitely) I started envisioning a product page redesign for Bass Pro Shops. The current product page was created in 2012 when the big site redesign happened, and while it was acceptable for that time and place, it wasn’t holding up well under evolving user needs. Since this wasn’t a requested project I had an open canvas for design, which was quite rare.