Speaking at Remote Working Conference 2016

Remote Working Conference


Join team 10up (from wherever you are) on Dec 6 and 7 for the 2016 Remote Working Conference. This two-day streaming event focuses on how to succeed in a remote working environment and will dispel the myths around distributed teams.

On Day 1, John Eckman will present “Distributed, not Disconnected: Employee Engagement for Remote Work.” Remote teams carry the stigma of being less connected than their co-located counterparts. John will share techniques and tools to drive engagement in a distributed workplace.

On Day 2, I close the event with my talk “Designing a Better UX Hiring Process.” Vetting UX applicants can be a challenge for remote agencies. Video interviews and online portfolios help, but cannot be the only metrics used to find the best UX design talent. In this talk, I’ll share our strategy for attracting and hiring top UX candidates.

Button and link usability

I find myself often telling designers and front-end engineers that “buttons should feel like buttons and links should look like links.” It occurs to me, that after a few years of the flat design trend, I should explain what that means.

Buttons should feel like buttons

When you press a physical button in the real world — any key on a physical keyboard, for example — you can tactically feel it depressing. You’ll also see its form shrink away from you and the way the light falls on it will cause it to look slightly different.
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Microcopy can make a macro impression

A newly hired UX Designer once quipped, “I could spend all day obsessing about word choices.” It’s true, we could! Those small fragments of text—a phrase, a sentence fragment, or even a word—can make an interface really work. We call it microcopy.

Microcopy sits unobtrusively alongside user interface, ready to provide contextual information for a user that needs that extra bit of help or information. It makes visitors feel confident and can help reinforce a client’s brand through tone and style. Typically you see microcopy near interactive elements. Here are some prototypical examples of microcopy found online:

“Microcopy is small yet powerful copy. It’s fast, light, and deadly. It’s a short sentence, a phrase, a few words. A single word… Don’t be deceived by the size of microcopy. It can make or break an interface.”

— Joshua Porter, 2009

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Sliders, Rotators, and Carousels — Oh no!

There is evidence to indicate that sliders (or rotators or carousels) are generally ineffective. Engagement with the second slide is precipitously low and engagement with the third slide is near negligible. Assuming visitors see it at all.

As an adaptation to information overload, web users have trained themselves to divert their attention away from areas that seem unimportant or look like advertising.
—Hoa Loranger, NNGroup

Although Loranger was summarizing a study about right-rail blindness, NNGroup has done previous examinations of sliders and found a similar effect. Notre Dame university also studied sliders on their home page and found only 1% of visitors interacted with it at all.

Finally, these interfaces often have usability concerns: microscopic control buttons, odd mobile/touch behavior, and the removal of visitors’ control.

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Making our home in Portland

A few months ago, as 10up’s Portland contingent continued to grow, we decided that it was time to put down roots in the city and set up our first brick-and-mortar office. To celebrate our new space, we hosted an open house on the eve of this year’s WordCamp Portland. We invited the Portland and WordPress community to come check out our new office, and meet some of our team.

Senior Designer Megan Gray (visiting from Orange Country) and I spent the week preparing the office for the open house. Located in the former Oregon Cracker Building, our space was very much a blank canvas. With a nod to the history of the space – and the work ahead of us – we set out give the office an industrial vibe.

In just one week’s time, we transformed the office into a warm, welcoming atmosphere for Portland 10uppers (and their guests) to collaborate and host community events. By the end of the week, the office was full of 10uppers – both local and out-of-town – enjoying the space and the opportunity to collaborate under one roof.

Redecorating Portland office

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10up Portland Open House

Hey again, PDX! As you may know from our blog or some local publications, 10up opened its first brick & mortar office in Portland, Oregon.  On the eve of WordCamp Portland 2013 – which we’re proud to sponsor – we’ll have a handful of 10uppers from out-of-town joining our 7 full-time local contingent. We think this is the perfect occasion for a grand opening, and we’d like to invite you to join us!

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Watch those hook priorities

When adding an action or a filter to WordPress, the third parameter allows you to adjust priority. In this way, multiple bits of code can determine the order that they should execute without having to rely on the order that PHP actually parses them.

Generally, there are no minimums or maximum limits (other than those imposed by PHP itself) for priority, but there’s a very good reason to give consideration to when your code runs. Here’s an example:

Widget registration should be hooked to ‘widgets_init’ as in the following code:

function mytheme_register_widgets() {
  register_widget( 'Mytheme_Widget' );
add_action( 'widgets_init', 'mytheme_register_widgets' );

This is also the hook used internally by WordPress to take all the registered widgets and create a global array, $wp_registered_widgets. Specifically, this is in the WP_Widget_Factory class’s constructor function which is called once in wp-settings.php, immediately before the ‘setup_theme’ action hook.

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Code with me: Digital Journalism

Code with me: Portland is a two day, student-mentor workshop that teaches journalists the foundations of coding in languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Founded by Sisi Wei and Tom Giratikanon, Code with me has been successful in Washington DC and Miami, and Code with me: Portland promises to be the biggest workshop yet, with 36 student and 22 mentors! With about two students to every mentor, the classes are very personal and hands-on. Between learning how to code, the journalists use mentor time to help with personal projects.

Portland’s organizer, a former VIP support engineer, helped organize the workshop and invited Jeremy Felt and me to be mentors. The mentors are talented and diverse, ranging from 10uppers and Automatticians to designers, developers, and editors from newspapers like the Seattle Times.

The primary goal of Code with me is to help journalists understand code so that they can better integrate into their work. Many of the attendees were inspired after reading the New York Times’s “Snow Fall”, a showcase for crafting and coding an online presentation around a single, great story. Snow Fall is a great example of how technology can enhance storytelling without restraining or complicating it.

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At our 10up Developer Summit, we collectively decided to document our workflow, tools, and process. With a handful of employees it’s easy to spread collective knowledge, but we’re growing fast and now have a need to document web technologies such as Vagrant, Git, and Grunt; who to contact and how to use our internal IRC channel; and how our staging servers are set up.

But who writes those docs, where do they go, and what should they look like?

Earlier this week I attended Write The Docs: a conference for technical writers that was created in the domain of software and web development. Many of the talks at this conference were devoted to who should write the docs. The consensus is that engineers compose technical documentation which is then edited by more experienced writers. Other presentations covered technical writing itself, careers, and documentation platforms.

Our code is well documented – and soon our internal processes will be too. Our engineers are already documentarians. The docs are being assembled in an internal WordPress-powered website and I’ve started the initial concept of a theme to make those docs easily readable and navigable.

If you’d like to help us write our docs, strategy, proposals, and emails, we are hiring web strategists.