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Returning to the desert; my start with 10up and WordCamp Phoenix

WordCamp Phoenix 2013About a year ago I took two arbitrary vacation days that coincidentally aligned with WordCamp Phoenix 2012. As it happened, a long time friend of mine, Eric Mann, was flying out as a speaker. At the conference, in between sessions, Eric introduced me to Jake and a few weeks later I’m working for 10up. Eric joined 10up a few months later.

It seems fitting, then, that the three of us: Jake, Eric, and myself are returning to WordCamp Phoenix 2013 as speakers.

Jake is attending as a rockstar presenter. Eric and I are teaching Friday classes and Sunday sessions. I’ll be talking about developer tools and techniques. Eric will talk about leveraging WordPress and open source publishing in developing or low-tech environments. Jake will dive into the “core of WordPress core”, studying its most base level information architecture and database schema.

If you happen to be headed to WordCamp Phoenix this January, we’d love to meet up and say hello. We’re always looking for new employees and great WordPress stories.

WordCamp Toronto: Developers

This is a post about a WordCamp. It is far from the first one: we sponsor and send people to a number of them each year . This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at WordCamp Toronto: Developers.

Toronto has now held the second developer-centric WordCamp. The idea—as it was explained during the opening remarks—is that these are viability tests of niche WordCamps.

The Toronto organizers are (rightly) considering the test a success. They sold out tickets with an attendance near 300 and a slate of talented speakers despite Hurricane Sandy forcing a last-minute call for speakers.

I had the opportunity to speak about how to create websites tailored to the people using them through a process called Interaction Design. This half science, half design discipline answers questions such as:

  • Who is the site being created for, what do we mean by “user?”
  • What tasks and goals should this website address?
  • How will someone interact with the website?
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Opening a new tab or window: usability considerations

Have you ever asked your web developer to open a link in a new tab or window? Generally, this is accomplished by adding a target="_blank" attribute to a link. Let’s consider the usability implications.

The rationale is almost always founded in a desire to keep the audience engaged with your content longer, or a concern about usability (for example, keeping the reader losing his or her bearings). The overwhelming finding from user experience researchers*, however, is that new windows/tabs should be avoided when simply opening new web pages. However, there are some appropriate use cases: opening a non-HTML document (web page) like a large image, video, audio, or other media, or to avoid interrupting an important linear process like a checkout. Even with these exceptions, however, there are  friendlier alternatives like tool-tips and lightboxes.

In fact, the target="" attribute was actually deprecated (being phased out) from the HTML specifications until HTML5. As of HTML5, the W3C guidelines stipulate that it is no longer deprecated because it is deemed “useful in Web applications, e.g. in conjunction with iframe.”

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WordCamp Portland 2012

It’s WordCamp season for 10up! Well, actually, are always traveling to various WordCamps, but in the next few months we’ve got a few. Near to my heart is WordCamp Portland, rapidly approaching on August 18th. We have four 10uppers attending, two are featured speakers, and 10up is a top-tier, Bald Eagle sponsor.

The three 10up Portlanders: Zack, Taylor, and Jeremy will be there and, since it’s our hometown, we will be volunteering throughout the day. Among the 12 selected to be featured speakers are Zack and Taylor. Presenting development anti-patterns is Zack, with his session titled _doing_it_wrong: Improving Your Development Skills Through Examining Bad Practices. Taylor is presenting a talk about how we, as authors, designers, and developers, should focus our attention on the interaction between users and content. His talk, titled Why We Click Publish: Advocating for User-Centricity through Interaction Design, as well as Zack’s are scheduled simultaneously, first thing after the morning announcements.

Because 25% of 10up employees call Portland home, 10up is sponsoring WordCamp Portland as a top-tier, Bald Eagle sponsor and Jake is flying in to keep tabs on us. If you’re in town for WordCamp, we’d love to meet you: find us in our grey 10up shirts or better yet, attend one of our sessions.

Attending WebVisions Portland? I’ll be joining Lorelle VanFossen’s panel session to discuss the “insider stories, tips, tricks, and techniques” that we use to make your website awesome both inside and out. We’ll talk about all the emerging web technology buzzwords: HTML5, responsive, and CSS3 plus exciting ways WordPress can be extended and tailored through plugin and theme development. I look forward to meeting you there!