Frank Chimero on His New Site

frankchimero-website

In describing some creative epiphanies he had while building his new site, Frank hit on two that resonated with me:

Accepting that it’s okay if the site looks “traditional,” and that I didn’t need to opt into a willfully esoteric design or interaction method to make a “statement.” Blegh to pointless statements.

Admitting that if I was writing a lot of markup or CSS, I was working against the grain of the web.

How very dao of him. I think that what makes a ‘designer’ a ‘web designer’ is the ability to recognize the grain of the web and a willingness to go with it. Being able to code is great, but paramount to that is the unique understanding designers who love the web possess. Convention can be good. Web technologies work best when they’re embraced all for their strengths and weaknesses. Great work, Frank! You’re one of the best web designers I know.

Building the McLaren MP4-12C

I enjoyed this 2011 BBC documentary on the making of the McLaren MP4-12C. Just as fascinating as the car itself, is the glimpse into the McLaren way: perfection plus one.

The headquarters, where “you go home cleaner than you were before you came into work,” looks to me like a cross between set pieces from 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gattaca.

McLaren HQ
McLaren HQ

McLaren head, Ron Dennis on the working environment:

It’s less apparent that it [the building] is very clean. It’s less apparent that it’s odorless. It is also a constant temperature. We hold the whole building within 1° of 22°. There is no clutter in this building. Cluttered building, cluttered mind. It’s the attention to detail that I’m really quite well-known for.

A Better Way to Layer Type

I use the pseudo elements :before and :after to create layered type frequently on this site. In the case of this example, I repeat the title with CSS using something like content:"unitasking";. It works, but as Brandon Durham points out, the redundant text presents potential problems for screen readers and SEO. In this video he proposes we use data attributes instead. Smart guy.

Update: 11/12/13
Web crusaders Eric Eggert and Chris Coyier point out in the comments that we may need to include an empty span within an element (like the h1 in the example) until speak:none; gains more browser support. The helpful comments are here and here.

Scroll Hijacking

Sites like Milwaukee Police News and Apple’s recent string of product 1-pagers are beautiful, but hijacking a user’s scroll rate for marketing purposes has to be one of my least favorite things in web design these days. Perhaps there’s a time and a place for intensely “immersive” experiences, but those experiences shouldn’t dramatically change how basic input devices operate. Rather than consuming the page, I worried I broke my trackpad and grew tired of the 3+ second delays while trying to explore each section.

Apple iPhone Site

There comes a time in every URL’s life where it needs to decide whether it wants to be a powerpoint, a movie, or an actual website. I think a video player or slide switcher that operates independent from scroll seems like a more web-friendly approach. If the goal is to eliminate one’s ability to browse freely within a page then maybe it doesn’t belong in a web browser after all.