I’ve blogged about this before but wanted to post again now that the 4-season series has wrapped. A consistent detail throughout Mr. Robot was that the title cards seemed to capture the essence of the episode instantly. The (freeze) framing of a powerful image + music + the splash of red type across the screen always got me excited for what was in store.
Potential spoilers below, but here’s a video with all four seasons worth of title card intro screens:
~4 years ago, we had a sliver of free time at Paravel, and wanted to experiment with creating an immersive-website-book-thingy for Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia complete with a vibey page design, illustrations, animations, and even audio.
Why did it take so long to share it?
I’m not sure we ever called the experiment done, and we certainly could have spent many more months fretting over all sorts of details. It probably got to a point where the work it’d take to reach the standard we set in our minds far outweighed the joy experienced in the act of creating it. And then we just forgot about it until recently and decided to ship it as-is. Yay!
I’ve heard you trash talk scroll jacking! Hypocrite!
Yes, there are animations and sounds triggered by scroll (whether or not something is in view). We wanted to play a rain soundtrack when the story mentioned rain. The same goes for fireplace crackling sounds and paper notes sliding into view. Users can still scroll smoothly, and we tried to be extremely subtle about it (which I generally think is the only way to do it).
About the audio
I knew Dave and Reagan were skeptical about including music and sounds. Still, after some experimentation, I think we found the right balance—ambient tones instead of sharp notes, pulling in looping sounds (like rain) to offset the potential abruptness of a door swinging open, etc.
I also regularly fantasize about being a foley artist and/or making music for TV, movies, or games, so this helped to scratch that itch.
Practicing what I Preach
I’ve been lecturing my kids about the importance of output as it relates to creativity. I’ll say stuff like, “I like hearing about all your ideas, but I love it when you turn those ideas into reality even more.” It’s inspiring to see them create tree house models out of boxes and tissue paper, write spell books, and invent comic heroes.
So I’ll be sharing more of my creative endeavors, whether they’re perfect, imperfect, practical, or frivolous. It feels good to get ideas out—to try things because you feel you need to. More to come!
We updated paravelinc.com! I actually have no idea what version it is (are we counting the flash one I did in 2000?), but rather than trying to overhaul the entire site, we opted to make some key changes and bring the rest along later. So what changed?
We’d never had a services page before, but because many recent client relationships involve long-term partnerships instead of one-off projects, we sought to create two pages that explain a couple of our specialties: design systems and prototypes.
We spent a fair amount of time writing and editing these two pages. Long paragraphs became short paragraphs. Then those became sentences or phrases. Articulating what we do verbally (as well as on the web) isn’t easy, but I like where we landed here.
As words were finalized, I got to make graphics—sneaking triforces into Jordan 1s and creating fictitious brands like “Amigoaid.” I haven’t had this much fun making stuff up since I did that New Adventures newspaper.
First off, having a visual “map” of requests is compelling even before you begin any analysis. While my site is relatively basic, something like Amazon can be complex, producing a sizable map.
You can dig into the map for further analysis (Harry’s post covers this well), and you can also export as a CSV, which I love because it’s another easy way to itemize third-parties for comparison, sorting, etc.
The General Data Protection Regulation is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.
Because these changes include data collected outside the EU, its impact is global. For example, if you store user data in the U.S. for someone in the EU, you’re subject to these laws. I think this is a good thing for users, but what does that mean for us as web builders?
I recently came across this article written by Heather Burns for Smashing Magazine. It contains an excellent breakdown of GDPR requirements, what data is protected, and tips for how to go about adapting. Some of my favorite bits:
Europe’s data protection regime stands in stark contrast to that of the U.S., which has no single overarching, cross-sector, or cross-situational data protection law. […] This cultural difference often sees American developers struggling with the concept of privacy as a fundamental human right enshrined in law, a situation which has no U.S. equivalent.
GDPR requires the adoption of the Privacy by Design framework, a seven-point development methodology which requires optimal data protection to be provided as standard, by default, across all uses and applications.
A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), which is required under GDPR for data-intensive projects, is a living document which must be made accessible to all involved with a project. It is the process by which you discuss, audit, inventory, and mitigate the privacy risks inherent in the data you collect and process.
These items seem less like extra work and more like work that should be done from the beginning as a default. Just as we formalize accessibility, performance, and browser/device support standards, we should be doing the same for privacy and data protection.
But what about third-parties? If I have Google Analytics on my site (I don’t), who is responsible for that data?
I just got back from attending & speaking at Smashing Conf 2018. I had a great time—the speakers were excellent, and the Smashing team is always so helpful and supportive. It was my first time speaking about third-parties. I think it went well, and I’m thankful for the questions and feedback. Next, I’ll be researching privacy and adding some thoughts to the deck for the next talks for An Event Apart in Boston and Orlando!
“What if my digital property had better performance? How would that affect the bottom line of my company?”
Next, I’m going to try and get some experience with RUM tools and work with a client to get these sorts of data points. If you’ve got any screenshots or stories using RUM tools to do this sort of thing that you can share, please give me a holler!
It’s common for sites to ask users to turn off ad blockers. I often happily oblige to support sites I value. I’d likely oblige more often if the differences in experience weren’t so extreme. Here’s one example (via Sam Kap):
Not an unreasonable request: “Turn off your ad blocker so we can continue to make content. We won’t hit you with pop-up ads.” But note my “before” experience:
After turning my ad blocker off, the experience changed dramatically:
Not only was the page heavier and slower to load, but there was also a lot of scroll-jank and processor lag. Because the differences are so huge, the request was starting to seem less reasonable. And to top things off, I got a pop-up anyways:
Sites with ads are one thing. Sites with such a high amount of ads, trackers, analytics, and A/B testing resources that load via a long list of third-parties are something else. I don’t think Food Network is unique here, but it is a good example of what happens when third-party inclusions get out of hand.
When implementing third-party scripts/services, I think organizations need to:
Monitor page speed and processor lag
Evaluate UX implications
Avoid redundant scripts/services
Establish criteria for measuring cost/benefits of each script/services
Maybe most organizations do this already, and perhaps it still makes business sense for them to include everything. I hope not.