Monarch

I randomly started making music back in December. At the time, the only place I posted anything was Instagram stories. As short beeps evolved to songs, I built audio.trentwalton.com.

Fast forward to April. When I had 12 songs I was pleased with, I decided to package them up for distribution/streaming. Let this post serve as a mini-release party for Monarch!

Trent Walton Monarch album cover
No, there’s no vinyl edition, but designers gotta comp their dreams :)

Where’d the song/album names come from? The theme for this project was to try and not overthink anything. I’m an amateur here, and while I spend lots of time fussing over details with websites, I didn’t want to do the same with the music.

I rarely edited or revisited songs once they came together, and in Keyser Söze fashion, names came from whatever I saw lying around the office. “Rucco” came from a BOTW Shrine, “Ideals” came from the Ball jar on my desk, and so forth.

The process for the album artwork began with developing a color palette. I assembled some warm tones and played with layer-blending a solid pink/beige block to unify things.

color option blocks
Establishing a color palette

From there, I built some textures by dramatically scaling up image resolution, transferring images to halftone, and then scaling them back down. Gigabytes later, all I had left to do was play with shapes.

Trent Walton Monarch album cover options
Bunches of options—butterflies are fun, but a little too on-the-nose

I hope you enjoy the beeps. I’ll continue to post MP3s here as they come.

New Fonts on the Ol’ Blog

I’m proud of myself because this is merely a post about new fonts rather than a post about a blog redesign. The perfectly-dialed-in textures and vibe from Phil Coffman’s recent redesign nearly pushed me over the edge, though. Anyways, I did what any sensible designer would do after letting the blog sit for too long: buy fonts!

I’ve had Grilli Type’s GT America on my font shopping list for a while. You’re reading GT America Standard Light + Light Italic now, and GT America Mono Regular is sprinkled across tags, meta info, etc.

Grilli Type’s GT America

Titles are set in a variable version of Denso by DSType Foundry who, I’d like to add, were so kind in helping me fine-tune some of the spacing.

Variable font for Denso from DSType Foundry

With the variable version, you can adjust levels for weight, serifs, and optical size/contrast. I’m still drinking the variable fonts Kool-aid—It’s fun to see the added utility (and kb savings) variable fonts can gain you.

Mr. Robot Title Cards

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.

Mr. Robot Title Screens

Potential spoilers below, but here’s a video with all four seasons worth of title card intro screens:

The Strokes – At the Door

I adore the high-contrast type, aged color pallette, and sci-fi concept painting here in the artwork for The Strokes’ new song, “At the Door.”

Art direction and design by Tina Ibañez & painting by John Harris

I couldn’t help but track down the title font. I believe it’s Blackbarry NF by Nick Curtis. Then I saw the throwback-Hanna-Barbera-vibed video, which hits even harder. The titles here are set in Angelus Medieval (see also DXAngelus Mediaval).

The Strokes At The Door video

Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia

~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.

Paravel Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia
sherlock.paravelinc.com
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).

Paravel Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia

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!

Paravel V3.5

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?

Paravel Homepage

New Homepage

With an insane campfire scene illustration thanks to Matthew Woodson (Bless your Instagram feed while you’re at it), lettering via Reagan, and a subtle-yet-lovely fire glow effect from Dave, we’ve got a whole new vibe.

New Fonts

Kinda. We love Alternate Gothic dearly and use it in our logo and for headlines. When ATF expanded no. 1, no. 2, and no. 3 to 40 different styles (4 widths, 10 weights), I jumped at the chance to utilize a heavier option for headlines on some of the newer pages (coming soon to the rest of the site).

ATF Alternate Gothic
via Typographica

ATF Alternate Gothic Bold and ITC Franklin Gothic are being served via Webtype, who has a stellar support team, BTW.

Services

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.

Paravel design systems and prototypes pages

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.

Various fictitious products

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.

Getting Netlified

Paravel is now on Netlify. It’s a Jekyll site on Github, and with minimal configuration, Netlify builds and deploys the site for us. I even used their forms feature to manage our contact form. S/O to Phil Hawksworth for encouraging me to try Netlify this spring at Smashing Conf SF. I love it!

I think that’s it. We’re in our twelfth year at Paravel. Thanks for reading—thanks for your support—just, thanks!

Request Map Generator

I was reading Harry Roberts’ post, Identifying, Auditing, and Discussing Third Parties, and realized I hadn’t paid proper attention to the Request Map Generator built by Simon Hearne. It’s fantastic.

trentwalton.com request map
Request Map for trentwalton.com

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.

Amazon website request map
Request Map for amazon.com

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.

amazon request map in CSV
Request Map for amazon.com exported as CSV

I don’t think we’ll be doing any performance or third-party consulting at Paravel without utilizing the Request Map Generator, especially now that it’s also included in the webpagetest.org UI.

Understanding GDPR and Privacy

On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes enforceable across Europe. According to Wikipedia:

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.

You can read more about PbD here.

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?

As I understand it, according to GDPR, The site/app owner is the ‘data controller,’ and the third-party service (like Google Analytics) is the ‘data processor.’ It is up to Google to be sure the data they process is GDPR compliant, but it would also be up to me as the data controller to be sure that my third-party vendors and services are in compliance. These roles further reinforce the need for organizations to regularly audit and itemize the third-party scripts and services they include with their web pages.

Smashing Conf 2018

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!

Trent Walton speaking at Smashing Conf 2018 in San Francisco
Photo via Marc Thiele