#inspiration / Mark "zeros out" his place on the Internet.

From this foundational reset, I’m hoping this is the start of a continual work in progress. A return to blogging my thoughts. Just writing things down. A place I can experiment, document, design, and look back on. Already it’s a place I’m visually happier with. It feels right. It feels me.

Bold colors, great typography and a strong composition is all you need.

#labyrinth / "WordPress is a mess."

Anders Norén, a top theme designer (one of my top three) on the user interface (UI) of the popular CMS:

We’ve gotten used to that mess, and since we’ve navigated it daily for years until it’s become second nature to us – but it is still a mess. In comparison, services like Squarespace have gradually improved until they now offer site owners more control over the structure and design of their site than the out-of-box WordPress experience while still being more user friendly.

He’s not wrong. The WordPress interface looks more like legacy Enterprise software than a modern-day application. Given that Automattic employs amazing designers like Jeffrey Zeldman and Bethany Heck, I know they have the talent to make a significant improvement.

#thanksrob / FWA is up for sale.

Site founder, owner, and operator, Rob Ford, is ready to “spend more time outside and with his family.” Well earned in my book. FWA has handed out 8,000 awards to websites and interactive experiences since 2000. I don’t know anyone in the industry who doesn’t have a soft spot for the site. The web is better because of FWA. And it most certainly helped to spawn and influence an entirely new form of design (web, interactive, digital, UX, and UI).

Rob posts that “the FWA system itself, which is 99% automated and backed by a jury of over 500 judges.” That may be true, but there is no doubt it took a mountain of work to get it there. He’s undoubtedly had a front-row seat to the evolution of the web, which is well documented in his gorgeous book, released right before the world turned into a pandemic.

Mr. Rob Ford, designers around the world, owe you a tall, cold one. I hope you find a worthy buyer soon.

#roundroom

Languishing, "the dominant emotion of 2021."

Do you remember those mornings when you didn’t feel like getting up and going to work? Do you recall sometime after May 2020 when you started feeling like this every single day?! Apparently, it’s not just you and me, but everyone is waking up in a haze. And though we don’t talk about it openly, it sounds like we all started to ask ourselves when a bottle of wine at breakfast would become socially acceptable. From Adam Grant of the NYT:

At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms that we all had in common. Friends mentioned that they were having trouble concentrating. Colleagues reported that even with vaccines on the horizon, they weren’t excited about 2021. It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.

Sounds familiar? How often have you asked, “what day is it,” in the last twelve months? Scratch that, how often have you asked, “what day is it,” today? Foggy windshield indeed, and just like everything pandemic related it potentially gets worse!

Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways, it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.

What in the actual…did the dinosaurs have to go through this shit? First, we get a virus that turns everyone into a permanent waterboarding victim, then we avoid human contact like we’re all that weird bubble kid with no immune system in that one ABC After School Special. And now this. Hey, you survived the zombie pandemic test run, but now you have a mental illness. Awesome!

When I got my first shot, I felt like I had just taken the first step in some sort of addiction recovery process—as if I had chosen to take a new path in life. If the first shot was the start of the process, the second felt like it was validation that I had changed my ways. This may sound weird, but after learning about this mental state, maybe I’m not so crazy. Or perhaps I’m not.

#holyshit / David Carson has a Masterclass.

Learn new perspective in graphic design from David-effing-Carson for fifteen dollars? Uh, yes please. Totally looking forward to this class.

Also, I love that he’s able to skateboard around his studio—new life goals registered.

#cycling

The EBIKE Act needs to become law.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I sold our beloved V.W. Toureg and replaced it with a pair of VanMoof S3 electric bikes. While we’re just getting started adapting to this different mode of transportation, it feels like the future. So when I read about the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment Act, I had to advocate for it.

As my friend and fellow e-bike aficionado Colin writes:

The legislation, if it were to become law, would provide a tax credit of 30 percent off (up to $1,500) a new electric bike priced at under $8,000. For Rad rides, my company of choice, that’d take about a $1,500 purchase down to around $1,000.

It’s important to remember credits like these are not in any way radical. Even setting aside ebike tax credit efforts globally—if you buy an electric car in the United States, you get $7,500 back from the federal government.

As the precedent for promoting the sale of cleaner transportation through tax credits already exists as law, similar benefits for all types of alternate transit should be considered. Especially, EBIKE which is more accessible to more citizens. What’s good for folks who can and/or choose to drive a car should be made available to all financial classes.

If you are so inclined, take a few minutes and ask your representative to support H.R. 1019.

#loslobos

Designer vs Goliath.

I’m currently taking Seth Godin’s class on podcasts. As part of the class, I have come up with a few ideas for a program called Designer vs Goliath, a podcast for designers who are seriously outnumbered by developers and engineers.

In the last five years, I have discovered lone designers tucked into the corners of the enterprise, startups, and everyday small businesses. These are designers who rarely get to perform design-related tasks like user research or participate in a design critique. Yet they churn out the work that powers Billions of dollars in revenue. They need a community as much, if not more, so let’s go find them.

Are you (or do you know) a lone designer surrounded by an army of developers, engineers, and product managers? Do you watch videos of design teams collaborating, hosting critiques, discussing typography, and wish you were there? I’d like to hear from you and know if you might find this type of program worthwhile.

I’ve put together this short survey that I hope you’ll complete. And please consider sharing this post with your network even if you don’t fit the mold of a Designer vs Goliath.