Category: UX

Design process: Picking a frontend framework

Web framework

Front end frameworks first appeared on my radar in about 2016. They made so much sense. Why start coding from scratch every time? Why not build an approach of best practice, accessible, semantic, browser compatible code that covers common elements like the grid, typography and interactive elements like buttons and forms.

Bootstrap wasn’t the first but it was definitely the breakout from the group.

Developed in house at Twitter, Bootstrap was made available for free as an open source project. Very quickly Bootstrap was marginalised in the web development community because it was abused and often used as the defacto style of a website or application when this was never the intention.

The other main go to framework that I use is Foundation by Zurb. This was around before Bootstrap but came on my radar because it was stripped back somewhat but also a more fully fledged approach because it also included email and app versions.

It’s good to know both but even better to specialise in one. They evolve through versions and the markup changes so as a developer, you need to keep up with the pace.

Check these frameworks out on their websites where they have a wealth of documentation to help learn them but more importantly they help you learn proper, semantic coding.

Where does this fit in my redesign project?

The next step in the redesign project is to lay out the sketch designs in raw, unstyled HTML based on a framework.

Take a look at these two images. One is a design from Sketch of the target layout. The other is the raw layout based on the Zurb Foundation framework.

The next post will outline the process to create the layout and then slowly align the various elements to match the Sketch design.

Design process: Picking a font

Picking a font

When I select fonts for projects I tend to use Google Fonts. The collection is free to use, available to download and works across the web.

Gone are the days that websites could only use system fonts that come with computers. OK, in 2020, email is still an issue but pick a similar fallback and go forth with your edgy font selections.

Design process: Selecting colours

When creating a new look and feel for anything, the necessary building blocks will be difficult at first.

How are they going to all blend together to create the brand you desire.

As time progresses and you have the fundamentals in place, it becomes easier and easier.

So, where to start? I tend to start with the colour palette. You can’t really feel a design in black and white, so colour is integral.

Documenting my redesign

AJ Smallwood website 2017

After 14 years, I’ve finally closed my Ltd company, Coast Design. Along the way, I’ve learned to do so much but very rarely do I get the chance to document my learning or even demonstrate it on a project of my own.

Recently I’ve passed many of my clients onto various contacts who I know can take on the different elements of web design and digital marketing.

Research of the WWE Network

Reimagining the WWE Network

The most important part of my project to reimagine the WWE Network, I undertook some user research. 

Yes, my brain is full of ideas of how to make improvements to the WWE Network but some of the more crazy ones need to be validated by the WWE Universe.

I set up a questionnaire and seeded it out on various wrestling related Facebook Groups and Subreddits. 

Reimagining the WWE Network

Reimagining the WWE Network

As a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment since 1993 and a subscriber to the WWE Network since 2017, I feel compelled to reimagine the way the WWE Network functions.

The main reason for this project is to spark discussion in the community and raise awareness to the WWE that although the WWE Network is a great start, it drastically needs to be updated with new functionality in order to increase and retain the subscribers.

It will also demonstrate my skills in Digital Strategy, Product Development and User Experience Design.

This aims to be constructive criticism and hopefully throughout, I can engage in useful conversation with like minded fans of this unique artform and ultimately if some of these ideas can be built into the WWE Network, then it will have succeeded to retain me as a subscriber.

The project will include:

  • A white paper
  • A keynote presentation
  • Periodic blog posts
  • Public roadmap (Trello)
  • Designs
  • HTML prototypes

This is the first in a series of blog posts but it also serves as a call to action. The best UX projects put the users at the heart of it. It’s an approach called User Centred Design (UCD). 

I’d appreciate if you fill in this quick survey and share it amongst your friends, facebook groups and wrestling forums. I’ll be giving away three WWE Network gift cards.

Ryan Air – The worst website in the world?

Ryan Air itinerary page

I could really go to town on the Ryan Air website – it’s absolutely awful. You may say that they are actually clever and have inluded ‘Dark Patterns’ within their designs but I would have to disagree.

Going on their website is like stepping back 20 years. The colours are awful, there’s no thought to the user experience and how it passes accessibility tests is beyond me.

How hard is it to achieve ACA Accreditation?

ACA Certified

A few weeks ago I attended a course in Adobe Photoshop in an effort to achieve ACA accreditation. I was really looking forward to it because throughout 2011, I had already achieved accreditation from Google for AdWords and Hootsuite so to achieve a certificate from Adobe would rank highly along side them and display my breadth of knowledge for all things digital.

The course was great and although I’ve been using Photoshop for a number of years, there’s always some functions that I’ve never really understood and many intricacies that I may have taken for granted. 

Back to blogging with a new design

Responsive web design by Ethan Marcotte

It was definitely a major buzz word during 2011 and I had always planned to ‘get round to it’ but as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day, well probably when the haze lifted a few days later, I decided that 2012 would be the year I revolutionise my approach to web design.

I’d been getting tired of the same designs, tweaked and re hashed but based on the simple fundamental design rules.

Your search box must be above the fold.

Your logo must be top left.

It was time for something new, and time to think outside the box.