My classroom at Wilson Hall is coming along!
I’m excited to see the “1.0” launch of the browser Arc. I’ve been using Arc as my main browser (along with Safari and some Chrome sparingly) on my MacBook, and I have to say… it’s impressive.
Browsers seemingly slipped from the “wow” factor of the internet about 15 years ago after Google finally launched Chrome despite the best efforts of Firefox, Brave, Opera etc to get the mainstream about browsing again. Apps took their place as the way to access the web for most people, and as our main screen sizes shrunk, so did our attention for interesting browser features.
However, I do think we’re at an inflection point and we’ll see interest around concepts such as Arc that will move us away from a centralized app-based future of the web towards further democratization and decentralization of what the internet should mean.
Way to go, Browser Company!
A browser that doesn’t just meet your needs — it anticipates them.
Also, if you head over to the credits page, you can find me there as a long-time tester in the pre-launch phases!
Amazing web app here (bottom link to direct Google Experiment) focused on major themes in Leonardo’s notebooks and connecting them with machine learning. I’m a huge fan of notebooks, and I use the example of Leonardo keeping his thoughts in them all the time with my own students.
If you’re like me and really into Leonardo’s “notebooking” practices and history, I highly suggest you check out the videos Adam Savage has done on his Tested YouTube channel. Wonderful and inspiring videos. May we all find something that moves us in such a way!
From the stages of his life to dispelling myths, and examining his masterpieces up close, everyone can delve into Leonardo’s mind as we’ve brought together for the first time 1,300 pages from his collections of volumes and notebooks. The codices, brimming sketches, ideas, and observations, offer a window into the boundless imagination of one of history’s greatest polymaths. With the aid of Machine Learning and the curatorial expertise of Professor Martin Kemp, the accompanying experiment also called “Inside a Genius Mind” unravels these intriguing and sometimes mysterious materials.
One of the consequences of the wonderful democratization that the web has brought us is that now everyone is an expert at… well, everything.
Need a new website? Just use Wix or Squarespace! Sigh.
Trying to fix your dishwasher? Don’t call a plumber… there’s a dozen YouTube vids for your exact model!
Need to draft a will? There’s an app for that.
I’m not dismissing these examples. I’ve definitely done my share of DIY home repair, legal drafting, and dubious electrical work after a couple of alcoholic beverages and a few YouTube tutorials.
But some things should be sacred, right? We all joke about how easy it is to get ordained by the World Life Church so that you can perform the rites at your friends’ wedding. But fonts… come on. Fonts!
Fonts should be sacred. We don’t need polls or comments or public input. Choose a damned font and stick by your design decision. Not everything benefits from the will of the populace and those who have no previous experience or expertise in an area (see Ancient Aliens).
Sometimes, we just need to leave things up to passionate professionals.
Microsoft is now releasing these five new fonts in Microsoft 365 so everyone can try them out before a new default is chosen. Polls and feedback will be considered as part of how Microsoft picks a winner, and the company is going to spend the next few months evaluating these new fonts and seeing which ones are proving popular. Once a decision has been made, the new default font will appear in Microsoft Office apps in 2022.
I tend to agree with the physicist from UNCC here that the Colosseum and other buildings that exhibit these “metamaterial” designs were probably self-selecting (in that they didn’t fall down during earthquakes), but we definitely don’t give the ancients enough credit with their engineering and scientific prowess…
Scientists are hard at work developing real-world “invisibility cloaks” thanks to a special class of exotic manmade “metamaterials.” Now a team of French scientists has suggested in a recent preprint on the physics arXiv that certain ancient Roman structures, like the famous Roman Colosseum, have very similar structural patterns, which may have protected them from damage from earthquakes over the millennia.
“Failure to comply with Section 508 of the Department of Justice’s ADA (American with Disabilities Act) Standards for Accessible Design could expose your company to hefty fines, the risk of expensive criminal and civil litigation as well as a reputation for being unfriendly to the disabled.” https://userway.org/
I’m going to make a rant here. Forgive me (or just don’t read if you’re not up for a Sam Rant™).
Cheap website builders really upset me. For a number of reasons.
We’re working on a couple of large church website revisions for clients this week. These are content-heavy sites with numerous pages that are all info-dense with text, video, audio, podcasts, galleries, and just about every measure of content you can imagine. They are both complicated builds with lots of moving parts. So, we are constantly doing checks and QA (quality assurance) tests to make sure everything is working. Building websites of this scale might be sold as an easy thing to do on Super Bowl ads, but they are definitely not easy or “quick” things to do if you want to do them right.
One of the pitches I make to clients like this when they want to know what Harrelson Agency does differently that they couldn’t get done if they just used Wix or Squarespace or Weebly or one of the many other “website builder” apps is the care and attention we give to details such as Search Engine Optimization, mobile user experiences, payments and online giving (those %’s really do add up when you start receiving online donations), and security. It’s not that the website builder apps don’t offer those services, but items like SEO or mobile experience and especially website security tend to be the last things that someone volunteering to build your site checks (if at all). Plus, there are just better tools that last longer if you know what you’re doing, which is a cost saver over time. That’s especially true of security in 2018 and 2019.
However, one of the newer pitch items I’ve been including out of my own interests and passion is accessibility. I’ve always been interested in the subject, but that became especially true during my time in the classroom as a teacher. I frequently became frustrated with books or apps or computers or websites that students were forced to use but designed specifically with no regard to accessibility or usage issues. Over the last few years running Harrelson Agency and working heavily on website builds and designs with companies, individuals, churches, and nonprofits I’ve noticed that accessibility definitely takes a back seat to other concerns. That’s ESPECIALLY true with resource-strapped and budget limited churches and nonprofits.
However, that should not be the case. In my mind (that’s admittedly full of “too much righteous indignation” as a mentor once chided me), churches and nonprofits should be leading the way to make their websites true open doors to the public in a way that does not discriminate against anyone, including those who need usage, visual, or auditory accommodation to participate in that invitation.
- 1 in 5 Americans experience permanent or temporary usage, auditory, or visual disability
- 7.6 million Americans are auditory impaired
- 8.1 million Americans are visually impaired
- 2.2 million Americans suffer seizures and epilepsy
- 2 million Americans are blind
- 19.9 million Americans are motor impaired and cannot use a computer mouse
Technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone.
Apple is one of the most forward thinking and acting tech companies when it comes to raising awareness of accessibility issues for users. It’s one of the reasons I truly love that tools such as iPad are available for students and all people who seek to participate in the global experience that is the world wide web.
Why aren’t churches talking the similar language and instead forcing everyone to fit through a very narrow door and definition of visitor abilities? We wouldn’t do that in the physical world. It’s time to take the digital world just as seriously and stop passively discriminating because of poor website build decisions.
Take your website’s functionality seriously and allow it to empower and welcome ALL. It’s a matter of mixing philosophy with theology with technical know how. And the trick is that it won’t even cost you that much, but you’ll gain so much more and perhaps share the love of God with someone who is looking for a real open door.
It would surprise you to know how often I have new clients who have never done the simple test of checking their website on their own iPhone or Android device. However, it’s definitely something that everyone should do. If your site doesn’t look and operate well on a mobile device, you’re losing visitors and need to make some changes…
A great way to test if your site is at least mobile friendly is to use Google’s mobile-friendly test. This gives you an indication if Google thinks your site is fit for displaying on mobile devices. But don’t stop after checking this. The best advice I can give you is to visit your site on your mobile phone. Browse your own site for a while and try to click on every button, image and link to see what happens. Is everything working as expected? Can you actually purchase something on your site while using your mobile phone? Are all pages displayed correctly? You will see that most sites have some work to do this fall.
I’m a font nerd. I’m constantly working with (and sometimes against) clients who want a particular “look” for their website or app or presentation and trying to push them to look ahead. One of those conversations typically has to do with fonts.
One client I didn’t have to fight with was Guy Sayles. His new site is one of my favorite designs I’ve done in a long while. Part of that has to do with the font Adamina that was used for headlines. It’s whimsical and full of motion but also conveys wisdom and experience. It reminded me a great deal of Guy’s personality, so I had to use it. I think it looks just beautiful on the new From The Intersection site, and I’m glad he trusted my push to use a serif font for the design. We just launched the redesign this week.
The “design world” has been quickly re-adopting serif fonts for ads, apps, and websites over the last couple of years after they were mostly maligned in the early to mid 2010’s. However, as “mid-century modern” has come back into vogue stylistically for furniture and dress, we’re seeing the resurgence of serifs.
I installed iOS 12 betas on my iPhone and iPad this week for testing, and low-and-behold there are serifs! Apple is famous for its attention to detail and its use of Helvetica and then its own San Francisco font. Apple lead the way on San-serif fonts (such as the body text here), so it’s wonderful to see the serifs returning to apps like the renamed Apple Books (formerly iBooks), which makes sense. Apple has even created a new font titled “SF Serif” to mark the occasion.
So, keep in mind that even though you might think you know what “modern” is, there’s always a corner to turn. Find a good guide. And never ever use Comic Sans or Impact. For anything.
A few images from my Apple Books collection showing the new font:
There’s this meme that keeps coming back on Twitter. A young person discovers a floppy disk and calls it the save icon. Apple is using the same idea with this ad. When the mum asks her daughter what she is doing on her computer, she answers “what’s a computer?”
There’s no doubt that “computing” will continue to evolve from the way we interpret that action today (based on conventions that come from machines primarily from the 80’s but also the mainframes and typewriters that preceded them).
I’ve been using a Google Pixelbook for 99% of my “computing” over the last two weeks. I love the integration that this device has with the Android app store and being able to install apps like Microsoft Word or Excel or Powerpoint and use them in full screen as if I was on a Windows laptop. I also love being able to flip this device around into “tablet mode” and play racing games or browse Netflix using what were previously mobile apps. Combined with the Pixel Pen, this device has changed the way I think about my own workflow in a rapid fashion.
The iPad Pro can do that for many people (especially students but also “adults”) as well.
I’m a big fan of the show Westworld. It has incredible visual effects and a captivating story. But the technology used by characters on the show is what really draws me in (I know I know). The handheld “computing” devices they use with foldable screens, touch sensing, AI, and integration of mobile and laptop features is so attractive to me. I hope Apple / Google / Amazon / Microsoft or whatever company that is currently being bootstrapped in a young person’s garage apartment gets us there in the next decade.
We’re almost there with transitional devices like the iPad Pro or the Pixelbook.
Longevity and repetition are two of the hardest to use tools in a marketer’s toolbox, but also the most effective.
There are definitely some points in this post that I disagree with (importance of having a “famous” brand and working towards that being a goal for your organization for one), but this sentence did stick out to me as something that I need to emphasize with our clients more often.
We do lots of “strategic consulting” with non-profits and businesses that don’t necessarily have a large budget for branding considerations. It’s something that often gets overlooked in the process of thinking through a marketing plan. That can easily be seen by the poor quality of logos and branding material that most local or regional non-profits have. But these things can be done well on a tight budget.
As the economy has shifted and nonprofits (especially) are facing slimmer traditional sources of donations there, concepts such as “what does your logo tell people about your group, business or non-profit?” become valuable barometers for improvement whether you’re trying to sell a product or solicit a donation.
You don’t need to have a quality Nike swoosh or Apple apple or Coke wordmark to be successful, but thinking through what you’re presenting and what you’re trying to “do” with your logo, fonts, colors, and brand messaging can make a world of difference when done well.