Reading List for Developers and Designers #1

Reading List for Developers and Designers #1

Reading List for Developers and Designers is an infrequent post series that lists some recommended links for you to read, compiled and read by the founder of Six Revisions, Jacob Gube.

Go to the Reading List for Developers and Designers category to see all posts in this series.

Introduction to the Series

If there were two things that can be said about me that’s constant, they would be that (1) I spend a great deal of time on the Web, and (2) I read a lot when I’m on the Web. These two things inspired this series.

The way it’ll work is simple. Occasionally, I’ll be posting a short list (about 10 or so) articles that I like, and that I think you’ll like, too. I’ll talk a little about them, which benefits both of us; you – so that you know what to expect, and me – to help me internalize what I just read.

This series marks the end of a long-forgotten series called "Favorites from the Feed", replacing it with this new format.

In addition, to provide a bit of variety, Alex Kessinger will soon be starting a more regular series similar to this, here on Six Revisions. So stay tuned for that as well.

The Reading List

1. The List of N Things: Why are lists successful? We see magazine covers plastered with "10 things that will…", "50 ways to…", and often read web articles that show you "9 tools for…" Paul Graham examines the reasons why readers and writers have an affinity for lists, including the predictability of the article’s structure.

2. The Myth of Design Limitations: Francisco Inchauste explores the idea of why restrictions on your creative freedom and/or resource availability (such as the size of your project’s budget) are a good thing.

3. The Virgin Atlantic Airways Blog: A Case Study: This post discusses John Nolan’s experience in garnering and designing a corporate project. He describes the use of a process derived from mood boards, which he calls "Moo’d Cards" — printing out a hundred web designs in minicards and then presenting them to the client. How’d he get such a big client? By Tweeting.

4. The Opposite of Fitts’ Law: Jeff Atwood suggests that Fitts’ Law — which essentially boils down to: the closer an object is to our cursor and the bigger it is, the more likely we’ll click on it — works just as well when you think of it from the opposite perspective. Place less common or irreversible commands such as a Delete button away from frequently used buttons to avoid accidental use.

5. To Sketch or Not to Sketch – That is the Question: This post argues that you should sketch out your design, whether you can draw or not. Idea generation and the ability to experiment and explore ideas easier are reasons to sketch.

6. Designing with Lenses: Bill Scott discusses the idea of looking at a design using just one principle at a time, and how it can apply to usability evaluations. An example he uses is looking at a design with a "simplicity/complexity" lens to tease out and address issues pertaining just to how easy or difficult it is to use the design. Though I question the efficacy of this technique on complex and highly interconnected systems such as web interfaces, where changing things almost always has an effect on something else.

7. 10 Javascript Performance Boosting Tips from Nicholas Zakas: This is a good distillation of some of Nicholas Zakas’ (a well-respected JavaScript’er) teachings. The article also led me to another post on Zakas’ own blog about chunking loops, asynchronous looping for long (or potentially long) loops that can slow down script execution.

8. The Designer Who Delivers: This article denotes the importance of solid requirements gathering and investing time in creating solid, and even functional, mock-ups so that you don’t end up with a finished product that the client doesn’t want to sign off on.

9. WordPress Caching: What’s the best Caching Plugin?: For website owners using WordPress, it’s never a bad idea to cache your posts and pages to speed up your response times. This article benchmarks the performance of WordPress caching plugins using Apache Benchmark. The Winner? Hypercache. What does Six Revisions use? WP Super Cache.

10. Eyeballs still don’t pay the bills: With the news of Ning — a web service that allows you to create your own social networks — laying off and cutting out their free services, this article tells us that site traffic doesn’t amount to anything unless you have a plan on how to convert it to money. This lesson is immediately apparent in the case of Ning — they’re in fiscal deep water even though their site usage continues to grow.

Did You enjoy this? Go to the Reading List for Developers and Designers category to see all posts in this series.

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