Zeke Franco

Digital stalking made easy.

Here you can find most of my what I’m doing around the Web. All of my series of tubes point here—at least the tubes with feeds.

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Typesetting for the Web Presentation

I finally got around to uploading a presentation I gave in 2011 on the basics typography and typesetting on the web. Luckily basic typography principles don’t change much. Although, the CSS section could be updated with another few slides added to it. Browsers supports a lot more typography related CSS now.

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Thoughts on LukeW’s iOS 7 Icon Survey

“22 polls comparing iOS6 to iOS7 icons found that across nearly 50,000 votes, people preferred iOS7 icons to iOS6 icons by 65% to 35%.”

Luke's article points out that most of the iOS7 icons were preferred when placed head to head against their iOS 6 counterpart, but perhaps by testing them in context (together on iOS 7) we'll find that that's where the dissonance sets in. Perhaps hatred towards the icons from designers, is a result of our critical nature while those who were questioned for the survey appreciate the novelty of new icons. Survey data always seems to bring up more questions then it answers, but I tend to always be more interested in the Why than the What.

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TEDx WindyCity 2013

I attended my first TEDx two weeks ago. The theme for TEDx WindyCity 2013 (videos) was contrast. If you’re in Chicago the next TEDx, TEDxDePaulU 2013, will be held at on April 6th. The theme for this TEDx is Creators & Curators. Chicago is also lucky enough to be hosting TEDx Midwest on May 2–4. I highly recommend finding a TEDx event that you can attend. TEDx events do a great job posting all the talks online, but attending forces you to be exposed to a range of talks that you wouldn’t watch online. When browsing online there is a tendency to just pick and choose TED talks we think we’ll find interesting. At an event you get exposed all the event’s content. I saw some great talks I probably wouldn’t have watch online. My favorite talks were “Shape Your Thinking” by Brandy Agerbeck and “Take the Red Pill” by Glenn Kelman. Shape Your Thinking Brandy explains how some people process information auditory-sequential and other process it visual-spatial. Of coarse there are some of us that do both. A lot of the tools she uses to facilitate discussion are very similar to the methods interaction designers use to facilitate design thinking.

Brandy talks about five steps to processing information visually.

Chunk: Break apart important ideas and concepts on post-its or index cards Sort/Group: Put together the ideas/concepts that are similar Connect: Diagram how groups of ideas are interconnected or how they flow into each other Scale: Use size to show importance or priority Grasp: Discuss and fiddle with the artifacts to find insight

The next important bit she talks about was making sure that participants are comfortable with sharing. The key is to create an environment that is safe to express ideas and to keep people focused on the substance of ideas not the style of their sketches or notes. Take the Red Pill Glenn Kelman talks how he believes that we should try use software to effect the real world. I’d love to see more software companies trying to affect the physical world.

Photos From TEDx WindyCity

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My Session Notes from Chicago Web Conf 2012

Today I attended the second year of the Chicago Web Conf at 1871. These folks threw a great conference and really elevated the whole conference. The folks running the event video recorded the presentations so hopefully they’ll get those up soon. In the meantime I thought I shared some of the rough notes I took with some of the links I was able to round up.

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A Startup Lesson for Your Future Self

Dynamic inconsistency is definitely a problem with many startups. Much could be learned by the concept of a Ulysses pact.

The battle between your present and future self Startup priorities are often either extremely urgent or not important so it becomes difficult to balance the need to implement new features with the time it might take to design and development them holistically and successfully.

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Kindle Fire OmniGraffle Stencil

Download Kindle Fire Stencil v1.0 Make sure to download the Droid Font so everything looks accurate.

According to estimates the Kindle Fire has sold around five million units. If you already have an Android app it might be a good time to start thinking about moving it over to the Kindle.

To help you (and myself) start wireframing and prototyping your next Kindle Fire app I created this OmniGraffle stencil. Most of the UI elements I picked are just ones I used when working on apps for the Fire and some I though you might find useful. Please let me know if there are UI elements missing that you think I should add.

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Branding in UX: It’s About Messaging & Experience

Branding (verb) is about communicating an organization’s messages and values. The brand (noun) is the personality of every aspect of the company a user interacts with. Personalities aren’t one dimensional. For example, a friend can be all of the following: fun to hang out with, annoying to work with, loyal in friendship, but reckless in romance and lastly they might be a real ass when arguing with. People aren’t just fun or angry, they are complex and behave in different ways depending on the situation. Companies, being made up of people, can suffer from the same problem—a lack of consistent and predictable behavior.

Savvy businesses will try to create a consistent experience through out the different touch points customers have with them. A great way to kill a brand is to set expectations of experience high during the selling process, then deliver a bad experience when it comes to support. Anyone consider Dell a great brand? Perhaps IT departments, since they get a more consistent experience than consumers do.

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Location-Based Unlock Setting

So here’s my feature request, a location-based unlock setting. Currently the iPhone can either be set to lock when screen is put to sleep or it can have no security. There is a features which let’s you set how long after the screen is put to sleep to activate the lock, which is nice, but still a pain.

Workflow: Enabling Location-Based Unlock

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Communication Over Process

As designers we are generally judged by our ability to output artifacts of our work. Pixel perfect Photoshop files, task-flow models, wireframes, specifications, personas and usability reports. The documents’ goal is to communicate design. But generally designers are tasked to hand over one of these documents before a certain date. The goal should be to communicate what needs to be communicated so other people in our team can do the work they need to do. Sometimes a document will serve this purpose, but many times it’s just a simple conversation or a presentation, a rough sketch, design studio or a finger pointing to something on a screen.

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Process Flexibility

Thinking that process is a silver bullet that can fix everything is sort of like early economic theories that presumed that accurate predictions of markets can be made without incorporating human behavior. You need to factor in the people and the business culture using the process. Many, if not most software businesses are conducted in a waterfall way even though the product they are making may be built using an agile process. The power of agile as well as the meaning of the word implies flexibility, which is why switching an IT department to an agile process alone doesn’t make for a successful software product. For the business to optimize it’s success it needs to listen to the feedback and adapt it’s products, goals and sometimes even budgets.

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IxDA Chicago: The Lo-Fi Design Workshop

I was a member of the IxDA (Interaction Design Association) Los Angeles for two years and was hoping the Chicago chapter wouldn’t disappoint. And although I do miss the awesome people I met at IxDA LA at least I know IxDA Chicago will be a great source of knowledge sharing. The IxDA Chicago recently (05/18/11) held a workshop about Lo-Fi design processes. The meeting was facilitated and graciously hosted by the design agency gravityTank. The workshop was broken into three main concepts:

  1. Sketching
  2. Storyboarding experience
  3. Video prototyping experience

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Providing Basic Accessibility

I know everything can’t be made 100% accessible. It really depends on the site’s demographic, timelines, budget, etc, but that doesn’t mean accessibility should be ignored. Regardless of the project’s constraints I make sure to create my markup so the basic needs of all users can be meet.

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This is About Design With a Capital D

Sell the Product with the Packaging. Not just the Package.

This is a reminder that design isn’t just visuals. By design I referring the process of thoughtfully planning the creation of something. After research one of the first things that should be designed is the content. I’m not a writer, but that’s not a good excuse for starting a design with out content. If you’re not a writer than work with a content provider (writer, content strategist, copywriter, editor) to come up with a strategy to marry visuals and content. I’m tired of hearing designer ask how long the copy is because they want to make sure it fits in the box they designed. Too often as designers we are selling the packing and not the product. (I do believe copy should be pithy; but don’t just shorten it so it can fit into a design.) Do whatever you can to work with your content people from the beginning.

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