- Codrops – “latest news and resources from the web design & web development community”
- Webdesigner Depot – news, resources and inspiration for web designers
- Smashing Magazine – “useful tips, tricks, and resources for designers and developers”
- Web Development Reading List – “A handcrafted, carefully created weekly update resource for web developers”
- Hacker Newsletter – “A weekly newsletter of the best articles on startups, technology, programming…”
- TED – “Ideas worth spreading”
- Discover.typography – “font news from H&Co.”
- Unmatched Style – “a dose of inspiration, delivered fresh to your inbox”
- InVision – a great UX/design-focused blog newsletter
I was really lucky to be able to attend this year’s MirrorConf in the beautiful Braga, Portugal.
The event was spectacular, and everyone was buzzing with excitement and sugar from the pastries and cakes on offer.
Adeus Portugal, until next time!
I am thrilled to announce I’ve been awarded First Class Honours for my degree in Digital Media.
I was also awarded the prestigious Governors Prize, established to recognise outstanding achievement and academic performance. The 10 awards were given to the university bursary recipients who achieved the best marks in their overall degree – a great honour.
Not only that, but my Plotting Shed project was awarded the Create.net prize for best web-based project. It’s truly amazing to have my work recognised in this way. I couldn’t have asked for a better result from the last three years.
The trickiest bit was writing the checks for the tile matches. To recap, once all the tiles have moved, the aim was to check if there were any matches of three tiles or more (not diagonally, but they didn’t have to be in straight lines as ‘L’ shapes are permitted). For a long time this function would cause the game to error. It turns out, the tiles were being checked before the animation was complete, and so empty tiles were being checked and causing a mess. Once the problem was identified, it was an easy fix.
I’ll put the game up on GitHub, but for now, the finished game can be played here.
Ashley’s Tiles – feel free to let me know what you think.
I created a quick storyboard to cement what I wanted to achieve (based on the concept in this blog post).
The next stage, coding…
Everything begins with research.
One of my favourite simple, single-player games to pop up over the last few years is 2048, a tile-based game developed by Gabriele Cirulli. The aim is to slide the numbered tiles across the grid, combining matching ones in an attempt to create a tile with the number 2048.
It is a very addictive game, with a lot of potential for variation. It has the makings of a classic, very much like Tetris with the blocks and simple moves. With ones such as these, as soon as the game is over the player automatically hits restart.
I’ve spent my fair share of time playing Tetris. I’ve made it to level 22, at the games highest speed. Even with single-player games, there’s a huge competitive element.
Using this as inspiration, I came up with my own concept.
My Game Concept
- Board begins with a random selection of colour blocks.
- The size of the board (initially a 4×4 grid) will be determined in testing.
- Player can only swipe up, down, left or right.
- When the player moves, all the blocks move in that direction as far as possible within the constraints of the grid.
- If three or more blocks of the same colour join, they all disappear.
- On each turn, another block appears (colour generated at random).
- There are levels of difficulty, determined by how many different colours at play. Easiest is 2 colours, up until it becomes impossible.
- After every 10 moves, if the game is still in play, the level is increased (another colour added).
- Aim of the game is to get the highest possible score.
- 1 point for every block cleared in level 1, 2 points in level 2 etc.
- Game is lost when the board fills up.
“AN INSPIRING ONE-DAY EVENT FOR WEB DESIGNERS AND TYPE ENTHUSIASTS” – 2015.ampersandconf.com
This year’s Ampersand Conference lived up to the hype. Enthusiasm oozed from every speaker, and flowed into the audience like a Zapfino swash.
The inspiring talks covered everything from legibility and practical issues of font on the web to emotion and stereotypes of certain typefaces.
Marcin Wichary spoke honestly about the experience we all have at some point in design – messy solutions to problems. It’s very relatable in this industry, but he confesses he will be going to design hell for some of the hacks he’s used. The entire audience laughed with him, finding very creative solutions to unexpected issues with medium.
Jen Simmons urged us to break out of the rut web design has fallen into, to stop creating everything to fit inside nice boxes, and use the new technology available to us. CSS shapes, as described in this fantastic article by Sara Soueidan for A List Apart, allows us to mix imagery and content in a more organic and exciting way. Experimental magazine layout has been doing this for years and it’s about time, Jen says, for the web to catch up.
Lu Yu took us through some very interesting cultural differences and practicalities about designing for a Chinese audience. Green is seen as a negative colour in China, whereas red is lucky and has positive connotations. Also, the layout of a webpage is tricky because the direction of reading varies between the traditional top-down right-to-left columns, and the newer left-to-right in rows. There is also a huge amount of characters, making a selection of fonts, weights and variables loaded to a single page near-impossible. Researching and understanding the environment for which you are designing is crucial, and this was an eye-opening talk.
Matthew Young of Pelican books addressed the issue of e-books trying to imitate printed books, and how the design of new technologies are often based on what has gone before. This is not always beneficial to the user, instead inhibits innovation. Design should be reasoned, and as Jen Simmons pointed out earlier, that reason shouldn’t be because “we’ve always done it this way”.
Sarah Hyndman gave us insight into the wonderful world of typeface psychology and the experiments she conducts. Relating typeface to emotion, feeling and even the senses, Sarah could comfortably predict the ways the audience would interpret different fonts. We played Typeface Tinder, and chose one that we would ‘date’. She also showed us that you could manipulate the perception of sweet and sour based on font. The power of type is truly incredible – and “designers should use this power for good”. Which is lovely to hear. I’m all for ethical design, first and foremost.
This isn’t a complete list of speakers, and there was far more to experience in person. Unfortunately, you really needed to be there to benefit from the enthusiasm and feel truly inspired. Hopefully next year ampersand will be back, bigger and better than ever.
Follow @ampersandconf on Twitter to stay updated, and to view the speakers slides in the coming week.
I created a new Twitter account @plotting_shed and tweeted about it.
— Ashley Nye (@ashjnye) November 1, 2015
It’s a good way to get involved in the online community of allotment holders. I can also use it to gather user testers for evaluation.
Another way I did this was to join my local allotment Facebook page, and post about what I was up to on there:
I was also invited to write an article for the Eastbourne Allotments and Gardens Society blog, which went online today. It’s a fantastic way to generate publicity for my project and make people aware of what I’m doing.
A classic technique for gathering data is the simple survey. I used SurveyMonkey to create a simple set of questions focussed on asking what the user wants from an online allotment planner. Finding the features that will be most helpful to the end user is vital, so that time is not wasted developing useless functions.
Results will be posted soon.
BOSHrun.com has been up and running for 4 weeks now. The initial launch was successful, with only minor issues from a handful of users. This included routine things like lost passwords and activation emails going into junk folders.
The biggest problem since launch has been spam users registering on the site, once of which direct messaged a few users. This is obviously a very serious issue, and can cause huge annoyance for members. If the issue isn’t resolved quickly, it could cause members to stop using the site. I installed extra catches on the registration page, added report a user buttons and increased the spam security on the site. Since doing this, there hasn’t been a single reported problem.
I have also received a lot of positive feedback for the site:
I set up a forum topic on the site where members can give their feedback and ask for help if necessary. It can be viewed here.
Another notable element of the site is the design of the new shop. The minimalist design really shows of the products, and I’m very happy with the increased functionality of the shop (including adding in dropdown lists to select size and fit).
I’m very happy with the outcome of this project, and am interested to see how the site evolves with the increase of users and content being produced.
As of today, there are 197 registered users.