Sunday, March 04, 2007

Passion – The Good and Evil

In many of my of the jobs I have had, there would eventually come 'review time'. I was often criticized as being "…too out spoken… unapproachable… pissy… mouthy… boat-rocker… pot-stirrer", while, at the same time, being praised for "team work… innovation… stick-to-itiveness… and lots of hard work" but above all passion.

Passion is a funny thing. We love it when things are going good. As soon as things turn bad, passion is mistaken for aggressive or overly negative. I have had to defend my self many times on this point. Critical != Negative. In fact, outspoken people can be the ones who care the most. Never discount a bigmouth just because they are willing to voice the unpopular opinion. Besides, I like to believe people can see right through being negative just for negative’s sake.

A friend I was working with recently told me our Project Manager remarked to him, about me, "Man, that guy bitches a lot." And I do, when I see things aren't going as well they could be. I am also the first person to pat a team mate on the back and say, "job well done."

I spend more time at my job than I do with my kids. I need to care. That's when I know it's time to go, when I stop caring. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction you get from giving a crap about the work you do. I think that's a big part of being a professional designer, you can't phone it in. Designers get frustrated and mad and defensive because they are in a place where subjective opinion runs amuck. We have to stand up for the decisions we make and defend them against second-guessers on a pretty constant basis. I don't think that happens without passion.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Adding accessibility to an application or web site shouldn't be like putting toothpaste back in the tube.

Good experiences don't just happen; they are planned for and executed on. Why is the accessible experience any different? An afterthought? An additional margin/metric/number that pads project time and cost?

When deciding on a target audience for any web site or application, there's always that under lap and over lap of users. "We want to target Intermediate-Advanced users, but there will be some Intermediate users and some Expert users and we want everybody to get exactly what they want…" Those fringe use cases can drastically change the experience for that those target users and everybody's OK with it. I'm OK with it. Yet, when accessibility comes up, it’s somehow more than fringe. It' like long-tail or outer limits.

The exercise of creating an accessible experience forces us to break down the message into very simple terms and figure out how to deliver those terms in a new way. If we take this into consideration early in the design process does it not enhance the visual design?

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