Now, now. I know I just threw a bunch of buzzwords at you. And you may even be thinking: “How dare this guy say that Good User Experiences don’t feel good”. But I don’t mean that UX can’t be enjoyable, that would just be a lie coming out of my mouth (or fingers, in this case.)

What I am saying, however, is that “Feeling Good” is not what a good User Experience is about. It can be a delightful side product, but it should not be the goal to aim for.

However, before I can illustrate my point any further, I’d like to tell you a story:

Continue Reading "Good User Experiences aren’t about "Feeling Good""

Before we can talk about clean, well designed and beautiful code, I would like to ask you a few questions:

Have you ever written a piece of code, and then looked at your creation and wished you never had to open that thing again? Ever opened a file only to find yourself immediately overwhelmed by its contents?

Does this image bring back fond memories of college?

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.11.53 PM
For some, minimized JQuery. For others, Tuesday.

If that’s the case, then you’ve probably experienced the bizarre world of code that was never meant to be read by a person. And that means that this article, my friend, is for you.

Continue Reading "Beautiful Code (and how to write it.)"
Why it's okay to take a break from work (with coffee.)

“I can’t take a break right now, I’ve been trying for three straight days and It just won’t work” my friend was telling me this as he sat hunched on top of his desk, bags under his eyes and a worried expression on his face. “That is precisely why you need to stop working on it for now”, was what I told him as I took a couple of cold ones out of the fridge.

He looked at me like I was crazy, he couldn’t possibly relax and drink beers with me, and specially not when he had already spent three days to work on code that been estimated in hours. I promised him that if he had just one drink with me, he would find the answer he had been looking for these past three days.

No more than two hours had passed, and we were sitting on the floor talking about life and whatnot; when all of a sudden he lighted up completely and jumped back to his pc.

He had this look on his face like he had just heard the answer of life, the universe and everything; and it didn’t take long before he finished all the work that he wasn’t able to wrap his head around for days.

It happens, we focus so hard on the work we’re trying to do that we lose sight of the original idea. Tiredness, tunnel vision and outright stubbornness can prevent us from being able to think outside of the box we ourselves created around the problem we’re facing.

You can push through all these obstacles and move forward to reach your goal. And there are definitely times when you’ll have to do this.

But most of the time though, I would argue that what you really need is to take a break.

Continue Reading "Why it’s okay to take a break from work."

Should developers know design?

People (friends, colleagues, relatives, etc.) that know I am in the web business often approach me with a similar variant of the following:

“Hey Orlando, I’m doing X and I want a website for it, what do you think?”

And I always struggle a lot with this question. For one, I am a web professional and of course I want people building websites. But second, and perhaps more important: I am a web professional and I know not everyone needs a website. So this is an answer (and a series) that’s very controversial for me to write.

There a many different kind of reasons for which someone could want a website but, for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to divide these people into two groups: Business owners and Content creators.

Of course, these two groups usually end up overlapping with each other: business owners will probably benefit from creating content, and content creators will probably end up wanting to monetize their content. But as a starting point, I would say most websites probably get created for one of these two reasons.

For the sake of simplicity, I will be using the word “business” to reference both of these groups in this first section. But if you just so happen to belong to either of them, and are interested in getting yourself a new website, then this article is for you:

Continue Reading "Do you really need a website?"

Developer advice from a seasoned professional

Author’s note: I originally intended for this to be a single post containing some of the lessons I had gathered over the years of doing website development and design. Alas, it proved to be a little bit too long (spanning over 3000 words and 15 pages), so I decided to break it up a little. 

It is strongly recommended that you read part 1 of these series before moving forward onto the next, if only so I may let you know of the situation that inspired me to write these pieces of advice here for everyone to see them.

But, now that we’ve cleared that out, these are the last 6 pieces of advice I would like to share with you all:

Continue Reading "10 things new developers should know – Part 2"
Teaching developers javascript taught me things

I know what the title says, but I’d like to instead start by saying: I didn’t always enjoy teaching things or helping others understand different topics. As a matter of fact, it kind of [extremely] annoyed me to find people who didn’t seem to get a grasp on the things that I did at the same speed that it had taken me to learn them.

I was a very different (definitely more selfish) person than I am today. But I am glad that I didn’t stay being that way, because then I would have missed out on what has to this day been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life: Sharing my knowledge with other people.

Teaching is the reason that I even started writing this blog in the first place.

But what I find the most interesting is not what I was able to teach others. But what teaching others how to do different things has taught me.

And that is what I’m here to talk to you about today.

Continue Reading "Some things I learnt from teaching others."

My friend Red had a problem with his code.

He was working on integrating a popover onto an application that used a home-brewed variant of Redux Form. This version came with a few extra features to [attempt to] make itself easier to use and reduce development time.

I’ll try to describe the problem in the easiest way possible:

  1. The popover was to be summoned by clicking a button inside the form.
  2. Upon clicking the button, the popover indeed showed up (so good so far.)
  3. The submit event for the form was triggered at the same time.

As you may imagine, this was less than desirable: You’d have an extra AJAX call without the necessary parameters, validation would trigger, children would cry, etc.

By the time I found him, he was proposing to catch the source of the event and use it to filter which buttons were allowed to initiate it. He also tried to scout the entire source code for Redux Form and the plugin built on top of it.

I suggested he change his trigger from a button to an anchor. The code was working 2 minutes later.

Continue Reading "Can it really be that easy? Well yes, yes it can be."

Edit: I felt like the original article was a little too long, and wanted to break it up and make it a little bit easier to take in, you can find part II of the series here.

A friend of mine is leaving the company this week. And among all the feelings that such an event could have sprung inside me; I really found myself wishing there was some kind of wisdom that I could bestow upon him.

Why? Well, to explain that I need to tell you a little bit about him.

You see, when I first met him he was a rookie in many different ways (this being his first job as a developer), and watching him grow into a full-fledged developer has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my career so far.

Working with him taught me a lot too because, before, I had always been the newbie at every office I was at. But now there was somebody younger and less experienced than me, who before I noticed began taking in a lot of my own technique and adding it to his own.

That experience opened my eyes to a lot of the things I had missed from my own development a few years back. And this time I was able to experience them, not through the eyes of a hot-headed kid trying desperately to become good at what I was doing (Thank you for your patience Josh.) But as a seasoned developer watching a rookie slowly come into his own.

So now that I close into the end of an era, I’d like to share with you a few of the things I learned from it. Plus a few others I wish I one day have the time to teach my friend.

Without further delay, here’s my advice to new developers:

Continue Reading "10 things new developers should know – Part 1"

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about this one app he’s building for himself. He was really excited pitching me the idea, talking about screens and features and possibilities. You know, all the good stuff.

And I’ll be honest with you, he got me excited about the app too. Why? For starters, he had a pretty good idea that targeted a niche and solved a problem (essential for app development). Second and most important, he was really passionate about his ideas and the good that could come out of his work; and that was what got the little maker in me to fire up.

I asked him to send me the details for the project, and he did the very next day. I read through them carefully and just as I expected, it was really good. It just had one problem: Too many features.

Now now… I know what you’re going to say, how can having too many features be a bad thing? (Or maybe you didn’t say that, but work with me for a second here)

Well, I’m about to propose to you the following:

You can make your application better by having it do less things.

Interested in getting to know how, why or what I’ve been drinking? *cough* coffee *cough* Then buckle up soldier, we’re going for a ride:

Author’s Note: The ideas and tips that are presented in this post are highly influenced by the work done by 37signals (now basecamp) and specially their bestselling books Getting Real and Rework. For a deeper analysis of these methods I highly recommend reading their books and following their blog at Signal v. Noise.

Continue Reading "Improve your App with less features."

Lately I’ve been seeing an interesting trend in this whole ecosystem that we call “The Workplace”.

And that is the trend of working to live, to survive, to make it to the next pay check. Even more so amongst my generation’s counterparts (I’m what you refer to as a millennial, apparently) I see this trend of working to support their lifestyle, their habits, their hobbies.

But, to be entirely honest with you, this whole trend never really hit home with me. Why, you ask? Well, I do have a very simple answer:

My job started as my hobby.

This is not really all that important but, I do web development. Yup. I’m one of those guys doing stuff on the web. I stress about servers, I complain about lines of code, I argue over homepage real-estate and I make some pretty decent billboards.

Yet above any and all of those things: I am deeply in love with the profession I chose.

It is a relationship that I have nurtured and prioritized throughout my years, and just like any other bond I have shared, it’s had some ups and downs. But what I’ve found is that your relationship to your trade works just like any other one: You have to put in some work to make the best of it.

Grabbed your interest yet? Let’s get to the good parts.

Continue Reading "How to reignite the passion with your work"