Best of 2013

With only a few hours to go, here’s my annual ‘Best of’ post.

Music: I hate to repeat myself, but this is always the hardest category. This year it was a real close toss-up between Muchacho — PHOSPHORESCENT, Woman — RHYE, and Nomad — BOMBINO. I guess if I really have to pick, it would be the Bombino album. I can’t neglect to give an honorable mention to The Jazz Age — THE BRYAN FERRY ORCHESTRA, if I had bought that one on 78rpm vinyl (or would it have been shellac?) it would be wearing thin by now. There were many, many, more great albums this year (Savages, Earl Sweatshirt, Chvrches, …) so if you want a more extensive list, check out the 50 best albums of 2013 according to Pitchfork.

Movie: Fiction > The Place Beyond The Pines – DEREK CIANFRANCE
Non-Fiction >  Searching for Sugar Man – MALIK BENDJELLOUL

Book: Fiction > The Circle – DAVID EGGERS. This was not Egger’s best effort by a long shot, but the fact that I plowed through this in under a week must mean something, right?

Non-Fiction > I’m afraid most non-fiction books I read this year were either web design or baby related, so I’m sure you won’t blame me for not picking a favorite among those.

App: iOS 7. Despite all the hate, I think iOS 7 was a great upgrade and therefore deserves the trophy this year.
The honorable mention goes to Notabli, if you have kids you should check it out and send me an invite. 

Website: Feedly. I know, Feedly is not technically a web site, but it’s by far the URL that gets visited most from my browser (and the iOS app was a strong contender for the category above). I still believe in the value of RSS so a good RSS reader is an important tool for me. I’m probably one of the few RSS users that didn’t mind the death of Google Reader, good riddance!
Last year’s Hell for Leather honorable mention Hell for Leather became RideApart and since this meant that the entire web site and business model changed, I believe another honorable mention is warranted.

TV: Fiction > House of Cards (Netflix)
Non-Fiction > TV keeps getting worse and worse, hence the fact that a Netflix series took the fiction trophy this year. I honestly can’t think of anything that’s worth mentioning here, even Nova is too silly to watch now.

As always, please share your ‘Best of’ in the comments, my horizon is in need of expansion.

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Google Search History

If you are – like me – slightly uncomfortable by the upcoming changes to Google’s privacy policy, you should check out your ‘Web History settings’.

Here’s how: log in with your Google account, go to google.com/history, if Web History is off (it was for me), just leave it like that. If it’s on, click ‘remove all Web History’. This will delete the history and pause Web History until you come back to switch it back on.

via: Lifehacker

Made By Elephant

Made by Elephant LogoThere’s something about Belgian designers and ‘Made by’ websites. I’ve already featured Made by Thomas here and today I’m using Tim Van Damme’s Made by Elephant as an excuse to link to Tim’s blog, maxvoltar.com. Made by Elephant was Tim’s free-lance design shop in Belgium. Tim no longer accepts new projects because he now works for Instagram in Austin, Texas. He’s a great (interface) designer and very well respected among the people who ‘make the internet’. Check out his blog and/or follow him on Twitter.

You Need to Write

Jeffrey Zeldman Avatar“I do think it’s true that designers need to write, and UX people need to write, and developers need to write. (…) I think that when you share your knowledge, there’s always people who learn from it. There’s always someone who’s going to learn from it. And I think that’s just a great way to advance your career, and -more importantly- give back, you know, and be part of the community.”

Jeffrey Zeldman on The Big Webshow, episode #53. 5by5

As often, I agree with Mr. Zeldman’s point here. It’s not always easy to find time, and even harder to find something interesting to say. This web site illustrates both issues nicely. But even more important than advancing your career or giving back to the community is the fact that writing makes you order your thoughts and really focus on your subject. Writing does many things, from introducing you to the community, to making you a better designer, to making you re-think the ‘truths’ that you live by. Writing is to a designer what going for a jog is to an athlete.

Since 1995 (!), Mr. Zeldman leads by example at Zeldman.com. Here’s a link to a blog post about this very subject: “One blog post is worth a thousand portfolio pieces”. And if you are just looking for an entertaining, well written story, check out “Cameron Diaz and Me”. There’s much more enjoyable reading to be found there, so click around, get inspired and then head over to your blog or pull out your journal and write something of your own.

Social Media

“During the NCAA basketball tournament I heard announcer Jim Nantz telling viewers to go to CBSsports.com for “tournament related social media.” A week later I noticed a category at Maria Shriver’s site for “social media.”

Strange thing is I’ve never heard a non-tech person use the phrase “social media.” Normal people mention being friends on Facebook or reading someone’s tweets on Twitter. They don’t say, “I want to get some social media.”

It’s a good reminder of how easy it is to get caught up in industry jargon and how we talk instead of how they (i.e. customers) actually think/talk. The phrase you use internally isn’t necessarily the one you should use with the outside world.”
{Matt via 37Signals}

The problem here is obvious, but as you can tell from the comments to the post, the solution is not as obvious.

Further Reading: Social Media – 37Signals

 

Content should be appropriate

There’s really only one central principle of good content: it should be appropriate for your business, for your users, and for its context. Appropriate in its method of delivery, in its style and structure, and above all in its substance. Content strategy is the practice of determining what each of those things means for your project—and how to get there from where you are now.
{Erin Kissane – A Checklist for Content Work}

Further Reading: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/a-checklist-for-content-work/