Category Archives: Blog

Apprenticeship Model for Success

One of my favorite examples of participant observation comes from Jack Whalen and colleagues at Xerox PARC. They were studying a call centre for photocopier repair, so these were people who field questions for technicians, and, over the telephone, help them work through troubleshooting broken photocopiers. Doing this over the phone can be extremely difficult. What Whalen and colleagues found was that, as you might expect, the most proficient person in this copier repair centre was the person who’d been there the longest. It was the skill that they’d built up over a period of time. What’s interesting is that the second most effective person at this repair centre was not the person who’d been there the second longest, but rather the person who’d sat next to the person who had been there the longest. What they realized was that, by sitting next to an expert, these repair technicians were able to pick up all of the informal skills of doing repair work that aren’t written down in manuals anywhere. And it’s this apprenticeship model that helped somebody really excel in their job.

Scott Klemmer
Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford University

Parallel Prototyping Leads to Better Design Results, More Divergence, and Increased Self-Efficacy

Stanford University

Iteration can help people improve ideas. It can also give rise to fixation, continuously refining one option without considering others. Does creating and receiving feedback on multiple prototypes in parallel, as opposed to serially, affect learning, self-efficacy, and design exploration? An experiment manipulated whether independent novice de-signers created graphic Web advertisements in parallel or in series. Serial participants received descriptive critique directly after each prototype. Parallel participants created multiple prototypes before receiving feedback. As measured by clickthrough data and expert ratings, ads created in the Parallel condition significantly outperformed those from the Serial condition. Moreover, independent raters found Parallel prototypes to be more diverse. Parallel participants also reported a larger increase in task-specific self-confidence. This article outlines a theoretical foundation for why parallel prototyping produces better design results and discusses the implications for design education.

Read the full paper


Interview with Paul Irish by Treehouse Friends

Paul Irish talks about how he got into Front End Development and projects he’s been involved with, like HTML5 Boilerplate.

Websites mentioned in this video:

  • HTML5 Boilerplate – “The web’s most popular front-end template”
  • HTML5 Please – “Look up HTML5, CSS3, etc features, know if they are ready for use, and if so find out how you should use them – with polyfills, fallbacks or as they are.”
  • Yeoman – “Our workflow is comprised of three tools for improving your productivity and satisfaction when building a web app: yo (the scaffolding tool), grunt (the build tool) and bower (for package management).”
  • Move the Web Forward – “You love web standards. You want to give back to the community. Curious about where to start? We’re here to help.”

Talks To Help You Become A Better Front-End Engineer In 2013

From Smashing Magazine:

Great strides have been made in how we approach workflow, use abstractions, appreciate code quality and tackle the measurement and betterment of performance. If you’ve been busy and haven’t had time to catch up on the latest developments in these areas, don’t worry.

With the holiday season upon us and a little more time on our hands, I thought it would be useful to share a carefully curated list of the most relevant front-end talks I’ve found helpful this year. You certainly don’t have to read through them all, but the advice shared in them will equip you with the knowledge needed to go into the new year as a better front-end engineer.

Github 404 – Star Wars Parallax

Move your mouse around the image on Github’s 404 page to see the parallax effect. This is not the web page you are looking for.

Then get the jQuery plugin.

Github gives their best practices for error pages and a list of all their error pages, like:

500: An exception occurred and we couldn’t recover. (Oops! Octocat is falling off a cliff.)

503: Unicorn! We are having a bad problem and the app server will not talk to us.

Top E-Commerce Solutions (of the Top 1M and 100K Sites)

E-commerce is such a complex and quickly changing area. Magento is leading the way with the majority (around 25%) of the market. When I first heard of Magento a few years ago, it was still in beta yet looked so impressive and powerful. I’m delighted to see that it has pulled ahead of the pack.