I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Art Direction for the Web Using CSS Shapes — Smashing Magazine ›

Sad­ly, you won’t find many inspir­ing exam­ples of web­sites which use CSS Shapes. That doesn’t mean that inspi­ra­tion isn’t out there — you just have to look a lit­tle fur­ther afield at adver­tis­ing, mag­a­zine, and poster design. 

I’ve been think­ing about my own web designs late­ly, and real­is­ing how often they can lack vari­a­tion in the shape com­bi­na­tions I use. This is a great intro­duc­tion in to using bet­ter art direc­tion for the web, CSS shapes isn’t a tech­nol­o­gy I’m over­ly famil­iar with, per­haps its time to do some more learning.

I’ve seen a few peo­ple on Micro.blog using a thing called Quill to post to their sites. Intrigue got the bet­ter of me so I’m giv­ing it a try. 

📚 The New CSS Layout by Rachel Andrew

Pub­lished: 2017
Rating: ★★★★★
Fin­ished on: 30/12/2017
This was my last book of 2017. I start­ed it at the end of Novem­ber and kept want­i­ng to try things out so it took me a lot longer to fin­ish than it should’ve. It’s a book I’ll be return­ing to over and over in the next few months while I keep try­ing out the new CSS tech­niques in my work. Look­ing for­ward to the more pow­er­ful and exten­sive lay­out options that are now becom­ing avail­able to us. The web has start­ed to look very same‑y in the last 12–18 months, main­ly I believe, due to design­ers try­ing to make it eas­i­er to build respon­sive web­sites. I firm­ly believe some of the new CSS specs will allow that to change and for design­ers to start push­ing bound­aries again.

We are all bloggers

I cre­at­ed my first blog back in 2005 while I was at uni­ver­si­ty. I had come across a num­ber of blogs that I enjoyed read­ing and look­ing at the design of them. I want­ed in on the game, a means of hav­ing my own piece of the inter­net, a way of learn­ing about web design, and a place to write. It became a bit of a hob­by, one which I enjoyed and one which I have bat­tled with try­ing to regain over recent years.
The last few months have been inter­est­ing on the inter­net. There has been an increas­ing aware­ness that the large social net­works cre­ate a bit of a caul­dron. A boil­ing pot of like­ness. The abil­i­ty of sites like Face­book and Twit­ter to learn what kind of things you are inter­est­ed in means they con­tin­u­al­ly sur­face things that you like and are inter­est­ed in. It’s a log­i­cal behav­iour, but it’s one which lacks the abil­i­ty to show you what peo­ple out­side of your bub­ble are actu­al­ly think­ing and say­ing. They cre­ate con­trolled envi­ron­ments that per­pet­u­ate sim­i­lar trains of thought.
Ser­vices like Medi­um also serve sim­i­lar pur­pos­es, they want you to use their web­site and app as your only source of find­ing new con­tent on the inter­net. It uses sim­i­lar tech­niques to the big­ger social net­works and it presents it in a large­ly homogenised appear­ance to make it all look the same and give it the same visu­al voice. It takes own­er­ship of your con­tent and with it adds your voice to that bub­bling pot of likeness.
There’s a big dan­ger to that boil­ing pot. Each per­son ends up with their own, fed by sim­i­lar­i­ty and linked to oth­er sim­i­lar pots by the con­tent that fits them both. It takes away dis­course. It takes away rea­son. It takes away the abil­i­ty to have con­ver­sa­tion and the abil­i­ty to dis­agree well. It leads to a world where dif­fer­ent opin­ions are denounced as big­otry, espe­cial­ly when they are con­trary to the pop­u­lar cul­ture of the time. It’s some­thing I am begin­ning to see more and more of, and some­thing which I am begin­ning to feel influ­ence my own think­ing. That’s why I’m start­ing to see a fresh how impor­tant it is that we keep the web open. That we keep the abil­i­ty to post to our own cor­ners of the web and share it with those we know and in pub­lic domains that are easy to find. It’s why we need bloggers.
The prob­lem is, that many peo­ple don’t see them­selves as blog­gers. It’s a geeky past time, that’s seen as old hat and no longer the done thing. What’s most inter­est­ing is that any­one who uses sites like Twit­ter, Face­book, and even Insta­gram, are blog­gers. Post­ing a tweet is a blog post. It’s a small one grant­ed, but at it’s essence that’s what it is. Like­wise with Face­book, any sta­tus posts, notes or what­ev­er oth­er myr­i­ad of things you can post orig­i­nal­ly to the site, are at their essence blog posts. We are all blog­gers, whether we are aware of it or not. The dif­fi­cul­ty is that we need to find ways of encour­ag­ing peo­ple to post these things to their own sites first, to take own­er­ship of their thoughts and opin­ions, no mat­ter how long they are. This is why I’m so excit­ed by ser­vices like Micro.blog which encour­age you to start your own Twit­ter-like per­son­al site, which you own and can direct to oth­er places. I’m not just excit­ed by the idea of encour­ag­ing peo­ple to own their own posts, but by the fact that it could, like it is doing to me, get peo­ple inter­est­ed in the idea of shar­ing their own thoughts and opin­ions in longer form as well. That’s what the web was built on. It’s what the web needs.

About Me ›

For a while now I’ve owned the domain philbowell.me, I bought it while it was cheap and to make sure no one else got hold of it and thus cause con­fu­sion with the domain of this blog. I’ve won­dered what to do with it for most of that time, briefly it act­ed as a micro-blog but I merged that with this site a few months back. This evening while doing a bit of intro­vert­ing I picked up my iPad (where I designed it and set the basic html struc­ture), then my Mac­Book (where I imple­ment­ed the CSS) and end­ed up with a new web page. A small about me should any­one stum­ble upon it. The only thing I’ve yet to do is opti­mise it for an iPhone sized dis­play but it’s work­ing pret­ty well on an iPad sized screen and upwards.

Apple’s Actual Role in Podcasting ›

Mar­co Arment has writ­ten a great piece in rela­tion to the secret Apple meet­ing with sev­en renowned pod­cast pro­duc­ers. He out­lines Apples role and posi­tion in the pod­cast­ing world, what the pod­cast­ers are after and what it could mean.
It seems to me to be anoth­er case of the big com­pa­nies try­ing to gain more con­trol and data about those who lis­ten. I’m in favour of things devel­op­ing, but they need to remain open. The likes of Face­book and Medi­um are mak­ing the open web a hard­er place to be, and to me that is show­ing me how impor­tant it is that it remains easy to do things with­out the big data com­pa­nies con­trol­ling every­thing. I could­n’t agree more with Mar­co’s final statements.

And the last thing we all need is for the “data” econ­o­my to destroy anoth­er medium. 

Design Machines ›

When we let the suc­cess and fail­ure of oth­ers super­fi­cial­ly guide design deci­sions, we skip over the con­text and unique­ness of what makes our prod­ucts dif­fer­ent. Design becomes a game of catch-up. Not an intel­li­gent pur­suit of find­ing unique for­mu­las that help the orga­ni­za­tion stand out on its own. 

This is one of those arti­cles that as I read it I found myself nod­ding along to more and more. It’s easy in a world of short dead­lines and on demand solu­tions to default to what we know works, or at least what appears to work when we’re approach­ing a new job. But what’s most impor­tant in these sit­u­a­tions, is that this kind of behvaiour/design does a dis­ser­vice to our clients.
I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times over recent years that we speak about being pro­fes­sion­al design­er, or design­ers grow­ing up to be on the lev­el of lawyers and accoun­tants. Experts who know what they’re doing and, in many cas­es, have earned that respect. The trou­ble is, that the web doesn’t always por­tray that, and the glimpses of the web in this piece cer­tain­ly seem to be back that up.
Each client and each job is unique, treat them that way. There is no one size fits all when it comes to design.

The Social Page ›

Your web­site is your home on the web. And in a web where we’re increas­ing­ly frac­tured between social net­works, hav­ing that sort of “home base” on the web seems increas­ing­ly important.

A nice clean and sim­ple solu­tion from Ian Hines as he seeks to solve the prob­lem he so suc­cinct­ly set out in the quote above. It looks great, although the last two items aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly what I would’ve cho­sen for their rel­e­vant actions.