The Blogroll: Week 17

If you’re asking “what the heck am I looking at?”, here’s a primer. Also, if you know of an article or blog I should be reading, let me know.

The Blogroll


18F - Accessibility for Teams

Accessibility is one of the most important aspects of modern web development. Accessibility means the greatest number of users can view your content. It means search engines will be able to read your site more completely. Users of all types will have a better experience if you take accessibility concerns into account. And least of all, it is a required by law for all federal EIT products to be accessible (with a few minor exceptions).

Accessibility works best when incorporated into an agile production environment. It’s very hard to adequately address accessibility concerns at the end of a project, but if taken into account at the beginning, it’s quite straightforward and cost effective. The best and perhaps only way to ensure this is done, is training and education. Every member of a production team should be aware of what accessibility concerns are and a basic understanding of how they are addressed.

This quick-start guide is pretty wonderful. If you’re building a website anytime in the near future, you should skim through it before you begin.


Jonathan S. Geller - Exclusive: Apple to deploy 1Password to all 123,000 employees, acquisition talks underway

According to our source, after many months of planning, Apple plans to deploy 1Password internally to all 123,000 employees. This includes not just employees in Cupertino, but extends all the way to retail, too. Furthermore, the company is said to have carved out a deal that includes family plans, giving up to 5 family members of each employee a free license for 1Password. With more and more emphasis on security in general, and especially at Apple, there are a number of reasons this deal makes sense. We’re told that 100 Apple employees will start using 1Password through this initiative starting this week, with the full 123,000+ users expected to be activated within the next one to two months.

You should be using a password manager as well. Don’t be the clown using the same weak password for everything in 2018.


Jeremy Keith - GitHub Is Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion Undo Button - Bloomberg

Paul Ford explains version control in a way that is clear and straightforward, while also being wistful and poetic.

“I had idle fantasies about what the world of technology would look like if, instead of files, we were all sharing repositories and managing our lives in git: book projects, code projects, side projects, article drafts, everything. It’s just so damned … safe. I come home, work on something, push the changes back to the master repository, and download it when I get to work. If I needed to collaborate with other people, nothing would need to change. I’d just give them access to my repositories (repos, for short). I imagined myself handing git repos to my kids. “These are yours now. Iteratively add features to them, as I taught you.””

Sorry for the linkception. I saw this, wanted to copy the same bit of the OG article, and decided to just copy over the whole thing instead. This is a professional operation.


Patrick Stafford - Let go of the A/B test

But there are a couple of problems with exclusively using A/B tests, and it’s important to understand why they’re not always a good fit:

  • They can take a long time. Depending on your traffic, you might not see results for weeks. That’s time you could spend testing other methods or alternatives, and an opportunity cost you need to realize.
  • Most of the time, they’re based on your own beliefs. Think about what you’re testing and why. If you haven’t based your test on any sort of input—like user testing—then you’re just testing your own biases. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s important to recognize.
  • Many people don’t know how to execute them properly. A good optimization manager is worth their weight in gold. If you have someone who’s unskilled running your program, they can make small mistakes with huge consequences. Executing the wrong types of tests, ending tests too early, and improper segmentation are huge misfires.
  • You don’t test like for like. This is a huge one. You can’t provide two wildly different experiences and then pinpoint what caused the result. It could be a number of different things, and inexperienced teams running A/B tests make that mistake all too often. The result? It’s all guesswork.
  • It stops you from getting stuff done. It can be way too tempting to just keep testing and never actually deploy anything. Speed is everything, and waiting until you’re absolutely sure about something—which is a trap UX researchers often fall into—can lead to lost gains.

I’ve never been a big fan of A/B testing unless there’s a clear argument between two different ways forward. If it’s your cool idea against a thing that’s just been there but isn’t moving the needle, don’t waste your time testing it. Make the change.

People get way too caught up in the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” way of thinking. The web changes fast — anything that’s been untouched for 2-3 years is fair game in my opinion. If you’re not evolving, you’re collecting dust.


Austin Kleon - Fevered Egos

“I am not a fan of books,” Kanye said in 2009. “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life.”

Shocker! The President doesn’t read books, either.

(Unfortunately, this proud non-reading doesn’t stop them from writing their own books.)

My friend Matt Thomas, who is a scholar of both egos, says: “Kanye would have been that kid in college who didn’t always do the reading but had a really high participation grade because he always debated people in class and did alternate assignments.”

It strikes me over and over, reading old books, how the past is just one gigantic subtweet of these fevered egos.


Rob Clark - Your Answers are Only as Good as Your Questions

More specifically, what’s the change you’re hoping to make or the decision to be made? From a business perspective, information’s value comes from its ability to provide clarity for decision making. If information helps mitigate risk by pointing you in the right direction, then it provides a clear financial value. If information isn’t feeding into a decision, then it is simply trivia. Interesting perhaps, but of no true relevance.

Around every decision made, there are things known and a great many things unknown. If you’re not careful, you could spend forever digging through data to find that very few pieces of information will point you in the right direction.

Don’t over-data. I know we’re in the era of analytics, but there’s something refreshingly human about trusting smart people’s instincts and only relying on data when you hit an a-ha moment that requires specific information to move forward.

The actual blogroll

(Blogs are ranked in order of appearances in these Blogroll posts. Also, I’m only listing blogs that don’t act as newspapers, because those are the ones I feel need the most support.)