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We attended (and sponsored) BarCamp Milwaukee 7, a participatory “un-conference” event, where the attendees are in charge of what happens. For the third year in a row, the event was hosted at BucketWorks, a sprawling co-working and hacker space.

We love the event because it brings together people interested in teaching and learning in an open environment to share their knowledge and experience. While BarCamps are typically technology focused, some other sessions included rolling your own sushi, and beekeeping.


Artemis, a starship simulator, where "the captain" (seen standing) must direct his "officers" without ever using a computer.


Demonstration of a reprap 3D printer. This one looks like it's printing a phone booth, or more likely a Tardis. Melted plastic cable is extruded via a CNC head on top a heated bed. By layering the plastic cable, 3D objects are rapidly "printed."


A DIY 3D scanner, used here in conjunction with a 3D printer. A Dell mini projector (mounted top) projects a variety of geometric patterns on to an object. The camera below captures it, and software is able to create an impressive 3D model.


The owner of BeePods teaches us about beekeeping.


Learn more:
BarCamp [Wikipedia]

Mobile audience demographics for US females, ages 18-24, college educated.

What are the top smartphones and mobile devices in the US?

Top 10 Mobile Devices*
  • Apple iPhone - 50.72%
  • Apple iPad - 12.77%
  • SonyEricsson LT15i - 6.37%
  • Apple iPod Touch - 4.31%
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 1.86%
  • Samsung Galaxy S II - 0.79%
  • HTC Inspire 4G - 0.59%
  • HTC Droid Incredible 2 - 0.57%
  • HTC EVO 4G - 0.56%
  • Huawei Ascend II - 0.49%

  • *Though these 10 represent most of the landscape, there were 151 unique devices, most of them Android.


    What is smartphone marketshare in the US?

    Mobile Operating Systems:
    • iOS - 75.61%
  • Android - 22.33%
  • BlackBerry - 1.34%
  • Windows Phone - 0.60%
  • SymbianOS - 0.04%


  • Data based on 83,349 new US visitors to calmingmanatee.com
    I thought I'd share with you some questions that we've answered recently for colleagues.

    Q: How are you cross-device testing?
    A: We're using test devices and Adobe Edge Inspect (formerly Shadow.) At the start of a project, we look at existing analytics to determine the audience's most common devices, and then we seek out the ones we don't have. One tip to keep costs down is to purchase bad ESN devices from eBay.

    Q: How do you keep from downloading hidden content on smaller screens?
    A: Load auxiliary elements conditionally. Start with the mobile site as your default CSS, then use media queries for the larger desktop versions.

    Q: How do you handle cross-browser compatibility?
    A: HTML conditions for browser-CSS when possible. This reduces loading time for non-targeted browsers.

    Q: How many form factors do you follow in RWD?
    A: We let content determine breakpoints, not device viewports. We try to get as close to a fluid layout that works on everything as possible. Some people call picking device breakpoints instead of content is "adaptive design" not "responsive design."
    Users don't read, they skim. If they can't skim, they leave. We can make our websites skim-friendly by establishing rules of good typography.

    Body copy should be 16px. 
    This might look huge in your Word Document, but it won't on the web. You're not writing a thesis paper for a professor, you're writing to sell.

    Line spacing should be 1.5. 
    I know what you're thinking. "But the page will be so long!" That's true, but pixels are free and users have known how to scroll since the nineties.

    Line lengths should be 52-78 characters. 
    Remember newspapers? (I'm sure someone still reads them.) Ever wonder why they use multiple columns of text instead of just one really wide column? It's because there's an ideal width to improve readability. Any given line of text should be between two and three alphabets long.

    Use almost black text on an almost white background. 
    At a glance, the user will think it's just black on white text, but the text will look slightly smoother than usual. This is because we've given the operating system's anti-aliasing some breathing room to do sub-pixel hinting on our font. (The explanation is a bit technical for me, too, but I know it works.)

    What are your biggest annoyances when trying to read a website? Tell us on Twitter: @ethercycle
     
    We've seen a lot of designers & developers argue what the best way to approach responsive workflows is, but I don't think there's a universally right way.

    We approach it by designing the PSD on a 12 column grid layout for a 1920x1080 monitor. It's then developed mobile first, using the designer's input as creative direction. From there, development is continued iteratively until a mostly fluid layout is achieved that matches the PSD.

    Other people advocate designing entirely in the browser, designing only moodboards and elements, or going extreme and designing multiple layouts for every targeted device & width.

    The only universal truth to all responsive design workflows is that developers have more artistic input to the final product than in traditional waterfall processes.

    There's no doubt: AdWords is getting more competitive, average CPC is going up, and that drives down ROI for small business. The Quality Score algorithm is too complicated for a non-tech savvy business owner, so low quality scores will also be a culprit in driving up click prices.


    We've recently had success by experimenting with AdWords device targeting. For one of our ecommerce clients, we were able to triple their click-through rates by targeting only tablets that are on WiFi. We know the audience is significantly more likely to be browsing from home on the couch when they're more likely to make a purchase. (Source: Nielsen). We also know that tablet users, and iPad users specifically, are more likely to convert to customers online.


    In addition to having a more engaged audience, the other advantage to tablet-only AdWords campaigns is significantly reduced competition. Despite the explosion in mobile devices, many retailers, small businesses especially, have been unable to update their websites to properly accommodate users not on a traditional computer. It seems their solution has been to exclude mobile devices and limit their AdWords campaigns to only desktops.

    US Mobile Device Statistics, August 2012

    What are the top smartphones and mobile devices in the US?

    Top 10 Mobile Devices*
    1. Apple iPhone - 50.72%
    2. Apple iPad - 12.77%
    3. SonyEricsson LT15i - 6.37%
    4. Apple iPod Touch - 4.31%
    5. Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 1.86%
    6. Motorola DroidX - 1.18%
    7. HTC ADR6350 Droid Incredible 2 - 1.04%
    8. Motorola xt875 Droid Bionic - 1.02%
    9. HTC ADR6300 Incredible - 1%
    10. Samsung SPH-D710 - 0.92%

    11. *Though these 10 represent most of the landscape, there were 141 unique devices, most of them Android.

      What is smartphone marketshare in the US?

      Mobile Operating Systems:
      1. iOS - 67.3%
      2. Android - 32%
      3. BlackBerry - 0.65%
      4. Windows Phone - 0.54%
      5. SymbianOS - 0.04%
      6. Windows - 0.02%

      7. Based on 99,892 new US visitors to calmingmanatee.com
        After Mat Honan's "Epic Hacking" made national news, we've been thinking a lot about security. Two-factor authentication is finally being embraced, but that doesn't solve some of the fundamental problems with passwords.

        Password are annoying. People make them less annoying for themselves by setting the same password for all of their services. This is dangerous because their password is the only as secure as the weakest service they've registered on. It only takes one weak service to be breached, and suddenly your entire life is laid bare (and in Mat's case, deleted.)

        The most direct way to solve the password problem would be to eliminate passwords entirely for websites. It's not ridiculous at all. When you register for a website, you have to click on a link in your email to confirm your password. When you forget your password, you have to click on a link in your email. With all that emailing, why not just email a login link? No password would ever be necessary. To sign in, the user types their email address in to a login form, clicks submit, and an email arrives with a link to login with no password.

        In this scenario, your email service would still need a password. It's still a huge improvement as you would only need to remember one password, and a service like Gmail which supports two-factor and SSL is far more secure than the parakeet enthusiasts' forum you frequent.

        In 2004, Bill Gates declared the password dead. Seven years later, it's time to make that happen.
        Whether you're submitting a theme to the Shopify Theme Store, or launching one for your own shop, you'll need to answer "yes" to the following questions:

        Is all included material original? 
        Do all links work?
        Is copy edited and error free?
        Does JavaScript behave as expected, and with a minimum of resources?
        Do pages load quickly?
        Does the site work in Chrome for Mac - Current Version, and one previous versions?
        Does the site work in Chrome for Windows - Current Version, and one previous versions?
        Does the site work in Firefox for Mac - Current Version, and one previous versions?
        Does the site work in Firefox for Windows - Current Version, and one previous versions?
        Does the site work in Internet Explorer 7,8,and 9?
        Does the site viewable in Internet Explorer 6? (It doesn't have to look good, just work)

        To improve usability and reach a wider audience, we suggest you also check:

        Does the site work on Android devices?
        Does the site work on iPad?
        Does the site work on iPhone?
        Does the site work in Safari - Current Version, and two previous versions?
        Do images have alt-text?
        Is the site usable at 1024x768?
        Is the site usable at 1920x1080?

        As an experienced Shopify template designer, you're already doing these things. :)