Bookmarks: February 2023

Who cares if it's March when I'm publishing this! Here are some web articles that stuck with me last month.

Tech and Web

Building your colour palette - Refactoring UI

Building attractive interfaces is a large component of my love for building on the web, but I am not a designer. I have a decent enough eye for seeing what's wrong in a web layout and for accurately implementing a design spec. But I trip up when it comes to creating, and one of the biggest hurdles for me is colour.

I've tried so many colour palette generators and generated some beautiful colour schemes, but I can never get them to actually work. This article on Refactoring UI illustrates exactly why - it's impossible. A web interface colour palette is much more intricate, and much more full of grey than you would expect.

A colour palette in action

Using image examples, it shows you how each colour in your palette needs to have different shades, and how these would be implemented in common UI components. I will be referencing this often for future side projects.

Exluding non-binary people by design: How sign-up forms can lead to discrimination - Sarah L. Fossheim

An excellent exploration of how designing digital systems has to have inclusiveness baked in from the start.

A screenshot of Google's input for entering a non-binary gender

This is why data isn’t neutral or objective, but influenced by those who collect it, and later possibly further compromised by the biases of those that use it.

I also highly recommend the follow-up article: Getting started with trans inclusive design.

Why I'm not the biggest fan of Single Page Applications - Manuel Matuzovic

In a world where SPA vs MPA has become somewhat of a flame-war, this measured take is a refreshing read.

As someone who started her web development career working with SPA frameworks, I'm ashamed even this surface-level article highlighted holes in my accessibility logic. This very website does not consistently shift focus to the beginning of the DOM on SPA-navigation.

Bing: “I will not harm you unless you harm me first” - Simon Willison

A wild ride of a read 😂

A screenshot from AI-powered Bing


The engineer-manager pendulum -

There's this pervasive idea in software engineering that once you reach a certain level of seniority you have to choose: do you want to continue to be an individual contributor (IC) or a manager? Just google "IC vs engineering manager" and be overwhelmed by the sheer number of discussion pieces.

I think a lot of people resist this dichotomy. In my current company, we have a tech lead role which is meant to be a split of engineering manager and IC engineer duties. Our job ad says 25% of a tech lead's time is spent writing code. In reality though, the management responsibilities are always higher priority than any IC work.

The engineer-manager pendulum article has an explanation for this:

Management is highly interruptive, and great engineering — where you’re learning things — requires blocking out interruptions. You can’t do these two opposite things at once. As a manager, it is your job to be available for your team, to be interrupted. It is your job to choose to hand off the challenging assignments, so that your engineers can get better at engineering.

The alternative? Focus on either IC or management one at a time, but go back and forth between the two: the pendulum. Charity articulates why this works far better than I can so go read it!