12 handmade gifts to buy this holiday season

I love personal gifts and small businesses. If there’s one great side-effect of entering into a design career, it’s being surrounded by amazing talent and creatives of all types. Often, my friends and coworkers turn to secondary creative outlets.

The following are all people I have personal relationships with, who make great products you can use this holiday season—for a touch more personal than the CVS card rack, or the As-Seen-on-TV store. Continue reading →

Mobile Only: How to build and launch a website from your phone

As a thought experiment, I wondered if it was possible to design, develop, and launch a custom website from my phone, without touching a tablet or computer.

Spoiler alert: I could.

In fact, not only was it possible to build a website from my phone, but I was able to do it in less than a couple hours of research and work, using only free apps. The following post will give you the step-by-step on how to launch your own mobile-only website.

For this experiment, I used an iPhone 4 running whatever the last version of iOS was it supported. I didn’t use any external displays or input devices. Continue reading →

Mobile Only: Rise of the computer-free web designer

Around twenty-five years ago, I was resting my right hand onto my first computer mouse. A cognitive bridge formed between an external input device and an Apple IIe monitor, positioned on an upright plane. I utilized that unnatural mental model to create digital pictures in MacPaint, followed by Kid Pix. Little did I know, that intimacy with the mouse and its keyboard sibling would be foundational to my career as a website designer all these years into the future.

With that, I’m humbled and amazed that within the last five years, my lifetime of personal computer training has been upended by today’s handheld, touch devices—and that within the next five, our industry of “desktop” designers and developers will be eclipsed by tweens designing and deploying websites from their wrists. They’ll publish as such, because they’ll have not formed the same cognitive bridge as we contemporary adults did.

By 2020, many of our interactive design competitors will have never owned, touched, nor seen a personal computing device as we know them today.

The age of the designer in a task chair will have effectively rolled out the door, into obsolescence. Ludicrous? Science fiction, even? Let’s review the trend… Continue reading →

Geeks eat more pizza in smaller groups

Back in 2008 or so, I got involved in DC’s burgeoning tech meetup community. Fast forward a couple years to 2010 when my office moved into a new space with a great venue for hosting my favorite meetups. We started with DC PHP and immediately after, WordPressDC. Then DCjQuery (now DCJS), followed suit.

With three related meetups going, we were getting a lot of traffic and cross-pollination of members. There was also no shortage of sponsorship for food and beverages—though we were typically, BYO. Pizza is common fare for a meetup, just because it’s easy and doesn’t require too much in the way of incidentals like plasticware. Continue reading →

Did the Internet kill suits? Dressing down for success

Times have changed. Ready-to-wear suits are out, not because we don’t like them or don’t have money, but because we can work in our underwear. For better or worse, today’s brand interaction is primarily in digital dress, replacing the door-to-door salesperson of yesteryear.

If you’re an investor, you’ve likely heard buzz about the possible consolidation of budget suit retailers Jos. A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse. Mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies have little to do with the usual topics on the Brain Juice blog, but I feel the health of the suit industry does. Continue reading →

Consumer engagement via the Goldilocks parable

This week, my wife and I shopped for a new car—a thorough process of “try and buy” I’d not undertaken before. In both excitement and intimidation, we ran an exhausting 8-hour marathon, kicking the tires on a dozen cars. In retrospect, it was apparent our final selection was impacted more by the brand courtship than the product itself, with all recommended cars fitting neatly into our minimal criteria. The consumer engagement styles divided into the following three approaches. Continue reading →

OSS BBQ 2013: Setting the bar high for summer fun

This summer we held the 3rd-annual open source software barbeque (#OSSBBQ) in DC‚ an event many in the local tech crowd (including myself) get excited about ever year. It’s a social event for the DC PHP, jQuery, and WordPress meetup groups borne out of convenience (or inconvenience, rather).

In the spirit of open source, this post should give you a behind-the-scenes tour of how we pull it off. You can do it too! Continue reading →