Hi! I'm Johannes Dachsel, a web designer and developer based near Heidelberg, Germany. This is my personal website.

What I learnt today: solid and process colours

Today a colleague asked me to help her finish a PDF that she needed to send to an online print shop. They specifically asked for a document created with solid colours (instead of process colours), either in Pantone or HKS.

The last time I had to deal with things like this was probably ten years ago, during my photography apprenticeship. Back then, I learnt a lot about colour theory and the printing process.

Today, it took me a couple of minutes, but my memories emerged slowly and steadily and I could answer her question. I guess everthing we learn can be of some use sometimes. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: voicemail

I’ve been trying to ring up a prospective client for the last two days. Although I could have left a voicemail, I didn’t. I’ve never liked leaving voicemail messages because it always feels a little awkward talking to no real person.

Today I finally left a message to ensure that the conversation keeps going and we have a chance to reach one another at some point, but I still don’t like it. I wonder if anybody else resists leaving voicemail. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: framed thinking

Today I came across this tweet from @StarbucksUK:

I really like this clever use of the false frame illusion and I realised, how often I tend to “think” in frames and boxes. I suppose writing CSS and dealing with the box model for a couple of years somehow clouds the view for design delighters like this one. I’ll have to remind myself not to think in boxes and frames all the time. At least that’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: dealing with email

Last week I took a few days off. I spent a generous long weekend hiking through the Palatinate Forest and celebrating my birthday. When I started working again this morning, I had to deal with some email that had piled up during my absence.

For most people, handling email is a very unpleasant task. But ever since I adopted the inbox zero principle, I’m rarely stressed about it. After sorting out the important ones, I move the rest into a separate archive folder or even delete them. Then I assign a task to the remaining items requiring action and move them into the same archive folder.

And that’s all there is to it for me. Over the years I’ve developed a very strict routine and today I realised again, how important such a set of rules can be. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: room planning

After repainting my office, I’m planning to buy new furniture and to re-arrange the space a little bit. Today I thought, I could create a 3D model of the room and plan the whole thing on my computer.

I measured my office, created a plan for the room and then put in some virtual furniture to visualise the new space. But even with this kind of visualisation I had difficulties to determine, wether the new furniture would fit or not. I guess I need to go back to cardboard and scissors. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: approaching names

Today I had lunch with Andi, an old friend of mine who is a Designer and Art Director living and working in Berlin. I’m in the middle of “rebranding” the small web design studio. I’ve been running for the past six years and Andi is helping me with creating a visual identity.

In the last few weeks I’ve been trying to come up with a name for the business and I’m hopelessly stuck. My initial idea was to provide Andi with a name so that he can go on and develop the visual elements for whatever idea I’d come up with. That hasn’t worked out so far.

So today Andi suggested that we start with mood boards instead and focus on a broader kind of design atmosphere first. I really like this approach because visual thinking is something I prefer to abstract concepts and I’m absolutely sure, that this will work out the way we planned. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: ligatures

Today I came across a strange phenomenon on a website where there were multiple icons showing in the middle of words instead of regular characters. I soon noticed that every instance of an icon represented not one but two characters. And then it hit me.

The font used on this particular website provided ligatures which were then replaced by what appeared to be an ASCII icon representation of that single ligature character. Weird. Firing up the dev tools and setting the font-variant-ligatures property to none confirmed my suspicions. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: performance

Today, a colleague and I took the last steps to launch a new website for a client. I always enjoy these last couple of hours before a site goes live because everything gets “ready for production”.

In terms of frontend code, getting production-ready for me basically means “make everything as fast as possible”. And that’s what we did today.

I noticed that I recently developed an obsession with performance. Nothing is ever fast or small enough and I always try and make the code as fast as I possibly can. It’s a very rewarding endeavour, maybe because it’s measurable. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: SVG icons

Today I familiarised myself with the use of SVG icons and SVG sprites and I was amazed by how well it fitted into my workflow. I won’t go into much technical detail just yet, mainly because I want to write a detailed blog post about it.

Up until recently, I was thinking more and more about possible alternatives to over-used icon fonts. When using an icon font, we either accepted the overhead of unused icons or we compiled our own font, which became too much of a hassle.

So far, I’ve been very pleased with SVG sprites and for now, I would consider it the best way of displaying icons. That’s what I learnt today.

What I learnt today: app banners

Today I came across this post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog where Google states that it will no longer consider websites mobile-friendly that show “download our app” banners which hide a lot of content. I agree with Google’s decision and it got me thinking about the necessity of apps in that context in general.

I was wondering, if anyone has ever downloaded an app after clicking on a search result in Google. I certainly haven’t. And I think a lot of users just want to get to the content as quickly as possible, that’s what they came for in the first place.

I don’t know if Google’s decision will convince developers to give up app banners altogether, but I think it’s a start. At least that’s what I learnt today.