Girl Develop It – Detroit

I find myself part of, or involved with, a lot of groups. There is something about getting people in the same room to learn or share a common interest that really excites me. I know I have had my share of lolipop moments while attending an event and I hope I’ve been able to give my share back.

Being a developer it’s only natural that I end up talking with a lot of other developers. It has always amazed me how few girl (women) developers there are. When I find one though I always have to apologize in advance because I end up asking them a million questions. The story of how they became interested in development is always intriguing and unique. But most have the same theme, they are not developing because they have something to prove in a male dominated field but instead they started to tinker early on with manipulating their environment to make it better or they wanted to make something their own.

Unfortunately that spark doesn’t always come as a child and women find themselves curious about code, the Web, and mobile after they are already in a career. Doing online tutorials can get someone started but without a community to bounce ideas off, to push, and to help with the few extra resources needed to get something launched, it is hard to stay motivated. This in person group is essencial for long term success when learning anything new.

A few months ago I was talking to Michelle Srbinovich about this very topic. We both handle social media for our organizations,  being a girl developer herself and my interest in the same topic we both stumbled across Black Girls Code, who coincidently was having an event on campus. We started talking more and Michelle discovered this much larger community of groups and events for girls looking to learn to code. One of those groups, Girl Develop It, is starting a Detroit chapter.

What is Girl Develop It?

GDI is a nonprofit that empowers women of diverse backgrounds to learn how to develop software.  Starting this November, GDI Detroit will be offering affordable classes for women (and men) who want to learn how to code – from introductory HTML/CSS classes to advanced courses for professional developers looking to expand their skill set.

Detroit Chapter kickoff event

Come learn more about Girl Develop It Detroit on Tuesday, October 23rd at Great Lakes Coffee at their kickoff event.

First Class: Intro to HTML & CSS

Want to learn how to build your own website? Already have your own Tumblr/WordPress/etc. site, but want to have more control over it? Interested in learning to program, but want to start small? This class is for you!

We will guide you through the basics of HTML and CSS, give you some readily-applicable skills, and answer any questions you may have along the way.

The course will be taught by Cara Jo Miller, UI/UX Designer at Are You A Human and co-organizer of Refresh Detroit and WordCamp Detroit.

November 10, 2012 – More details on the

Interested in helping out?

The success of these events are driven by people like you, if you’ve read this far I can tell you already have what it takes. Attend a class, spread the word, or teach a class. There is someone waiting for you to reach out, your support could be life changing.

Discover more at


Thinking about going to Web Design World? #highered discount available!

Web Design World is coming soon (very soon) – October 18-20 in Las Vegas – and if you’ve never been before (or even if you have and want to attend this year), they have a great deal to pass along to you! I know it’s late in the game for #highered but I thought I would pass this along just in case.

First of all, Web Design World has a great line-up of rock stars in design, UX, content management and more. There will even be a session entitled “Education vs. Other Markets: How Does Design Differ?” with Patrick Haney and Dan Rubin. You can check out the full conference agenda at

The organizers of Web Design World are extending a special discount for the 3-day Web Design World Passport package – just for higher education web designers and webmasters! To save $400 off the Passport package rate, simply register at and enter the promo code EDU10.* That’s it!

* Please note: $400 discount is applicable to new registrations only. No refunds will be given on prior registrations.

I just wanted to clarify that I am not attending Web Design World nor is this a paid endorsement. Just a friendly post about a discount that pertains to my favorite group, higher education web rock stars! 🙂


Mobile users are either repetitive, bored, or urgent

In a recent article Google Lays Out Its Mobile User Experience Strategy. In it they bring attention to something we don’t often think about. Mobile users are either repetitive, bored, or urgent.


Someone checking for the same piece of information over and over again, like checking the same stock quotes or weather. Google uses cookies to help cater to mobile users who check and recheck the same data points.


Users who have time on their hands. People on trains or waiting in airports or sitting in cafes. Mobile users in this behavior group look a lot more like casual Web surfers, but mobile phones don’t offer the robust user input of a desktop, so the applications have to be tailored.


Request to find something specific fast, like the location of a bakery or directions to the airport. Since a lot of these questions are location-aware, Google tries to build location into the mobile versions of these queries.

Keeping these three user types in context can really help shape your project. If your site doesn’t accomplish your users goals they likely won’t come back.

accessibility thoughts

Avoid frustrating users with tabindex

Even if you can use a mouse most of the time its easier to use a keyboard to fill out web forms. HTML has a nifty attribute called “tabindex” which allows the site creator to dictate how the user will navigate through the forms or links on the page.

The default tab order is usually enough, most forms are filled out linearly and browsers account for that. Sometimes developers get overzealous and add unnecessary tab orders, making the forms a nightmare to fill out.

I encountered one of these nightmare forms the other day. I went to write a letter to my representatives, and going through all the forms I eventually landed on this form. Long story short I started at the top and tabbed my way through it. But the fields led me in a crazy order.

Try to follow this maze


So what happened?

Half the fields had tabindex’s on them, while the other half did not, it made for a pretty unique experience. On Firefox atleast it loops through all the non-tabindexed fields first then hits the tabindexed fields. I used the Web Developer Toolbar to display the tabindex’s in yellow so you can see what I mean. Because these tab index’s were forced there was no way to move from the Prefix field to the First Name field without using a mouse.

The lesson here kids is to use only what you need. Don’t try to be user advanced technology when its not needed, you might just be frustrating more users than you help.

Using the right tabindex

For 99% of all web forms created it is a good idea just to ignore the tabindex attribute and let the order of the fields on the page handle how the user flows through the form. Especially if the form will have new fields or or change frequently, its just another thing to remember to do.

For those one in a million forms that you have to use tabindex my suggestion is to test, test and retest every time you change the form. It would be very easy to forget once and have a large group of frustrated users on your hands.


Live review of higher education web sites #2

Working through technical issues, I changed my screen resolution to better match the HD requirements of some sites and I tried to buy a new mic at Target (We had gift certificates) but it totally sucked and didn’t work with my computer.

Anyways next episode and three new sites reviewed. Check them out and let me know what you think. Do you like the format? Is three sites too many? Not enough? I spend about 5 minutes on each site but it feels almost like I am rushing through a checklist of requirements for me to give it the thumbs up. I don’t want the show to become a checklist. Next episode I am going to try something new depending on your comments. So comment below or Twitter me.

I did not want to reveal the title for the new site till next episode but since it was taking waaay too long to re-encode the video without the title on it I thought what the heck why not let everyone know the name of the site. Enjoy.

Links from the video: