A launching rocket ship is imposed over the characters 5G
A launching rocket ship is imposed over the characters 5G

By: Adam Gowen

Earlier this year, Verizon announced that their next step in the race towards 5G would occur here in Des Moines. Des Moines is the 20th city to receive a 5G mobile network from Verizon, with the wireless carrier aiming to reach 30 cities by the start of 2020.

Verizon joins the rest of the major mobile carriers trying to grow their 5G networks. Even though 5G coverage is expanding on a weekly basis, if you haven’t noticed the monumental shift that the carriers promise, you’re not alone.

5G, in its current state, is more like a beta test than a full-fledged network. It’s available only in a limited number of cities with limited range, and the network can only be used by certain mobile phones with the right hardware. …


A symbol depicting a person in a wheelchair moving forward is overlaid with symbols from social media platforms.
A symbol depicting a person in a wheelchair moving forward is overlaid with symbols from social media platforms.

By: Adam Gowen

Stop what you’re doing right now.

I encourage everyone reading this to go to the settings menu on your smartphone, find the accessibility settings, and turn on your phone’s built-in screen reader. Next, navigate to your Twitter app and start scrolling. It’s likely that the screen reader has transformed your Twitter experience from an entertaining time killer to sounding like you are on set of Disney’s Smart House while the house is having a meltdown.

Without the ability to scroll endlessly or process visuals on the app, Twitter users find that their experience is severely diminished. It might be easy to blame the screen reader itself for doing a bad job at sharing information, but the screen reader is actually just doing its job. …


A simple graphic depicting the handicap symbol dynamically forward moving between two chevrons that evokes coding language
A simple graphic depicting the handicap symbol dynamically forward moving between two chevrons that evokes coding language

When it comes to web development, accessibility is more than just adding alt tags to your images. So if you came here looking to read about the easiest elements to change, this blog is not for you (don’t worry, we’ll show you how to add alt tags too).

It’s almost a cliché now to talk about how pervasive the internet is in modern life. We use the web to buy goods, pay bills, and stay in touch with friends and family across the globe. Nearly anything we want to know is accessible within a handful of keystrokes, and the division between the online world and our real lives is becoming pretty blurry. But users with disabilities, who make up about 15% of the population, encounter online barriers that don’t exist for the rest of us. …


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By: Doug Choi

When I talk to a client about making their website accessible, the first thing many of them do is apologize.

To me.

Personally.

Because I’m a designer.

As if designing a website that’s accessible is somehow akin to asking me to design in Papyrus or Comic Sans.*

And I get it.

There have been times that I’ve chosen aesthetics over accessibility. There have been times when I’ve chosen something cool over something clear. There have been times when I thought I could get away with it just this one time.

And I’ve regretted every one of those choices. …


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Learn what the guidelines are for accessible content on the web.

By: Dan MacKenzie

In his 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, author George Orwell provides a few basic rules for good, clear writing. Professors and editors have been praising the gospel of these rules to young writers for generations since. You probably know some of them without realizing it:

  • Never use a long word where a short word will do.
  • If it’s possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive [voice] where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. …

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Take time to empathize with people in order to create an inclusive user experience for all.

By: Nick Throckmorton

Real talk: many designers and developers create unusable experiences for people with disabilities. It’s an issue that has plagued the internet for years — but has been especially hot news recently. Reasons for this could be inexperience, corner-cutting, or flat-out apathy and indifference. To these designers and developers, I challenge you: read personas at the end of the article and tell me that you still don’t give a hoot.


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Content can mean a lot of things. Here’s how to make it mean even more.

By: Adam Gowen

There was a time when social media was, you know, social. When Facebook would ask, “What’s on your mind?” and meant it. Since those days, social media has become a relentless machine. It constantly churns, chewing up weak family photos (vertical group picture, really?) and spitting them out the other side.

In this social media arena, you’re only as hot as your latest post, and engagement is the newest form of currency. These are facts of life for joes like you and me. …


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By: Dan Mackenzie

Senior copywriter and content enthusiast Dan MacKenzie helps lay out the reasons for having a business blog and provides us with the best ways to go about filling it with information.

English majors are having a good decade. This is finally our time. Content is king. Everyone wants to have a blog and produce their own content. But as we find here at Happy Medium, not many people know how to make it happen. English majors to the rescue!

Writing a blog is easy if you have writers on staff. But for the rest of the world that can’t hire people with questionably useful college degrees, finding content for your blog can seem intimidating. …


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By: Nick Throckmorton

The first in an ongoing series from our User Experience (UX) Designer, Nick Throckmorton, we explain how and why a user’s experience on a website is the way it is (…or should be). This month, how a website experience relates to that of an old, awful, poorly designed wooden door in Happy Medium’s building.

The UX of Objects and Scenarios

I like to think that the “UX of something” is an arbitrary degree of how much I enjoyed or loathed interacting with an object. I use this phrase in my day-to-day life to describe something that was pleasant or unpleasant, and that probably could’ve been built better with the help of an experienced UXer. …


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By: Paige Winters

Hi, I’m Paige. I’m a visual designer at Happy Medium. I’ve worked here for several years now and have had a similar conversation with many different clients around visuals and brand identity. So I wanted to share some thoughts that might help you, too.

Oftentimes, we work with clients who have no existing branding or identity. With these clients, we’re starting from scratch to build their visual systems.

But we work with many more clients that have existing identity systems — they have their guidelines and directions already set in place for us to work with. …

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