Dan Barber

The Complete Guide to Optimising Web Images

Optimising images for your website can be a bit of a black art, but it’s well worth doing as the bandwidth savings can be large. It will also make a big difference to the speed at which your site loads.


These days many of us have access to very fast broadband (we typically have 100Mb/s connections here at thoughtbot) but not everybody has access to this sort of connection. Most people worldwide are still stuck on relatively slow ADSL packages that run at no more than 2Mb/s or so.

Mobile connections have come a long way in recent years, but the variability of speed is even worse than wired connections. 4G can be as fast as good broadband, but in areas with high contention or in areas where there is no 3G or 4G mobile connections can be as slow as mud.

Whatever the speed of the connection it’s worth optimising your images as visitors are far more likely to abandon your site if it takes more than a few seconds to load and search engines will rank your site higher if it loads quickly. It’s also worth remembering that even fast broadband connections often have data caps.


I’ve realised recently that I spend far too much time looking at things like Twitter, Hacker News and Reddit. It has become almost an impulse to just load up something bite sized to read whenever I’m waiting on something or when I get to work.

I’m confident it’s affecting both my productivity and my creativity so I’m going to try an experiment somewhat inspired by begriffs article Going “Write-Only”. I’m going to avoid social media and short-form reading for a week (to start). This means no Twitter, Hacker News, Reddit, Arstechnica or any other sources of bite sized information. I will restrict myself to long-form reading like books or articles I’ve saved to Instapaper (of which I have quite a queue!).

Hopefully after a while the craving for that junk food of information will diminish.

ZX Spectrum +2

ZX Spectrum
Photo by Gonzalo Merat / CC BY NC ND

The second computer to ever enter my life was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2. This machine had colour, 3 channel sound and a built in tape deck. I was in love!


Close up of Sinclair ZX81
Photo by Barney Livingston / CC BY SA

With the 30th anniversary of the Mac just gone by I thought it would be nice (and a little self indulgant!) to write about some of the computers I’ve owned in the past. I use Mac’s almost exclusively now but it wasn’t always the case.

Flat UI and Forms

Jessica Enders:

The problem is that most flat UIs are built with a focus on the provision of content, with transactional components (i.e., forms) receiving very little attention. What happens when flat and forms collide? User experiences can, and often do, suffer.


An Update

It’s been quite a while now since I last posted, and much has happened over the last 12 months. We’ve moved to a new city and started new jobs.

Design Eye for the Developer Guy

Here are the slides from my talk at Digpen VI in March. I’ll get the audio up too as soon as I have it.

Moving Away from Google

In light of Google’s recent announcement that they will be shuttering Reader (among other things) I’ve decided that it’s time to move away from Gmail and reduce my reliance on any services provided by Google.

We're Creating a Culture of Distraction

Joe Kraus:

I want to ask people a simple question: are you happy with your relationship with your phone. Do you think it’s a healthy one?

I don’t think I have a healthy relationship with mine. I feel a constant need to pull it out – to check email, to text, to see if there is something interesting happening RIGHT NOW. It’s constantly pulling on my attention.

Great article. I’ve begun to notice this with myself and my wife. Might have to implement the “no phone” Sunday.


GIMP is Now a Self-Contained Native App for Mac OS X


GIMP, the image editing program that’s a popular open-source alternative to Photoshop, is now easier than ever for Mac users to start using. Though it was completely free, installing it has long required that X11 also be installed — a major pain in the butt. That changes with the latest version of GIMP: the app is now a self-contained native app that’s a breeze to install. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping.