An Assortment of Goodies: Progressive Reduction, Parallax Scrollers, Backbone-Hangman, and Heroku

This post is a little bit of UX, a little bit design, and a nice pair of tutorials to build your first backbone app (as a hangman game) and then push it live with a Heroku dyno.

User-experience drives everything (duh). Given the incredibly dynamic and data-driven internet, I’m surprised we aren’t seeing more attention given to Progressive Reduction, an idea that I first read about at LayerVault’s tumblr. Progressive Reduction is simple enough: the more often users visit your website or use your app, the less you need to explain what all the buttons do. First-time users or those who haven’t been back in a few weeks will get more labels and different call to actions than those who are coming back twice a day. If you’re interested in implementing it, Aware.js is a nice jQuery plugin designed to handle this idea.

I’ve been sitting on this link for a long time, hoping to write a much larger post about parallax-scrolling, but my reading list for that is only getting longer, so I’m folding. is a story told by one man, who is a triple-threat creative: writer, artist, and web developer. The depth implied by the parallax is pretty incredible, and is a nice example of how innovative the web can be. He’s also included a tutorial explaining how he did it.

A week or so ago I was hoping to nail down my understanding of Backbone.js, and this backbone-hangman tutorial proved very useful. Check that out, play the demo, or go straight to the source code. It involves a taste of a Ruby server through Sinatra, and some templating with Haml and Handlebars. Great exposure for any javascript developer.

When you’re ready to push it live, check out Heroku. Create an account and run through this getting-started with Heroku-Ruby tutorial. It’s not so bad if you’re familiar with git and the command line, and willing to google around any issues. In the end, one dyno is free, and is really all you need for a dev environment.

I just got a new work computer this week, and I’m putting together a link-heavy post on taking your new mac from Zero to Hero. It’ll be a list of everything I’ve installed, from Chrome to Vim plugins. I can’t get that live yet tho, as the new machine is still hovering somewhere in that average-joe range.