Stuck in a rutSometimes we can be comfortable, applying familiar patterns to familiar problems. Whether it's layouts, frameworks or tools, we can get "into the groove" where we feel we are accomplishing things quickly and efficiently, leaning on our experience and proven solutions. At some point, this groove can become a rut, where we no longer challenge our assumptions or look for better options.

Often we believe the "sunk cost fallacy" - concentrating on what we already invested in the current solution, such as time, money, and effort, and it may keep us stuck. Sure, the team knows the current tools, and the design patterns are well documented and understood, but do they really push the boundaries of what modern web applications can be? Browsers, platforms and tools change so quickly, you may be designing for yesterday's constraints.

User experience will happen. Whether it's designed up front, or a product of users interacting with your product after the fact, the human and product will interact. Good UX happens when we make decisions in a way that understands and fulfills the needs of both our users and our business.

It's important in this definition to recognize both sides of the equation; the user and the business. UX design strives to produce positive emotions in the user, whether it's through delight or just satisfaction in getting the task performed efficiently. On the other hand, anyone working for an organization has to ensure the organization goals are met as well. Sometimes negotiating between the two stakeholders can be tricky, when the needs are in conflict.

So why do we need UX? To ensure someone is looking out for both sides equally.

Clippy, the doomed mascotClippy was ahead of his time.

I'll let that sink in.

Clippy, the infamous Microsoft Office assistant,  was introduced in November 1996. He was refined three years later, in Microsoft Office 2000. He went into retirement two years later, when he was turned off by default. And he finally departed this digital veil in 2007, when Microsoft Office dismissed him all together.

While he was eventually consigned to the dustbin of failed software, like Microsoft Bob, at the time, his novelty spun off a wave of "conversational agents." I worked on "Seemore the Sock Puppet" - a conversational agent for Payless ShoeSouce back in the 90s who you would click to "See more" - get it?  He waggled his eyebrows, and danced around the screen.  In a juvenile Easter Egg, there was one pixel on the screen that would make him pass gas, if you knew where to find it.

Elsbernd.com has returned to Joomla.

Elsbernd.com started as hand-written HTML, and as my knowledge grew and I looked into content management systems, it moved to Joomla.  This was a good fit and I used Joomla for years.  After a while, though, a few things bothered me about the platform.  Each time there was a major upgrade, I had to migrate things by hand.  There were few options for automatically updating the site to the latest version, and a lot of my extenstions and templates broke between the versions, so I had to either sit on obsolete technology or spend a weekend upgrading my site and finding replacements for the parts that no longer worked.

I moved to WordPress in 2014, and thought I had the world by the tail.  It was an incredibly powerful and popular platform and I was learning a lot of things about their template system.  The upgrade paths were good and they had a lot of extensions available.  Unfortunately, being the most popular platform makes you the largest target for malicious actors.  I was hacked twice in the past two years, with my traffic being redirected and my site being blacklisted from Google and Bing.

After the second hack, I decided to come back to the familiar turf of Joomla, while upgrading to the latest version, including things like two factor authentication.  I have a nifty new responsive design and was able to preserve the Elsblog archives.

I think if I had more time and were more interested in the back end of security and databases, I could have made things work in WordPress, but I now prefer the comfort of a secure, familiar and powerful platform, even if it isn't the largest one out there.

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