Standing Desk 2.0

It’s now proven that sitting down for hours at a time will kill you earlier than if you work standing up. Fit people aren’t immune either; if made to sit for hours at a time, a vegetarian jogger has the same elevated risk as their sedentary, cheeseburger-loving cubiclemate.

Some time back, I’d Ikea-hacked a standing desk for a home studio. It looked great, but it wasn’t very solid – the lightweight top was literally just standing on its legs atop the bases – nor did it make for a very inviting or hard-wearing work surface.

Rethinking the design, I got a Numerar oak butcher-block countertop and 3 sets of Capita angled connector-legs, usually used for floating cantilevered shelves off of kitchen counters. I took the eight original legs and attached them to the trestle bases, then measured and drilled three holes in each trestle top to allow the long-ish bolts of the Capita angled legs to drop in. And voilà:

The work surface, at 44 inches tall, is now at bar counter height, making it much more comfortable to lean on, and it’s way more solid than before.

The chair is a work in progress – a seat shell I rescued from an old 1960s chair, attached to a cheap gas-lift bar stool base, but it’s not the greatest thing ever. I’ve been thinking that a ‘leaning’ seat might make more sense; like Humanscale’s Pony Saddle Stool, or the Focal Point angled stool. Or maybe even a hacked bike frame with a Spyderflex seat? Love to hear your opinions in the comments!

Considering a similar Ikea-hack?

  • If you’re not going to attach the Capita legs through a 1.5″ wooden top, consider cutting down the long bolts – they’re useless otherwise, so you just need an inch or so to let them rest solidly in 7/16″ guide holes you drill. I arranged the legs to form “tripods” (two forward, one back) angled inward towards the center of the top. This way, there’s no cantilevering going on, and it stays in place by its own weight. Try to locate the baseplates right flush to the trestle’s sides to help take the weight straight down, vs. just sitting in the middle of the trestle’s top, where it’s unsupported.
  • Similarly, if you’re using an Ikea trestle made of typical lightweight laminate, plan your drilling around any existing metal twist-post connectors which may hold it together, otherwise you’ll hit them. I had to move mine a little bit back from the front edge.
  • Most 7/16″ drill bits tend to be for masonry, so try to find one for wood. Trying to drill directly into laminate means it almost certainly will slip – so try drilling a series of pilot holes first, using an increasing series of bits, going a little larger every time.
User Experience

User Experience as a Lesson in Civics

Jon Stewart, at his Rally for Sanity, noted that most people live their lives “just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often it’s something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things get done every day that are only made possible by the little, reasonable compromises,” he said, referring to the small, daily acts of civility that lubricate the wheels of society.

I like to think that good user experience, when functioning at its highest level, is like an act of civility. When we design things that are hard to use, too complex to understand at a glance, or with dark design patterns, we’re being uncivil to our neighbours, family and friends who will use what we’ve produced.

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User Experience

The state of UX education in Montreal

Class Dismissed

In an interview published this week at boagworld.com, Jeffrey Zeldman noted the clear lack of coherent education for would-be web designers.

[There's a] phenomenal amount to do in education, because most of the schools that are teaching web design aren’t doing it right at all. They’re not teaching interaction design, they’re not teaching usability, they’re not teaching content strategy, and they’re certainly not teaching web standards. They’re looking at it as some kind of brain-damaged subspecies of graphic design. They’re telling them, “Well, you know how to use Illustrator, learn how to use Flash.”

This is something I’ve felt for a long time – particularly during those times when I felt like going back to school to “officially” get a degree in what I do for a living, which is UX design for the web. There’s very few places that teach it as such – a program in Sweden, a couple of master’s programs at pricey US schools. But with web user experience nearly ubiquitous nowadays — carried in the pockets of millions of iPhone users alone — isn’t it time for that to change? Continue reading