dual monitors

Welcome to My (Flat) World

This week’s eLearning Heroes Challenge was to create a flat office or desktop theme based on your own work space. I love the visual design challenges so I jumped into to this one wholeheartedly!

What is flat design?

For the visual design newbies out there, flat design is a style that focuses on making images look simple, rather than realistic.  It’s 2D rather than 3D with minimal shadows and shading and is very clean and modern. It is also really easy to create flat images using just some basic shapes!

My inspiration

photoHere is a picture of my work space.  It’s cluttered (though not as cluttered as it was yesterday!).
Because of that, I decided to use it as inspiration rather than create an exact replica.  I actually tried making a close replica at first and boy was it
terrible.  Perhaps this means I need to simplify my office set up?

Well, that’s a question for another day.

My design

I ended up cutting out some of the desk shelving and moving the cork boards over to that area instead. I also cut out all the stacks of papers and magazines and flies as well as 4 of my 5 pencil cups.  I don’t know why I have so many pencil cups but I’m sure it is someone else’s fault.

2014-09-16_11-43-53I decided to keep my most fun element, a panda shaped pencil sharpener and mini shredder (you turn its tail to make either action happen), along with my yellow walls. I also added in my cat on top of the printer as that is her favorite napping spot when I’m in the office.

Adding some interactivity

In theory, this would be used as a setting for an interaction.  I think it would be a little crowded to use as a simple background. So I went ahead and added some interactive elements into it. You can drag the pencil to the panda to sharpen it, view “videos” by clicking on the webcam or first monitor, read an excerpt from one of the books, or view documents in the inbox, on the cork board, and from the printer.

Click on the image above to check it out and let me know what you think!  You can also download the source file to use or pick apart at your leisure.

Postscript: While my office has a PC desktop setup, I actually created this on my brand new Macbook Pro while sitting on the sofa in my living room… Just another person prodding Articulate for a native Mac version of Storyline. (Yes, I have put in a feature request!)

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…And it’s Ikea for the gold!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really bad at sitting.  When I sit too long my knees start to hurt.  I slouch and my back starts to hurt. I fidget and fall out of my chair.  Really.

So a little less than a year ago I jumped on the standing desk bandwagon. I couldn’t afford a real standing desk so I made a nice hack from Ikea odds and ends. It was a gold medal solution…  until I changed jobs within my company and moved to a new office.

But this week I finally got my standing desk back in its rightful place!  In honor of that, I thought I would take a little time to talk about my office set up.

image of my desk set up


An
Ikea hack you may have seen floating around the internet is a great starting point and inspired the design of my DIY standing desk.  I used 2 Ikea end tables, as I have 2 monitors. And since I wanted the shelf that holds the keyboard and mouse to be a little offset, I brought in the big guns – velcro strips – to attach it to the brackets. Otherwise, I followed the model pretty closely.

If you’re worried about it holding up, one of the most frequent comments I get is about how sturdy the whole thing is.  I also lean on it way more than I should but it has held up nicely.  It’s a great value considering the entire set up cost just about $30.

So, what ergonomic considerations are important for a standing desk?

Well luckily, you don’t have to worry about a chair since that can get quite costly. But it’s important to make sure your gear fits. Take some measurements and figure out how high to put the shelf that will hold your keyboard and mouse. You can also use a handy dandy internet calculator to figure out where everything should be placed. My stuff is all a little higher than I would like, but I’m short and it couldn’t get any lower with the elements I was using.

Good monitor placement, wrist rests for my keyboard and mouse, and a nice anti-fatigue mat are all part of the set up as well. (The mat still hasn’t made it to the office but it will soon!)

Notice that little lamp on the right hand side of the picture.

I’m lucky enough to have an office mate who hates the fluorescents as much as I do.  We each brought in a few lamps and voila!  Our office has lovely soft lighting that keeps us alert but minimizes strain on the eyes.

One thing to note about lighting – it is important to make sure you don’t have glare on your monitor and that your brightest light source is to the side.  Lamps can help you accomplish this nicely.

The best part of it all? Dual monitors.

Really, I can’t emphasize enough how much easier these make my life.  They are almost crucial for anyone working on elearning or a similar pursuit where you have several programs running at the same time. And certainly useful for anyone else who likes to watch cat videos (or the Olympics!) while responding to email.

What do you find particularly useful in your office set up?  What tweak, hack or item makes your life golden? Share your must haves, tips, and tricks for a great working environment in the comments below.