Despite the availability of Wi-Fi in most pub gardens and coffee shop patios, as well as the availability of 4G in most cities, web design is primarily indoor work. Even if you are fortunate enough to work for a company that installs natural daylight ceiling tiles and realistic AstroTurf as carpet, you still can’t really describe working for a web company as ‘outdoorsy stuff’. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to this – physical fitness and weight gain are an issue, coming to the office and sitting in the same environment day after day can lead to boredom. But at least the weather isn’t an issue, right?
Well actually it may have more of an effect than you’d think. During the recent hot spell many of us were reaching for the air conditioning control and trying not to sweat into our keyboards. But that’s a fairly universal feeling, nobody likes being too hot or too cold. For many web designers and office workers in general, the main enemy is sunlight.
Not necessarily in a shun-the-daylight attitude popular with students and teenagers worldwide, nor even the irritation of sunlight shining on a screen (looking at you here Apple – matte screens an optional extra? Really?!) but rather the feeling that comes with sitting in front of a monitor whilst outside people are walking, running, laughing and playing in the sunshine. Living life. It’s hard to escape the feeling that what you’re doing isn’t quite natural when nature is making it so apparent that you should be doing the opposite of your job.
We are happiest when it rains. Designing and coding is never better than when it’s being done with rain hammering down, lashing against the window and trickling through gutters. Knowing that the weather outside is atrocious enables us to forget about it, to disappear into the world in our heads and create our own reality instead.
Fortunately, until someone can develop a weather app that actually controls the weather, there are digital alternatives to performing a rain dance. One of the best known and most popular is rainymood.com, which also features embedded YouTube videos of entire albums (personal favourites are game soundtracks as they run for several hours and are generally instrumental – Jesper Kyd of Assassin’s Creed 2 and Hitman, and Jessica Curry of Dear Esther are highly recommended).
Also thoroughly recommended is the mobile app, Infinite Storm, a free download that not only features different varieties of rain – light, heavy, tin roof etc. – but also an option for rainforest sounds. If the rain really isn’t your thing then there are some excellent alternatives such as the excellent You Are Listening To that combines life police scanner feeds from US cities with ambient background music, perfect for your Michael Mann moments.
The ‘La Vue’ iPhone app also offers a similar service for mobile operating systems. Coming up with a great app can be as simple as combining two existing ideas into one convenient package, or finding the inspiration for something completely new and working with a web design company offering mobile app development – just don’t spend all day staring out of the window, make it rain instead.