Meet the Guest

Mirela Prifti

Mirela Prifti

Mirella Prifti a digital designer and co-founder at Matechs who specialize in design and functional programming consulting

Show notes

Mirela on Twitter

Matechs website

Matechs Blog post - Accessibility Checklist For Webflow Sites

Webflow accessibility checklist

No code to know code (one of my many unfinished sites!) 

a11y.space (My accessibility for Webflow site) 

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Jonathan: Apologies for the sound quality this week. But in the spirit of building public and things can only get better, I'm putting this one out there.

[00:00:07] Jonathan: Welcome to the Webflowers podcast. I'm Jonathan Holden. My guest this week is Mirella Prifti a digital designer and co-founder at Matechs who specialize in design and functional programming consulting. Mirela welcome to the show. And what's your favorite flower?

[00:00:28] Mirela: My favorite flower is the sunflower cause it's I'm not really a flowery person, but specifically sunflower brings me some very nice memories from my childhood. And also I've lived like most of my life in, in Tuscany where they have especially in the. Spring, they have lots of some flower fields very big ones.

[00:00:52] Mirela: And I always enjoyed going there though those areas and taking pictures and just enjoying, enjoying nature. So, yeah, that's why I really love this flower.

[00:01:04] Jonathan: Right. So from Tuscany in Italy now you're in, in London. How did you, how did you end up in London?

[00:01:11] Mirela: well, I've had always wanted to live in in a big city and the, in Tuscany, I lived in PISA and Florence. Oh, they're comparing to London of course, like very small towns. And yeah, I really wanted to live the, the London experience, which is. The best city experience you can gets well, except when there's the pandemic in the middle of it

[00:01:35] Mirela: yeah.

[00:01:35] Jonathan: Yeah. I mean, you, you, you, did you say you've been there three years. We were chatting beforehand. So yeah, most of that's been pandemic, so that's a definitely an interesting way to to see London or to live in London. That's for sure. Yeah.

[00:01:50] Mirela: Very interesting way. But, and especially. I had before the pandemic I had started to like go to many design events, that there were plenty of events in London,

[00:02:01] Jonathan: Yeah.

[00:02:01] Mirela: at the time, and then the pandemic came, and then everything went online, which was still, was not a completely bad thing actually, because honestly, I, I got to meet many more people online.

[00:02:17] Mirela: Thanks to online compared to when I would go to physical events. So that has been good

[00:02:22] Jonathan: Yeah, I think, I think the world is changing because of the pandemic. I think, I think people's perceptions of having to meet in person is changing. Yeah, I think it's really interest.

[00:02:32] Mirela: Especially for people who are not well, very extrovert, not very extrovert personalities. So i think get online events have been a positive thing. And

[00:02:44] Jonathan: Yeah.

[00:02:45] Mirela: to approach

[00:02:47] Jonathan: I, although I'm, I'm doing this podcast now, like I did consider myself to be quite an introvert. Talking about specific things, but I can't do small talk. It's a, it's very, very strange. So having to go and do networking and chatting to lots of different people, are I just I hate it but actually talking about a specific thing is great

[00:03:05] Mirela: exactly.

[00:03:05] Jonathan: I love it

[00:03:06] Mirela: I would have been having the same feeling. Cause when you go, wouldn't have to like only do them like this one and it's normal to go. Straight to the topic. And no one feels weird don't do like the small talk at the beginning. Why, when you actually meet people, you feel like obligated to do like that info talk.

[00:03:29] Mirela: And so.

[00:03:30] Jonathan: Yeah.

[00:03:31] Jonathan: but

[00:03:32] Jonathan: Well, wait, wait, wait. We're now five minutes into the podcast and we haven't talked about anything yet. So

[00:03:36] Jonathan: . How did you discover Webflow?

[00:03:38] Mirela: Oh,

[00:03:41] Mirela: webflow. I think everybody, everybody will remember remembers how the discovered Webflow. I wasn't, as I was speaking about design events and I was at an event here in London and there was this guy speaking so passionately about this Webflow tool that had completely changed the way he he worked at his agency and yeah, he was, he was so passionate about when speaking about it, that, that night when I got back home, first thing I did was sign up for an account. And, but I couldn't really understand it because I don't have a development background. And it was clearly, it's not the drag and drop tools. So

[00:04:21] Jonathan: Yeah

[00:04:22] Mirela: I showed it to someone someone I trust who's a developer and he just told me, go for it, but have to learn a bit of HTmL and CSS, please, the basics in order to understand the tool and use it properly, otherwise,

[00:04:39] Jonathan: Yeah I mean, that's, that's one of my things is, is you don't have to be able to write the code of HTML and CSS, but you have to be able to read it or to understand that that's what, you're doing

[00:04:49] Mirela: Yeah

[00:04:49] Jonathan: you know, from. From the elements panel, you're pulling pieces of HTML in, and then from the style panel, you're, you're doing the CSS.

[00:04:58] Jonathan: And once that, once that clicked with me, once I understood that that's what was going on, it all suddenly became much easier. Yeah.

[00:05:06] Mirela: Exactly it not only becomes easier, but just it all suddenly makes sense, because especially when you come from other tools, like I was been like many years ago being using like Adobe illustrator then of course XD and Figma.

[00:05:22] Mirela: And when I openedWebflow again, as I said, everything started to make sense and it has been a very nice ride from, from there actually.

[00:05:31] Jonathan: Yeah, yeah, I a couple of years ago I started writing a website called no code to no code. And so N O code to K N O W code. And I didn'tget very far with it, but it really helped me cement that idea of HTML and CSS and what we're doing

[00:05:49] Mirela: And what

[00:05:50] Mirela: Jonathan? How, how did it get to know what flow

[00:05:53] Jonathan: I needed, oh, that's a beautiful segue. You don't realize it. I needed to build a website that was web content, accessibility guidelines standards. So yeah, it had to be an accessible website and I I was building it for a, an organization that works with children with special needs and disabilities and they.

[00:06:17] Jonathan: Would need to take the thing over and do the work, do the work. And I was looking at WordPress and thinking well I could use a WordPress theme and stuff, but okay. Let's not talk about WordPress. And then I looked at some other builders and Wix at the time was, was no good for for, for accessibility.

[00:06:37] Jonathan: They've really made strong gains over the last couple of years. It's been wonderful to see. Er Squarespace is not great. I found one that was called Duda, which was just remarkable name for a, for a piece of software. That was just terrible. And I found Webflow and the penny, the penny dropped. I understood that actually you can quite easily build a fairly accessible, and if you work a little bit at it, a very accessible website.

[00:07:06] Jonathan: that's how I got into, into web flow, just because I needed to do the accessibility side of things.

[00:07:15] Jonathan: And you already interested in accessibility as well. So let's talk about that for a minute. Cause, you you did a little blog post back in October about the accessibility web checklist why, why are you interested in accessibility? Why does it

[00:07:29] Mirela: Well I find that Webflow opens the door to like a broad range of knowledge, and then it's up to you what, what you can or what to do with it. And also I've been at the beginning of my say web design career I reached out to a few people that I will follow online just to ask for feedback. And especially one of them, whenever I would send like, interfaces, like my work to her her and I would expect like comments, like how it looks, how it feels her only comments were about accessibility.

[00:08:02] Mirela: Well, the contrast

[00:08:04] Mirela: is not, is not correct. Well, you need to put the label here and. It's such a different feedback from everybody else.

[00:08:12] Jonathan: Yeah

[00:08:13] Mirela: this helped me well learning about accessibility. It's not just like using it as a keyword or just as an extra service. It helps you become a better designer and it helps you understand actually how web pages are built and how you should build them so that they are that are accessible for everyone.

[00:08:36] Mirela: And when we say accessible, not just for people who have a permanent disability, But everyone can have like a temporary disability and able to use any digital devices. So yeah, so that we can make

[00:08:50] Mirela: Yeah no, I mean, it. If you, if you break an arm and you can't use your mouse, or if you, if, even if you're just on your mobile phone, outside and on a sunny day, can't see the contrast on the screen, can't use the website. And that's exactly what we're talking about with accessibility Yeah.

[00:09:07] Mirela: Yeah.

[00:09:08] Mirela: So yeah, as I said at the time from that feedback, so that led me to explore more of the topic and then actually yeah. Gets the importance of accessibility. And then I have to be honest like among the Webflow people that we know online, I guess you are the only one who is consistent about accessibility and yeah.

[00:09:32] Mirela: That's

[00:09:33] Jonathan: I think they call it nagging.

[00:09:35] Mirela: well, I don't wanna say that but it's I think. It's a really important, not just the topic it's, it should be part of every every web project. So it's not like a separate topic that you can include it or not. So

[00:09:50] Jonathan: Absolutely. I mean, it's a web standard. I mean and I always like to say, you know, Tim Berners Lee who invented the world wide web says, you know, the web is for everyone and the moment we start putting barriers to people to, to, to stop them accessing the web, that's down to us. That's our problem.

[00:10:09] Jonathan: We're doing that. And and we really shouldn't be, so, yeah, it's does take a bit of work and it's, you know, I mean, but Webflow have been absolute stars? You know, there'd been hiring devs who, who have disabilities, you know, who live the life. And they know, you know, what these problems cause, and and it's just wonderful to, to see the way that Webflow has really got into

[00:10:35] Mirela: Oh I didn't know that. I noticed

[00:10:37] Jonathan: yeah.

[00:10:38] Mirela: manimprovements on on the platform compared to two years ago, for example. Yeah, but I didn't know the story behind it. So

[00:10:45] Jonathan: Yeah.

[00:10:45] Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah, no, they they've been absolutely really proactive. I mean, to the extent that some, some people are complaining, know, why aren't you bringing out real real features instead of all this accessibility

[00:10:57] Jonathan: you just scratch your head to say okay

[00:10:59] Jonathan: and say, okay, fair enough. Wait till November, when when, when we get memberships and stuff.

[00:11:03] Jonathan: And I think, I think, you know, Vlad, I don't know whether you saw his, Quarter talk saying very much about, you know, well, we're working on the structures right within system so that we can move it forward, much, much faster. So I'm very excited what's coming up. But it is great that yeah, that accessibility really has been pushed really hard.

[00:11:27] Jonathan: And

[00:11:27] Mirela: and

[00:11:28] Jonathan: it's

[00:11:29] Jonathan: Yeah

[00:11:29] Mirela: and you would take like the mission and the burden of creating awareness among other Webflowers. As you call it about accessibility

[00:11:39] Jonathan: yeah, I mean, it's, I don't, I don't see it as a, as a burden. I see it as a privilege but sometimes, but sometimes it does feel you're you know, hitting your head against a brick wall That's sure That's for sure

[00:11:51] Jonathan: Sometimes

[00:11:51] Mirela: it feels like you are annoying people, right?

[00:11:56] Jonathan: Well, I mean I It's funny Cause somebody posted outside of the Webflow circle, somebody posted a a lovely tweet, which had lots of characters. That made some smoke that then went into the, to the image that they had posted as well. And somebody else posted, you know, well, yeah, it's all very nice, but it's not accessible.

[00:12:18] Jonathan: And, I was like, yeah, you're right. It's not accessible, but it's very lovely if you can see it. So I think, you know, I think you have to decide who your audience is and sometimes yeah. doing something creative mean that it's not necessarily accessible. But well, okay. Yeah. Let's, let's make sure the the core services that we're providing are accessible.

[00:12:43] Jonathan: That's that's the, the important thing

[00:12:45] Mirela: But I don't think, yeah, designers shouldn't underestimate the importance of accessibility because for example, I've been doing like some projects for some charity organizations here in the UK

[00:12:56] Jonathan: Yeah

[00:12:56] Mirela: they really care a lot about accessibility. So that has been like really a smooth process for me. Cause I didn't have to learn what accessibility is.

[00:13:07] Mirela: And I was when I published the the blog past the accessibility checklist. I was contacted by a Webflow designer that he had like a project that client required some accessibility features to be present to the project. And yeah, he didn't know what to do, where to start. And so he would have who use my my blog posts to understand what to do for accessibility.

[00:13:29] Mirela: And yeah, as I said, I'm the title of the post is Accessibility Checklist . But it shouldn't be like, literally be a checklist. It should be of course, part of your design process from the, from the start to the end.

[00:13:43] Jonathan: Yeah It needs to be part of the workflow not something that you put on at the end Yeah.

[00:13:48] Mirela: I have to be honest that was like a nice keyword to use. So

[00:13:52] Jonathan: oh, yeah,

[00:13:53] Mirela: yeah.

[00:13:55] Jonathan: I see. SEO is important as well

[00:13:57] Mirela: Webflow uses also.

[00:13:59] Jonathan: Mirella, we're going to have to take a break for a moment. But we'll be back after this message

[00:14:02] Jonathan:

[00:14:06] Jonathan: Thanks to octopus.do , that's Octopus dot D O . Octopus do helps everyone involved in web development achieve their goals faster with swift, clear and organized site maps.

[00:14:20] Jonathan: welcome back to the web flowers podcast. I'm here with Mirella Prifti,

[00:14:24] Jonathan: From Matechs,

[00:14:25] Jonathan: Mirela, tell us,

[00:14:26] Jonathan: Tell us about what Matechs does.

[00:14:29] Mirela: It is a consulting company. We're based in London. And as we say, we like to solve business problems, leveraging the power of functional programming and design. And a lot of our core work is based on functional programming projects. So we are, we provide consulting and specifically training work.

[00:14:51] Mirela: It's two different kinds of tech companies when it comes to there, when companies that want to use functional programming in TypeScript specifically, which is our niche and or from testing front-end testing, for example, for people who, for companies, for example, gaming in the gaming industry that have, that have the QA program.

[00:15:15] Mirela: As a core part of the development the software development process. So it's this is what would we focus the most and myself, I manage design project because sometimes we also have like internal projects that we do, like a small web apps.

[00:15:29] Jonathan: Yup

[00:15:30] Mirela: Or and when I found Webflow, of course, I've been focused a lot on Webflow projects and I use it not just for a website as a website builder, but also to prototypes web applications and different kinds of interfaces and try different ideas so itself

[00:15:45] Jonathan: Yeah. I mean, that's, that's the great thing about, about building direct in Webflow is that you can actually make things, function how you want them to. So, but yeah, but I, I need to go back a little bit because cause I'm afraid I'm not a programmer. So what, what does functional programming mean?

[00:16:01] Jonathan: What, what does that look like for us no coders?

[00:16:04] Mirela: oh well, I'm not a developer either, so but it's, yeah, it's like a branch of function of software development, which is a more Methods of methods of programming and yeah, that's why we, we provided it's also quite new and not many companies are aware or know the benefits of it. That's why there's a need for these kinds of trainings that we provide.

[00:16:30] Mirela: And you can use this method using different kinds of language of programming languages. Like we do trainings in TypeScript or. Scala, for example. And yeah, but it is really for hardcore developers. So I don't think our Webflowers would be interested maybe in this part of but we also do in joining this kind of program also workshops for, for a web-based interface in Webflow, then we can use the prototypes, any product ideas.

[00:17:02] Jonathan: okay. Yeah. All right.

[00:17:03] Jonathan: So Mirela what what are your tips or tricks for other Webflowers?

[00:17:08] Mirela: Well, tips and tricks when I remember myself at the beginning whenever something that I've found really useful is that whenever you stuck on something, instead of just searching on, in, on the internet, how to do it in a web flow. So for example, the sticky position, which is one of the trickiest ones to to master, just research about sticky positions.

[00:17:29] Mirela: Yeah. And see go to like overstep flows. So it's go to other resources and not just to what flow resources and if it's like an HTML or CSS issue, I found that there are some like stack overflow has been really, really helpful in finding maybe yeah, some other. The smart ways to, to solve a specific issues, have to do specific stuff in in Webflow.

[00:17:54] Mirela: So just, yeah, don't limit yourself on what the resources, because there are very few upload resources compared to of course what you can find on the internet. And of course, if you have a mentor and if you have someone that can can direct you in what whenever you were stuck with anything. Very very helpful.

[00:18:14] Mirela: And if you really want small tips and tricks, you should follow me on sweets. It goes, sometimes I publish stuff. Yeah.

[00:18:21] Jonathan: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think the mentor thing is quite interesting because I think, a lot there's an awful lot of small company. Yeah. A one man band who would actually find having somebody to mentor quite useful. I've I've just got myself an intern and

[00:18:41] Jonathan: she's doing a lot of the of simple build stuff. And that's freeing up my time to be able to push myself and start looking recently, I've been getting into SVGs and making a real mess of things. And as you say, you just have to sort of search the whole or the internet, get to to get that information. But it's been really helpful. Just to be able to push myself and learn new, new things rather than just doing the same thing over and over for each client.

[00:19:12] Jonathan: yeah, I think, I think there are opportunities for people either through Facebook or through Twitter or whatever, to, to, to link up with somebody and offer to do a bit of work for them. In return for, you know, some, some guidance and mentoring Yeah. I think that's a good one

[00:19:28] Mirela: have to be like a stable mentoring relationship. As I said at the beginning the person that really influenced, influenced me the most and she doesn't even know it. And we just had this we exchanged messages a few times, but she really impacted the way I think about my work when it came to disability and with just a few feedbacks she completely changed the, the direction of how I think now about building,

[00:19:54] Jonathan: yeah.

[00:19:54] Mirela: building interfaces. So yeah, even if it's just like an occasional, like if you go to ADP list and talk to someone once in a while, that would be that that's beneficial. Or if you join of course communities, the, Webflow community is really welcoming.

[00:20:12] Jonathan: It's it's amazing. And that's of the reasons I wanted to do the, Webflowers podcast, because there are so many fabulous people to talk, to get their stories from and they're all using Webflow in different ways. And it's just, it's lovely to see Yeah, it's fantastic.

[00:20:28] Mirela: The Webflow community is of part of As we always say that Webflow is a life-changing life changing tool and not just when it comes to work projects, but also the community behind it, because yeah, I I've known people from the community that whom I talk to every day, you know, The personal stuff, not just work stuff where it was.

[00:20:50] Mirela: So it's been, it's very amazing community. So.

[00:20:54] Jonathan: Yeah. I mean, it's incredibly supportive. It's incredibly supportive. I think that's, that's one theme that I'm gonna gonna hit every, every podcast. You know that somebody's gonna say yeah, the community. That's what it's all about. Yeah. Brilliant. Well, Mirela it's been absolutely fabulous talking to you.

[00:21:10] Jonathan: Thank you so much for your time. What, what does the future hold for you? Do you think.

[00:21:15] Mirela: Thank you, Jonathan. Well of course I, as everyone, I always try to push my boundaries and I'm really looking forward to when it comes to. Webflow of projects to build scalable projects. So now for example, I'm working on a knowledge center that we're going to plan and build everything in Webflow, and we'll see how.

[00:21:39] Mirela: How the project is going to scale and how the platform, the platform is going to handle it. So yeah, we will push the boundaries of Webflow, I guess, with this

[00:21:47] Jonathan: Is

[00:21:47] Jonathan: Is that something that that maybe the, the, the memberships, when it comes along is going to be helpful for where you've got different people adding, adding stuff to this knowledge base. I don't know.

[00:21:58] Mirela: we will see. Membership feature is going to evolve because at least I don't know anything about it

[00:22:06] Jonathan: No me neither

[00:22:07] Mirela: I signed up for the better, but never haven't gotten an email, so it's

[00:22:11] Jonathan: right

[00:22:13] Mirela: it's still a mystery, but yeah, I will see I really liked CMS features I wanted to see where, how far we can go with Webflow when it comes to to managing content.

[00:22:25] Mirela: So I'd like to know about

[00:22:27] Jonathan: Brilliant Okay. Yes please do. All right. Maybe we'll, I'll get you back on in six months when we've, when we've all had a chance to look at memberships, so, yeah. Brilliant. Mariela thank you so much for your time. And I will see you shortly. I'll certainly see you around on, on Twitter and, and the

[00:22:45] Jonathan: groups Alright

[00:22:47] Mirela: me

[00:22:47] Jonathan: Thanks for your time

[00:22:47] Jonathan: Cheers Cheers. Bye-bye.

[00:22:52] Jonathan: Sorry, I'm a distracted. I'm going to have to edit this bit out.

[00:23:06] Mirela: What happens.

[00:23:07] Jonathan: My mother-in-law's walked through the corridor and now she's in the kitchen. Hopefully she's going to stay in the kitchen.

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