News : April 2003
Pixy makes some good points in his post on Web Graphics called "...to make real WYSIWYG editor." One thing that should be pointed out was the TBL's first web browser engine, Enquire (which will later evolve into the first web browser named "WWW", note the "Edit" option in the menu) actually offered editing support. In addition there have been a few browsers floating around from the past that offered the same support, however, not on a WYSIWYG level.
Meryl Evans, Digital Web Magazine's Contributing Editor, tells us that there is one new soon-to-be blogger in the world. I am sure the photos will be coming soon right here. Mom and baby are doing fine now. Congrats to the Evans family!
Christopher Schmitt has made available fifty designs to help people create better-designed headings. Some are quite simple; others push the limits of CSS-based design. Schmitt has opened the project to the public and is welcoming others to submit designs, too.
Dirk Knemeyer seems to be writing a lot these days. Most recently is an article he wrote on Web development and business goals. Starting the article out with saying "There is no one-size-fits-all 'best practices' for web development." A very good point hear. As somone who worked in a web development shop that tried to adopt the RUP model, I can safely say that it doesn't work as-is for everyone, especially if you plan to include creative solutions and practices into the model. [from InfoDesign]
Beth Mazur asks What's in a name? Her comments focus on IA and ID and where they differ. Dirk Knemeyer also makes some good points in the comments for this piece.
Peter Morville writes a great article about Trust by Design. He hits on the concepts of credibility online and commerce as well as blogs and wikis. it is a good read, trust me.
Ok, this falls under "IA tools you can use". Dan Willis has created a downloadable and printable PDF document that explains IA tools in comic book form. Yes, you read that correctly. These are actually quite handy in explaining what work and deliverables need to be done on a web site if they want it to have good information architecture. It's easier for me to just show you than to try an explain it: "IA Classics: Tools of the Trade in Comic Book Form". Also in this issue of Boxes and Arrows is an article on "Building a Metadata-Based Website" by Brett Lider and Anca Mosoiu which covers topics such as the advantages and disadvantages of a traditional CMS, the differences between metadata-based websites and a traditional CMS, some definitions and a case study.
Online magazines Scene 360 and nervousroom have teamed up for an exciting international design competition on the World Wide Web. The goal is to encourage artistic excellence in art and design through the use of on-screen presentation. With the growing development of technology, software, and hardware, they would like not only to take a moment to reflect on the web techniques you already know, but also to step beyond the computer and look at daily life for inspiration. On their official site, you can find information on the competition itself, how to enter, what you can win, and jury members
Andy King tells us that the latest edition of The Bandwidth Report has been published. The results for March indicate that broadband penetration in US homes slowed slightly this last month, never the less, it is still up 33.8% in March from 33.5% in February. In contrast, 64% of Canadian home users enjoy a broadband connection.
Digital Web Magazine's Book Review Editor, James McNally, is hosting a redesign contest for his personal site. As you know, he gets many books from various publishers and can not possibly review them all much less keep them all. So he's having this contest as a means to distribute the books and also develop a new design for his site. Great idea!
Being a huge fan of da Vinci, the following article on Good Experience sparked my interest. It is entitled "Leonardo da Vinci, Disciple of Experience" and is actually quite a good and brief read. In my view there are a few philosophies noted here; first an understanding of both technical and creative, second an understanding of the discipline not just as a creator, but as an experienced user. Ask yourself if you have that level of direct experience with the subject matter you are designing, building or drafting up. Often tasks like ethnology are overlooked or skipped because of budget or political decisions. The result is that user ends up suffering. If the user suffers, the whole project suffers.
Next tuesday marks the 10th birthday for the browser, Mosaic was the first of it's kind (well, ok, the browser WWW was technically first). News.com is running a four-day series on browsers for the event, it's entitled "Mother of invention." I highly recommend you brush up on your history. [from Saila.com]
Another week goes by and more great content is up on Digital Web Magazine. This week columnist Jeff Lash discusses several important themes and issues that were raised at this year's IA Summit in Portland, Oregon. The article is entitled "Main Themes from the 2003 IA Summit." Also in this issue I would like to welcome Brandon Edwards aboard as our new Information Architect. Brandon has already jumped in and started helping with some of the tasks that needed to get done for the redesign. We are very happy to have Brandon as part of the team and we share his excitement and motivation about the project. We'll see you next week with another new issue.
Here is a great article about Testing the Three-Click Rule. There are some very interesting findings here. Of course, this doesn't mean you should compromise every aspect of good design and information architecture in order to achieve 3-clicks for all of your content (see an old version of ICQ.com that demonstrates the point).
An interview with Jakob Nielsen in which he talks about the future of Web publishing. It's very interesting to read the views on web publishing from a usability expert. A revolution on the scale of Gutenberg? Give it a few years. [from InfoDesign]
Speaking of web design competitions, the deadline is quickly approaching for Every Day Life. ...just though it would be cool to say that... but seriously, the deadline is July 1st @ 9 PM GMT. Hurry up and get your piece in! Yours truly along with Carole Guevin, Gabe Kean, Hillman Curtis, James Widegren, Justin Fox, Michael Schmidt, Patrick Sundqvist, Richard May, and Rob Corradi will be judging the entries. Prizes will include a Monson snowboard, a one year subscription to IdN, free hosting for life from MediaTemple, DERUSH poster/t-shirt pack, 2advanced Studios poster/t-shirt pack, and a copy of Swift3D v3 by E-Rain.
The winners of the WThRemix contest (i.e. the W3C Website Redesign contest) have been posted on to the WThRemix site in addition to some details about how we judged the sites. It was by no means an easy task but we wanted to be as thorough as possible. We tested the designs in several browsers on several platforms and devices. We checked the markup and CSS in validators. We tested the accessibility in Bobby. And then we reviewed for things like overall design aesthetics, typography, use of color, appropriateness for the W3C, spirit of the standards, and so forth. Check it out. I highly recommend other contests and award shows start adopting this ciritcal approch because we all know it's easy to build a very stunning site, but it's hard to get that site to work properly anywhere and on every platform/device.
You've all heard about the Three-Click Rule of Web design right? You know, if a user clicks more than three times they're gone? Well, I don' think there are really any "rules" to good Web design, but Josh Porter of UIE has written an article about testing this one. It's a good read that looks at some of the data, assumptions and myths behind the Three-Click, ahem, "Rule."
For those in the Portland area, tonight I am going to be presenting a lecture on weblogging for the Portland Multimedia | Internet Developer's Group. More information about this event can be found here on my site. I hope to see you there.
Nathan Steiner has announced the WThRemix Winners on Web-Graphics. Detailed results will be posted on the WThRemix site later tonight. It was a fun experience judging the entries and I hope the creators had as much fun developing the sites for the contest.
Tony Ayres took some notes on Rémy Wilder's presentation on XHTML which outlined some best practices for writing XHTML documents intended for mobile devices. Note: using a HipTop will still improperly render standard compliant markup even after following these best practices (see Ian Lloyd's Why Hiptops are Harmful to Web Standards for details).
If you're like me and are interested in branding and marketing and their relationship to technology and User Interface then you'll want to read the first in what looks like a very interesting series from Cooper, Branding & the User Interface, Part 1: Brand Basics by Nate Fortin. In this first article he sets the stage for the rest of the series and goes over the basics of what makes a brand.
Speaking of redesigns, a beautiful Speak Up v2.1 has been released... in their own words: Bigger, Badder, More Gentle. For those who are not familuar with the site it is a Graphic Design community forum. The conversations are very enlightening and very professional with a lot of high level and good quality contributors. My hats off to Armin Vit and Christopher May, keep up the good work guys!
So why haven't I posted to What's New lately? Well, I have been a little busy with the redesign of Designs by Nick Finck. Check it out. All valid CSS and XHTML 1.0 with minimal graphics. I am still working out the bugs. A big thanks to Nathan Steiner, Jennifer Alvin, Cameron Barrett, Craig Saila and Cal Henderson for all of your extra help.
Over the past few days, two browsers released new versions: Opera 7.10 features a fast-forward and rewind feature, as well as a Linux build. There is no Macintosh version of Opera expected, because Apple is developing its own browser. The latest version of Apple’s speedy little browser, Safari Beta 2, was released today and offers improved standards support and tabbed browsing.
Gerry McGoveren wites about the value of good Web content in his latest New Thinking column. This might be a good one to send around the office or point your clients towards.
Cameron Barrett, pioneer of the weblog format, turns another year older today, but we will always know him as the worst driver of the bunch claiming at least one ticket in Austin only hours after entering the city. Happy Birthday Cam!
Tim Bray writes about the confusion with Semantics and Markup. If you have been using the term "Semantic Markup" often, you should probably read this article.
If you are looking for some books on cross-culture and the Internet, First Monday has some good Book Reviews up on the subject. In addition they have reviewed Andrew King's "Speed up your site: Web site optimization." and Ben Shneiderman's "Leonardo's laptop: Human needs and the new computing technologies" ...good reading by all.
Eric Meyer tells us that the CSS Master Grid is once again avilable for your use. This time around it is hosted on Netscape's DevEdge site and licensed under a Creative Commons license (specifically, Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 1.0) so that they can always be available to the community, regardless of what happens in the future. Thank you Eric and thank you Netscape!
A new issue of Digital Web Magazine is out and this one, I have a feeling, is going to strike up some conversation. Contributing author, J. Dawn Mercedes, Ph.D. writes an article entitled "Flashes of Brilliance and Use-Centered Design" which covers the topic of Macromedia's Flash and how it is used in today's industry. The doctor takes an interesting perspective on what benefits the tool has and if, in fact, it is much more than just a tool. Also in this issue Peter-Paul Koch writes up the first of a two part series on "The Ideal Web Team" which takes an in-depth look at how web teams should be organized from the perspective of an idealist. Speaking of web teams. Did you know Digital Web Magazine is in search of a volunteer information architect, contributing cover artists and staff columnists? See the details below in this post. That's all for this week, we will return next week with part two of Peter-Paul Koch's column.
Information Architect wanted:
Enjoy organizing information and building taxonomies? Can't stand it when you can't find the information you are looking for? We are looking for skilled information architects who are interested in volunteering their time to improve Digital Web Magazine's information architecture. Only those dedicated and who can commit the time needed should apply. If you are interested, please submit your resume and contact information.
Cover Artists wanted:
Love to design? Consider yourself an artistic person? We are looking for talented artists to design covers for the up-and-coming issues of Digital Web Magazine. If you are interesed please contact us. Be sure to include a link to a portfolio of your artwork as well as a direct link to the artwork you would like us to consider.
Staff Columnist wanted:
Enjoy writing? Always make your deadlines? Always remember to edit your work before sending it out? Want to be recognized as an authority on your subject? Digital Web Magazine is in search of new monthly columnists to write about the web industry. The columnist's interests determine column focus. Only committed writers need apply. Must be available to write 3,000 words every month. If you are interested, please send your contact information, portfolio URL and/or URLs to your previously published articles to us via the feedback page.
Andy King informs me that he has published an Interview with Lou Rosenfeld and Steve Krug on UX on WebReference. You read that right. An interview on the topic of User Experience with an IA expert and a Usability expert. It's very interesting to read Lou's and Steve's thoughts on this subject.
Speak Up reminds me that I haven't been getting my daily dose of Dean lately. This time around Dean writes about Quark Xpress, InDesign and the day that hell will freeze over.
Another side to standards is browser innovation, Mitchell Baker covers this topic in relation to Gecko and the Mozilla Project.
Maxine Sherrin at Westciv has informed me that they are now offering their CSS Level 2 self-paced courses for free, check it out! Here is a summary:
Aspiring standards based web developers can learn creative CSS techniques. Combining detailed explanation and illustration, extensive code examples and step by step hands on exercises, CSS Level 2 covers:
- simple and advanced uses of the CSS positioning properties
- how to combine positioning properties with other CSS box properties to create truly flexible layouts
- the use of CSS for appearance in other media, such as printing
- CSS for forms all with an emphasis on accessibility and usability.
For those who don't know, I am on the planning committee for the WebVisions conference in Portland, Oregon and we are looking for visionary designers, marketers and/or technical people in Oregon, Washington, and California that may be interested in speaking. Nothing is finalized yet; we are just coming up with a list of names. If you would be interested in speaking, please let me know soon. Note: contacting us does not guarantee we will ask you to speak at the event. All applicants are subject to a detailed review based on their work and history of speaking at events.
And the nominees are... The 2003 Webby Awards announces the Nominees. This year has a little bit more variety than in the past. Among the list is our personal favorite: Boxes and Arrows nominated in the Print and Zine catagory. Congrats to the whole team there! MovableType gets a nomination for best practices. Mena and Ben, you deserve this one. Odd Todd makes it into the Humor and Living(?) catagories. Don't forget to vote in the People's Voice Awards.
It's only a matter of time before the idea of Microsoft Vs. Google poped into someone's head: Why Microsoft Must Compete with the Google Operating System. [from Dashes]
Jeffrey Veen makes some comments on the accessibility of Flash MX, Thomas Vander Wal adds that Flash MX still has a long way to go.
Point to take home: listen to what your peers are saying, listen cloesly, don't assume you know exactly what point they are trying to make.
Another great article on Intranets and several points of considerations when designing for an Intranet vs. an Internet web site; "Worlds apart: the difference between intranets and websites" by James Robertson. [from Brainstorms and Raves]
FirstMonday publishes a great article that analyzes consumer behavior on the Web which is entitled "Consumers on the Web: Identification of usage patterns" by Nina Koiso-Kanttila. [from InfoDesign]
Peter Merholz writes about Finding the Right Users on AdaptivePath's site. I highly recommend you read this article, it will be worth your time.
For those who may be interested, the IA Tools and Technology presentation notes are now avilable online. Special thanks to Madonnalisa Chan, Bob Boiko and Andrew Hinton for participating. Also, special thanks to Christina Wodtke for inviting me and Richard Hill for making this event possible.
Another great new feature article is avilable at GUUUI entitled "Supporting customers' decision-making process" by Henrik Olsen.
There is no doubt that this month has been a very challenging month for everyone on staff, however we are back with another new issue of Digital Web Magazine after a short hiatus. Some changes with the staff line up. Meryl has moved to the role of Contributing Editor so she can focus on more important things: bringing a new life into this world. With that said a few other staff members have been given titles that more accurately reflect their involvement with the magazine since they joined the staff. Britt D. Parrott will take on the title of Editor in Chief and I will assume the title of Publisher. Also, D. Keith Robinson will move into the role of Managing Editor.
Some of you may have also noticed a shinny new logo on the pages of our site or at the SXSW Web Awards in Austin. You are not seeing things. This is the work of Kristof Saelen with some creative direction by myself and Jesse Nieminen. Kristof has taken the time to explain the process he went through to come up with the new logo in the article "The process of redesigning a logo." Also in this issue Bryan Eisenberg looks at marketing and traffic analysis in "Dear Marketer: Have you ever looked into the wrong end of a telescope?" The statistics identified in this article are shocking. That's all for this week. See you next week with another issue of Digital Web Magazine.
Meet The Makers publishes a 6 page conversation with Steve Champeon. For those who did attend the presentation at SXSW but didn't fully get the concept, Steve goes into detail about progressive enhancement. Speaking as someone who is a Web Designer, I feel his idea makes sence. Form ever follows function. We're not saying you can't have form, but it shouldn't get in the way of the function: communicating information. [from Saila.com]
Mozilla.org announced some big changes today, essentially saying the Mozilla suite (the browser, mail, chat, etc.) will no longer be its primary focus, and version 1.4 will be the next big release for its partners (i.e., Netscape 8 will likely be based on 1.4). Attention will now focus on developing a standalone browser (Phoenix), a standalone mail client (Minotaur/Thunderbird), and rejigging the application architecture to allow the individual apps to be smaller and quicker. Also on the plate: fixing some "crucial Gecko layout architecture bugs" and releasing a Macintosh version of Phoenix (Camino will continue). The organization also released Mozilla 1.4a.