News : May 2003
"Oranges? Oranges? Oranges and Graphic Design!"... It appears that The Chopping Block has redesigned their site. Despite laying off a lot of their talent in hard times, it appears they still have some design skills up their sleeves. (also see an old Digital Web Magazine interview with the team) [from Asterisk]
So the truth is out about the Microsoft rumor we mentioned. It appears that Microsoft will no longer make a standalone version of Internet Explorer, as we suspected. However, they will still expand and develop Internet Explorer within the Windows OS. So is it going away? No. Will you still be able to download IE for your non-windows OS? Probably not for much longer. Meanwhile AOL tries to make a deal with Microsoft to keep IE as AOL’s default browser in exchange for AOL dropping it’s lawsuit against Microsoft. [from Zeldman]
We are at the end of May and the sun is beginning to shine here in Portland. Along with the new season comes new ideas. Digital Web Magazine
Thanks to the help of Cal Henderson, we now have our own independent RSS feed. The feed runs through a PHP script that generates a new RSS file when you access it. So don't forget to update your feed readers.
D. Keith Robinson publishes a story that seems all too familiar to us. He entitles the story Death Of A Web Team (subtitle omitted). A few points I want to note here, and if it sounds like I am repeating myself, it is because I am. 1) Graphic designers and graphic design firms are not Web designers and Web firms. 2) The CEO and upper management often do not know what is best for the web site's users and more commonly than not grasp at any straw they can in desperate times (read: seek change). 3) Going from an internal web team to an external vendor is often not the best choice. On the flip side, going from an external vendor to creating a new internal team is not an easy task. 4) Rely on your instincts as a web designer, but trust the users.
More on the subject of IE kicking the bucket. I did get an unofficial and confidential response from a lead on the IE team. While I can't comment on the response directly, I can say that it's business as usual for all at Microsoft.
Here is a great article that was published in Federal Computer Week, an IT mag for the U.S. Government trade. The article is entitled "Online feng shui: Government Web sites focus on satisfying users, not designers" by Diane Frank [from Mezzoblue]
Martin Belam has published a number of multi-paged articles on search query analysis and users. The articles are How Search Can Help You Understand Your Audience and A Day In The Life Of BBCi Search. I am continually amazed at how serious the BBCi takes their web sites, I recall a BBCi presentation at the IA Summit that was simply amazing. [from GUUUI]
Nasa Glenn Research Center's Usability Engineering Team has some great resources, templates and articles on User-centered Design. Of particular interest to me was their User-centered Design process and related checklist. [from iaslash]
Dan Pouliot has created a great site that compares Mac OS X vs. Windows XP. Dan states that the site "is narrowly focused on usability for creative professionals, so its conclusions may not be true in other work environments." Neverless, the site brings the critical issues you and I debate about the two OSs to the forefront. [from LucDesk]
For those who blog. The makers of MovableType have relased a new service called TypePad. It is essentially an upcoming hosted service providing powerful tools for creating full-featured weblogs. They have also included a FAQ with screenshots for those who are interested.
Shirley Kaiser has posted some great links and resources for WWW2003 which took place in Budapest, Hungary earlier this May.
A new issue of Boxes and Arrows is out. In this issue Bob Baxley shares his experience of the 2nd Annual O
Dave Shea points out a rumor that has been circulating around in the community lately. The question at hand is, is this really the end of IE? There is no solid information stating that Microsoft will or will not create another version of IE. We do know that the developers are continuing to work on the engine that runs IE. Maybe we should concern ourselves more with answering the question of what would provide significant justification for Microsoft to ship another version of IE? I call your attention to the 6 CSS-related problems with IE6 that Craig points out and the lack of true PNG support that Jeffrey points out. I am sure there are more issues to address and more bugs to stomp, but those are the basis for a good starting point.
If you have been reading web-graphics over the last few weeks you would have seen several CSS tricks from CSS buttons to hierarchical menus and rubber headers. All of which come from a single author, Petr Stanicek (AKA Pixy), a Czech web designer and web developer. His bio states that he publishes mostly in the czech language, but we are greatful for his contributions in English.
Peter J. Bogaards publishes the presentation he gave at STC Belgium on Sharing Knowledge is Better than Having It. It is a downloadable powerpoint file, but well worth it even for just the bullet-points.
Ian Lloyd tells us about his interview with Bruce Lawson of DMXzone. Topics covered range from web standards and web development to DMXzone and glasshaus.
Here are two good articles from the folks at Port80. The first, Towards Next Generation URLs, is a very interesting piece exploring ways to use your URLs to increase usability, maintainability and security of your site. Next up is, Mask Your Web Server for Enhanced Security, explores "Web server fingerprints used by hackers to target vulnerable systems and reviews techniques to anonymize your Web."
Speak Up wants to hear what you have to say about the Job Market. Post your impressions in the comments, and read the comments from others around the country and around the world.
Some of you may have noticed that May isn't just any regular month for us here at Digital Web Magazine. On the 13th we passed the seven-year milestone for digital-web.com and to celebrate the milestone we have a great piece of cover art by Niall Macpherson. A special thanks to all of the staff who made this milestone possible. Please visit their sites and show your appreciation for this all-volunteer staff. Also in this issue we have a great feature story by the man who writes more articles in a month than most people do in a lifetime, Dirk Knemeyer. His article is about The Information Design approach to Web development. A must read for anyone who practices information design or even just web development. We will see you next week with another excellent issue. See you then.
Tim Berners-Lee has decided that the “proposed Royalty-Free Patent Policy should become the Patent Policy for W3C.” His decision comes, not so coincidentally, on the tenth anniversary of “CERN’s decision to provide unencumbered access to the basic Web protocols and software.” The move should settle earlier concerns that the W3C was going to force developers to pay royalties in order to use its Web technologies. News.com has more analysis. [from mezzoblue]
These days it seems like every web-head I know is getting married or will be soon: Jeffrey and Carrie, Mark and Dora... oh, and let's not forget Crystal and your's truly. If you are curious, it's going to be low key... no web cams, wedding blogs or anything of that sort... ok, there may be a wedding website.. but that's were we draw the line. When? August... yes, we moved it up a year. I'll keep you updated.
Jared Spool published a great article, The Quiet Death of the Major Re-Launch, about the advantages of a staged redesign approach vs. a major redesign done in one shot. I'm sure there are many of you who will find some of what he has to say very useful and while many of the examples he uses ring very true to my own experiences, I'm not sure this approach is right for every situation. Sometimes a site just needs to be torn down and built from scratch.
Tiernan Ray writes an interesting article about The Web Browser's Unfinished Basement. The thing that comes to mind here is first you need a stable platform to have a stable application, second you need to have a stable and standardized parcing engine if you want standardized code to work as expected. As Zeldman would probably tell you, we have all seen way too many fully valid pages crash various browsers for no apparent reason. [from LucDesk]
Jakob Nielsen's latest Alertbox covers the topic of Convincing Clients to Pay for Usability. Note: You should never have to convince anyone to pay for anything, the facts should be enough persausion. Of course, getting a budget for finding the facts will take some convincing.
Tara Calishain writes a brilliant article about Google and what sets it apart from the rest. More importantly, Tara asks the question: Why Try to Out-Google Google?. The only part I and other readers disagree on is that the accurate search results driven by technology and algorithms in Google is one of the most important aspects of the company's success. Without them, Google would be nothing more than a simplistic search engine (remember the mantra: form ever follows function). [from WebWord]
Keith Robinson makes some interesting points and Questions About The Future of Intranets. I think one thing that must be understood is that not everything works as simple as it does on TV. So you save a nickle, but it took you two-hundred grand to get there through unexpected problems and troubleshooting those problems.
One of the main comments users often have with the current 1998 based design of Digital Web Magazine is the right-hand navigation system. I have debated with lots of people about this. The odd thing is that the majority of sites with the same target audiance as we have often use a right-hand navigation system (see ALA, B&A, Evolt, etc.). Thankfully there was a study conducted about this matter. James Kalbach and Tim Bosenick are the authors of Comparison Between Left- and Right-justified Site Navigation Menus which sheds some light on the issue. Ultimatly it is what your audiance is most familuar with. [from Meryl's Notes]
This week's issue of Digital Web Magazine includes a great interview by Craig Saila. This time around Craig interviews Andrew B. King, author of Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization from New Riders. In this interview Craig digs right into the details of optimizing markup and web pages in general. Andrew's responses are not only detailed by also very helpful to anyone who creates web sites. We will see you next week with another great issue hot off the press.
There is a theory in the world of rock that the fans only realize how great a musician is until after they die. So is the case in the world of independent web publications. Rest in peace Hivelogic Narrative, you will be missed. [from the king himself, Zeldman]
Speaking of form trying to lead function. Brian Fling has a rather horrifying story about his experiences in dealing with an out side agency. The post is Function Follows Form. I think the root of the problem is that business executives don't fully understand that there are many types of firms out there that specialize in specific aspects of building web sites. Some try to be a jack of all trades, but often fail for several reasons. Design shops are good at design, terrable at functionality... as Brian discovers. [from Asterisk]
Beth Mazur hits a bullseye as to why we haven't already linked a very partivular article that has been floating around out there on various industry blogs. Her post is rightfully entitled What were they thinking?. As any good web designer will tell you, there is good use of Flash and there is bad use of Flash.
Digital Web Magazine's managing editor, D. Keith Robinson, publishes Story Of An Intranet Redesign -- Update. This is an update to the previous story about a project he has been working for a health industry Intranet site. Also check out his latest post Avoiding the One-Sided Triangle.
Laura Wegner of the Portland Advertising Federation has just informed me that they are now accepting entries for the 2003 Rosey Awards. Entries don't have to be just print, radio or TV, they can also be interactive media. Hurry up, the deadline for entries is June 13th, 2003.
M.O. Thirunarayanan writes a great article about clicking instead of thinking. The article is entitled From Thinkers to Clickers: The World Wide Web and the Transformation of the Essence of Being Human. Oh ya, and please do not click on any links until you finish reading this paper. [from WebWord]
Digital Web Magazine is looking for rockstar designers to develop weekly cover art. Specs are 600x300, GIF, JPG, or SWF. Audio must be controlable. Focus is web professionals (web designers, web developers, information architects... etc.). Content is up to you, but no adult stuff. Past cover artists include Thomas Brodahl, Marc Klein, Stephen Lo, Niko Stumpo, etc. Must have finished pieces ready to send. Must have a portfolio URL. No slackers need apply. When you apply send your Portfolio URL and your piece all ready to go. If, and only if, you meet the requirements above, please feel free to submit your work here.
Three great new articles at Boxes & Arrows today: Coloring Outside the Lines, Six Tips for Improving Your Design Documentation, and Views and Forms: Principles of Task Flow for Web Applications Part 1.
Scott Berkun of UIWeb.com publishes 3 great how-to articles this month: Notes for job seekers in UI Design and Computer Science, How to get the most out of conferences, How to run a design critique, all of which are great reads. [from IDblog and Xblog]
Today marks the seventh birthday of Digital-Web.com. It's been seven years and we are still publishing free content with a volunteer staff, not because we have to, but because we can and we want to. Please be sure to thank all of the staff for their hard work. We couldn't have done this without your help. More importantly, I want to personally thank all of the readers for returning week after week and for giving us good and honest feedback. We hope to continue this tradition for at least another seven years, if not more. I also want to thank my mentors, Jeffrey Zeldman and Molly Holzschlag, for their continual encouragement and support over the years. No need to send any gifts, just keep reading and keep sending in your feedback.
Macromedia's Bob Regan kicked off a new weblog on Flash accessibility. I found some of the resources quite interesting. The weblog will focus on techniques, examples, and resources on accessibility within Flash. Perhaps this will shed some light on Macromedia's claims that Flash MX is (or near) accessible. [from Web Graphics and Anitra Pavka]
WiFi for payphones: Verizon May Equip Pay Phones with Wireless Links. This could accelerate the current WiFi market and make things a lot more interesting for applying the Web to every day life. [from WebWord]
Portlanders, wondering why there haven't been a lot of posts about local technology events and user groups? This is because I have decided to keep those posts listed on another great resource called Portlandweb[dot]net. If you a Portland local, I highly suggest you bookmark this site... even more so, I highly recommend you attend the monthly meetings.
I read an article recently about visual design and the Web. The article went on to preach about benefits of eye-candy designs. I agree on the part that form always follows function... there is always form that will accompany function. The two are inseparable. However, form never equates to art for the sake of art. Form is something that plays an important role with the function. It aids the design. Design does not exist in simply the visual realm. Design encompasses the architectural and functional realm as well. The assumption by articles of this nature often leads to the user. They assume the user wants experiences like what you may receive in downtown Tokyo. Advertisements and visual stimuli come in massive doses. Can we not assume that the user is here to obtain some key and very specific information? Why not give the user an experience much like a library where everything is easy to find? These experiences do not have to contain painted tope walls and brown carpets. They can have a modernist appeal and vibrant colors, yet they will always serve the purpose of presenting information in a way that is covenant to the user. This is what separates graphic designers from web designers.
Another week, another issue. This week we introduce Linux product reviews for the first time. Contributing Author and Linux Product Review Editor Daniel J. Cody brings us a review of the Web application development environment, Quanta Gold. Folks, we are way beyond PICO, EMACS and VIM here. In addition, we have some new cover art by none other than Niko Stumpo himself. It's pretty crazy and wild, but very reflective of Niko's unique style and approach to design. Also, you will notice that the format of our newsletter has changed somewhat. We will be working on the format over the next few issues in order to make it more readable, easier to use and more organized. See you next week with another great issue.
Correction: Some time ago we linked to an article by Kiruba Shankar that talked about web site navigation. It appears that the article was plagiarized from from Adam Baker's original article on Website navigation is useful. Please correct any links and references point to the original article.
For those of you are, like me, sick of debating the short comings and benefits of CSS and what to get down to exploring all of the beautiful things you can do with it, Dave Shea introduces, and lets us all play in, his CSS Zen Garden.
Stephen Voss tells us that Portland Stories has relaunched and is now powered by MovableType which allows for stories to be easily and quickly posted. In addition there are two new stories on the site, one by Laurel Welch and another by our own Charlene Kannankeril. If you have a Portland story you would like to publish Portland Stories would love to hear from you. [from the PortlandWeb mailing list]
Lucian Millis points out a great article on a topic that web designers often overlook for one reason or another. The article is entitled Using white space in web page design and layout. I find it interesting that so many web designers feel the need to use up every inch of realestate on a page. Keep it simple, leave the whitespace.
Lou Rosenfeld talks about User experience bumpage in his latest post. I recall when I first bumped into UX as a Web Designer, more importantly, when I bumped into IA as a Web Designer. Anyway, the post is a good read, also check out the comments from Peter and others.
Digital Web Magazine is in the process of redesigning the layout of our public newsletter that we send out with each issue of the magazine. We are looking for suggestions on how to improve the over-all readability and simplify the document for all of the subscribers. Any suggestions are welcomed. Simply submit some feedback with your suggestions and we'll make sure we address those issues.
Michael Calore authors an article about Digital Photography for the Web. This article is strikingly familiar ground to most Digital Web Magazine readers, as you will recall Stephen Voss’s article On Digital Photography. Nevertheless, Michael’s piece does have value and covers other aspects of the topic. [from LucDesk]
Researchers discovered the dumbest IE Windows bug ever. Any application using the MS code engine (like IE, Outlook or FrontPage) will crash with 100% certainty on this single line of plain HTML:
Try it, it's fun.
Todd Dominey explains how to create Standards Compliant "_blank" Windows. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Zeldman explains why you should be using XHTML 1.0 transitional instead of hacking XHTML 1.0 strict to use target="_blank". Unless you are really using XHTML as XML, there should be no hard-pressed reason to use XHTML 1.0 strict. Stick with what works for your needs. Some people still use valid HTML 4.01, you know, and that works fine for their needs.
Ever post to a mailing list about a page you have created that won't work in some browsers but will in others? Often, the first responce you get is someone telling you that your page does not validate. Instead of getting frustrated and venting in the form of flamemail, try reading this post from Mark: Why We Won’t Help You.
Yes, we are a little over-due, but still kick'n. Congratulations are in order for Digital Web Magazine's Contributing Editor, Meryl K. Evans, who just had a new baby boy. I am still wondering who won the baby pool. Anyway, on to the content! As promised, Keep It Simple columnist Peter-Paul Koch returns to wrap up the second part of his piece on The Ideal Web Team. This time around he covers the server-side and client-side of the web team. See you next week with more timely content and perhaps a regular publishing schedule.
Speaking of design and art, Jeffrey Zeldman makes some good points today on the subject of art direction vs. design. It's time to stop decorating and start communicating.
Joe Gillespie tells us that the May issue of issue of Web Page Design for Designers is out. In this month's editorial you will find a very interesting perspective on how graphic design relates to the sport of boxing. One thing to note here, graphic design is not web design as much as print is not web. The things Joe point out here refer to design as a whole. A graphic designer creating designs for the web is like watching a boxing manager try to box. They may know something about the sport, but they will probably receive a painful discovery about the practice.