News : July 2003
It's the last week of July and we are experiencing record highs but that doesn't mean work grinds to a halt. This week on Digital Web Magazine product review editor, Jesse Nieminen, returns with a great review Extensis Mask Pro 3, a powerful masking plug-in for Photoshop. Also, don't forget about the special offer from WestCiv for their StyleMaster 3 CSS editor avilable only to newsletter subscribers. Well, it's about time for some lemonade sampling. See you next week.
Another great article by Dirk Knemeyer surfaces at Thread: "Communication: Critical to good design." One of the things he notes is the Stanford University study that revealed that 46.1 percent of all research participants judged the credibility of presented websites on the appeal of the overall visual design. For some reason, I can't help but notice that the design of the Thread site seems to confirm this theory for me.
One of my favorite web resources, Brainstorms and Raves, redesigns. Same great product, new minty fresh design. Looks great Shirley!
Two great articles have been published on Boxes and Arrows this week. The first is "Report Review: Nielsen/Norman Group's Usability Return on Investment" by Peter Merholz and Scott Hirsch. The article picks apart the report and gives valid points with the issues they found in the data and case studies. Also in this issue is an article about "Web Traffic Analytics and User Experience " by Fran Diamond. I find this article very interesting and timely. Some of the main topics at themes at this week's Web Design World were underscored by the fact that there is a lot of data that tells us about our web sites and our site's visitors that we have yet to even look at to help imporve the experience the user gets when visiting our sites. Hats off to Christina, Erin, Brenda and team for producing another great issue.
Just got back from Web Design World. It's only been a few days, but there is a lot of work to catch up on. Meanwhile if you didn't get a chance to see it in person, you can review the presentation here: The Why and How of Blogging.
Jakob Nielsen tosses his two cents at the use of PDFs of the web. They're a sticky issue that seems to pop up with way to much frequency, at least in my experience. A solution he offers is to create gateway pages that offer a summary, file information and the like for each PDF on your site. Sounds good in theory, but since part of the reason we use PDF in the first place is to save us time converting documents to (X)HTML, that would kind of defeat the purpose. If I'm going to take the time to do that, I'll just convert the document to (X)HTML, thanks. Toward the end he makes a strong point that I can get behind. "Use PDF for what it's good at: Printing."
Sessions.edu released their revised Web Design I course written by Christopher Schmitt. This completely revised course delivers a holistic approach that teaches visual design but also project planning, usability, business practices, current styles, as well as building with Web standards like CSS and XHTML.
Just about ready to leave town for Web Design World, I will be giving a presentation on The Why and How of Blogging which focuses on Business Blogs. I hope to see you there. Postings to this What's New blog may be sparse until Wednesday.
There is nothing more generous than blogging for 24 hours straight with posts every 30 minutes. Yes, that's right, it's time for the annual Blogathon. The Oregonian has an excellent write-up on the event, of course the failed to mention the URL but we aren't complaining: Bloggers let their fingers do the helping (note, annoying demographic check before you can read the article). Some have asked why I haven't signed up this year, well, it's simple really, I am a judge and I am afraid I would be too biased towards my own blog if I were participating. Don't forget to sponsor your favorite blogger.
For those who don't know, former managing editor for Digital Web Magazine and good friend of mine Meryl Evans is getting cochlear implants. She tells her story day by day on her Bionic Ear Blog. Meanwhile Eric Meyer tells us about SpeakThis, an aural-CSS supporter. Just some accessibility things to consider when designing your own site, not everyone can see or hear the experiences you are creating.
It appears that we missed a birthday. In all the chaos that came with the preparation for WebVisions 2003, it appears that James McNally's site Consolation Champs celebrated its third birthday and it's 100,000th visitor. Congrats! For those who don't know, James is Digital Web Magazine's book review editor and a very talented writer.
Jeffrey Veen gives a few simularities between what he and his wife, Leslie, do. In addition, he has included some of the most important parts of his presentation. If you walked away from his keynote with anything stuck in your mind, this would be it: Didactic Presentation. Look back and see how in the mid to late '90s we pushed the pendulum hard to get some momentium but then it came crashing back. Soon the pendulum will come to rest in the center and we can go back to doing what we do best: being the craftsmen and craftswomen of the web.
For those who are interested, Jeffrey Veen has put his WebVisions 2003 presentation online as a PDF and SIT for you to download: Beyond Usability (PDF - 6.1M) and if you like, here is the 10.1M SIT file. Mark Newhouse's presentation is also available online in HTML format (best viewed in a modern browser): CSS, Markup and Standards. We will post links to the other presentations as they become available.
If you're a Mac OS X user and have been looking for a CSS editor, head on over to WestCiv, creators of StyleMaster3, which is available for Mac and Windows. I have been using it on OS X for a week or so and love it. They also have some great CSS tutorials on their site and were the original host for the CSS-D discussion list.
“The Web is still an exciting place!” to paraphrase Jeffrey Veen, who gave an excellent and upbeat keynote presentation to help wrap-up WebVisions 2003 in Portland, Oregon. I sat at the Digital Web booth during the event, along with Nick, but was able to catch all the great presentations thanks to our choice table location. Everyone else is now at the post-conference party, while I sit at home. Well, I do have a good reason to come home as quickly as possible.
Less than six hours until setup begins for WebVisions 2003, which means I got to get to bed. But first, I want to say thanks to everyone who has helped out to make this year even bigger and better than any year before. To the presenters, speakers, sponsors, staff, volunteers, exhibitors, web sites, artists, writers, editors, reporters, Aura, the OCC and the city of Portland... thank you for making this possible.
Here is a a great article about MoBlogging: "Moblogs Seen as a Crystal Ball for
This week is the final week for a series of interviews with WebVisions speakers. This week Craig Saila interviews the keynote for WebVisions 2003, Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path. Also in this week I have interviewed the director of WebVisions, Brad Smith of Hot Pepper Studios. You probably already know that there is only one more day left to pre-register for WebVisions 2003. However, what you may not know is that the first 200 people through the doors at WebVisions will receive a special surprise in their conference bags from Digital Web Magazine. It's been a lot of hard work from a lot of talented people to get WebVisions off the ground... we are looking forward to a little break after this week passes. I hope to see you at the event, if not we will see you next week with more great content.
Macromedia has announced a new version for Contribute, a content management solution for HTML-sites. Contribute is not a tool for Web professionals that build sites that have full-fledged CMS. However, it's a well-priced solution for sites large (like departments in universities) and small (local business wanting brochure-ware) where the people in charge of the content don't want to learn about HTML or care about installing an FTP application (much less care what it means) on their computers. What's new in this version? Well, how about a Mac OS X version? Yes...finally, there's a version for Mac owners.
Today, America Online killed Netscape. (News.com reports about 50 people were laid off.) The Mozilla project lives on thanks to the newly created Mozilla Foundation which AOL has given US$2 million and the related intellectual property. Mitch Kapor is chairing the foundation (and has donated US$300,000), and Red Hat and Sun will be supporting it as well. No word on whether IBM’s and HP’s associations with Mozilla will continue.
Matthew Haughey has authored a great article about going Beyond the Blog. In this article he writes about how he extended the use of Movable Type for wholelottanothing.org and other sites. A great read if you want to expand your blog.
A lot of conferences hype up early bird registration and so forth, but believe me when I say this I am not doing this for hype... I am doing it to ensure you get a seat. It turns out that pre-registration to WebVisions 2003 is up 51%. That information in itself doesn't sound like much, but when you couple it with the fact that the fire marshal will only allow around 500 people in the keynote space, you have yourselves a situation where it's really first come first serve. So, word to the wise, pre-register while you can.
If you haven't read Jesse James Garrett's essay The Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams, you should probably go an read it now. An excellent article that hits on the topic of what really makes a good web team (something we have seen lacking in many companies since in good times and bad)... oh, and yes there is a beautiful JJG Diagram(tm)... no word yet on a book evolving from the diagram.
Peter Morville has authored a great article on International Information Architecture. This topic has come up from time to time between IAs for various reasons. Peter has some great insights into the issue. [from AIFIA]
Some of you may or may not be familuar with Chris McEvoy. For those who are not, he runs a few sites, one of them is called Usability Views. The site essentially archives, ranks and timelines various publications on the web from a Usability standpoint. Digital Web Magazine has recently made itself into the Most Articles list with 204 indexed articles on the site. In addition, yours truly has made it into the Userati list as well as several other Digital Web Magazine authors and staff. See how Digtial Web Magazine articles stack up in popularity. Not that rank and ratings are everything, heck its an honor just to be listed among such a stellar group of experts.
For the first time in three years something has happened in browser land. In fact, major events have started happening at a breathtaking pace. Time for a long overview that tells the whole story.
Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues on Evolt.
Keith Robinson's site, Asterisk, has it's first birthday. He has highlighted some of the best posts from the last year. Congrats Keith!
Well, I can say it was only a matter of time before something like this came around. NITLE Weblog Census. I hope there will be an IA census soon, or better yet, that the U.S. Census includes options for IAs, Web Designers, Web Developers, etc. in the next census. [from OnFocus]
John Gruber makes some excellent points in his meandering article about the independent web publisher vs. the corprate publisher. In the article which John calls Independent Days he hits on the subject of ads for the independent writer. I agree that a writer should not be ashamed of asking for contributions for their material, however I believe John's being pretty optimistic about the amount of income generated through such means. All in all, it's a great article about what sites like Digital Web Magazine are all about, giving back to the community in the spirit of the web. John, if we had money to send and didn't have the up and coming wedding, we'd send it. As always, Keith has some great comments on the article.
This week is part three of a series of interviews with WebVisions speakers. This week Jeff Faulkner of DeepPlay.tv has the spotlight in and interview by Craig Saila. Also in this issue Jesse Nieminen reviews Toon Boom Studio for Mac. Only one more week left before WebVisions 2003. If you are going to be in the Portland area, swing by and visit us in booth 14 on the tradeshow floor. See you next week.
Well, it looks like Digital Web Magazine isn't the only site posting entire blog entires in it's RSS feed. Richard Rutter notes that RSS feeds are used for offline reading. I don't know about you, but this is how I use them.
Day three of OSCON (day two for me). I meet up with Britt and Cam today. Tim O'Reilly's keynote was inspiring as ever. I also managed to hear Adam Trachtenberg (buy his book, help the unemployed) talk about Web Services in PHP. Cam has the notes. Following that and lunch I heard Simon St. Laurent's presentation on Microsoft Office 2003 and XML (no, it's not what you think, hell did not freeze over.) which was actually pretty interesting considering the volume of Word DOC files Digital Web Magazine has to deal with day in and day out. Again, Cam has the notes on this presentation.
Doug Bowman redesigns Adaptive Path's site. The design is, of course, CSS driven and valid. Doug explains all on his site, StopDesign, in a piece entitled The New Path. This is StopDesign's first major public project since the redesign of Wired News with a CSS layout.
Keith Robinson makes some excellent points about giving the client what they need, not what they want. He focuses his discussion around Flash and clients that believe it makes their site appear more professional than a non-Flash site. While we all know this to be false, the client is, well, the client. Do you go with the flow or try to spend your time educating the client. All good points. The article is entitled "The Problem With Flash..." All in all, Flash won't make your site appear more professional by itself. It is a good designer who knows when to and when not to use various tools of the trade to makes a site look professional.
Today was the first day for the O'Reilly Open Source Software Convention 2003 (AKA OSCON). Arriving a bit late I managed to bump into Brian Aker before getting a bite to eat. Today was a short day for me but I did manage to attend the PHP and Flash tutorial by Laura Thomson and Luke Welling. Yes, they did talk a bit about MING (by Dave who happens to be a Portlander these days as I understand it but didn't manage to make it to OSCON). It was actually pretty interesting how you can pull dynamic data right into Flash using PHP. The bonus is that this is much more reliable (read: stable) than using Flash Remoting.
There has been a lot of discussion about Microsoft and their decision to no longer release a stand-alone Internet Explorer browser. Coupled with that is the impact this decision may have on Web Standards. You can read comments from Eric Meyer, WASP, IA Slash, ZDnet, Brainstorms and Raves and IDblog. My opinion is that I don't feel this will effect standards, however I do feel it will affect the way we build web sites in the distant future. There will always be new browsers, there will always be new versions of those browsers and with it there will always be bugs in the implementation of those browsers and how they interpret web standards. This is why Progressive Enhancement is so important to the future of web design (see the original presentation here).
In light of the up and coming U.S. holiday, the crew here at Digital Web Magazine has decided to take a week off from publishing articles. New articles and interviews will be published next week.
Another excellent article by Keith Robinson, "FOCUS - On The User" How often we forget that there are legions of people out there who do not spend most of their time surfing the web, reading web sites, using web applications, interacting with web interfaces and so forth.
Peter Merholz writes a great article about the fact that Usability != User Experience. One the same note, Leff Lash wrote that Usability is not IA either. Maybe usability is just, well, usability? Another case of the media getting ahold of the term before they really understand what it is about.
Keith Robinson has a few things to say about Managing Content and Content Management Systems (CMS). "Management of content is an essential skill that is often completely overlooked or even worse, placed into the wrong hands." ...I couldn't agree more.
Peter Morville points out a great article by Clay Shirky which is the edited version of a keynote he gave at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference in Santa Clara on April 24, 2003: A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy.
Joe Gillespie writes a excellent article about Selling Your Ideas. "It's all very well coming up with wonderful designs but if you can't sell them to your client, things can get very frustrating - and expensive. This month's article examines how this happens and what you can do to to avoid such embarrassing and costly situations."