News : September 2003
Toward a Weblogging Empire: Jason Calcanis is back - and what's he doing now? Pushing Weblogs for Business, through his company WeblogsInc. It will be interesting to see where this little venture takes off - considering many have scoffed at the idea of making a big buck off a blog.
Calling all storytellers - Derek Powazek tells me that Fray Day 7 is just around the corner. For those who don't know, Fray Day 7 is an annual celebration of true personal storytelling that's taking place in 13 cities worldwide October 3-5. So come to the event nearest you to hear true stories told live and in person. Each event includes featured performances, interactive art, live music, and a storytelling open mic - so bring a story to tell! For more details visit the Fray Day website.
Version Control - Like Macromedia, Adobe has now joined the rat race to rename all of its products from numbered versioning to lettered versioning. Enter the Adobe Creative Suite. I really don't think this is going to do much more than confuse customers, especially those who are exploring new tools... though, I am not really a fan of launching things with versions like AOL does, especially versions of sites. I prefer several subtle changes progressively over time, much like what Keith is doing. For those who have paid real close attention to Digital Web Magazine over the years, you will notice we are always changing things and improving the overall functionality of the site. [from WebGraphics]
Ok, I have seen a lot of color pickers and color tools on the Web in my time but this has to be one of the handiest tools around. Petr Stanicek has created a very useful Color scheme picker. You can chose base colors and complements, split complements, double contrast, monochromatic, and analogic. After that you can dig in deeper and refine the scheme by clicking on the hex color to the right. Additionally it allows you to select regular vision as well as the various types of color blindness. Bookmark this one! [from InfoDesign]
Lou Rosenfeld has developed a Enterprise IA Roadmap that describes which aspects of the enterprise's architecture should be developed and when. The roadmap also happens to include K-logs and KM. I have talked about K-logs before and this only goes to show just how closely joined blogging and IA really are.
Dirk Knemeyer finishes the second part of his article on The Power and Future of the Web: Maximizing Opportunity. Part two covers The Future of the Web. He makes some very good points here. See what he has to say about where we are going and what the future of the Web will actually be about.
Lou Rosenfeld tells us that the AIfIA is looking for feedback on how they might support local IA groups. To help them out, they are asking for you to take a short survey so they can find out what level the interest is and what is needed. Please take a moment to fill it out and feel free to share the link with anyone in the industry.
This is what happens when: Joe Clark writes about Weblogs and ISSNs; East Coast motorcycle gangs need logos made; people send a badge to Heather; you bring krispy kremes to Yahoo!; Joel designs his office; kids listen to Radiohead; muggles try to copy wizard technology; and you become a link horder.
Congratulations to Joy and Thomas Vander Wal on the birth of William James Vander Wal.
Yesterday, the W3C launched a Patent Advisory Group “to study issues ... raised by the court case of Eolas v. Microsoft.” There’s a mailing list for public discussion, a home page which presumably will track the group’s activities and announcements, and a FAQ. (From Z.)
This week’s issue of Digital Web Magazine focuses on the Soft Skills for Information Architecture. In his IAnything Goes column, Jeff Lash writes a great article about the other success factors that come from good IA; dealing with conflict, negotiating, and communicating. This is a well-written and useful article for any IA and even non-IA practitioners in the industry. And speaking of success factors from good IA, Digital Web Magazine needs your help. We are looking for a few good readers who are interested in taking part in a focus group and usability tests. If you are interested, please contact us via our site’s feedback form. See you next week with another issue of Digital Web Magazine.
You can now watch Tim Berners Lee's presentation, The Future of the World Wide Web, for The Royal Society via video on demand. His prentation covers the basis of how the Web began and hits on topics such as accesibility, information design, interoperability and what's next for the Web. [from InfoDesign]
AIfIA launched its IA Tools initiative today. The Tools are a collection of model templates and deliverables that can be used by information architects to help sell IA services to clients. You may also want to check out the notes from the IA Tools presentation at last year's IA Summit in Portland, Oregon. The group of us have put together quite an extensive list of tools that help you with creating deliverables and web site IA in general.
Google recently unveiled a test version of a new search by location yesterday. The new service is derived from web page analyzation that helps to determine location. You can try it out, but, as Google warns, it is still in development and may be offline at any time.
Jeffrey Zeldman has announced the redesign of A List Apart. This will be the third iteration of the site. I was given the change to see a sneak preview of the site and it is amazing. Jeffrey says he has some fine-tuning left to do and as soon as that is done the new design will be available to everyone. It is clear to me that a lot of hard work and time was put into the redesign, but I am sure you will like it as much as I do.
Louis Rosenfeld has announced a call for papers for the IA Summit in Austin, Texas on February 27th through February 29th, 2004. If you are interested in presenting at the IA Summit here is your chance. The deadline for submissions is October 31st, 2003. [from AIFIA]
Andy King tells us that he has published the September Bandwidth Report. Key points: US broadband penetration jumped 1.09% in August to 38.9%, up from 37.8% in July. 61.1% of wired US users have narrowband connections. Iceland leads all countries in Internet subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
From the great minds of Dan Gillmor and David Weinberger comes WordPirates. WordPirates is a site devoted to reclaiming abused words from marketers, politicians and other short-sighted, self-interested, sticky-fingered people.
I know web developers who have spent their entire life trying to do this using any technology they could without bloating the page. Daniel Sheppard makes it look so simple, it's disgusting. Congrats to Daniel for winning the Design Challenge, it is well deserved.
Add yet another definition of Information Architecture. This one comes from the Devil's Dictionary itself, apparently contributed by Greg Knauss and Matt Haughey. I tend to believe that IA doesn't bring up the price, but rather charges the correct price to set apart the professionals from the high school students running web design shops out of their parent's garage. [from LouisRosenfeld.com]
Michael Angeles publishes a great presentation he gave to the Usability Professionals Association on September 16th, 2003 about Blogging in Corporate America. The presentation itself is a 5 megabyte PDF file, so have Acrobat and a magazine handy. [from A Klog Apart]
While we were out last month the W3C had released a candidate recommendation for OWL (Web Ontology Language Guide). "OWL is a language for defining and instantiating Web ontologies. Ontology is a term borrowed from philosophy that refers to the science of describing the kinds of entities in the world and how they are related." This is just one more step in the right direction for a truly semantic Web. For a clear explanation of why this is important, check out the previously published article Mind your phraseology: Using controlled vocabularies to improve findability by Christina Wodtke.
Jason's remaindered links point us to a handy explanation of why you'd want to use DOCTYPE when authoring HTML. The document formerly known as: Activating the Right Layout Mode in Mozilla, Mac IE 5 and Windows IE 6 - Activating the Right Layout Mode Using the Doctype Declaration. Makes for a great bookmark reference.
Upcoming.org is an event calendar, completely driven by people like you. Enter in the events you're attending, comment on events entered by others, and syndicate event listings to your own weblog.
(Andy does it again.)
We are back, recovering from some foot surgery. While we were away Jeffrey Veen published a great article on The Business Value of Web Standards which rings true to the points noted in The Web Standards Project's FAQ that I helped co-author the original version of.
Well, the honeymoon is over and we are now returning to our regularly scheduled weekly publication. This week Jesse Nieminen reviews Extensis PhotoFrame 2.5. For those who are not familiar with PhotoFrame, it is a Photoshop plug-in that applies unique and often complex border and edge effects to your images. The resulting effects will likely appeal to both designers and photographers. We will return next week with another edition of IAnything Goes by Jeff Lash. See you then.
Ronald Milliman at Western Kentucky University has published a study analyzing private sector web sites for accessiblity. 98.24% failed the Bobby test.
Is Bobby's time limit getting you down? Is Cynthia more homely than the girl who sat in front of you in 9th grade math? There's good news for all of us who run our code through the major accessibility validators.
Tim Roberts of Made for All let on that he has started working on an open-source, client-side accessibility validator dubbed WaiZilla. (As in, W3C Acccessibility Initiative. WAI. Get it? Get it?)
He's looking for volunteers, anything you can contribute would be appreciated. More detail over at AccessifyForums. A worthwhile cause, good show Tim!
Gorilla Web Tips #9:Persona Sketching for Better Web sites
"Let's face it, in the absence of good user research, all you have are assumptions about your users. Through the process of persona sketching you will, at the very least, have more informed assumptions..."
Using D. Kieth Robinson's techniques, you'll be able to target your web project's audience more efficiently from the very get-go. So get going. It's a good read.
I hate to beat the horse, but this deserves a mention: David Berlind presents an interesting take on the Eolas vs. Microsoft case.
"Never in Bill Gates' or Steve Ballmer's wildest dreams could Microsoft have hatched such a dastardly plan where a tiny company successfully sues for patent infringement and, as a result, Microsoft has to turn off access to its competitors' technologies for almost every user of the Web"
And to top things off,
"...in a strange twist of irony, Windows Update itself works through a plug-in. By disabling plug-ins, an update delivered through Windows Update would disable Windows Update as well."
I'm still reeling at what this could mean for web developers and designers. I promise I'll stop worrying about these things when the world converts to open-source software.
Phil Wolff's predictions for blogs within a year:
" A few of my guesses. 10 million people doing it. The name shifted from blogs to journals. Boutique consultants helping non-writers write, managers use it as a communication tool until everyone realizes it's just like email. At least three blogging jokes on Letterman. All the presidential campaigns will have team blogs. Ghost blogging will pick up. Universities will start to issue blogging tools with admission and with registration for each course. Designers will get badly paid for creating cool blogging templates for the new AOL, Google, Yahoo and MSN blogspaces. And everyone will become a political blogger after the Democratic primary. "
Not too long ago in a dark dungeon near the heart of San Francisco a team of three started on an idea that would take the Web to the next level, an evolution of the content kind. Alberto Gonzalez was able to capture some of the early days of Blogger at Pyra in a video he made entitled "In the Beginning: A Video on Weblogs History." The strange thing is I do remember a short journey to that office some time ago. One thing we must all remember is that if it wasn't for the things people like Ev and crew did back then, we wouldn't be were we are today. [from OnFocus]
Most colleges and universities these days institute strict guidelines and rules about internet use on campus owned computers as well as personal ones. Now, some experts are debating on whether ISPs should require internet users to obtain a license to surf the internet.
Todd Dominey gives a little insight into CSS support in Flash MX 2004. Naturally, my main concern is that the CSS support is maintained and always current within the software... after all, we had enough problems just getting the browsers to support it partially. [from TopStyle Blog]
Dirk Knemeyer has published the first article in a two-part series called The Power and Future of the Web: Maximizing Opportunity which details the thinks that make the Web a powerful medium. Part two will address the future of the Web.
"If you're currently using a plug-in, you will have to change your pages quite significantly," said one person familiar with Microsoft's post-verdict plans. "There might be tools to help you do so, but currently they don't exist."
"Everyone in the field is very saddened by the whole thing, that we have to go through this exercise. The W3C has worked very hard to make the Web remain patent free and this might be the one thing that screws it all up. It's really very frustrating."
One of the companies I work for is based entirely around an Internet Explorer plugin. Waiting til October or November is a scary thing. Read the article: IE patent endgame detailed.
Serge Thibodeau of ISEDB.com details some important factors of How to increase your ROI with powerful title tags. As Thibodeau points out, "...search engines today place a considerable importance on the HTML title tag, making it one of the most important tag on all the pages of your website." Doing double duty, he points out some very practical and helpful hints as well as the five most common errors when writing titles.
Over the next few weeks, the paid services of Blogger Pro will be folded into the free service package allowing no-cost use for every feature of the now Google-owned company. Said Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger, "We wanted to keep basic Blogger free, but we needed to start charging in order to keep the lights on... Today, as you may know, Blogger's situation is much different. For one thing, we're part of Google. Google has lots of computers and bandwidth. And Google believes blogs are important and good for the Web." This will mean the availability of some fantastic blogging services, including posting by e-mail and blog syndication at no extra cost.
Boxes and Arrows is looking for a few good editors. They are in need of two editors, two copyeditors and an HTML production person. Boxes and Arrows is a peer-written journal dedicated to discussing, improving and promoting the work of this community, through the sharing of exemplary technique, innovation and informed opinion. Their focus is on information architecture, information design, interaction design, interface design and the like. If you are interested in volunteering your time for a great cause, here is your chance!
Today's useless link - Every once in a while I come by some links that may not be as informative as they are humorous. So today I thought I would plague you with the latest comical link, but it is actually related to web design. Before you click, you may want to adjust your audio. Web Design tips (or things that make bad web design happen). [from Croc o' Lyle]
Today Macromedia announced availability of Studio MX 2004, simultaneously making a whole generation of computer books nearly obsolete and causing me to wonder just how long their product names will get in the future. All kidding aside, the big news for you Flash heads out there is significantly-improved performance in both the application itself and playback, plus enhanced video handling and application development features in the Pro version. Check back here at Digital Web Magazine in the near future for a full review of Studio MX 2004.
We all remember the article on the location of web objects, well it seems that Heidi Adkisson has taken this one step further to finding our really useful information. There are two new areas of study on Web Design Practices. One being navigation and the other e-commerce. For example, maybe you want to know what percentage of sites are using a global navigation that runs down the left side of the page vs. across the top of the page. Perhaps you want to know how many sites use rollover effects for their hyperlinks. All this and more can be found on the before mentioned site [from IA Slash]
For those who were able to make it to SXSW to see Joshua Davis's presentation you may recall an interesting point made about how he comes up with his color schemes and shapes. He pulled a lot of his colors from pottery books and shapes from nature itself. Luke Wroblewski has a great article about this topic called Natural Selections: Colors Found in Nature and Interface Design on Boxes and Arrows. While you are there, check out Chiara Fox's article on Sitemaps and Site Indexes: What They Are and Why You Should Have Them.
Clay Shirky writes a brilliant article entitled Fame vs. Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content, but it's not what you think. The article does not rebuff the same old philosophical issues it instead focuses on the physiological issues on a level never before fully explored. The only concern I have is the statement about the web not having "Publishers" seeing that I carry the title as well as Christina Wodtke and technically Jeffrey Zeldman as well as many others.
An article in German reveals where IKEA gets the names for it's furniture. Clearly a lot of thought was put into the naming of their products. Just don't ask us where Digital Web Magazine gets the colors for the various sections of the site. [from Xblog]
Jeffrey Veen On Writing Short. Good points all the way around. How many times have you seen forms that show fields that do not pertain to what information you have selected... why not hide those fields until the user indicates they are needed based on their options or answers in earlier questions of the form? Aside from that short and to-the-point content does wonders on the web... this is the same reason articles like "top ten web designer mistakes" get a lot of link traffic... they are ordered lists of short and to-the-point information. Maybe some day people will read all of the content on Digital Web Magazine's contact forms, until then it'll be my personal task to forward or delete email depending on how well the user followed the directions... in short RTFM.
Russ Weakley tells us about Listamatic, a site dedicated to taking simple unordered lists and using CSS to convert them into navigational menus and buttons, etc.
What's Your Take on Breadcrumb Trails? Good question, Keith. I am not sure if they will work on in all situations, but they can be helpful for hierarchical navigation structures. In the meantime, we will be moving away from targeting new windows for external links starting with this post. This is something we have been meaning to do but just didn't get around to it... no time like the present.
I am back from the honeymoon and a little sun burnt but it's not too bad. A lot of new articles out there and several cool links... perhaps too many to mention. For now, check out Andy King's Web Page Analyzer version 0.80 with new and improved features and support. It will now handle your @imports and alternate style sheets plus other great improvements. Try it out, the results contain very useful information for any web developer or web designer.
Congrats to Nick & Crystal, who are now enjoying a romantic honeymoon.
Well, as self-promotion is important now a day to get masses moving, and your portfolio work seen by different people... you just never know who may be viewing it at one point -- sometimes possibly leading to new and amazing work/artwork opportunities. So you should always talk as much as possible in the right places. Okay, Okay...Nick is going to kill me once he gets back and reads this (Remember honeymoon Nick, don't sneak around reading your blog at an important time in your life...we are keeping everything under control -- no worries)...as I was about to say, I launched a new site version of Breathewords called "The Twisted Show."
Lately I've been really enjoying Dan Cederholm's SimpleQuizzes. The quizzes cover various topics with a focus on how you would take on a semantic markup challenge. The questions are interesting to think about but the discussion is were it gets really interesting. I liked the idea so much, I pretty much stole it and came up with a question of my own.
Ah, that explains it. If you’re looking for a clear understanding of absolute and relative positioning, read this excellent article by Doug Bowman at Stop Design. Hat tip: What Do I Know.