News : May 2004
Kold Kut redesign
My good friend JAZ of Kold Kut Productions tells me that they have launched the redesign of koldkut.com. The new design is XHTML 1.0 Transitional with CSS for layout. Pretty well done for a music site. Also, be sure to sample some of their phat tracks.
White space resizing
I got a chance to chat with Dave Shea when I was in Vancouver, B.C. this last weekend. Dave addresses some of the known issues in his Redesign Technical Notes. One of the things I also thought was cool that Dave hasn't really mentioned yet was that if you resize your text in your browser ([Ctrl]+[+]) not only will the text resize, but the margin white space will decrease accordingly (Note: this doesn't appear to work in IE on Windows). I also got a chance to chat with Cal Henderson as well. Expect a technical article discussing the Digital Web Magazine redesign shortly.
Doug Bowman writes a very insightful post about The Cost of Page Rank. Through Search Engine Optimzation we don't really think of the possibility that sometimes traffic can be a bad thing. For those of you who are new readers you may want to check out David Eames-Harlan's excellent article entitled "What happens when the people come?"
Ethan Marcotte has announced the long-awaited redesign of Sidesh0w. He has posted some details on his blog in the entry entitled "Hopefully Moving Forward." He has kept some of the existing branding (AKA "that damned flower"), and cleaned up the markup and CSS a bit. Well done Ethan! (For those involved with the spring 2004 redesign betting pool, mark another one down.)
Ernest Kim of BigHa, producer of high-quality recumbent bikes, announced today that they have relaunched their blog. This is a prime example at how a company can take advantage of blogging technology to increase product awareness, improve customer satisfaction, and turn site visitors into a readership. Great job Ernest and team! Be sure to check out Ernest Kim's Web ROI presentation at WebVisions 2004 tickets are selling out fast.
CSS, XHTML and Rock'n Roll
Keith has gone rockstar with his new collaborative project The Band. This is a great idea and I hope to see several Asterisk readers participating. I can't wait to see the final product and read about how the team went about achieving the end results.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
This week's issue of Digital Web Magazine includes a great review of Bradbury Software's FeedDemon by Paul Scrivens. FeedDemon is the feed reader I have personally been using for some time now and I am continually amazed at the quality of the product and the ease of use. I would recommend FeedDemon to anyone who is looking for a good RSS reader, and I am not just saying that because I am good friends with Nick Bradbury and have been using his software since the first betas of Homesite. So go read Paul's great review as an outsider and first time user and see what he has to say. Also, just a reminder that there is now an articles-only feed (RSS) available to Digital Web Magazine readers. We will see you next week with more great content.
Starting with an empty canvas
Doug Bowman has decided to start with an empty canvas. He has stripped the stylesheets from his site and added only the bare essentials to the design. It's as close to an empty canvas as I have seen. Doug has vowed to let the readers of his site watch the progression of the new design. "With my schedule right now, it's just not possible to go from one version to a full-fledged redesign. So it will come in chunks," Doug said. I can't wait to see what the design will evolve into, but I look forward to watching it grow. Also be sure to catch Doug's presentations at WebVisions 2004 this July.
Ahh, it looks like Dave Shea has finally redesigned Mezzoblue. In his own words "If you've been on this site any time over the last couple of days, you might have noticed a small sign at the top saying that mezzoblue was getting a minor structural upgrade, and things would be back to normal today. That was a lie and a half." More details can be read in the full post.
New issue of Boxes and Arrows
A new issue of Boxes and Arrows is out. In this issue there are two great articles. First is "Developing and Creatively Leveraging Hierarchical Metadata and Taxonomy" by Christian Ricci. The focus of this article is using implicit and explicit data from content metadata and hierarchies to creatively contextualize content. Also in this issue is "The Confidence Game" by Brian R. Krause which brings into question the methods designers use to evaluate user interfaces as well as a designer's training and experience.
Dr. Web Weblog redesign comments
There is a great thread that has been going for a while on the Dr. Web Weblog about the Digital Web Magazine redesign. It's in German so I have provided a English translation courtesy of Babblefish. I think thread has been one of the more constructive views I have seen so far about the redesign... and you have to admit, these Germans know how to design.
What is Findability?
Ok, this has to be one of the most straight forward and clear descriptions of findability that I have seen to date: frequently asked questions about findability. In specific, the questions about comparing findability to Information Architecture and Usability. Furthermore, if you haven't explored the rest of this site you really should give it a try.
Patterns in Design
So there has been talk about quiet trends within the design community such as the use of shadows or the choice of commonly used colors, yours truly even wrote about the need for white padding around boxes. So surely we all know that inspiration feeds off of design, and often that inspiration comes from other sites or other things that contain some level of design. I guess the important thing to know is the difference between being inspired by a design concept vs. actually stealing someone's design itself. I wrote about this a long time ago but it still remains a gray area.
Anil Dash has published a very heartfelt post entitled Moving Forward. I can't say that I know Anil well enough, but I did get a chance to meet Mena and Ben and they are perhaps some the nicest people I have ever meet. I haven't posted about the recent hot topic and I don't intend to start here. My point of this post is that software companies are started by people, people may make mistakes, but people also know that they need to make a living somehow. At least it's good to see someone in this industry making a living. But for Six Apart I don't think it's just about making a living, I think it's about moving an industry forward. With that said, hey Six Apart, thanks for creating such a great product and thanks for letting us use it for free for such a long time. I can only hope to get to know Anil a little bit better when I see him in July for WebVisions.
New Issue of A List Apart
Issue 182 of A List Apart is out. In this issue Brian Williams has a great article about Onion Skinned Drop Shadows which includes some great examples of the effect. Also in this issue Derek Featherstone talks about how to use user stylesheets (local client-side CSS files) to Print It Your Way. Both of these articles are very great reads.
Peter Morville announced the launch of Findability.org which is dedicated to findability and the design of findable objects. This is an information-packed site with tons of data from research studies and articles. This site begs to be bookmarked. Also be sure to catch Peter's keynote at WebVisions 2004.
3D CSS Box Model
Jon Hicks publishes a very useful 3D visual hierarchy of the CSS Box Model. A fantastic reference for those learning CSS.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
Another week but not just another new issue. With all things that change, much like the design and IA of our site, people change too. Today we start the process of wishing our current Managing Editor, Paul Scrivens, goodbye as he tends to his many other endeavors. At the same time we welcome aboard Krista Stevens as Managing Editor in training. She will still maintain her role as PR/Communications Manager but will also take over Paul's old duties. In addition, we have James McNally moving on to focus more on work and his personal life, he leaves vacant the role of Book Review Editor and we hope that we will be able to fill this spot soon. We are sad to see both Paul and James go but we know life goes on and it's time that we got some other volunteers in here who can give the roles the attention they need. With that out of the way, lets move on to talking about fresh and new content. Peter-Paul Koch returns this week to write about the process of Separating Behavior and Presentation. This is the third piece of the puzzle as PPK will explain. Lastly, if you haven't already registered for WebVisions 2004, you may want to because not only does the early bird special end soon, but it looks like we may be sold out shortly here. That's all for this week, next week will bring you more great content.
Blogging for business
PhotoMatt points out yet another presentation on the subject of business blogging: Blogging For Fun & Profit. It's kind of interesting to see how other presenters cover same basic topics. For example, here is my original presentation on The Why and How of Blogging. Now compare that with the 37Signals presentation and then the BlogCon presentation... and now it looks like Steve Broback and DL Byron will be doing a presentation on the same topic at Digital Design World. Someone please take notes.
Design Eye: It's not quite that simple
Here is a rather comical post from Design by Fire entitled Design Eye for the Usability Guy. The post makes light of the whole design vs. usability issue. I wish it was as simple as depicted in this article, however it is far from it. Design should be about solving problems, not creating them. This article takes a stab at that but oversimplifies the issues that surround good design and usability.
First blogs, then klogs, now plogs?
First there were blogs (web logs), then came klogs (KM logs), and we have all heard of clogs (c-level logs, a CEO, CTO, CFO, or CIO log), well it looks like the people at CIO are trying to coin yet another new term here: plogs (or project logs). You can read the article in title on their site, it is entitled The Virtues of Chitchat. When will the madness end? [from Signal Vs. Noise]
How to size text using ems
Richard Rutter has authored a great post about How to size text using ems. For those who have been paying close attention to the features of the redesign, you will notice that the text can be resized using your browser. Here are some instructions on how to go about doing that.
Web Design Today
Keith asks the question "Web Design Not Sexy Anymore?" ...which is a good start to the topic, but I think a better question was "Was Web Design ever really sexy or did we just have no clue of what to do with all that cash?" I think we all made a lot of mistakes and today we are working on methods to reverse them through things like better SOE, accessibility, usability, IA, and ROI. Our investor's money didn't go far back in the '90s and no one really cared, but today it is very critical that we keep a close eye on the checks and balances.
Effective Web Style Guides
Rarely do I link to some of the great articles Gerry McGovern has authored. It's not because I have a personal bias against his work, it's often because the articles are so short that they don't lead to a conclusive understanding of the topic at hand. Well, today he has published an article I think is worth linking, as short as it may be, called "Learn how to implement an effective web style guide." Pretty handy if you find yourself heading down the long road of Web Style Guide creation. I could have used this article about 2 years ago. So what great Web Style Guide articles have you found online? The comments are open.
Color Scheme Methods
Dave Shea has posted a excellent article about Color Schemes over on Mezzoblue. He talks about methods used for coming up with a good colour scheme which include technical, matching, and intuition. This is a very good primer for anyone trying to find a good color scheme.
Comments Now Open
The look is not the only thing that's new—comment functionality has been added so that readers can post thoughts on articles we publish and items posted in our What's New blog. The web has been built by those willing to share their thoughts and ideas—share yours with us and the readers of Digital Web Magazine.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine (redesign)
Ok, things this week are going to be a little bit different for everyone including you, our readers. First, yes we have a new issue out entitled The Transformation of an Industry, but even more interesting is that today marks the eight anniversary of our digital-web.com domain. To celebrate we thought we would dress up in a nice new look for the years ahead. That's right, the long awaited and long over-due redesign has finally launched. This is by no means solely my handy work. I was fortunate enough to have one of the best web teams a person could hope for. Thanks to Christina Wodtke's draft IA blueprint and Didier Hilhorst's excellent design we were able to create a site that was not only designed well but also architected well. Thanks to Craig Saila's great CSS and XHTML handywork and Cal Henderson's awesome programming skills we are able to have a system that is database driven and template based, no more hand-coding static pages. But all this wouldn't be worth the effort if it wasn't for people like Rudy Limeback, Paul Scrivens, Keith Robinson, and Krista Stevens for helping us publish great articles week after week. Thank you, you are all rockstars in my book.
Ten Questions for Nick Finck
The ever prolific Web Standards Group features an interview with Digital Web's own Nick Finck on the philosophy behind Digital Web Magazine, the future of blogging, web standards, independent publishing and the upcoming WebVisions Conference.
Web Designers On A Fence
Keith writes a great post about Web Designers On A Fence and the art of compromising. A great read for any web designer who is frustrated with top down design decisions. I have been on both sides of the debate there, as a web designer I always want perfection, but as a client I know what I need done and I can basically visualize how I expect it to be designed. In both cases it has never been an easy decision to compromise the design or the business goals.
Well, now that Blogger has relaunched Google has decided that it is about time they had their own blog: Google Blog. It seems to be a press and marketing blog. They are giving it a slogan of "Insight into the news, technology, and culture of Google." [from DezWozHere]
E-Zines are Back
One of the most interesting things to me about the Blogger relaunch is that they now have what I would classify as a e-zine about things you can do with Blogger called "Blogger Knowledge." Biz Stone has some great pieces in there to check out, things that I never even thought of before. You may also remember that gotomedia, a user experience consultancy based in San Francisco, relaunched their site not to long ago. With the relaunch also came the avent of a UX industry e-zine called "the gotoreport." Are e-zines dead? I don't think so, I think the industry is just finally begining to realize their full potential along side of blogs for communications and marketing.
Fixes for Navigation bugs
DL Byron has posted a great entry about Site Navigation: Self Links and Onstate. This is handy for those who use SSI or MovableType templates for your site. Essentially this fixes the "where am I" bug with most templating systems, but it also fixes the issue with navigation that links to the same page the user is on. Anyway, it's a great read, check it out.
Even More On Blogger's Redesign
Doug Bowman takes the time to write a bit about the Blogger redesign. This is a must read folks. I can't tell you how helpful it is to get a little insight into how others take on Web design challenges. There is quite a bit about the process involved as well as some good information about the technical aspects of the project. Very nice work indeed. As well, the more I use the new Blogger (we use that right here for Digital Web's What's New) the more I'm impressed by the improvements.
Well it's more than just a redesign. They've added quite a few new features as well. I must say it looks nice and it's obvious they're looking at a bit of a more mainstream audience. It reminds me of AOL.
New Issue of A List Apart
A new issue of A List Apart is out. This time Stephen Hay writes about Art Direction and the Web. A good 101 article about ADing which also covers how ADing applies to the Web.
Blogging at Powell's
For those of you in the Portland area, it looks like Paul Bausch, Kevin Cosgrove, Rael Dornfest, and Heather Gorgura are going to have a panel discussion on Blogging at Powell's Technical Books. More details can be found here on upcoming.org and Powell's Calendar of Events. Hope to see you there.
When Presentation and Behavior Collide
New Issue of Boxes and Arrows
A new issue of Boxes and Arrows is out. In this issue there are three great articles starting with Focus on the Student: How to Use Learning Objectives to Improve Learning by Wendy Cown. Also in this issue is Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success by Jonathan Boutelle. And last but certainly not least is a great article entitled Mission Statements: Why You Might Want One by Erin Malone. This is pretty timely for us here at Digital Web Magazine, just weeks ago we released our new mission statement to help establish a good foundation for the publication to continue to grow on. Special thanks to Krista Stevens for developing that for us.
We are just days away from something new and fresh. It will be just a small change for some of you, others will see it as a big step forward. Keep an eye out for it. Special thanks to Didier Hilhorst, Christina Wodtke, Craig Saila, Rudy Limeback, Cal Henderson, Kristof Saelen, Keith Robinson, Paul Scrivens, and Krista Stevens for getting us this far.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine contributing author Dirk Knemeyer returns with a great article about convergence and how we can learn from other innovations. His article is entitled "Digital Convergence: Insight into the future of Web design." Lastly, I would also like to take a moment to remind those of you who enjoyed this article that you will also be able to hear Dirk speak about Brand Experience and the Web at the next WebVisions conference. This is the conference's fourth year and my forth year helping plan it with the folks at Hot Pepper. Special thanks to Kit Seeborg from Design for ROI for helping out this year. I encourage you to set aside the day in July to hear some of the best experts in the industry speak about the future of the Web. We will see you next week with a big surprise... yes, I know the suspense is killing you.
Calling all XSLT Gurus
Nick Bradbury is hoping to find a way to group RSS posts from various sources that all point to or reference the same story. In doing this he is asking for some help from any XSLT gurus out there. Take the FeedDemon XSLT Challenge. I for one would like to see the feature idea become a reality.
Design Can Kill People
Christina Wodtke has posted an entry on her site entitled "IA, ID, GWB and WSJ." I think that she could have included a few more acronyms like PDB and CIA, etc. in there, but to get to the point... yes, poorly designed documents can mean life or death in some cases. This is why IA and ID are so important within all businesses. Anyway, Christina has the best summary I can find on the story, give it a read.
SimpleBits CSS Mini-Tabs Now Scalable
Keith posts A Plea For User Advocacy. He makes some good points at how far down the road of user-centered design we still have to go. I think that UCD is the one thing we all could have done better 2, 4, 8 or even 10 years ago.
Dave Shea makes some excellent points about separating presentation from structure and asks how far we should take this. Sound familuar, columnist Peter-Paul Koch wrote about this before so it's good to see the community is paying attention to the points that are being made here. Read through Dave's post and feel free to leave him comments about his idea. (Note: most of these demos and examples do not properly work in some browser. So, just like CSS, you'd have to test the script cross-platform and cross-browser.)
Didier has authored a great post entitled Navigation Matrix at SuperfluousBanter. In this post he covers a navigation experiement using CSS and XHTML. This one is pretty good, one graphic for all states, check it out.
How to Create Topic Maps
Details of a Redesign
Jeffrey Zeldman has redesigned his site yet again, this time around he goes into detail about why he redesigned it and why he choose the colors, typography and layout he did. See the colophon for all the juicy tidbits. Meanwhile, we continue to add the final touches to the Digtial Web Magazine redesign.
Where We Started
Simon Willison took note of Google, circa 1998 from the Way Back Machine, which shows us we all have to start somewhere. My favorite is Amazon.com, circa 1995. So I thought I would share with you digital-web.com, circa 1998 shortly before we relaunched as a magazine. In a few weeks I will share with you digital-web.com, circa 1994, 1995, and 1996.
4,000 and Counting...
We are happy to announce that Kurt Didenhover of Utah is the 4,000th subscriber to the Digital Web Magazine Newsletter. Kurt will be sent a signed copy of Defensive Design for the Web courtesy of our friends over at 37signals. I also want to thank all of the readers who took the time to sign up to the newsletter over the last few days. Hopefully we will be setting some more records and giving away some more books in the near future.