News : July 2004
The ROI of Web Standards
Following Doug Bowman's post on Throwing Tables Out the Window Richard Rutter has taken to task Real life savings through Web standards. This is very reminiscent of Keith Robinson's post on Web Standards ROI this last June. Shirley Kaiser also voiced in with her comments recently. Doug followed up his post with a post on Projected Savings. For the record, I never had any complaints about Doug's original post. I think Shirley said it best in her post. It really isn't as easy to do as it seems when your client is a larger multinational company who has hundreds of different web sites all using outdated web design techniques. In short, politics are at play. Finding the right person to talk to and getting their buy-in may be a bit more difficult. Why can't we show ROI on something like that? It is because it has never been done before.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Tony Crockford joins us to publish a great on Eric Meyer's latest book entitled simply "More Eric Meyer on CSS." If you haven't checked out this book but want to learn more about CSS and how you can use it to solve real world design problems, you should pick up a copy right now. Any true web designer worth their own weight wouldn
Anil Dash defeats SEO
Here is probably one of the best posts I have seen on Search Engine Optimization. Funny, saying that phrase just now makes me question what "optimization" really entails and what ethical boundaries (if any) are put on that practice. Well, Anil has his way with SEO in his post Optimizing Search Engine Optimization. To get the executive summary you need to read no further than simply this quote from the post: "There's a part of me that's always felt that, if you're a professional at a certain trade, and I can come in as an amateur and do better than you, then you probably suck." However, for the true insight into what Anil has accomplished you only need to look so far as the 2nd and beyond rankings for a Google search on Nigritude Ultramarine.
The news item of the day seems to be François Briatte's design survey. You may have read Nate Koechley's post on the subject... well, Web-Graphics also had a volley of three posts: Tony Stephens had a post, Nathan Steiner had a post, and your's truly had a post. It seems that no one but myself noticed that the majority of the sites used in the study were created by non-designers... programmers or usability gurus, sure, but not designers. Is it just that no one cared, or is it that no one really notices that there is a difference between someone like Doug Bowman who really knows how to design vs. someone like, say Tantek Çelik who really knows how to program and code? Are you considered a designer because you can create amazing CSS, or are you considered a designer because you understand and practice the basic principals of design and have a good eye for the aesthetically pleasing?
User Centered Design, a growing trend
If there is one thing I have learned in the past year about the Web industry, it's that UCD has only begun to catch on. Jeff Veen has posted a great perspective on why you should care about UCD and what it means to your bottom line. The post is entitled simply, "Why Bother With User Centered Design?" This ties in with the recent Adaptive Path report on the subject, "Leveraging Business Value: How ROI Changes User Experience" and Scott Hirsch's recent article "ROI Is Not a Silver Bullet: Five Actionable Steps for Valuing User Experience Design" which was derived from the WebVisions 2004 presentation, "How Measuring Business Value Changes Web Development.
Comments on the Technorati redesign
So the latest buzz about redesigns is the Technorati redesign. Adaptive Path worked with Tim Gasparak to develop the initial CSS/XHTML standardized look and feel, then Tantek Çelik took templates and code and reworked them to develop what you see on the site today. The sad part is that none of the IA of the site was altered as far as I can tell and the performance continues to be pretty lacking. There is a lot of common IA mistakes going on here in the results page, but as I understand it they are working fixing these issues in the next phase of the redesign. They were a little rushed this time around. Which will hopefully include better performance optimization and some better architecture.
Marry Your Designs
Keith has made a great post about Maintaining a Relationship with Your Designs. It sounds a little silly at first, but he makes some good points here. Part of the process I go through at work is not simply architecting a site, but architecting a site so that when it is handed off there is little margin for error... this topic came up in one of my meetings today in fact. Good design isn't just about creating the next version of a site, it's about roadmapping the next 20 versions and making sure this new one follows that path.
Death of the Web Communuity?
Over at The Daily Standards, Adam Howell seems to be suggesting that the web publishing communuity is slowing down and may, in fact, die off due to the recent prosperity of the web industry. The post is entitled "Is the New Boom the Community's Bust?" But I would tend to disagree. George Santayana once said, "those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it" and I couldn't agree more. I have posted my own two cents to this debate. [editor's note: see updated post The Community: A Redux]
Selecting a Font
So along with sites like What The Font and Identifont that help you identify a font you would like to use, there is also tools like Jeff Howard's Font Comparison Utility and Font Comparison. However, it is always important to do the research on the criteria for optimal web design before moving forward with your font selections.
Get Well Doug
Doug Bowman has recieved his get-well card from the entire audiance of WebVisions 2004 (some 550 people). Apparently Val Kilmer and George W. Bush attended WebVisions this year, according to the signatures on this card.
Designing a CSS based template
The other night at dinner Doug Bowman pointed out a great series of articles on Designing a CSS based template. The whole series of articles are well designed and very well articulated. See all four parts: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. Needless to say we are going to keep a close eye on Veerle's Blog, you should to.
What is Interaction Design?
Dan Saffer has posted a pretty good Definition of Interaction Design. For the first time he calls out the critical issues that surround the Interaction Design practice. Namely, interaction design is "not about the interaction with a product (that's industrial design) or interaction with a computer (that's human-computer interaction)" ...or HCI/CHI as I call it. "It's about making connections between people" ...but isn't that Experience Design? Interaction Design is facing some similar problems that Information Architecture used to face (and perhaps still does to some degree): a clear definition and isolated or unified field of study.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
In this special double issue of Digital Web Magazine Peter Morville asks "In a world of tangible bits and total information awareness, what happens to learning, decision making, and trust?" as well as other disturbing questions about the future in his article Ambient Findability. Also in this issue contributing writer Brandon Olejniczak returns to explore the ideas of taking online products and services and marketing them offline via traditional media in his article Offline Marketing - Going Beyond the Web: Marketing in the Flesh. Lastly I want to thank everyone who attended last week's WebVisions conference. We had a record turnout and it looks like next year we will have to expand the event to accommodate the demand. Based on the results of the conference I can only conclude that the Web is back.
New Edition of Boxes and Arrows
ROI is Not a Silver Bullet
Scott Hirsch of Adaptive Path offers some insight into the ROI of user experience in his article entitled, ROI is not a silver bullet - five actionable steps to valuing user experience design. [editor's note: this is an essay in which Scott's WebVisions presentation was based on]
The Making of WebVisions 2004
Well, since Keith has already posted a summary of what WebVisions was like this year, I guess I best do the same. Since it's a bit lengthy, I posted on my personal site here: After the Storm - insight into the making of WebVisions 2004. Enjoy.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
After a week off for the holidays, Digital Web Magazine returns with another special double issue which includes two great articles on the topic of branding and the user experience. First Kelly Goto of gotomedia defines five guiding principles that should be a part of any usability or user experience specialist's toolkit in her article Brand Value and the User Experience. Then Dirk Knemeyer of Involution Studios, LLC helps web professionals better prepare for the future with an article that explores Brand Experience and the Web. Both of these authors will be at WebVisions this Friday giving some more insight beyond what is explored in these articles. It will be an event that you can't afford to miss. That is all for this week, we'll see you next week with more great content.
Well folks, we are just days away from WebVisions. This is the conference's fourth year of delivering some of the web industry's leading expert for a nominal fee. It simply doesn't get any better than this. I am sure I will be loosing a lot of sleep right up until the day of the event and perhaps even that night as well thanks to the help of the wrap party following the event. I hope to see you there, please take a moment to say hi if you see me. Special thanks go to the folks at Hot Pepper, Kit Seeborg at Design for ROI, and Kirsten Blair. This event wouldn't have happened without your hard work and dedication.
Blogs of Note
Instead of trying to recover from several days of missed news after resurfacing here in Seattle I have decided to post a list of blogs that I have recently started reading. Some of them may have been around for a long time, you may have been even reading them for a long time, but they are new to me... and if not new, perhaps just more interesting and worth noting in recent days. Without any further fanfare, here they are:
456 Berea Street
Digital Media Minute
Jason Santa Maria
The Daily <div>
On The Road
I apologize to our readers for the recent lack of news and articles lately. I am in the process of moving to Seattle, Washington and most everything is in boxes at the moment. Digital Web Magazine will be back to our regular schedule some time next week. Thanks for understanding.
Trimming Form Fields
AIfIA F2F in Portland
For those who are going to WebVisions in Portland, Oregon this year I am happy to announce that there will also be a AIfIA F2F dinner just before the Wrap Party. Anyone is welcome to show up for a bite (especially Information Architects). All the details about time, location, cost, etc can be found on the AIfIA F2F event page. I hope to see you there.
Have you been here before?
Simon Collison brings together a round table of designers to discuss the methods in which visited links should be displayed. There are some pretty interesting responses to some of Simon's questions here. A great read for those who want to venture outside of the default link styles.
WebVisions - your last chance
Brad Smith tells me that the early bird specials for WebVisions have been extended by one day to help accommodate those organizations whose quarterly budget resets on July 1st. This means you have until midnight, Pacific Time, tonight to get in on the discounted prices. If you haven't checked out the site yet, you should do so, there are a lot of great speakers we have lined up this year: keynoting the event will be Peter Morville. Other speakers include Anil Dash, Doug Bowman, Ernest Kim, Kelly Goto, Matt Owens, Dirk Knemeyer, DL Byron, Jason Fried, Scott Hirsch, Armin Vit, Christina Wodtke, Julie Beeler, Kit Seeborg, Matt Haughey, and Nate Koechley. Speakers for the executive summit include Andy Mooney, Kathy Claypool, Kelly Lockhart, and Steve Gehlen.
Trust for IA
Lou Rosenfeld explores the question "Why Should We Be Trusted?" He brings up some good points here. Trust is a very important thing especially when it comes to job satisfaction. If your boss or company can't trust you to be an expert in your role, then how can you expect to accomplish anything within that kind of an environment?
Job Titles of Tomorrow
Sally makes some good points in her article What will become of us? over at The Daily <div>. She cites Dirk's great article on Digital Convergence, however this is not a new topic. We have been talking about job titles (1, 2) and job descriptions (1, 2, 3) for quite some time now. Truth of the matter is that not all job titles translate properly into what actual role that person may take within the company or even within the web team. As Keith pointed out, never every company is up to speed with the latest and greatest. Some companies only have a few people on the web team: the webmaster, the system administrator, and the web manager. It all depends on the scale of the web team and the importance the web site has within the business.
While I am still catching up with news from the past few days I thought I would pass along some links to some great articles and material that has been published over the past few days. Andy Arikawa publishes "The Year in Review, 2003", a PDF newsletter of sorts packed with great articles. Not to mention The Daily Flight is back. Joe tells us that another issue of Web Page Design for Designers which includes a great feature entitled "All you wanted to know about Web type but were afraid to ask." Speaking of great typography and print layouts, our good friends at Coudal Partners have redesigned... reads like a newspaper, fit for a king. Rashmi Sinha has published a great IA centric article on Why visual form matters for information architecture. Lastly, a new issue of A List Apart has been published. In the new issue Nick Rigby authors a great article about Drop-Down Menus, Horizontal Style.