News : November 2004
Facets of Navigation
Peter Van Dijck posts about A-Z Indexes and contrasts it to search and controlled vocabularies. Digital Web Magazine has a A-Z Index as well. The qualitative data we are seeing from the current Annual Readership Survey thus far show that the A-Z Index is the third most used facet on the site with the topic map being first and, of course, the internal search engine being second. Quantitative data analysis shows that while the topic map is the most used facet, the category index is the second most used and the A-Z index is the third most used facet. I am curious to hear what your take on this is. If available, what facets do you see your site's users using the most? Is it the A-Z Index, topic map, categorical index, chronological index, author index, or internal search engine? Or do you provide any of these facets on your site at all? And if not, why? I'll be speaking more about how to use both of these methods to help inform design coming up in March for SXSWi. I'll post more information about that presentation later.
Nick Finck on iStockPhoto
iStockPhoto has published an interview of someone you may know. I had a lot of fun doing this interview and photo shoot. Topics covered are balancing form and function, web awards, Digital Web Magazine Kelly Cline took the creative photos, Brianna Wettlaufer asked the questions, and Bruce Livingstone helped manage things. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did responding to the interview.
Keep Personas Simple
Don Norman has posted the sidebar content that is to be published in The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping people in mind during product design. The post is entitled Ad-Hoc Personas & Empathetic Focus. I think the takeaway here is that, as Henrik Olsen said, "Personas doesn't have to be rocket science." Often times I find web teams a usability experts stressing over getting the factual data nailed down and checking to ensure that every persona possible is accounted for. This is overkill and don't really cater to the purpose personas at large. Keep it simple, go with what you know, let the rest fall in place. [from GUUUI]
While we were busy eating some turkey over the holiday weekend it appears that UXnet was busy publishing an update on the status of the network. As both a Local Ambassador and Individual Supporter nothing makes me happier than to see a group like this really take off like we have in the last six months. But this is by no means where the story ends and this doesn't happen without some serious effort. UXnet needs the help of the community to move forward. I encourage you to sign up for one of the initiatives or to simply get involved on a local level. With that said, if you are in the local Pacific Northwest, please contact me or the UXnet Council directly to see how you can play a role in moving forward.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Meryl K. Evans returns with a great interview of WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg. Though, Matt is much more than just the creator of WordPress. He is also one of the co-creators of XFN, the creator of Ping-O-Matic, photographer, and I hear he can also play some wicked jazz on the sax. Also I am happy to announce that we have opened up our annual readership survey. The annual readership survey helps the staff at Digital Web Magazine better understand the direction we need to be going for our content, the site, and the magazine as a whole. Your input is extremely helpful in determining this, so please take a moment to complete the survey so we can provide a better site, better content and better services to fit your needs. Lastly, this week's readership question is about giving back to the community. Please take a second to respond to the question. We are going to take a short break for the holidays so news may be slow until we return on Monday. Thank you for reading.
Annual Readership Survey
Well, it is that time of year again and we are going to start things a little early here at Digital Web Magazine. Thanks to the help of Krista Stevens we have opened our Annual Readership Survey ahead of time in hopes to get your feedback before you start your holiday vacations. So please, help us make Digital Web Magazine better by offering your input in this year's survey. The survey will only take a short bit to complete. Thank you for helping out and happy holidays.
Readership Question: Have you ever contributed?
This week's readership question is a question related to the whole web community and not specifically just Digital Web Magazine. Since its Thanksgiving here in the states I thought I would ask about giving back to the community. With that said, this week's readership question is: Have you ever contributed to your favorite community site? Why? Don't get me wrong, this is not a guilt trip for anyone who hasn't contributed articles or anything to this site. I am just curious because there are many sites and projects out there like MetaFilter, Mozilla, EFF, WordPress, and so forth that look for community contributions either of monetary form, articles, staff help, or otherwise. So, through this question I hope to gain some insight into the logic of the community and why we do or do not contribute to our favorite sites. Oh, and please, no need to brag about what you have done, a simple no or yes with an explanation of why will work fine.
Job openings at ZAAZ
I typically try not to make a habit out of posting job openings here on Digital Web Magazine but this kind of opportunity doesn't come along much at all. My employer, ZAAZ, is expanding and is currently looking for a Senior Designer, as well as Project Manager. Both openings are for our Portland, Oregon office. We are also looking for a Creative Director for our Seattle office, where I work. See the links mentioned above for more details.
Ads and RSS
Nick Bradbury makes some excellent points about RSS ad and what NOT to do. I highly recommend that you give his list a good read-through if you are considering adding ads to your RSS feeds. As far as readers go, my take-away here is that if you don't like where this is going as far as RSS, simply unsubscribe. The mass exile of subscribers to a feed will speak far more loudly than any amount of money an advertiser will throw at a site. If there are no readers, what good are advertisements. I am not saying this will stop them from including ads, but it will help define the status-quo within this market. With that said, let me open the fire hose; what are your thoughts on ads in RSS feeds? Add your two cents in the comments for this post.
How to Quote
Roger Johansson has an interesting post on 456 Berea Street about Quotations and citations: quoting text. In the post he talks about the markup (with emphasis on the "q" element) and CSS needed to create a pull-quote. A great read for anyone who is serious about their web content.
Generation Web Standards
Derek Featherstone makes some good comments about Growing up With Web Standards. I may be a bit more pessimistic about the adoption tends for web standards because we said this very same thing 4 years ago. That's not to say I think it won't happen... it will happen. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. I hope that my children grow up with web standards as a commonplace... it would be reassuring to know they don't have to hack their CSS and XHTML.
New Issue of Boxes and Arrows
A new issue of Boxes and Arrows is out. In this issue you will find a great article by Andy Schriever entitled The Knowledge-Model Driven Enterprise, but the most interesting thing for me was Christina Wodtke's piece on Redesigning Boxes and Arrows where she mentions the winners of the redesign contest. You can see all of the entries here. It's interesting to see how many of them look like Digital Web Magazine from a structural standpoint (and there is good reason why the IA is similar), I think we will be seeing more content-rich sites break way from the blog model and move into the magazine model in the near future.
JJG is Alive
It looks like Jesse James Garrett has resurrected his blog. You can expect to find great information on IA, UX and other things that cross JJG's path. Welcome back my friend! Also see the Digital Web Magazine interview we did with JJG back in 2002. [from Anil Dash]
Ellen Lupton has created an online companion site Thinking with Type for Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students. It's a great resource for typography information. The site reminds me a lot of CounterSpace with it's attention to detail. [from 456 Berea Street]
Research Agenda for IA
Peter Van Dijck has written what he calls a braindump blog entry which pushes information architects to start working on A research agenda for information architecture. I think Peter makes some really good points here. Of course, it's often easier to say than to do... but I do agree that we have done little "doing" in the way of research. A few of us are focusing on the concept of bring user research, web analytics, and information architecture together to help inform web design (see Informed Web Design) but there is clearly a lot more work here that could be done. [via the AIfIA Mailing List]
Digital Product Design
For those in the bay area on December 8th, Digital Web Magazine columnist, Dirk Knemeyer, will be speaking on the present and the future of digital product design. There will be a lively panel discussion following the presentation. Every attendee will receive a free copy of the newly published book The Dictionary of Brand from the AIGA Center for Brand Experience. I highly recommend attending if you can.
Here is A Primer on Faceted Navigation and Guided Navigation by Steve Papa. The short article offers some insight into what may be next for site navigation, because, as we all know, things are changing. We have mentioned this several times before but it's good to see people are starting catch on.
New Issue of A List Apart
Zeldman live (sort of)
As you may know, Jeffrey Zeldman wasn't able to make his keynote at WEB ESSENTIALS 04 in Sydney Australia due to a conflicting deadline (Ava Zeldman) but today he has published a Quicktime Movie that Eric Etheridge directed to show at the event. Also check out his iStockPhoto interview. Expect to see more iStockPhoto interviews with familiar faces in the near future.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
This week's issue of Digital Web Magazine is another special double issue. In this issue we have a article by Ken Westin on XSLT. Don't worry, you won't fry your brain when reading it, it's a very well written and easy to understand article. It is entitled An Introduction to Client-Side XSLT: It's Not Just for Server Geeks Anymore. Also in this week's issue, and by overwhelming popular demand, Dirk Knemeyer returns with a follow-up article, The End of Usability Culture, Redux. This is the second article in his new column entitled Innovating the Web Experience. And please don't forget to add your two cents to this week's readership question. See this post for details. Thank you for reading.
Readership Question: How often do you actually visit?
I have been looking at browser stats on this site in a lot more detail since the launch of Firefox. One thing that caught my eye is the number of sessions recorded from RSS feed reader applications. Seeing as how the majority of you are reading this very post from within your RSS reader, my question to you is this: What percentage of the time do you actually visit this site when reading through the RSS feed? And requests to the RSS file do not count. I want to know what percentage of the time you actually click on the post in your RSS reader and visit the site in it's full design glory. Fire away in the comments.
Live Bookmarks in Firefox
I was having a conversation with DL Byron today and we were talking about how we go about reading our favorite web sites. I started explaining how I use FeedDemon at home for all of my feeds and a selective number of key feeds via Blo.gs at work. He mentioned a feature in Firefox called Live Bookmarks which has relatively gone unnoticed and unmentioned by the web community at large. I took his advice and checked it out. I was pretty amazed at this functionality as it was something I publicly requested from browsers when RSS feeds had just started appearing on blogs. Thanks to Firefox it's now here. The first sign of this feature is that little orange icon in the bottom right corner of the browser. This works much like a similar feature in FeedDemon only there is one catch: it works like a bookmark, reads like a feed. Once you add a Live Bookmark it will create a folder in your bookmarks for that feed and inside you will find all of the posts in that feed when they are posted. Honestly if you are still not sure what the fuss is about I encourage you to simply take it for a spin and see for yourself. This is yet another reason why you should be using Firefox.
More on Web Credibility
Joshua Porter comments on Digital Web Magazine's latest article in his post How does Web Credibility Relate to Web Design? I think Joshua makes some good points here, and with any study we should always be a little skeptical about the results. Ultimately doing the research yourself (and I do mean performing your own studies, not referencing ones that have already been done) is the best way to get solid results. I also want to remind everyone that it is not about separating usability from web design (or even removing it from the equation), it's about paying attention to the details of web design as much as we pay attention to the details of usability and IA these days.
EDS in CSS
It looks like EDS has redesigned in XHTML 1.0 transitional with CSS for layout. With that said, I think I am going to stop posting when giant web sites such as this one redesign using CSS. It's not that I no longer care, but this is pretty much old hat for most of us. Let's face it, the next logical step for anyone's public-facing corporate web site should be a CSS layout... hopefully standards compliant, hopefully using XHTML where possible. Anything less would be simply perpetuating an existing problem. [from Web-Graphics]
Firefox takes first place
Since the browser stats that we posted in October seemed to raise a lot of eyebrows. Well, while checking my browser stats out this month I was pretty shocked at the results. I think you will have to see this to believe it. First go read the October post and then contrast that to these current stats:
One of the most amazing parts about the stats is not shown here. Of that 34.25% for Firefox you see here, 67.05% is for version 1.0 which only released just days ago. Feel free to add your site's stats in the comments.
Design Still Matters
I am back from Vegas and Pittsburgh and there is some news to catch up on. Here is an interesting study done on How People Evaluate a Web Site's Credibility. The study findings report that "when evaluating the credibility of a Web site, participants commented on the design look of the site more often than any other Web site feature." Second most was Information Design/Structure of the site at 28.5%, and Information Focus of the site at 25.1%. [from Info Design]
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine (live from Las Vegas) contributing writer, Dirk Knemeyer, returns to propose a major shift in our approach to and execution of Web design as the catalyst for more innovative and creative Web experiences. The article is entitled The End of Usability Culture. This may be a touchy subject for some our readers so I encourage you to hear the man out and read through the full article in depth before commenting. With that said, enjoy. On another note, we have changed the subject lines of our newsletter emails per James Henderson suggestion. And this week's readership question has been posted. Special thanks to Tim Wouters for suggesting this topic. Thank you for reading.
Readership Question: The Next Emerging Thing on the Web
For this week's readership question I am going to ask each of you to pull out and dust off your crystal ball for a moment. I always have believed that we here at Digital Web Magazine cover the topic of innovation and advancement within the Web industry as much as possible without becoming astrologists. However it's always good to take a moment and question that forward looking approach to see just how far forward we are looking. So this week's readership question is: To you, what do you think is the next big thing for the Web? It could be something that is new and emerging or something that is already existing but just starting to come to full bloom. It could be a technology, a process, or perhaps even and ideology. Please share your thoughts in the comments of this post. Special thanks to reader, Tim Wouters, for suggesting this topic.
Well, today is the big day for the mozillians, Firefox 1.0 has released. Yes, you read that correctly, the one is in front of the decimal point. You may have one heck of a time trying to get the Mozilla.org site to load, so here are a few mirrors thanks to Google Cache and Slashdot. If that doesn't work, try this site. Just another sign that times are changing.
Summary of Readership Questions
The daily news is going to be a bit slow this week as I will be on the road (first Vegas, then Pittsburgh). Rest assured a new issue will come out Wednesday provided I am able to find ample Internet access. With that said I want to thank everyone who has participated in the past readership questions, it has been a very insightful experience. We are already in the process of implementing some of the changes you have suggested, expect to see them coming to life this week and next. For those who missed the last few, here they are:
- If you could improve one thing...
- How often do you share articles?
- How long should our blog posts be?
- What day should we publish on?
Breaking the 80/20 Rule
Over the past few weeks I have been conducting an experiment of sorts. It's a test of the 80/20 rule; 80 percent of the most vital web industry information can be accounted for not by 20 percent of all web sites (and, perhaps, by only 20 individuals). I have been reading through a collective list of about 380 something RSS feeds for the past few weeks, searching for new and unique news related to the web industry. I am by no means a fan of glorifying the already glorified A-Listers, however, after the last two weeks I would say I think the rule is fairly accurate. There is a lot of useless and regurgitated news out there. Now, if you are expecting me to list the blogs I found to be vital you are sadly mistaken... that would only perpetuate the problem. I think the news within this industry needs to be more diversified, not more consolidated. So how do we do that? Well, it starts with you; what you write and what you read. Think about that for a moment and then share your thoughts in the comments area.
T-Model for UX
Peter Boersma has published an interesting model of the User Experience and it's relation to Information Architecture called the T-Model. This is a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people, especially those who deal with Interaction Design and even Web Design. It dives into the mess that is defining the damn thing for IA, and the issue of Little IA and Big IA. With that said Thomas Vander Wal has already made some comments about this, I'd like to hear what you have to say about it. Feel free to post your comments right here.
More on Content Aggregators
Joshua Porter has posted a follow-up to his Content Aggregators article. In his follow-up he writes about some traits of the most popular aggregators that he noticed since writing the article. Those traits include describing content accurately, publishing on a schedule, publishing within a genre and accepting the loss of visual style. Go check it out.
Juxt Interactive redesign
It looks like Juxt Interactive has redesigned. Now I wouldn't expect this site to validate or have a CSS driven layout, but as far as creative goes, it's pretty impressive. Todd Purgason's interview was one of the first we published on Digital Web Magazine. Hats off to Todd and team. [from DigitalThread]
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
This week's issue of Digital Web Magazine is a special double issue. In this issue we have a great book review by Andrew Stevens. Andrew has reviewed Christopher Schmitt's latest CSS book, the CSS Cookbook. Also in this issue Joshua Porter writes a fascinating article on how content aggregators and search engines are changing the playing field of web design. The article is entitled Home Alone? How Content Aggregators Change Navigation and Control of Content. Also, this week's readership question is simple; if you could improve one thing about Digital Web Magazine, what would it be? Ok, that is all for this week, see you in seven days with more in-depth articles on web design, web development, and information architecture.
Readership Question: If you could improve one thing
This week's readership question is a simple one, however I would like you to take some time to seriously think about your answer before responding. And the question is: If you could improve one thing about Digital Web Magazine, what would it be? Answers such as "nothing, I like it how it is" don't qualify. Be original, don't copy anyone else's answer. And please, for heaven sakes, be rational about it. Consider the subject matter and the volunteer staff and the web publishing community as a whole.
Dealing with Design Theft
Simon Collison is in A quandary about web plagiarism. His story reminds me a lot of an experience I had not too long ago. I haven even written about this very issue back in 1999 when it started becoming a problem. Thankfully Simon's post reminded me to check that 148th attempt at design theft... and it turns out they finally did redesign their site. While the design still echoes Digital Web Magazine a little, it's not enough for it to matter anymore. Which brings me to the point of this post... I am by no means a copyright lawyer, however I do have a few techniques that can get someone to pull down a stolen design quite quickly... or at least elicit a reply and action from the offending party. If your design has been stole, let me know and I'll give you some artillery.
A User's Emotional Needs
Keith has another great post out on Meeting a User's Emotional Needs which goes right in hand with yesterday's post on Quantifying the User Experience. In Keith's post he references Peter Morville's User Experience honeycomb which is as good of a place as any to start understanding how to meet your user's tangible and emotional needs. The complicated part, of course, is when the business needs and goals do not match the user's needs and goals (as often is the case). This is where the true artform of a good strategist comes into play.
Information Architecture Research Papers
Peter Morville has posted about Information Architecture Research. In his post he has included a good list of "freely accessible research papers worth review before you plunge into your next information architecture project." The list includes the subjects of Information Seeking Behavior, Structure and Organization, Navigation, and of course Search. I highly recommend reading through those papers on this list that spark your interest.