News : December 2004
Visio Stencils for Information Architects
Well, after some more tweaking and minor adjustments I have released a more finalized set of Visio Stencils for Information Architects. Feel free to download use and tweak to your heart's content. I'll be making updates to the files over time so check back every so often to see if there is a newer version out. With that said I ask that you do not distribute these files and only point to the stencils page or to the files on my server directly to ensure that all links are pointing to the latest versions of the stencils. Enjoy!
Anne van Kesteren has some good suggestions on how to Avoid 404s with smarter URLs. These are some examples of techniques we use here at Digital Web Magazine along with things like mod-rewrite with .htaccess. We even have rewrites and redirects integrated right into our CMS for easy updating. Did I mention you can use these tools to help avoid image hotlinking.
Back in Seattle
Winter break for me is over, at least as far as holiday travels go. I am still on vacation for the next week but the staff is back in action getting ready for our next issue. A quick check at the survey numbers for the 2004 readership survey show that we are still short a number of responses from our readership. I know many of you have been on vacation like I have been over the past month so this may be the first you have heard about it. If you haven't already, please take the time to complete the Annual Readership Survey for 2004. Once we get enough responses I will stop bugging you about this (hey, it's my job) and we will close down the survey so we can start analyzing the data to be published on the site.
Seattle BBS 05 F2F
BBS 05, AIfIA, UXnet, and the Seattle IA Meetup Group are proud to present the first joint Seattle BBS 05 Face To Face (F2F). The event will take place on January 24th at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront. Details about the event can be found here. If you are interested in going please RSVP. Also, Digital Web Magazine readers, there are discounted tickets avilable for the conference, BBS 05, that surrounds this event, so please let me know if you are interested in attending the conference and I will get you the info you need for the discount. Also, please feel free to pass the word along to any friends or colleagues you may have in the Seattle area or those you know that may be in the area around January 24th. I hope to see you there!
Readership Question: What is your favorite Digital Web Magazine article/blog post?
I know we are on Winter Break so there is no new issue to accompany this week's Readership Question, but I thought it would be a good time to go nostalgic on everyone. This week's readership questions are: What is your favorite Digital Web Magazine blog post? And what is your favorite Digital Web Magazine article? Post your responses in the comments below. Also, if you haven't already, please complete the Annual Readership Survey, we are about 180 responses shy of how many responses we got last year and it would nice if we could meet that mark. As always, thank you for reading.
Next steps for UX and usability
On the thread of UX being too big or too small, Kimberly Krause writes a great post entitled "What The User Experience Community Thinks." She has some very good points here about how the UX community should work together to find better, more well-rounded solutions to problems. To quote her, "I think what unites anyone associated with the planning of a web site is wanting a clear understanding of who will be using it, and how." I couldn't agree more. This is the topic that Jeff Veen, Christina Wodtke, and myself will be exploring at SXSW Interactive in our panel enetitled "How to Inform Design: How to Set Your Pants on Fire" It will be fun for the whole UX family.
Joshua Porter has an interesting post entitled You want Styles with That? ...which, as you may have guessed, uses the analogy of fast food in relation to choosing between minimally-styled content and heavily-styled content. It's a good read, go check it out.
New Issue of A List Apart
Our sister site, A List Apart has another new issue out today. In this issue Daniel M. Frommelt shows how you can create Cross-Column Pull-Outs using CSS and good old XHTML. Note: the examples don't really render well inside of the ALA template, so click on the provided links throughout the article for a full page example.
Web Analytics and Web Browsers
Mark this day down on your calendars. Eric Meyer is starting to think about web analytics and even starting to talk like a web analytics analyst as well. I agree with all of Eric's points here. The only stats that matter for your web site are your web site's own stats. The way stats like those from WebSideStory come into play are more for sites that don't exist yet or for just getting a general since of the mass that is the entire (or some of) audience of the web. Here at ZAAZ we have entire teams of people doing web analytics who read through data about not just what browsers your site's users are using but also where they are going, where they are failing to go, and even why this is happening.
Big UX thinking too small?
As a follow up to the article we previously mentioned, Christina Wodtke has posted a rebuttal of sorts aptly entitled "The User Experience Community to Thinking too Small", meanwhile Victor Lombardi offers a few words of comical relief.
Is UX thinking too big?
Kevin Cheng makes some good points in his post The User Experience Community is Thinking Too Big which is a summarized version of the presentation by the same name that he gave at the UXnet London launch event. I agree with most of Kevin's points here though I think he misread Dirk's article to some degree. From my perspective I do think it's the right time, but I agree with the points about the smaller shops. There are a lot of one man shops, but there are also a lot of large agencies and large in-house teams that can have individuals covering only one or two disciplines. It's all a matter of your perspective. However, instead of attempting to answer the question by myself here, perhaps, you, the readers, have some input. Is UX thinking too big? Go ahead and add your comments and feedback to this post.
2004 Annual Readership Survey
Well, we have received a lot of responses to our survey, but we are still looking to get more responses in before the end of the year. I know there are several readers out there who have not completed the survey, so I am asking you to please take a moment out of your day to complete the survey. The results will help guide the direction of Digital Web Magazine so that we can better serve you, our readers. So, if you haven't done so already, please complete the Annual Readership Survey and thank you for helping us make this publication better.
Speaking at the Blog Business Summit
Just confirmed today, I will be speaking on a panel at the Blog Business Summit along with Mary Hodder. The title of the panel is "Enhancing Internal Communications with Blogs, Wikis, and More" and we will be talking about what tools provide what benefits, how to overcome organizational resistance to new systems, how self-organizing communities can benefit your company, and showing real-world examples of organizations leveraging these applications. The event is January 24th through January 25th at the Bell Harbor Conference Center here in Seattle. Mark your calendars.
2005 SXSW Web Awards deadline
Today is your last chance to submit your sites to the 2005 SXSW Web Awards. Digital Web Magazine will also be contributing a little bit of something for the Best Of Show prize package. Go check it out, you have just a few hours left!
Browser Stats Reloaded
Getting back to browser stats. It looks like Firefox usage on this site is still growing, but perhaps a bit more steady than before. Here are the stats to date:
|Browser||Session %||% Change|
|Internet Explorer||28.84%||down 3.27%|
As always, it is important to note that this is a developer site, not a consumer site so the stats do not reflect mainstream web usage. Also, be sure to check out my previous stat reports if you like: November 14th and October 25th.
Ten things your web sites should be doing
Rather than posting about my web predictions for 2005 or rambling off a list of products or tools you must have, etc. I have decided that this year I will post a list of things you should have or be doing on your web site or Intranet. After all, we are living in a modern world, it's time your web sites start acting like it.
- Offering regularly updated information (blogs, CMSs, etc.)
- Increased efficiency in news and information distribution (RSS, ATOM, etc.)
- Alternative methods of information distribution (email newsletters, RSS, del.icio.us, etc.)
- Enhanced notification and announcement systems (pings, email alerts, etc.)
- A place for your site's users to offer feedback and input (blog comments, forums, etc.)
- Improved performance and code optimization (CSS, XHTML, etc.)
- Multiple ways to access information (multi-faceted navigation, folksonomies, etc.)
- Intelligent system to system communication (XML, SOAP, etc.)
- Collaborative communication and documentation (Wikis, blogs, etc.)
- On-demand support feedback (user-driven FAQs, click-to-chat, etc.)
If some of this sounds foreign to you, perhaps it's time to start re-thinking how your business's web solutions are being implemented and begin working smarter, not harder. Pick one from the list, start thinking about how it can help your business. Set some goals and a plan for its roll-out. Be reasonable and practical, you don't need to implement all of these things in all cases, but a few may do your business a lot of good.
Having recently finished getting the Wiki for my company's Intranet out the door I thought this article by Michael Angeles was pretty timely and helpful: Using a Wiki for Documentation and Collaborative Authoring. Pretty much every major collaborative project I am involed with outside of work has an internal wiki and sometimes a public wiki.
Visio Stencils for Information Architecture
There is nothing I hate more than being sick. Now that I am recovering I thought I would share something with my dedicated readers. For those of you who use Visio for your IA work such as wireframes, sitemaps, and process flows I have uploaded my own set of visio stencils here for you to use. They are still pretty rough around the edges but they work fine. You'll need a current version of Visio, it won't work with the older versions. They are .vss files inside of a .zip file so you may want to have WinZip handy. If you want to see some of the other IA stencils out there I recommend checking out the Visio Stencil resource section in the Web Power Tools presentation that Ross Olson and I did.
Something happened today that seems to happen about once every few weeks. I decided to share my experience with you, the reader, so you can learn what NOT to do. So I am sitting there reading through about 600 blog feeds, skimming for gems. After several clicks and much reading I find what looks like a good article about a good topic. One of those best practices sort of things. So I click. My mistake. The best practice article I am sure would have been a good read... provided I could find the article buried in the page. There were so many graphical ads, text ads posing as content, and widgets that I literally could not find the content. I gave up. I don't care how good the article is or how many other bloggers are blogging it. I don't event want to link it. I don't want to expose you, the reader, to such hideous design and IA. So what's the spin on all of this? The article was about how to not clutter your web page. Do as I say, not as I do. For those wishing to glean a few tips on how to avoid clutter, I, instead, point you to (and ask you to) Keep it simple, stupid!.
Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works
Congrats to Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler for releasing the 2nd edition of their book Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works. I have a copy of the first edition of this book and if the 2nd is anything like the 1st, I would highly recommend getting yourself a copy of the book. Expect to see a related book review and/or interview in the near future. Meanwhile, check out this interview Digital Web Magazine had with Kelly Goto back in March of 2003.
Seattle area web workshop
For those of you in the Puget Sound area, you might want to RSVP for the full-day Building of Basecamp Workshop. I and several other locals will be attending to hear the learnings of our friends at 37Signals. Space is very limited (read: 40 people max). See the details on the workshop page at 37Signals.
Yes it's Wednesday and you are probably coming here to look for the new readership question or to read the new issue this week. Well, you just missed us. We have packed up the digital printing press and are going on a short winter break until shortly after new years. Relax, we'll still be posting to the blog, but probably a bit less than normal. Until the next isssue comes out, how about giving us a helping hand by completing the Annual Readership Survey if you haven't already done so? Go ahead, it's only going to take a few minutes out of your day.
Attributes and Tooltips
Roger Johansson has posted about The alt and title attributes. It's a great post that helps clear up the air about how these attributes should be used. I recommend that anyone who developes XHTML read through this in detail.
2005 SXSW Web Awards
You have just 10 days left to get your new site submitted to the 2005 SXSW Web Awards. The final deadline for entries on December 17th. SXSWi is putting together a huge prize package for the Best of Show winner this year (much more than the listed $1000 value) that includes a complementary travel package from SXSW, in addition to other goodies that they're still finalizing with other partners and sponsors. It also appears that stand-up comedian Laura Swisher (formerly of TechTV's "Unscrewed with Martin Sargent") will emcee this year's event. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and send them your site.
Help us make the Fast 50
Ok, this post is a shamelss self-promotion of the efforts of the staff here at Digital Web Magazine. We have been entered into consideration for Fast Company's Fast 50 list. If you visit our profile page at the bottom you will see a comment form. Please feel free to add your props about this project and rate us. You don't even have to enter a comment or your name and location, you can simply give us a rating and hit submit. Each rating point helps for consideration as a Fast 50 project. So rate away, and thank you for reading.
Ebb and Flow of Web Design
Well, it looks like Vinnie Garcia wants to start a fire in the web design community. The post is short and sweet, "A web designer achieves enlightenment when he stops trying to control how a page looks on other people
Offshoring and Cultural Differences
Gene Smith makes a case for Outsourcing IA/UX... or what he calls "nearshoring." I agree with several of the points made here. I agree that outsourcing is a possibility for the IA/UX arena, however I think that there are several deeper problems to the issue than what has been largely addressed in Gene's post or elsewhere for that matter. One of which is the complexity of the project, another is the cultural differences of the teams. Having worked at a previous job where they offshored work to India and having been in a role where I needed to communicate with those offshore offices, there is a considerable cultural disconnect with the definition of a web site is, how it should function, and how it should look. I see this every year when I judge the handful of sites in the Philippine Web Awards. There is nothing wrong with having a different view of how things ought to be, but you can expect the results to be seasoned with that cultural difference. And that may be what you want, it depends on your audience. But it's not for everyone and all audiences.
The Future of IA
In case you missed them in our previous post, Christina has re-posted her slides on The Future of IA. Yes, unfortunatly they are ONLY avilable in Powerpoint... sorry, I can't make a PDF for you. You can try nicely asking Christina.
Complete the Readership Survey
If you haven't already had the chance, please take a moment to invest in Digital Web Magazine by completing our Annual Readership Survey. So far, 195 people have completed it. Take a moment to add your thoughts, ideas and suggestions today.
Using web analytics to predict the future
Lou Rosenfeld has posted a great story about how the Financial Times Uses Search Log Analysis to Predict the Future... well, sort of. We do a similar thing here at Digital Web Magazine but we use not only log file analysis, but also blog post analysis using the Watch feature in Feeddemon, and new analysis using the News Alerts feature from Google News. Of course, these only show one aspect of the analysis (quantitative). I would dare to say that quantitative data analysis should always be paired with qualitative analysis such as reader surveys, email feedback review, comment review, etc.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine is another double issue. In this issue we have a great book review by Matthew Vanden Boogart on Elizabeth Castro's book Creating a Web Page with HTML: Visual QuickProject Guide. Also in this issue Digital Web Magazine's Editor in Chief, D. Keith Robinson, publishes his thoughts on what he terms as Finding The Sweet Spot: Bridging the Gap Between User and Business Goals. We have also published this week's readership question which is: What one web expert do you think we should interview? And if you haven't already, please be sure to complete the Annual Readership Survey to help us improve Digital Web Magazine to better meet your needs. Thank you for reading.
Readership Question: Who should we interview?
This week's readership question is going to be a simple one... a simple question, but perhaps a bit difficult to answer. As some you already know we interview web experts from nearly every corner of the industry. We get a good perspective on the critical issues they face and why they do what they do. We try to get interviews with the experts you want to learn more about. Being that the new year is coming up I would like to know what one web expert do you think we should interview? Now, please note, it can't be someone we already interviewed before, so take a look at the list of past interviewees before responding. Ideally this person should be someone the web industry knows somewhat, or wants to know more about... so nominating your cousin's next door neighbor won't count. Think long and hard about this, if all goes well we should see someone's name bubble to the surface and we will seek them out for an interview right here on Digital Web Magazine. Make your nomination in the comments for this post.
Joe Gillespie retires
There are few people I can say who have authored publications that have helped influence my career. Today Joe Gillespie, publisher of Web Page Design for Designers (or more affectionately known as WPDFD), has announced his retirement. This is the final edition of the publication that we will ever see. Thank you, Joe, for eight glorious years of great content. You will be missed. You can read one of the articles Joe wrote for us, Alien Typography, which still remains to be a popular article to this day. [from Lockergnome]
KM and Intranets
Here is an interesting post about how Avenue A/Razorfish uses blogs & social networks for internal collaboration. It's interesting to see how other companies are adopting these technologies. At my workplace, ZAAZ, we have setup a Wiki for internal collaboration. I tend to prefer the functionality of a Wiki over a blog for the simple reason that it's dynamic. On a blog the information is in the form of a static a post. Comments are rarely editable by the author once they are posted. On a Wiki information is dynamic, anyone can edit it. Comments can be placed right in the document below the information the comment pertains to. Even more so, in an Intranet environment each change can be tagged with who has edited it which makes people more accountable for their changes. We use FlexWiki and it seem to work great... it's not 100% perfect, but it is evolving and with a little help it will be an ideal KM solution. I hear Amazon.com also uses a Wiki.
Where is IA headed?
Christina Wodtke has published her presentation on "The Future of IA" avilable in PPT and PDF. While the presentation starts out in the farm things start to come together a little deeper into the slides. I highly recommend you take a look even if you already think you know what IA is. [From Solitude]