News : March 2005
For several years now I have been searching for a decent calendar app being that I have long since abandoned any use of Outlook (due to its nature to seemingly attract security attacks and viruses [virii?]). At any rate I checked all of the usual shareware and freeware sources and it seemed that every calendar app out there was either complicated to install (read: "you'll need a PHP server and a SQL database for this app") or bloated with features (integration with every little app known to man and functionality that I will never use). Then Matt Haughey pointed me to Sunbird made by the Mozilla group. So I checked it out. This is exactly what I had been looking for. It's light weight, simple features, simple interface, easy to install, and does exactly what it is suppose to do and no more. If you haven't checked it out and are in the market of an app that can track your client meetings, project deadlines, tasks to complete and so forth, this is pretty handy. Even offers the ability to import iCalendar, vCalendar, XML and other formats.
IxD / UX Encyclopedia
Interaction-Design.org just launched today. The site is "the beginnings of a free, open-content, peer-reviewed Encyclopedia covering terms from the disciplines of Interaction Design, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Design, Human Factors, Usability, Information Architecture, and related fields." To top it off they are using a Creative Commons copyright licence. All I have to say about that is, well, it's about time. So what are you waiting for go help out. [from: Column Two]
Is the page dead?
For those of you who were unable to make it to the IA Summit this year, you are in luck. It looks like there are some audio recordings of some of the presentations available online. Listing to the audio and going through the presenter's deck is almost like being there. One presentation that may be of specific interest is Gene Smith's presentation entitled Beyond the Page. Some interesting perspectives here on the existence of the most basic unit of the online user experience: the page. Is it dead? Things are changing regarding how we think, use, and repurpose web content and information. An interesting presentation that you have to hear and see for yourself. Also check out Gene's links to Peter Morville's presentation on folksonomies.
Jobster, a new way of hiring
One of the projects I worked on through my former employer has launched today. The site is Jobster. No, this is hardly another Monster.com or headhunter company. Think of it as Friendster for the job market. Now, we all know LinkedIn launched a job service on their site, but I tried it and it didn't produce results. Jobster has a much greater potential here. Why? Because they are putting the customer's needs and the user's needs before the technology and even before their own company. They did the proper user research to help inform their design and technology decisions. It's not just social-networking with a job board glued to the top, it's all inclusive. Once you start using it you will see what I mean. One of the most interesting things about Jobster is that they know the reality of hiring someone is all based on who you know and who you are willing to recommend. It's all based on trust. Read more about the launch in their news release and on their blog.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
Some people see the glass as half empty, others see the glass as half full. It all depends on your point of view. In this edition of Digital Web Magazine, Wendy Chisholm, an accessibility specialist from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, inspires us to see opportunity in the challenges we face as designers. In "Innovative Design Inspired by Accessibility," Wendy poses excellent questions to help us create inclusive design solutions. You're going to want to bookmark this one.
New Issue of A List Apart
A new issue of ALA is out. In this issue Kim Siever explains how to Spruce-Up Site Maps (read: styled unordered lists). Also in this issue is an article by Eric Shepherd on Hybrid CSS Dropdowns Amazon style (read: styled unordered lists).
Scope & Ownership of User Experience
While we are on the subject of presentations, Dirk Knemeyer, Matteo Penzo, and myself will be presenting Scope & "ownership" of user experience at CHI 2005 in Portland, Oregon as part of the Development Consortium. The short presentation will be on Sunday, April 3rd at 9:30 AM at the Oregon Convention Center. I hope to see you there.
The Future of Digital Product Design
For those of you in Portland, Oregon Dirk Knemeyer of Involution Studios will be speaking on The Future of Digital Product Design at this month's DevGroup NW meeting this Friday at PSU. I highly recommend attending this presentation, it's going to be pretty interesting.
I've been a bit under the weather as of late so that is why posting has slowed down a little bit. I am hoping to kick this bug by next week. I am posting this because I didn't want anyone to think anything tragic has happened since that's often the case when a blogger all of the sudden doesn't post as frequently as they used to.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
Debugging can be a real downer without the proper tools. In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Daryl L. L. Houston dons his lumberjack garb and investigates ways to use logging as an effective debugging tool in his article Being a PHP Lumberjack. If you have been following our PHP and MySQL article series this piece ties in nicely. Lastly, some of you may have noticed that WebVisions is just around the corner this year is shaping up pretty nicely. We have already secured some great speakers and are in the process of squaring away the complete list of candidate speakers. We'll announce the speakers once we have them all confirmed. That said, I hope to see you all there in July. Thank you for reading.
Cameron Moll has published a great post entitled The non-typographer's guide to practical typeface selection. This is a great place to start when selecting a typface for a new design. There are some very handy tips here from the master himself. Meanwhile Microsoft has announced that it will ship with its OS with six brand new typefaces created especially for extended on-screen reading. I checked out the six typefaces and, well, I am not excited, are you not excited? For very step forward I feel like sometimes we are taking 20 steps back.
UX Dead? IA Thriving?
While most of my colleagues are still recovering from a five day hang over from SXSW Interactive some of us have noticed a few blips on the radar this week. One from Peter Merholz's who asks Is "User Experience," for all intents and purposes, dead? to which Dave Rogers has a follow-up post entitled Is UX Dead?. Peter points out that there is no UX community (IAI), book (the Polar Bear book), or publication (Boxes & Arrows). Ahh, don't speak to fast here, all of that is about to change... mark my words. The second thing that came across my radar was Lou Rosenfeld's post Happy Times for IA? I really couldn't agree more with Lou's points here. I am seeing the same thing even has just a one-man-shop. I, however, agree with some of the comments people posted here: "Organizations already acknowledge IA - they just have no idea what the IA practice is." ..which goes back to defining the damn thing, which we never really did and lead to a lot of arguments and debates and people leaving with their heads shaking. Ironically this is the same problem UX seems to be having right now. More to the point, we don't need to define it, we need to do it. We need to show what good IA or UX is and what can be done. Lead by example people.
SXSW Photos, Slides, and Video
Just in case you missed them, I have published my photos from SXSW Interactive 2005 here on Flickr. If you recognize anyone I forgot to mention in those photos please let me know. Also feel free to add tags for those you know in the photos. For those looking for my slides or Jeff Veen's slides from the How to Inform Design panel, they are now avilable online along with my 20x2 video presentation on What's the Word?.
The 2005 SXSW People Awards
Ok, as we do every year now, rather than just posting a standard list of names and links to people I meet, I ve everyone a title of sorts. The titles were developed and given based on a complicated algorithm using darts, sticky notes and newspaper clippings. Without further delay, here is the list, enjoy:
Most anticipated meeting: Krista Stevens
Most overdue meeting: Craig Newmark
Best dressed: Alex Steffen
Most currently paid to blog: Jason Kottke
Newest office of his own: Doug Bowman
Best height: Jeff Veen
Best icons: Dan Cederholm
Best creative director glasses: Jeffrey Zeldman
Best thinker: Thomas Vander Wal
Best new look for the year: Ben Brown
Most universal business card: Xin Wen
Best smart-aleck: Jeremy Keith
Most blind-sighted by Keith: Mike Davidson
Most known but never met: Matt Jones
Most modest: Hugh Forrest
Best new face: Henry Faber
Most elusive: Jason Fried
2nd most elusive: Kelly Goto
Best Justin Timberlake outfit: D. Keith Robinson
Biggest celebrity sighting: Kevin Smith
Biggest celebrity in his own right: Kevin C Smith
Most independent: James McNally
Best conversationalist: Mark Trammell
Best voicemail ever left: Dunstan Orchard
Best Father: Eric Meyer
Best Couple: Nichole and Nate Steiner
Most networked: Matthew Mullenweg
Best I'am on vacation t-shirt: Jason McVearry
Best pitcher: Jennifer Taylor
Most informative: Cameron Moll
Best Trucker Style: Thomas Brodahl
Best short chat: Michael Nolan
Best hat: Elsa Kawai
Best bling bling: Josh Greenberg
Best advocate: Kit Seeborg
Most inspirational: Malcolm Gladwell
Best hair: John Halcyon Styn
Best branding: Min Jung Kim
Most notable apparatus: Ryan Gantz
Busiest Person: Lane Becker
Best lurker: Biz Stone
Most friendly: Taylor McKnight
Best use of creative text: Andy Budd
Most out of control: Paul Scrivens
Best airport conversation: Nikolai Nolan
Best greeting: Mike Rundle
Most notorious: Joe Clark
Best tattoo: Ian Lloyd
Best Photographer: Michael Buffington
Most Photogenic: James Craig
Best stealth photo: Myself taking Eris Free's photo
Most regret not meeting: Jim Coudal
Most simplistic business card: Mr. Joshua Darden
Biggest business card I have ever seen: Elly Thompson
Coolest name: Trey Piepmeier
Best stupid bar trick: Derek Featherstone
Most in need of a new host: Kimberly Blessing
Best person who didn't want an award but got one anyway: Cam Barrett
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
This week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Meryl K. Evans returns to interview one of the great web designers of today; Cameron Moll. I had the opportunity to meet Cameron in Austin and I was seriously impressed by his ability to not only teach but to inspire. It is very clear that Cameron an in-depth understand of web design that goes far beyond what he articulates on his blog, Authentic Boredom. I highly recommend you not only read this interview, but book mark his blog and subscribe to his RSS feed, because if something brilliant is going to surface in the design world Cameron will have his finger on it. On an unrelated note I would like to announce that D. Keith Robinson is stepping down from his role as Editor in Chief of Digital Web Magazine so he can focus on his career and personal life. Keith has been an integral part of Digital Web Magazine for some time and we wish him the best of luck on what ever ventures he plans to take. That said, Krista Stevens is now stepping up to the role of Editor in Chief and has already brought some forward-thinking ideas to the table. Nothing is finalized yet, but I can tell you that this is going to be an amazing year for Digital Web Magazine. With that, enjoy the interview and as always, thank you for reading
Standards-Compliance Web Developer wanted
Back from SXSW and just now catching up on email. It looks like Davezilla is spreading the word that one of the oldest ad agencies is looking for a standards-compliance Web developer; someone who eats, breathes and dreams XHTML and CSS. If you're a Zen Garden fanatic, proficient on Mac and Windows, working on some very high profile sites, there's a killer job waiting for you.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
This week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Jim Amos joins us with a great article entitled Easy-peasy PHP. In the article Jim covers includes, switching and compression. Jim gives several practical examples showing how to use basic PHP to display dynamic web content without giving you a headache. This is a great companion article to the articles we recently published on databases as well. Also this week the Digital Web Magazine staff heads south to Austin for the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival. If you are attending SXSW, please be sure to say hi. As always, thank you for reading.
As you no doubt know by now, several of the Digital Web Magazine staff will be heading to South by Southwest Interactive near the end of this week. Postings here to the daily news will be a bit slower than normal for that week. If you are going to be in Austin for the event, please come see us at one of these events:
Sunday, March 13, 2005
- 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
- SXSW Web Awards
Downtown Hilton (500 E 4th)
Monday, March 14, 2005
- 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
- How to Inform Design: How to Set Your Pants on Fire
Austin Convention Center (Room 17AB)
- 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
- 20x2, version 5.0
Tambaleo (302 Bowie)
- 9:30 pm - close
- Digital Web Magazine F2F
Club DeVille (900 Red River)
Please note that these are just events we will be either participating in or attending for sure. There are plenty of other official, unofficial, public and private parties we will be attending during our week in March, most of which can be found on Upcoming.org. See you there!
Web Business Columnist wanted
Run your own web design business? Still got any time left over to help give back to the Web design community by sharing your best practices for building your clientele, working with clients, managing scope creep, keeping the creative spark alive, dealing with challenging clients, networking AND getting enough sleep at night? We want to hear from you. Digital Web Magazine is looking for a creative, motivated individual to write a column on running a web design business. To apply, contact the Editor.
Kim Goodwin: Getting Your Design Built
Pabini Gabriel-Petit tells me that she has posted to BayDUX a very in-depth review of the Cooper event that took place on February 23rd, at which Kim Goodwin spoke about "Getting Your Design Built." Pabini's review is actually quite detailed and I highly recommend you give it a read.
Reader Survey Results
The results from the 2004 Digital Web Magazine readership survey are now online. I think one of the most interesting pieces of information here is the number of readers who are now using Firefox. In addition other helpful information surfaced such as the method at which readers tend to look for articles on Digital Web Magazine. The average user is:
- 25 to 34 years old
- a hybrid designer (markup/CSS and graphics)
- lives in United States
- works in the Internet industry
- works for a company with less than 100 employees
- sets business goals and direction
- also reads A List Apart
- uses Windows
- at 1280x1024
- has a DSL connection
- prefers to use Firefox
- typically only visits once a month
- reads articles when the RSS feed is updated
- chooses to browse by topic
- does not subscribe to the newsletter
- reads the New Articles RSS feed
- prefers the topics of CSS and User Experience
...still with me? OK, well go check out the results in more depth now. Once again, thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the survey, I am forever grateful. Extra special thanks to Krista Stevens for putting all the hard work into making the survey possible and the results clear.
New Issue of Digital Web Magazine
This week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Paul Tero returns to dig beneath the surface of web sites and get into the inter-workings of the databases. The article is entitled Databases Behind Shops, it is a continuation of Paul's great Introduction to Databases article. I highly recommend you read it if you would like to know more about the how databases work within websites. Lastly, I would like to thank all of our readers who voted for us in the SXSW Web Awards for the People's Choice Award. If you didn't get a chance to vote you are in luck, SXSW has extended the deadline for voting until just before noon on March 4th. You can vote once every day until voting closes at that time, so hurry, there are only two days left for voting! Once again thanks for getting us here and most of all, thank you for reading.
SXSWi voting extended
Much to my surprise it appears that voting for the SXSW Interactive Festival's People's Choice Award recipient has been extended until 11:59pm on Friday March 4th. Still no indication if this is Austin time or not. But all the same, go forth and vote! You can vote once a day up to and including March 4th before noon.
New Issue of A List Apart
This issue of A List Apart includes a great article entitled Use-Cases Part II: Taming Scope which was jointly authored by Norm Carr and Tim Meehan. The article goes into how to use the use-case model to control overall project scope creep. In that the article is very effective and helpful. However, I personally choose not to use the more formalized Use Cases (an artifact of RUP, sometimes including UML) as a tool and instead prefer the more simplified, informal and readable User Scenarios document that includes Personas (read: mapping user goals and tasks to business goals). Then I create a process flow document for the diagramming of key paths and processes (more like UML diagramming or perhaps flowcharting). All in all a Use Case is helpful to keeping a project on track and the client understanding the complexity of user's goals and that is exactly what this article covers. Go check it out.
The world needs more freelancers
It looks like March is the month for new avenues into professional freelancing. Following my announcement, it looks like both Andy Budd and Kris Krug are now announcing (or at least leading to) the idea they will be freelancing. I wish them both the best of success with their work, and who knows, maybe I'll work on some projects with them in the future.
The Information Architecture Institute
As I previously mentioned The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (AIfIA) is now known as The Information Architecture Institute (IAI) and the new domain with new branding launched today as well. You can read more about this change in the latest press release.
Uncomplicating the Web
D. Keith Robinson has an excellent post on Guidelines For An Uncomplicated Web which covers the philosophy of keeping it simple. The have been a few exceptions to this that I have ran into over my career. One of which is when an industry is known for busy sites with lots of features. The IA I created for the site was naturally simplistic and to the point. The client rejected it and proceeded to add "busy" back into the architecture. After the project has moved out of my hands I realized that simple may just have been too much of a shock to users of sites within this specific industry. It's the whole fear of change catch 22. Do we try to be like everyone else and fit in, or do we stand apart and lead the way for everyone else?
Vote for Digital Web Magazine
Ok everyone, noon is the cut-off for voting for Digital Web Magazine in the SXSW Web Awards for the People's Choice Award. So please do us the favor of getting in one last vote today (you can vote once a day). Thanks for all of your help, it is greatly appreciated.