News : February 2006
Design Your Ride contest deadline 3 days away
Only 3 more days left to get in your snowboard designs in for the Design Your Ride contest sponsored by Monson Boards and Kasei Sports. If you're not up to entering the contest, at least go and check out the killer designs people have sent in.
Article: Derek Featherstone interview
Derek Featherstone is a husband, a father, the curator of boxofchocolates.ca, a member of the Web Standards Project's Accessibility Task Force and the proprietor of Further Ahead, an Ottawa-based accessibility consultancy. Today, Digital Web Magazine's Carolyn Wood puts Derek under the bare bulb where he discusses strategies and techniques we can all apply to make Web sites more accessible. Read more...
New RSS feeds
Visitors with sharp eyes may have noticed some new RSS feeds around here. Or possibly others may have experienced a few hiccups over the weekend while I was building and testing them. At any rate, they're now live. If you browse to the topics page, and then select a topic, near the bottom of the page you'll find a link to a feed for articles that fall into that category. The same holds true for articles by type. And finally, all authors (including both staff and contributors) have feeds for their content as published by Digital Web. We are still considering the best placement and presentation of the links. Your suggestions and feedback are welcome!
Learn to Podcast
Free hosting for a year!
Ok, you read that right. I am going to give away a free year worth of hosting at Media Temple for the first person to ask a question in my panel, Starting Small: Web Businesses for the Rest of Us. during SXSW Interactive once we open the floor up for Q&A at the end. No if, ands, or buts... just pure free high velocity unadulterated web hosting. All you got to do is raise your hand first when we say "and now we will open the floor for some Q&A" at the end of our panel.
Hire Will Pate
Speaking of startups. I just found out that Will Pate is looking for the next big thing. That's right, the man who I consider one of the smartest business minds I have had the pleasure of meeting (see my comments on his commentary here: words to live by), is moving on. He has a post on his site entitled Web Marketing Prodigy and Sales Rainmaker Seeks Awesome Job. If you are looking to take your startup, or better yet, your idea to the next level.. well damn, hire this man! I am willing to bet that he's going to get snatched up pretty fast here.
For those starting up your own business and for those who don't know Guy Kawasaki has started blogging. And for those who don't know Guy, you should. He's the author of Art of the Start, a book I found really handy while starting my own business up. There are two recent posts I want to point out. First he's got a great list of tips for Naming your company. Not exactly the rules I used, but these will work none the less. Second, he has a podcast of himself reading Chapter 7 of his book. The chapter is entitled The Art of Raising Capital. I highly recommend you give it a listen. In fact, I recommend you buy the book, not just because... it's one of the best tools you can have in your toolbox when starting a new business. On a related note (and a shamless plug), be sure to check out my panel at SXSW Interactive: Starting Small: Web Businesses for the Rest of Us. Hope to see you there!
Tearing down the factory
Matt May has a great post about a point that I have been covering to some degree for some time, but, in this case, Matt articulated much better than I could have ever done. He’s talking about working in web teams and, well, just plain old communication. His post is entitled Tearing down the factory. Under full disclosure here, Matt is one of my business partners at Blue Flavor, none the less the points he makes are still very valid and worth a read.
Article: Usability for Rich Internet Applications
Rich Internet applications (RIAs) such as Google Maps and Basecamp help us be more productive online and off. In this issue, new contributing author Donna Maurer explores how we interact with RIAs and offers some practical tips on designing usable RIAs. Read more...
Go It Alone, for free
Digital Web Magazine columnist, Nick Gould, tells me that Bruce Judson is putting the entire contents of his book Go It Alone online for free. For those who are entrepeneurs, and for those entertaining the idea, this is a must read.
Roll Your Own Feed Filter
Joshua Porter has a pretty good post up entitled The Evolution of Information Grazing. He talks about the consumption of information and information overload online. I think he hits the nail on the head when he says that personalized post grazing is the golden path. Though I would tend to disagree in the circumstances that the information is retrieved and distributed. I don't want some else to build a filter that I can use, I want to build my own filter. Just give me the API, let me build the filter and let me pick the posts and sites to process.
Jason Fried just IMed me to tell me that Campfire has launched. No, it's not another version of Barcamp or or Foocamp.. and it's certainly not involving cookies for sale. Campfire is basically 37Signal's answer to IM. It's a web based chat service that allows you to permalink chats, share files, invite guests, etc... but the catch is, since it's a web service, you don't need to install any software to use it. You don't need to have any special ports open on your firewall or proxy server to access the chat rooms. Just plug in the URL and go. To be fair, I haven't kicked the tires much (not to many people online to chat with when your home and sick). I'll post a full report after I had a chance to try it out in greater detail.
Google acquires Measure Map
Jeff Veen tells me that it's official, today Google has acquired Measure Map, Adaptive Path's answer to web analytics for blogs. "For the near term, you will see no difference in its operations. In the not so distant future, you can expect great things from this acquisition. We couldn't be happier to find such an ideal home for Measure Map, and are thrilled at the possibilities." I am curious as to the possibility of Yahoo! acquiring Mint at this point... just speculation, but something to think about. As far as Google and Measure Map goes you can read the Googleblog blog post for more information. Congrats to Jeffrey and the Measure Map and Adaptive Path teams.
Article: Practical Usability Testing
Welcome back to columnist Joshua Kaufman. In this installment of his Information Architecture for the People column, Joshua dives into usability testing and surfaces with practical tips and techniques on how to run usability tests to discover valuable feedback. Read more...
Web 2.0 is not an industry
Keith Robinson, one of my business partners at Blue Flavor, has posted a great perspective on Web 2.0 entitled Web 2.0 as an industry? He makes some really good points about all of the Web 2.0 hype and it's sad in a way because I know there are many professionals out there who really understand what Web 2.0 is about but they are often overshadowed by the media and hype machine that has taken hold of the term and turned it into, as Keith reported, a whole industry.
Q and A: Email Newsletter
Ok, continuing with our rounds of Q and A some good feedback was given regarding our Email Newsletter. A few readers reported that its hard to find the new article information within the newsletter. I agree, it's a bit hard to find in between the sponsor ad and the other information. Another reader suggested offering the option of a HTML version of our newsletter. Good idea. Hmm, maybe we can nail two birds with one stone here... you bet we can. Thanks to Mark Wyner volunteering his time and his awesome HTML Email skills we are going to have a nice new HTML Email version of our newsletter for you as an option. The new newsletter will be significantly easier to read and find information. As I told Mark, both me and David Greiner over at Campaign Monitor are about as excited as a kid in a candy store about this new newsletter design. We'll make a big announcement when it is ready for public consumption.
For those interested in going to the Flashforward Conference and Film Festival in Seattle, Sara Todd at Peachpit tells me that Peachpit is offering $100 off for 3- and 4-day passes. Just go to this page on Peachpit.com and enter coupon code BKS6308ST when registering. Tell 'em Digital Web Magazine sent you!
Design Your Ride snowboard design competition
Ken Rossi tells us that the preliminary site for the Design Your Ride snowboard design competition put on by Monson Boards and Kasei Sports. The top 5 winners will receive a Monson Snowboard featuring their personal design. Other prizes will include Monson Skateboard decks, Media Temple Shared Server Professional hosting, three one-year basic Basecamp accounts, $100 gift certificate to You Work For Them, T-shirts from Monson and Archinect, and loads of stickers. Heck, these prizes and having a killer designed board makes me want to enter. Download the design template and get crack'n!
Q and A: Site Design
Ok, so some readers pointed out several things about the design they did not like in this last readership survey. I am going to attempt to summarize them here.
First, contrast. Some readers have complained about the contrast on the site.. asking that we up the contrast. Well, I am not sure exactly what specifically they are referring to but I have a few ideas. Perhaps its the washed out lighter color set we are using for some of our secondary colors. On the home page we also have a not true black text on a tan background. So I am curious, could any readers shed more light on this?
Some other readers also pointed out that the font is, well, as fun and exciting as Arial can get. So, well, we changed it to include Myriad. Only a few eagle eye designers ever noticed the change. Is it any better? Do you have any font suggestions for us?
Next one reader complained about seeing the blog column on the right being pushed below the article column and nav column on the left. Is anyone else seeing this? If so, what browser, platform, and browser/screen size are you running at?
Lastly, one reader, outside of the survey complained about the site's text not scaling high enough. While I do realize it should scale as far as needed... has anyone else experienced this prior to my mention of it? Anyone want to pitch in to help solve the problem?
Seven Accessibility Mistakes (Part 2)
Q and A: Smaller Business
Readers reported that the survey seemed more geared toward larger corporations and not so much smaller shops and sole proprietorships. To be honest, yes, the survey tries to pretty much cover the full gamut of business sizes from one person to multi-national corporations. We have made slight adjustments to the survey over the years adding more granularity in the options on the small business end and we will continue to do so as survey results show the need to make these kinds of adjustments.
On a related note, some readers asked that we have more articles focused on the business side of things and more specifically the small startup side. While columnist Nick Gould is making strides to cover these very things in his column The Business End, we recognize this is a huge need as of late from our readership and are working to cover this ground in more detail.
[shameless plug] Meanwhile, if you happen to be at SXSW Interactive this year, you may want to sit in on my panel Starting Small: Web Business for the Rest of Us. [/shameless plug]
Q and A: Podcasts
A few readers suggested the idea of offering a podcast of the interviews or even all of the articles along with the text version. You know, this is a great idea and I would really love to do it. The problem we encountered in doing this is kind of interesting. We approached several podcasting services (yes, you know who I am talking about) and every single one of them were only interested in providing us a space to share our feed but offered next to no help or services in actually creating the feed. This, of course, involves a somewhat well-spoken narrator. Since Digital Web Magazine is a volunteer run free publication getting this kind of talent for peanuts isn't exactly something I see happening any time soon. From there even if we did get someone willing to narrate all of our 2,000 plus word articles each week we'd also need someone to actually produce and edit the audio files. You know, someone to make sure that the levels are right and no pops in the dialog, etc. Not to mention cut out the mistakes and paste in the corrections, etc. Yes, it's a lot of hard work and no one has stepped forward to help us out. We're not audio experts and if this was a simple as a unscripted podcast like you see on most blogs, well, we'd be done by now. Any takers?
Q and A: RSS feeds
Ok, so it seems by popular demand we are going to move forward with doing the Q and A right here on the Digital Web Magazine daily news blog. So with that said, let me dig right in.
Some readers pointed out that they never knew we had two separate RSS feeds. Yes, that is right, two. One is for the Daily New blog (RSS link) which you are reading right now. The other is for the latest articles (RSS link). More information about these two feeds, how to use them, how often they update, etc can be found under the subscribe tab.
Readership Question: Post Survey Q&A
Ok, now that we have wrapped up this year's annual readership survey (results to come). I would like to pose a question to the readership. Traditionally the comments that are posted in the survey are not released in any fashion to the public. Just me and one other staff member get to access them and then we report our total survey results a few months after the survey is closed. Well, seeing that there were a lot of great comments, questions, and suggestions in there this year. I was wondering what you, the readers, felt about me addressing the topics one at a time on this blog? No, we wouldn't quote anyone verbatim, we just want to address some stuff we have seen and answer some general questions about Digital Web Magazine. So what do you say, is this a good idea? Is it a bad idea? Let me know.
Web Design from Scratch redesign
Ben Hunt tells me that he just launched a redesign of Web Design from Scratch. For those who haven't seen the site before it's a great resource site that covers the fundamentals of web design. For those who are ventrans, this may be a bunch of old news, but for those who are new to the world of web design it's a great place to learn the basics. If you like what you see there, you may also want to check out Digital Web Magazine's area on the Basics of web design.