News : January 2007
Scalable or usable taxonomies
Joshua Porter has an interesting blog post titled "Is there an Example of a Scalable Taxonomy?". What I found interesting is that the title is about scalability, and he links to some interesting articles about scalability (comparing taxonomies with folksonomies in the main), but his examples are about usability.
These are quite different things and represent *the* challenge for any type of information architecture. It is somewhat do-able to create a usable organisation system at a point in time, but more difficult to make it scale over time. This is where folksonomy is often pitched as a solution, but may in the end tip the other way - scalable but not usable.
If you are interested in these ideas, have a read of these two articles, representing both sides of the ongoing discussion:
- Beneath the Metadata - Some Philosophical Problems with Folksonomy: Elaine Peterson
- Beneath the Metadata - a reply: David Weinberger
New DW Blogger: Garrett Dimon
We're happy to announce that the talented Garrett Dimon, Digital Web columnist and well-known advocate of web standards and intelligent front-end architecture, will now also be posting to our Daily News column. I'm looking forward to his blog posts, and also to the upcoming redesign of his website—I'm sure he'll have many insights to share with us when it's finished.
Sidebar Creative: Large Talents for Big Projects
You may think that The Justice League, that unstoppable team of superheroes, is fictional. How wrong you are! They have reformed as Sidebar Creative, starring DW columnist Jonathan Snook, Bryan Veloso (that Avalonstar whiz kid), the ever-harmonious Dan Rubin, and Ordered List's Steve Smith. Continuing to work in their respective successful freelance businesses, they pool resources (and this is one mega-talented team) as Sidebar Creative to take on especially large projects. This will be a company to keep your eye on.
Made with FontFont
For some of us, a favorite pastime is gazing at beautiful type. FontShop recently published Made with FontFont: Type for Independent Minds, a delicious 352-page book perfect for whiling away an afternoon or three. Filled with real-life examples of fonts in use, as well as art and articles by Paula Scher, Neville Brody, Susanna Dulkinys, Ellen Lupton, and others, the book was edited by Erik Spiekermann and Dutch designer Jan Middendorp. You can order it now through FontShop, or pre-order it at Amazon.
2006 Digital Web Magazine Reader Survey
That's right, it is once again time for the annual readership survey here at Digital Web Magazine. If you would like to see some things change here at Digital Web Magazine, now is your chance, we want to hear what you think we should be doing, what topics we should be covering, and more. Fill out the survey and let us know!
New Issue: Sean Madden's Beautiful Internet and a Polar Bear (Book Review)
In this week's issue, frog Design's Sean Madden wonders where his beautiful, well-design internet goes when he looks at the Web as a whole. He reminds us that only a fraction of the Internet features professional visual design, and web professionals can't afford complacency. Also, Digital Web Magazine's own Technical Director, Walker Hamilton, reviews the third edition of the Polar Bear book, a.k.a. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (Third Edition). Walker, ahem, walks us through the updates and changes to Morville & Rosenfeld's pivotal book on information architecture.
What's new in microformats?
Developments in Microformats come pretty thick and fast these days. Michael Kaply has updated his Firefox Extension "Operator" to version 0.62 - download it to see what support structured markup will look like in the next generation of browsers like Firefox 3 Firefox 3's roadmap shows that support for microformats at the user level is very much on their agenda. A different approach to the the same challenge is Andy Mitchell's "Web Cards", where rather than presenting the microformatted information in a page in a toolbar, it is presented in the window itself. Similar to the venerable Tails extension, it present the information in an even more contextual way. Well worth taking a look at. Publishers have been hard at work adopting microformats too - with professional networking site LinkedIn adopting the hResume format for all 9 million (count 'em) member profiles, while Wikimedia has started adopting microformats in their Wikitravel site. Meanwhile the podcast of my microformats presentation at Web Directions South is online now, along with the slides.
New DW Blogger: Derek Featherstone
It might be a little belated (those Canadians are quick off the mark), but we're pleased to announce a new contributor to our Daily News blog. Derek Featherstone is a respected speaker, consultant, and developer, and he'll be keeping DW readers abreast of developments in the world of web accessibility. He's also one of the organisers of the upcoming Web Directions North conference - if you still haven't registered, don't forget to claim your Digital Web discount when you book!
Improving Ajax for JAWS Users
Gez Lemon and Steve Faulkner have written another cracking article that delves deeper into the technical details of Ajax and screen reader compatibility (in this case JAWS, specifically). In Improving Ajax Applications for JAWS Users, they examine the virtual buffer in JAWS and ways in which scripting can be used to update the virtual buffer automatically rather than relying on the users doing it themselves. Gez and Steve both acknowledge that techniques like the one they demonstrate are a "hack" but a useful one that provides for enhanced functionality and greater compatibility with one major piece of assistive technology. Use it or not—that's your choice; however, it is worth a read to see what is happening in this space.
New Issue: Web Design Contracts and an Interview with Doug Bowman
In this week's issue, Nick Gould takes an in-depth look at web design contracts and what savvy freelance designers (and everyone else) should know about reading, signing and following contracts. In addition, our newest columnist John Allsopp interviews influential designer Doug Bowman about the current state of web design, his expectations for 2007 and his return to speaking at Web Directions North, coming up in February in Vancouver, BC.
Web Directions North discounts!
While we are mentioning John Allsopp... John tells me that It's just over 2 weeks until Canada's web design and development conference, Web Directions North, kicks off in Vancouver. This killer conference is put together by the team of well known web folks, Dave Shea, Derek Featherstone, Maxine Sherrin, and, of course, John Allsopp. WDN features a who's who of speakers from the web design and development world, covering a broad rage of topics, from mashups to microformats, workflow to design, mobile to accessibility. There are also optional workshops by some of the web world's biggest names. Of course, a few days in Whistler just sweetens the deal too!
Digital Web Magazine is proud to be the official media partner, and Web Directions North has set up a special deal just for our readers. Simply register with our promotional code "dwwdn07", and you'll get $100 off the great value rate of just $895 Canadian (all up making it just under $680 USD). And as if that is not enough, if you are a full time student, they have a scholarship rate of just $195 CDN ($165 USD)!
New DW Columnist: John Allsopp
We're very happy to announce a new regular columnist at Digital Web, the talented John Allsopp: software developer, conference organizer, author, blogger, and big thinker about the web from Australia. Some of his articles will be technical how-to's, others will be his perceptive take on what's going on in the world of web professionals. We'll announce a column title and description sometime in February after he's recovered from what is bound to be an unforgettable conference up in Vancouver and Whistler, BC. Welcome, John!
Prototype 1.5 launches, gets new website
If you are using Prototype, you should also check out the Prototype cheat sheet by Digital Web's own Jonathan Snook, which comes in a handy 'desktop wallpaper' size for quick reference.
New email testing service
While debate still rages over Microsoft's decision to use Word to render HTML emails in Outlook 2007, a new email testing service was quietly launched by three guys from the north of England.
SiteVista's email service will be familiar to anyone who has used Browsercam; you send an HTML email to the address they provide, and within seconds you can view the rendered message as it would appear in Gmail, Hotmail and several versions of Outlook (and they're adding more email clients over the coming weeks). Anyone dealing with email newsletters on a regular basis will know how time-consuming testing can be—if you're spending more than a couple of hours a month on it, SiteVista may well prove to be just the solution you've been looking for.
New Issue: Internationalization of Websites
Search Analytics and Competitive Intelligence, 2007
2007 brings not only frequent mis-typing of dates, but also a slew of 2007 predictions. One growth area for 2007 is interest in search analytics and publicly available competitive analytics. On the search analytics side, web pros can find a bevy of recent articles, as well as a few notable books. (In addition to their upcoming book, Lou Rosenfeld & Rich Wiggins opened their Searchloggers list to the public—I'm a newbie lurker.) On the competitive analysis side, new traffic analysis tools keep popping up, though accuracy and price are still problematic. If you can't afford to aggregate big packages like Hitwise or Media Metrix (few can), try using all the free ones you can get your hands on: Alexa (or Alexaholic), Compete, Quantcast, Competitio.us and Google Trends/Analytics. 2007 should debut a few more free tools, too.
[nod to Darren Dalasta]
Happy Birthday to jQuery
The jQuery website has also undergone a realign, and the documentation wiki has been tidied, reorganized, and given a new home. There's also apparently a jQuery book in the works - not bad going for just one year!
Happy Birthday Jeffrey Zeldman
Today marks Jeffrey Zeldman's birthday. Jeffrey hasn't posted anything about it on his site, probably because he doesn't want people to think he's older than dirt. While he may be an old schooler not in age but in the web standards community, his ideas and passion for the web is young at heart. On behalf of the entire Digital Web Magazine staff we wish Jeffrey a happy birthday. And remmeber Jeffrey, you can always get me back for this during SXSW Interactive.
“Ruby on Rails Made Easy” Just Released
If you enjoyed Justin Williams’ recent article on Digital Web Magazine, “Ruby on Rails for the Rest of Us”, and you are ready to explore RoR further, his new book “Rails Solutions: Ruby on Rails Made Easy” is now available on Amazon.
Apple announces the iPhone
For those who have been saying the mobile web is going to die out, here is your reality check. Apple has just announced the new iPhone. Think a iPod meets a Newton meets a mobile phone. The kicker is no buttons, widescreen... and it has an accelerometer.. cause, you know, they have soo much room in that tiny device to play with. The phone will run Safari/KHTML which will probably have a huge impact on the mobile space. If consumers adopt it, and manufactures rush to compete with it, then that will mean that WAP 2.0 as we know it will go away according to mobile web expert Brian Fling.
Semantics in HTML
A few minutes after sorting out my Digital Web IA blogging arrangements, I came across an article by John Allsopp. It is not a traditional IA article, but is something I think should be of great interest to IAs.
The article is the first of a series about semantics in HTML. Why do I think this is related to IA?
- It is about structure of content (internal content structure as opposed to overall structure of content)
- It is about how meaning is conveyed in that structure
- It is about how we can use that meaning to build better products
- And there's a decent dose of linguistics and philosophy thrown in
New Issue: Garrett Dimon on Markup as a Craft
Welcome to our first issue of 2007, featuring a great kickstart-the-year critique of markup, by columnist Garrett Dimon. Dimon offers concrete guidelines for crafting markup with the attention and respect it deserves. It's time to connect all the “best practices” for web professionals into one well-crafted solution that promotes meaningful markup, polished CSS, smooth DOM scripting, accessibility and some SEO, to boot.
DW Blogger: Donna Maurer
We are excited to announce that Donna Maurer, a respected and prolific information architect and interaction designer, speaker, author and general IA mover and shaker from Australia, will be contributing to our Daily News blog, as well as becoming a DW columnist as soon as her busy schedule permits (probably the beginning of March). Donna's insightful articles and conference presentations are always well-received, and we look forward to her contributions. This spring, Rosenfeld Media will be publishing her book, and we'll be sure to tell you all about it.
Promotions: Matthew Pennell and Tiff Fehr
This is a belated announcement about two staff promotions. We have some very talented people on staff at Digital Web and the typical titles don't adequately describe the work that they do or the level of expertise they bring to their jobs. Matthew Pennell, an accomplished web designer/developer from the UK, is now our Managing Editor, and Tiff Fehr, a talented web designer/developer in Seattle is our Production Manager. They both bring intelligence, wit, dedication, and an extensive knowledge of all things web to their jobs. We are truly fortunate to have them on the team.
HTML Dog, the book
British @media and EventWax entrepreneur, Patrick Griffiths, has returned to his roots with his first book, HTML Dog: The Best Practice Guide to XHTML & CSS. Slim for a reference book at 336 pages, it deftly covers every contentious HTML and CSS issue of the last few years, and I defy anyone not to come across an element, attribute, or CSS property they had never heard of before (empty-cells, anyone?) in this exhaustive volume.
As an added bonus, our own Digital Web site is featured in the chapters on Lists and Print Styles, alongside many other familiar sites and blogs. Every trick in an expert web developer's toolkit is included, with many nods to accessibility throughout, and thorough appendices, making this an excellent reference book to have around. Time to replace that hefty doorstop you've been using to look up obscure attributes with this smart, concise and fun book.
Mind your dates
Just a quick reminder for everyone: update your site's copyright statment date in your footer. This doesn't have to be a manual task each year, you can automate it by including one of the following statments in place of the year:
<!--#config timefmt="%Y" -->
<!--#echo var="DATE_LOCAL" -->
RightNow = new Date();
document.write(+ RightNow.getFullYear() +".")
<?php echo date("Y") ?>
Ok, I am sure there are plenty of other ways to do this too... anyone know the code to get the year for Ruby on Rails? Anyway, hope that was helpful. Have a happy New Year everyone.
Planning the Fidelity of Your Prototype
We're four short days into 2007, and already I found a perspective-altering set of articles about demo fidelity and feedback. First I encountered “Don't Make the Demo Look Done” on Kathy Sierra's ebullient “Creating Passionate Users”. Then over on GUUUI I read “The Dark Side of Prototyping”. It might be known to most web pros, but for me it verbalized the general sense of dread I feel when working in Photoshop. In short, the amount of spit ‘n polish (or smoke ‘n mirrors, or rounded corners, or anti-aliasing) in your prototypes radically changes the type and quality of feedback you collect from people. The solution: plan demos and prototypes that match where you are in the project, and trigger the kind of feedback you need.
Win a SXSW Interactive pass
Digital Web columnist Jonathan Snook is holding a Snook.ca t-shirt design contest over at his blog, where you can win yourself a $275 pass for the geek mecca that is this year's SXSW Interactive festival.
If you want a chance to attend for free, break out your illustration package of choice and head on over to Jon's site for the full details.
Recent Digital Web interviewee Colly directs our attention to the newly launched Jambor-ee, a tutorial/blog/showcase site dedicated to the increasingly popular Expression Engine publishing platform.
Along with Django, EE was a blogosphere favorite in 2006, with several high-profile authors switching from the old-school blogging apps to this relative newcomer; and the strong community and enthusiastic praise it has garnered will likely attract even more in 2007.
Which platform is on your New Year's Resolution list to investigate further?