News : February 2007
New and Improved Blue Flavor
The crew at Blue Flavor (including myself) have just launched a new redesign of BlueFlavor.com. To boot we have also announced our latest adoption to the Blue Flavor family, Garrett Murray (yes, the guy who created SimpleLog). Keith has a great post about Garrett and the new site launch entitled Exciting Times at Blue Flavor. Special thanks to Kevin, Brian, Keith, and Tom for making this happen.
New Issue: Interview with Jeremy Keith!
This week, Digital Web Magazine is proud to feature an interview with Jeremy Keith, the codemonger behind the new book Bulletproof Ajax as well as his previous book, DOM Scripting, his web agency Clearleft and his long-running blog Adactio. Carolyn Wood and Mr. Keith talk about the new book, how he approaches AJAX with a mind to bulletproofing, and the pitfalls of over-AJAXing user experiences.
Digital Web would like to extend recent happy birthday wishes to Mr. Keith, as well. Many happy returns!
Beyond the A-List, Diversity in the Web Community
The age-old debate about gender diversity at web conference has kicked back into full swing again which spun a wider debate about gender diversity and even ethnicity in the industry as a whole. Here are some recent posts on the topic: Gender Diversity at Web Conferences, The diversity division, On Conferences and Diversity, Diverse It Gets, Why are smart people still stuck on gender and skin-color blinders? and the list goes on...
Not to dilute the main issue at hand, but I think Jeffrey Zeldman is spot on here in his post Gender and Ethnic Imbalance in Web Design. I think the speaker diversity problem is really just a symptom of larger and still growing problem within the web industry. What is the main problem? It is the web industry's continual focus on the same circle of professionals regardless of gender or ethnicity, or even eye color (thanks Tantek). I go to only a small fraction of conferences available to me in my geographical area and what do I see? The same handful of speakers giving darn near the same talk about the exact same damn thing that could have been read on the speaker's blog about a year ago. Nothing new, few new faces, fewer new ideas, rarely anything new to learn. I feel like nearly every conference I go to is playing the same damn broken record.
Why do we have this problem? What can be done to fix it? Ahh, the conference organizers are to blame right? Not so fast. As someone who can speak from both sides of the fence here let me just say that it is like pulling teeth when trying to get some of the web professionals (regardless of gender or ethnic background) who are newer to the industry, perhaps lesser known, and maybe even inexperienced with speaking to come and speak at an event. And I am not talking about people who don't do anything remarkable here, I am talking about people who are otherwise unknown but have done some very amazing things in the web world. Yes, there has been a few diamonds in the rough, a few totally new to this world of public speaking but ones who are willing to step up to the plate and give it a go.
It's not like conference organizers are not seeking these people out. I am going to go out on a limb here and use smart mob mentality here. If you know of a web professional who is talented, has done some remarkable things, and should be speaking at some web design conferences by all means let us know... If you don't know who to contact at the various web conferences contact me, I'll give you contacts at SXSW Interactive, WebVisions, Web Directions, @Media, An Event Apart, and more. I don't care where they speak or if they speak at conferences I am involved with or not, lets just get them out there and speaking.
Robinson on Simplicity and Complexity
Both simplicity and complexity is an inherent part of the web as we know it today. D. Keith Robinson has a great post entitled Balance and Simplicity where he outlines the values of good complexity and the dangers of bad simplicity. Yes, it is possible to over-simplify and remove value. Likewise it is also possible to have something complex that provides value. When you get done reading that article you may also want to check out our archive of articles on Keeping it Simple and BJ Fogg's presentation on Why Simplicity Matters from the WebVisions podcast library.
Free Copy of the Next Big Book in Web Design
One of the juiciest-looking books on the horizon is Web Standards Creativity from publisher friends of Ed. A pantheon of web rockstars wrote it, and ten people will win a free copy in a clever contest at SXSWi. Download the form you'll need at Chris Mills' friends of Ed blog. You can just feel the Austin excitement in the air, can't you?
New Issue: Does Your Copy Hold Up?
Fresh from our three-day weekend, Digital Web Magazine is happy to bring you our newest contributor, Jessica Neuman Beck, and her first contribution, Does Your Copy Hold Up To A Quick Glance?. ...So, does yours? Combining recent research in eye tracking and usability with general writing skills, Jessica presents clear dos and don'ts for web content. She also shares best-practices that encourage and enable easy reading on the Web. “Does Your Copy Hold Up” is an excellent reminder for Web Professionals, and works great as a content-writing primer for stakeholders, too.
While we're all remembering stuff, don't forget to fill out our survey! Help Digital Web Magazine cover the topics you want in 2007 by giving us some feedback.
New Issue Tomorrow: Happy Presidents' Day!
In the U.S., home of some members of the Digital Web staff, today was a very special holiday, called Presidents' Day. On this day, we commemorate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln's first trips to the shopping mall. To honor that, we will postpone publication of this week's issue until the evening of Tuesday, February 20th.
Garrett Dimon's redesign
Digital Web Magazine’s View Source columnist, Garrett Dimon, has redesigned his personal site and published a great post on the logic behind it which is aptly entitled Designing for Content. The design is one of the most simple yet elegant designs I have seen in a long while. Maybe I am biased because I always believed content is king and should come first, but I think he did a great job making the content first priority. For those who don’t know Garrett, he has a broad skillset covering IA, design, user experience, markup and CSS, and more. This design underscores his range of skills and for that I consider him a well-rounded web craftsman.
Update: @media in Asia!
Not content with one continent, the @media 2007 web conference is traveling from its European roots this spring and landing in America and Asia, hoping to do a little good along the way. Top speakers like Andy Budd, Molly Holzschlag, Jeremy Keith, and Dave Shea will be speaking at @media 2007 Asia, taking place in Hong Kong on 31st May and 1st June, with all of the profits from the event going to Oxfam Hong Kong and WWF China.
With a special Call For Papers, it is hoped that local talent will join the line up and help to raise the awareness and teach the application of best practices in modern web design in an area of the world where web designers are hoping to greatly increase community participation and adoption of web standards.
Specially reduced price tickets are available until Tuesday February 27th. Discounts are also available for students, and a referral program will give one free ticket away for every five registrations referred.
Top Five Articles for Presenters
As someone who helps co-organize WebVisions every year and with my experience in speaking at conferences (not that I am an expert at it) I am often asked for advice on presenting at conferences.
There are thousands of sites out there that provide information for doing presentations, some really great ones… but there are a handful of well written and to-the-point articles that I feel shine brighter than the rest and are much more useful. So I have compiled my top five list of best articles for presenters. Here they are in order:
- Seven Steps to Better Presentations by Jeff Veen
- How To Give A Great Presentation by D. Keith Robinson
- How to Get a Standing Ovation by Guy Kawasaki
- Better Beginnings: how to start a presentation, book, article… by Kathy Sierra
- The Problem With Presentations by Doc Searls
If you have come across some very useful articles or blog posts about presenting at conferences you feel should be shared with the rest of our readers please add a comment and let us know.
Crossing the Pond?
I'm sure most Digital Web readers are aware of various legal battles with respect to web accessibility that we've seen over the past few years and which continue today. Here's the latest on the legal front for a recent case in the UK: Computer-based exam discriminated against blind candidate. The most interesting part of this case? It crosses borders:
The tribunal ruling is the first to find a US company with no presence in the UK liable under the UK's Disability Discrimination Act.This is definitely one to watch.
Reader Survey comments
Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our readership survey. If you haven't already done so, there's still time—go ahead and fill out the survey. I have been reviewing some of the responses, particularly the ones to the open-ended questions. I'd like to share a few with you.
When we asked how readers would locate an older article within our site, one person responded with "your mom." I am happy to hear my mom is still sending readers to my site, thank you, Mom! The same reader responded to the question about topics they would like to see with "your mom, fish, turtles, ruby on rails". I am sorry to disappoint, but we won't be discussing my parents on this site. Fish and turtles, maybe. We already started covering Ruby on Rails, and expect to see more soon. Meanwhile go check out Justin Williams's article Ruby on Rails for the Rest of Us.
Several readers reported issues with how we set up a few of the questions in the survey—particularly the questions where it basically asks readers to choose between focusing on beginner vs. expert articles, creative vs. technical, informative and practical vs. theory and tactical. So, where is the middle ground? There is none; we did this because we wanted to see which side you would lean toward, if forced. Tricky, aren't we? For those who said they liked the balance it has today, thank you. We're not saying we're going to change it, we just want to know what our readers are focusing on.
Now for some of the general comments in the survey:
"It is one of the few newsletters that I actually read and pursue articles. I often refer my students to articles found on your site. You're doing a great job!"
"Glad to see Derek Featherstone as a new blogger here!"
"You're doing very good job guys. And oh, one more bonus thing: there is no web magazine which has a better interface. Seriously."
Why thank you, but we can't take full credit for this, it's really the feedback you provide in the reader survey that helps us define things like the interface and design, not to mention the content. So, take the survey if you haven't already and help us improve the site and its content!
If you think it's time to really start gettng to grips with Microformats, then a few new things have just gone online. Roger Costello has a series of pretty in depth tutorials for most major microformats, while at Web Directions North (disclosure, I was one of the organizers and presenters) there were three 1 hour presentations spanning a broad range of microformatty goodness. Tantek
New Issue: The Road to ActionScript 3 and The Village Stew of Team Design Processes
This week's issue (or, rather, this week's issue's news poster) is still in post-Web-Directions-North withdrawal. But as a compliment to that stellar event, we have two excellent articles this week. Nathan Smith takes a look at “The Village Stew”, which features thoughts and an alternate framing of the dreaded design-by-committee effect. Meanwhile, Jonathan Greene maps out The Road to ActionScript 3 and what's next with Flash. Enjoy!
The Holy Grail of Information Architecture
In his post The Holy Grail of Information Architecture Christohper Fahey abandons the idea that we will ever find the one diagramming method for our deliverables. He suggests we instead design documentation that communicates with our audience and reinvent the wheel when we need. Smart fella!
Garrett Murray released SimpleLog 2.0 today. If you haven't heard of it, SimpleLog is a Ruby on Rails weblog application that offers all the features you want in a weblogging application with a design that makes it easier to focus on writing. You can learn more at SimpleLog.net, view the wiki, or take a look at some screenshots of the admin area. If you're looking for a Ruby on Rails weblog application, it's definitely worth taking a look.
New Issue: Kerri Hicks on PHP and XML
This week, Digital Web Magazine's very own Kerri Hicks leads us on a guided tour of how to use PHP and XML for grocery shopping. Web professionals of all skill levels and gourmet tastes, take a minute to follow Kerri's tour of PHP5's new XML capabilities and learn how to improve your own grocery shopping (and skills) with PHP and XML.
This looks interesting - hallway testing. Submit your website or mac application and get 'usability feedback' from readers. I'm not sure what the reader incentive is though, and wonder whether it will fly as a result.
I know that most folks will be reading this after the fact, but I just wanted to let everyone know that as of the publishing of this article, we will be experiencing sporadic downtime for the next few hours. I am going to be streamlining our code management and site deployment. So...now for our non-regularly scheduled break. *UPDATE*: Thanks for your patience. We are done for now.