News : May 2007
Semantic analysis: Making sense of the chaos of free text
I've been waiting for Matt Hodgson to post a summary of a presentation he did for our local IA group recently. This is a truly awesome piece of IA work - he analysed a large volume of unstructured text and designed a framework to rewrite it in a consistent, machine-readable, human-readable way: Semantic analysis: Making sense of the chaos of free text
New Issue: Chapter Excerpt from 'Web Standards Creativity'
This week, Digital Web Magazine is privileged to bring you a chapter excerpt from the recently published book, Web Standards Creativity, courtesy of the lovely, enthusiastic people at friends of ED. From of the top-notch list of contributors to Web Standards Creativity, the chapter we are thrilled to feature is Creative Use of PNG Transparency in Web Design by Jeff Croft. PNGs are enjoying fresh interest, due to increased browser support with the release of Internet Explorer 7. Jeff Croft explains why PNGs are a valuable addition to any web professional's arsenal. Creative Use of PNG Transparency in Web Design will get you off to an inspirational start to adding PNGs to your work.
Wonder Why Women Don't Feel Welcome?
I was just talking with one of the women on our staff, who showed me a YouTube recording for posterity of an extra special surprise at the recent Rails Conference. I so wish that someone would write in and tell me it was a clever hoax and never really happened. It was a marching band of women (or at least appearing to be women) wearing revealing little shorts, humping their flagpoles, leaning way over and waggling their rear ends, and so forth, as a large crowd of cheering young men stood around leering, or at least eagerly watching. This is a tech conference?
I think the subject of women in the web world is a complex one, not some easy blame-it-on-the-men, blame-it-on-society situation. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I find that the accomplished male web designers and developers have, almost without exception, been warm, generous, welcoming, respectful, and supportive in any of my little endeavors. Any advances I haven’t made in my professional life I blame entirely on myself. I’m not particularly interested in quotas and statistics. So, please don’t assume that my next comment is a simplistic, knee-jerk, anti-male response. What were these organizers thinking? It doesn’t matter a bit if this group is San Francisco’s hottest thing going or whatever, I find its presence at a tech conference repellent, offensive, demeaning, and, as a woman, humiliating. Why would a woman, seeing this, want to attend or speak at a future conference? I’m disgusted. If you don’t get this, You. Just. Don’t. Get. It.
New Issue: CSS Backgrounds in Web Design 101
In this week's issue of Digital Web, we're proud to feature a second entry in our Web Design 101 series, which pairs a rockstar designer with a web design building block. This week Paul O'Brien, our newest Web Design 101 contributor, breaks down CSS and background image strategies in Web Design 101: Backgrounds. Paul clarifies the basic rules governing backgrounds, and how to use CSS to bring backgrounds under your design control.
Lee LeFever on Community
My good friend, Lee LeFever, over at Common Craft is going to be giving a presentation for Refresh Seattle on Monday night. He is going to tell us why he thinks your website is a party waiting to happen. Lee is Seattle's resident community expert and has been working in the industry since 1999. More details about his talk can be found on the Refresh Seattle website. Please RSVP, space is limited! After Lee's talk we're all going to head over to Bal Mar for some great food and drinks. Hope to see you there!
Microsoft buys Razorfish
If you haven't already heard, Microsoft bought Razorfish. Technically they bought aQuantive, a large holding company that is a parent company to Razorfish, for a cool 6 billion. In the post linked above, my business partner, Brian Fling, explains how it will impact the agency space and how it make Microsoft more competitive with Google, who recently purchased Doubleclick. Meanwhile WPP, another large holding company in the agency space, purchased Read Media in an attempt to stay afloat in the video/rich media spree that seems to be going on.
Tag design ripoffs with 'piratedsites'
With Pirated Sites being just a forum these days and no real central place to report design rip-off like I mentioned in my previous post, Eric Meyer and I have agreed to set a new industry standard. If your design gets ripped off, upload a photo of the ripped site to Flickr or whatever social photo sharing web site you use, or post it to your blog, or whever you like, but tag it with "piratedsites" ...this way it's decentralized and can be picked up by Technorati and more.
How many rip-offs are too many?
They say this imitation is the best form of flattery, I used to think that, but now that we passed the 160th occurrence it's becoming a real big problem. Today someone informed me of a site that ripped off our design. I knew about the site before, in fact, I knew about it in 2005 when I sent them a nice email asking them to change their design that they clearly took from our site... and the 3 cease and desist letters that followed it. Yet, as of today they have not changed a single thing about their site. I would typically post this on Pirated Sites, but they are just a forum that you have been approved by an administrator to post to. There used to be some flickr groups but I can't locate them anymore, there is only an account to post to. I would link the site but they don't deserve the traffic we'd send them. What to do? Well, I guess I can post it on Flickr.
Oh noes, it's yet another design contest - but before we get all NO!SPEC on their ass, this is a contest with a difference.
CSS Off has at its core a very simple premise: In 12 hours, take a PSD file and turn it into a valid, semantic, standards-based HTML/CSS document - the winning entry receives a massive 30 bucks (or 50 if you donate the prize to charity). But if it's not about the money, why bother wasting your valuable time? Well, how about the same reason there are Refresh groups springing up all over the place, grassroots conferences happening on a regular basis, and the trillions of blogs filled with advice and tutorials? Our community, like no other I know, is built on altruism - so if you think your code has the potential to educate and inform your global colleagues, why not show the world what you can do come June 1st?
Leah Buley's IA One Sheeters
Leah Buley has created a site for her, now famous, IA One Sheeters which are based on her poster that was presented at the 2007 IA Summit in Vegas. These are actually pretty handy for IAs struggling to communicate various things to clients who may not otherwise be familiar with those processes or deliverables. Leah also welcomes anyone to borrow or adapt the material for their own use. Great work Leah! [from Lana Carlene]
Five Pertinent Questions
I'm only on Chapter 4 of Getting Things Done, so I haven't yet been transformed into a serene model of efficiency. With too much to do, I'm postponing my in-depth interview with John Allsopp—who really is one of the smartest and most interesting people in our web standards world—and asking him just five pertinent (and sometimes impertinent) questions about his new book Microformats: Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0. I've started the book and I'm delighted that it is clearly and cheerfully written—not some dry tome that you can only understand if you already knew everything in it before you started page one. So, what's all the hoopla about? Are microformats going to change the world? As a web designer, if I don't use them does it mean that I can't sit with the cool kids at lunch? If I'm not especially geeky, can I use these things with ease? John gives us his take on the subject. This also will be the first of a new type of interview we'll be running here, called Five Pertinent Questions—though we'll still be publishing, on occasion, our much longer, in-depth interviews with fascinating people in our community.
New Issue: Five Pertintent Questions and a Game of Cards (Sorting)
Back from our short break, Digital Web Magazine is proud to introduce a new column, Five Pertinent Questions. Our first victim—ahem, participant—is columnist John Allsopp, and the questions center around his new book, Microformats: Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0. Learn more about John's take on the future of microformats in Five Pertinent Questions for John Allsopp. Digital Web is also proud to feature a new contributing writer, Ruth Stalker-Firth, who's sharing her expertise in an under-utilized usability technique: card sorting. It's a great article, and many can benefit from considering if you're up to her challenge—Anyone for a Game of Cards?
10 Questions From 360
Scene 360 has published a panel-ish interview with (among others) Jakob Nielsen, Lynda Weinman, and our very own Nick Finck. The questions cover the range from site usability, design, and what the future holds.
Tips for Presenters and Conference Organizers
With summer on it’s way and a lot of conferences coming up I thought it would be good to share this gold nugget of information. Lee LeFever of Common Craft has a great post up about 10 Lessons from My Speaking Coach following his WebVisions presentation. He references my post on the Top Five Articles for Presenters. Speaking of conferences, yesterday my colleagues at Blue Flavor conducted our second monthly live chat via Campfire. The topic was about MIX and WebVisions but quickly turned into a chat about what makes a good conference. You can see the transcript of the chat here.
A POSH search context solution
If you're the type to keep your ear to the ground, you'll have undoubtedly come across the NAOTB (New Acronym On The Block): Plain Old Semantic HTML, or POSH, has received some attention in the last couple of weeks. The basic gist is that it is (and, in fact, has always been) important to use the right HTML element(s) for the job in hand - and while some may rightly call this 'just doing your job properly', there are some developers out there that apparently still need reminding of the basic principles of their profession.
Anyway, all this is by way of directing your attention to a recent blog entry by one of Yahoo! Europe's developers, Steve Marshall, on a subtle change to the search functionality on the Yahoo! UK TV site. It's not revolutionary, but it is a great example of POSH in the real world. Use the right element. For the right purpose. It couldn't be easier. Right?
Google Analytics 2.0
As you may have read elsewhere, Google Analytics has just rolled out a substantial redesign/retooling of their free site statistics package - and at first glance, it looks like a major step forward. Of course, that could just be due to the previous version's design making the app feel a little overwhelming - chalk one up for the benefit of good design!
WebVisions 2007 live: Kent Nichols and Douglas Sarine keynote
Ok, so having a keynote with Kent Nichols & Douglas Sarine of Ask a Ninja fame is pretty wild for a web conference that is suppose to focus on business, techniques and the future of the web... but hell, even ninja's know quite a bit about these things... and it doesn't hurt to have a little humor after a long full day of sessions. Their talk is entitled Cash and Creativity on the Webernet - The Past and Future of Online Video. These guys are hilarious.
WebVisions 2007 live: Web Application Page Hierarchy
A bit late of an update but Luke Wroblewski's presentation on Web Application Page Hierarchy was absolutly killer. Very well done, started out pretty basic but quickly got into the details of good information design, visual design, layout, and content. Luke did an outstanding job. Some attendees told me that it was the best presentation they ever saw at a WebVisions.
WebVisions 2007 live: Location Based Content Via Mobile Devices
The amazing Kinan Sweidan of Jambo is doing a presentation on Location Based Content Via Mobile Devices which is totally blowing my mind. I think the next big thing is going to be related to mobile devices, GPS, and the Web. The service examples and ideas Kinan is showing is simply remarkable. It's no longer a tech thing or even a conference thing, it's a shipping thing, its a dating thing, its much more broad than I think people are assuming. I would make sure to check out the podcast of this session if you weren't able to hear the talk first hand.
WebVisions 2007 live: Creating Sexy Stylesheets
I'm one of the lucky few who made it in to Jina Bolton's Creating Sexy Stylesheets. It's a packed house. Everyone wants their stylesheets to be sexy. Given Jina's stellar design sense, this promises to be a fabulous session. She's set up a site at CreatingSexyStylesheets.com, too - check it out. She'll have the slides from the presentation up later today.
WebVisions 2007 live: Learning to Love Forms
I am sitting in Aaron Gustafson's session on Learning to Love Forms. He's walking through designing forms from the ground up. Lots of good nitty gritty details here, it's clear Aaron spent his time doing his homework. Very well executed. For example, he's talking about how to develop a form using multiple buttons, labels, using lists for structure of forms, etc. He has several references to his Push my button article on Digital Web Magazine in his presentation so I thought I should link it in this post.
WebVisions 2007 live: David Pescovitz keynote
David Pescovitz, co-founder of BoingBoing.net and editor-at-large of MAKE: Magazine, is giving the keynote on Sensory Transformation: How to Sip from the Information Firehose. There are some pretty hillarious examples of ambient devices... for example the bacon cooking alarm clock that wakes you up to the smell and sound of bacon cooking.. or burning depending on how long it takes you to get up once the alarm goes off.
WebVisions 2007 live: How Blogs and Mobile are Changing World Travel
Just got done introducing Lee LeFever of Common Craft who is doing a talk about How Blogs and Mobile are Changing World Travel. He's using an analogy of the lewis & Clark expidition to relate that to traveling in modern times. Lots of cool technology eas used; sub compact laptop, mobile phone, compact camera, ..but most of all, blogging tools and web services. A very cool presentation about traveling abroad and how technolgy and people connect.
WebVisions 2007 live: PodTech interview
Just got done doing an interview Jeremiah Owyang with from PodTech. I was asked about Blue Flavor and some of the strategies we have when dealing with clients, etc. The videocast will be up on Jeremiah's site shortly and I'll link it here.
WebVisions 2007 live: Inventrepreneurship
Ok, back from lunch with a bunch of friends (Big Town Hero rocks!). The upsteam provider for the OCC had an outage so there was no web access for about 2 hours but it's back up now. I am introducing Paul Ingram of Ingram Labs. He's giving a presentation on Inventrepreneurship (his word, not mine). What he's talking about here is how his business operates as collective and how they innovate there. A very interesting approch were instead of hiring employees and put them on various projects he's recruiting the best freelancers for the job with the right skill set for the project. My favorite part is his issue with putting a "beta" graphic on a site, it implies that it's finished work and that at some point it might actually be done... but will it really ever be done? This is the web, everything is changing all the time. Stop doing it!
WebVisions 2007 live: Improving Interface Design
I am sitting here in a conference room in the Oregon Convention Center. WebVisions 2007 has kicked off just minutes ago. Digital Web Magazine columnist Garrett Dimon is giving a workshop on Improving Interface Design right now. It's very reminiscent of the old 37Signal's Design Not Found site which evolved into the book Defensive Design for the Web. Garrett's talk is focusing on not just the UI problems but also business and management problems.
Digital Web Spring Cleaning
In case our faithful readers are breathlessly waiting for tonight's issue, I have to let you know that Digital Web Magazine is taking a short break for the next two weeks. It's spring-cleaning season, and our wonderful staff is taking a moment to relax and gather our collective strength. Rest assured, we'll be back soon with a banner summer season for the magazine!