October 16, 2004
Your passive personalization profile
Not to pick on Verizon, but here's another interesting tidbit from
my online profile at Verizon.com. Apparently I can choose whether or
not to be part of their passive personalization (read: marketing).
Here's the relevant part of the profile:
On the one hand, it's nice that a company gives you some measure of control. On the other, it's not like I think Verizon isn't collecting info about me, I figure they just aren't using it in a way that's visible to me.
As I don't really spend that much time on Verizon's site, it's not a big deal. But I mention it here just as curious; I wonder if it is something that will start showing up on other sites.
October 9, 2004
Rock 'n Roll Timeline
My DSL is out, so I'm going to postpone checking this site out in depth, but you may want to go ahead and take a look at the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame Timeline (thanks to Thom on the ID-Cafe mailing list for the pointer).
September 23, 2004
Web dev test ideas
I'm trying to catch up on my Bloglines reading, and came across an entry on What Do I Know, where Todd talks about his web development testing platform. Todd refers to a Skyzyx.com post about hosting multiple versions of IE on XP. Todd's blog entry also has a nice comment thread that provides other suggestions for testing against multiple browsers. If you aren't testing now, this one's probably worth bookmarking for later.
July 27, 2004
CFP: STC Annual Conference, Seattle, May 8-11, 2005
Do you have something to share about information architecture, usability, or information design? Then STC, the Society for Technical Communication, would like to hear from you! We're currently accepting proposals for our next annual conference.
"That's a tech writers conference." you say. Well, yes, there are many tech writers who attend. But STC is home to several thousand members who belong to its usability, information design, online, and indexing special interest groups, and our conferences attract many outside the "traditional" realm of writing and editing.
Here's just a sampling from last year's conference in Baltimore:
You can also see more sessions from last year.
Speakers receive a discount on an otherwise value-priced conference. We also welcome speakers from all levels, as our conference attracts those who are new to the field as well as those who have been in the field for decades. And Seattle is a *wonderful* conference city, with the conference is located in the heart of downtown.
To see the full Call or to submit a proposal, please visit the STC CFP site soon.
The deadline for proposals is 12 noon ET, August 12, 2004.
May 4, 2004
Digital libraries and museums
The latest issue of First Monday is out. IAs and UX types should be interested in some of the articles which are selected from the recent Web-Wise 2004 conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World.
As a Yinzer (you can take the girl out of Pittsburgh, but you can't take Pittsburgh out of the girl), I'm looking forward to reading the Imaging Pittsburgh paper and surfing the Historic Pittsburgh website.
April 20, 2004
The US Army goes IA
After reading this entry from Keith Robinson, I am going to restrain myself from titling this entry "And the kids shall lead them..."
March 29, 2004
Spare the rhetoric and spoil the reader?
I don't know if it's just the biz of trying to become a media darling, or something in the water, or what, but it's curious to me the extent to which spin is becoming part and parcel of some UX gurus' toolkits.
Earlier this month, Andrei called Jakob to task for this (essentially), and a week or two before, I'd commented about some language difficulties with an issue of Mark Hurst's Good Experience newsletter.
Not to be left behind, Gerry McGovern jumps on the spin wagon (again). It's not the first time I've found something he's written that I've disagreed with. There's the time a year ago he dissed IA and also the time he called for Jakob-like page weights.
But in his latest issue of new Thinking, Gerry warns readers about giving IT too much of a role in choosing a CMS. What I found to be off the spin-meter was that he could accuse CIO magazine of making a "ridiculous, surreal recommendation" while at the same time apparently having no problem with making a statement that is likewise (IMO) ridiculous:
Remember, the better the writer, the more techno phobic they are.
Uh, how about all generalizations are false?
Having been a victim of some CMS bloatware, I don't disagree with some of his other points about making sure whose needs are being met with a CMS package. Yes, our site is a busy site with lots of content being published. But I think that even small sites can benefit from a CMS package--and there are some great options out there. If we're lucky, maybe Gerry will focus on this in future newsletters.
March 17, 2004
ID in motion
I'm into convergence. I have a combo TV/VCR, a combo TV/DVD, a phone/answering machine, and a Treo that does phone, WWW, and syncs with my Outlook. So I'm not one of those "convergence is a myth" folks. Thus I'm very interested in seeing what happens as broadband becomes commonplace on the Internet. This was part of the reason that I titled my chapter in Content and Complexity (more links in the bottom right nav) "Information Design in Motion."
Anyways, all this is a prequel to a couple of interesting video snippets that came across my inbox today. Not exactly in the traditional ID sense, but both are great examples of how motion on the Internet/WWW is so much more compelling than their broadcast counterparts.
First, there's MoveOn.org's snippet of Donald Rumsfeld who "got caught blatantly contradicting his past statements." You can probably count on one hand the number of people who watched Face the Nation (okay, just a gross exaggeration), thus the ability to actually see Rumsfeld squirm is so much more effective than reading a transcript. And given the blogosphere/email, this snippet is going to be seen a magnitude or more frequently than the original. (Hmmm...it's like Janet Jackson's breast...turnabout is fair play?)
On a completely different note is this slick page from the folks at Lebonze over in the UK. No, it's not exactly a great delivery of any critical information, but c'mon, even if you hate Flash, you have to be just a little bit impressed by the accomplishment. It's seeing this kind of experiment that may help someone else think about new possibilities for interacting with web readers/visitors (a la You Don't Know Jack).
February 26, 2004
is an inline browser applet for image comparison and manipulation. Users can import images into the applets display area, arrange them in any configuration simply by clicking and dragging, magnify them, and apply basic image processing. The Lightbox will be of potential interest to anyone presenting images on the Web in a context where active comparisonwhat John Unsworth calls a scholarly primitiveis desirable.
There's a screenshot that gives you an idea about how this might be used. Slick!
January 15, 2004
Funky web designs
First, I've finally updated the conference list on the right margin. I noticed that UPA was pointing here, so that counteracted my inertia to at least get reasonably current. For probably no good reason, I limit the conferences I list to those offered by professional associations and other non-profits. I figure Nielsen Norman rakes in enough dough to market their own events! But Tomalak and InfoDesign include those, as well as a few more hardcore technical conferences (XML anyone?) that I don't bother listing.
Anyways, while blog surfing and updating the conference lists, I came across a couple of "go figure" web designs that caught my eye.
On the right is a site for the 2004 participatory design conference. It doesn't look quite so bright on the Mac at home, but at work, it was bordering on retina-frying.
Of course, this site isn't exactly going to win any awards, so perhaps I'm th last to offer any criticism. Then again, what's the point of having a blog if you can't offer an opinion, eh?
January 5, 2004
Cool color wheel
December 4, 2003
Blogging the semantic web
I was going to write up an entry on Lou Rosenfeld's and Peter Van Dijck's responses to Clay Shirky's latest on the semantic web. But then I saw that Carrie had beaten me to it over on paper & pencil. Never mind!
Aging eyes and tiny fonts
Over on Digital Web Magazine, Nick has a pointer to this article: Font Size: No Happy Medium. In it, Dave Shea argues that, at some point, it stops being the designer's fault if people aren't happy with text sizes on web pages:
The current standards movement seems to place an awful lot of responsibility on the designer. Its up to the designer to work around browser flaws by not using pixel-value text. Its up to the designer to consider people with perfect vision, low vision, and no vision. Its up to the designer to account for different monitor sizes and resolutions. Its up to the designer to make sure their layout doesnt break when fonts are at 100%, or 150%, or 200%.
Reading the comment trail (at 44 so far) has been quite interesting. I'm very sympathetic to the point that Jim Dabell is trying to make:
The issue of avoiding the users font size isnt about too small fonts. Its about the difference between font sizes on different websites. I have a good browser. I have a good font size. I dont like having to adjust the font size for every new website I visit just because lots of different designers have lots of different ideas on what the best font size is for me.
I have to admit, this has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I'm happily surfing along with my 11pt Verdana type and all of a sudden, I'm on an unreadable site. Here's how this looks...you're at a website like Digital Web, which is very readable:
And yes Virginia, I know how to resize type in my browser (I have to...bloug is too tiny for me to read by default as well). But I wish I didn't have to manually set it and unset it while surfing.
However, unlike Jim, I'm actually quite happy with the workaround that Jeroen Coumans provided -- set a minimum type size in Mozilla. For me, Verdana just isn't readable at 8 pts or less on my monitor (1280x1024, 20"). But 9 will do in a pinch. As Jim points out though, this may cause the page to lose relative sizes between styles. Unlike him, I'm willing to put up with this to make my life easier.
November 20, 2003
NCI's usability guidelines
So, if you're a Movable Type blogger, I hope you have the search capability enabled! I find it fascinating to check and see what folks are searching for on IDblog (usually after my weblogs.com ping has failed).
With this last entry, I was embarassed to see that someone had come looking for the National Cancer Institute's Research-based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (hosted on usability.gov) and I didn't have the pointer. Mea culpa!! I hope you come back :)
But this is well worth the download (if you aren't on dialup). The team who produced this collected web design guidelines and then rated them based on their importance and evidence. There are some plans to review printing additional hard copies (the guidelines are full of examples, which makes black and white laser printing less than satisfactory); more as they develop.
November 19, 2003
CFP: AoIR 2004
I'd really like to add this one to my conference calendar for 2004! It's Internet Research 5.0: Ubiquity? in Sussex, UK, September 19-22, 2004.
Internet Research 5.0 will feature a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on the Internet. Examining and challenging the visibility and prevalence of the Internet and Internet discourses, the conference will bring together a wide range of researchers, practitioners and scholars for the exchange of formal and informal ideas. As with previous AoIR conferences, the aim is to promote a deep, coherent and situated understanding of the Internet and connected networks.
Deadline for submissions is February 2nd.
November 17, 2003
The DSL comes back tomorrow...yeah! Only two weeks after the move...guess it could be worse. I'll be back to more traditional blogging then. In the meantime, here are a few more interesting links for your blog surfin' pleasure:
November 12, 2003
Three cheers for the W3C!
In what could be good news for the Web, the Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office has ordered a re-examination of the '906 patent, which was the subject of a patent infringement lawsuit this summer brought by Eolas against Microsoft.
Here's more on this from the W3C itself. What a shame they don't have individual memberships!
November 10, 2003
Mo's design luv
I came across Moluv's Picks today. I'm on dialup for another week until Verizon gets my DSL moved, so I'm not going to surf this site too much for now. But design fans may want to check it out. Too bad there is no obvious RSS feed.
October 25, 2003
Practices in web design
The site has been developed by Heidi Adkisson (an "interactive architect" ... oy!) in order to make her masters thesis (an MS in Technical Communication...yes!) more accessible. In it, she reveals the results of surveying 75 leading e-commerce sites...how they handled web design essentials such as global navigation, breadcrumbs, search, and link colors. As she notes, common practice doesn't equal best practice, but knowing what is common can help inform your own design decisions.
Heidi has recently launched a new weblog, called IA THINK, which looks at "Interactive architecture, writing, and design." One of her recent entries is about Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm which I'm reading for class (after having read The Tipping Point just for fun...my masters thesis used diffusion of innovation theory as its framework). Looks like another feed to add to the aggregator!
October 21, 2003
E-commerce and the environment
According to the announcement:
Articles in the special issue analyze the environmental consequences of telecommuting and assess the transformation of the wholesale, warehouse and retail sectors of the economy by network technology. The environmental impact of conventional and electronic approaches to grocery shopping, book selling and scholarly journals are compared and the possibility of using product tags to improve recycling is explored. The research ranges from the U.S. to Germany, from Finland to Japan.
A lot of the articles are really about the environment (including one on greenhouse gas emissions and home grocery delivery in Finland! Others are more generically relevant to the whole society and technology conversation, particularly the reviews of books like Castells' Rise of the Network Society and Brown and Daguid's The Social Life of Information. Interesting that their method for making these available is to simply create PDFs of the relevant print pages...so in some cases, you'll need to skip over text in the first column!
Funding from the NSF (where I would love to work some day) has enabled them to make this issue available for free. However, you do have to register to download articles.
September 29, 2003
So many associations, so little time
The interaction design folk have released the results of their first survey to gauge the needs of their membership. I'm peripherally following this, as I'm still interested in the big picture that might unite all these separate specific organizations.
Anyways, questions like "Do you feel there is a need for a new professional home for interaction designers either within an existing organization or as a new stand alone organization?" got the responses you'd expect. Lots of folks who wanted a new home and lots of folks who wanted to work with an existing organization (particularly since it is very pricy to belong to a bunch).
Here's the breakdown of organizations that survey respondents belonged to:
Slightly more interesting was the relative proportion of AIfIA members to SIGCHI members. I'm surprised there were so many more of the latter compared to the former. I'm not sure if there is really that big of a difference between your garden variety interaction designer and your West Coast information architect. Alas, labels come back to haunt again. Since the hard-core HCI-oriented interaction designers have so little in common with the polar bear-oriented information architects, trying to find a middle ground would seem challenging.
There may be more hope for a collaboration with the UPA folks, especially if UPA and SIGCHI might join forces on providing a place for these folks--each bringing their own assets to the partnership.
September 28, 2003
Ah, my movie buddy Margott has redesigned her website, Weltin Design. Very slick! Obviously I'm a fan of her color palette :), but I also like the simple way she's handled her portfolio.
BTW, just today we saw Secondhand Lions. I thought the fantasy took a bit away from the strong relationship story, but I guess the point was to make the early story a bit beyond belief. All in all, a very sweet film.
September 22, 2003
Writing first for the web
We're fortunate to have Ginny Redish as a usability consultant (ah, one of the perks of living where we do :). I was poking around her website this morning and noticed that she had a handout online (PDF) that was a slightly updated version of her popular "Writing for the Web" presentation.
I must admit to having a bit of an "a ha" when I came across a point I think was relatively new. She wrote:
In the future, organize and write for the web first. If it is easy to use on the web, it will almost certainly make a great paper document.
In retrospect, it's kind of a "why didn't I think of that?" But if organizations could put it in place as a process, I think it might well improve both our online and print documents!
September 10, 2003
Page weight paradox
Well, I'm back in town and trying to catch up! I'm sorry I couldn't accept Joe's invite to catch some blues on Friday (gotta love the blues!), but Saturday was our big day and I was being a good do bee and staying close to home.
Two funny comments from the audience at the panel: first, there was the 81-year-old lady who wanted a simple word processor and who once "had a big Wang" (and had visited their headquarters in the 80s). There was also the gentleman whose son had tried to entice him into fantasy football at ESPN.com...after much frustration, he told his son to "go play with himself, just as he'd done all his life."
Seriously though, the audience at the session shared some very legitimate complaints, and Don Norman shared their pain...and their responsibility. He noted that, to some extent, it was our insistence on new features that was one of the factors that led to horribly complicated software. (Lucky for us, Don decided that he'd rather do dinner wiith a bunch of web geeks rather than Jay Leno...go figure!).
One thing that I'm really curious about is that the panel didn't hear about page weight as an issue. You hear that keeping pages light is important, because so many people aren't doing broadband (one estimate has nearly two-thirds of homes in the US connecting at 56K or less).
So how do these page weights fit into this equation?
According to WebSiteOptimization.com (thanks to LOGos for the pointer), it would take your average 56K modem user (who probably gets 33K in throughput) over 90 seconds to download the USA Today home page!
But they aren't the only ones with the heavy home page. I don't know if some of these "heavy sites" use sniffers to serve up heavier pages if they sense a fast connection, but I find these page weights coupled with the still fairly wide use of dial-up somewhat mind-boggling. Are all these folks with dial-up surfing a different web than those of us with broadband are? Are they just used to clicking on text links long before the graphics appear? Who would wait a minute and a half to see a site's home page?
August 11, 2003
My left field idea
Nearly two years ago (November 2001), Lou Rosenfeld got a bunch of folks from a variety of disciplines together via email (and later at a number of conferences) to discuss organizations, infrastructure, and information architecture. Fairly early on, there were a handful of folks who were very interested in a new organization for IA (which subsequently became AIfIA) and another handful who were interested in what we referred to as the "interfaith council" -- a group meant to share what were clearly overlapping interests (DUX2003 came out of some of those discussions).
Now it's August 2003, and Tog wants to create a new title and a new organization: the Interaction Architects Association. I'm not sure that the title change will be worth the hassle, and I think that creating a new organization is not for lightweights. But I wish Tog luck, and if this new org's dues are as reasonable as AIfIA's, I'll join. But Tog's new organization is unlikely to solve what I see as the bigger problem...how to get business to make more (and better) use of these kinds of skills.
I've participated in both the early IA discussion and this more recent discussion for one real reason: I'm far more interested in the effort that will raise the visibility (and value) of all of these related skills, whether you call them UX, ED, ID, IA, usability, or whatever. I like the way that Lyle Kantrovich put it:
A rising tide raises all boats.
But up to this point, most of the "big picture" discussions have generated more quibbling than results (and I'll cop to being a grade-A quibbler myself). No single group has been able to position itself as the "umbrella" for these activities. Most often, terminology (whether it is experience design, user experience, information design, information architecture, usability, interaction whatever) carries some baggage with it that others are unwilling to carry.
So that's one problem. The other is I suspect that none of the individual organizations have sufficient resources to "raise the tide." I agree with Challis Hodge when he says:
What we need to be talking about is an organization that can wage a serious and professional marketing and development campaign--in the context of business.
What we don't really need (though I wouldn't mind them) are more conferences, lists, journals, etc., where we are primarily preaching to the choir. And my apologies to Mark Hurst, but as I wrote earlier, I'm not sure we want a field (or an organization) to "disappear" either. In short, I think we need to raise our visibility (and our perceived value) among the people who hold the purse strings.
So here is my left-field idea to do that.
That's it so far. My fundamental premise is that we'll have more success working together on a common goal than we will with a dozen different organizations focusing more on our differences. The original "interfaith council" used the religious symbolism intentionally...it's not about creating a single religion (or user experience field), but rather finding what we agree on, working to advance that, and then helping to educate about the differences. The rising tide and all that!
So now, it's your turn. I think there's a pony in this rhetorical BS, so I'm posting this to see if I can get some bright folk out there to help dig it out :). What do you think?
August 9, 2003
I'm not sure if this is really necessary (what with this being a weblog rather than a website), but I've finally spruced up IDblog's 404 page. What's kinda creepy is that in reviewing the logfiles, I don't see 404 errors for old files that are no longer around or links that someone coded wrong...instead I see searches for FORMMAIL.PL. I wonder how many sites still have that vulnerability in place?
August 4, 2003
Yet another UX/ED organization?
Well, well, well. So what is one to think of the Nielsen/Norman Group's Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini's column Why We Get No Respect? In it, he notes that:
We've been complaining bitterly, these last 25 years, that we get no respect, that we are thought of as nothing more than decorators, if we are thought of at all. Guess what? We have no one to blame but ourselves. We have sat on the sidelines, perpetually powerless, whining, instead of changing up the game so we can win.
Who, pray tell, could he be talking about? Graphic designers? Information designers? IAs? Usability specialists? Tech writers? The list of folks who feel undervalued and invisible (and nervous in this economic climate) is not a short one, and according to Tog, we need to add interaction designers to the list too.
His solution? We need a new title for the role of the "software designers, or interaction engineers, or human interface folks, or whatever we who create the interaction model for our products." Tog suggests interaction architect for the title, and he also suggests a new association to promote this new brand, the Interaction Architect's Association.
All I can say is, anyone remember the story of the Tower of Babel :).
Hmmm, perhaps it is time for the Order of the Elephant, whose logo can be based on the diagram that Lou Rosenfeld and Jess McMullin created a while back (see right, here for a large version). What's nice about this as an overarching organization is that it acknowleges the majority of those who have been making claims to either small or large parts of the UX/ED/IA/ID/etc space over the last few years.
Of course, since it is based on the fable, we're currently limited to only six distinct disciplines, which will likely be a problem down the road.
Seriously, I don't begrudge Tog and the interaction designers their need to find their own space--though it now looks like we may need a round-robin match in order to determine the owner of the overarching discipline :). I'm also amused that some IAs (that's information architects, not interaction architects), are seemingly unhappy with Tog's effort, when it was only a couple years ago that they rebuffed welcomes from organizations like AIGA and ASIS&T for the apparently desirous environment of their own organization.
BTW, the one point that I do fault (albeit in a friendly sort of way) in Tog's call is his distate for the label design. I think this is a red herring. Brands are re-positioned all the time, and buying the argument that design is undervalued or disrespected need not imply that it always needs to be that way, or that a new term is needed. This is what marketing is good at. And there are groups like the Corporate Design Foundation, the Design Management Institute, and the Design Council whose are doing the work of selling design to business through education and outreach and, if supported, might lead to the elimination of the "wimp" connotation of design in our field(s).
But that's just a disgression to the real issue, which is a potential new organization that will be added to the fold. Heck, what's one more :). Assuming Tog deals with AIfIA the same way he has with HFES and CHI (and given his emphasis on labels and brand, I suspect the answer will be "thanks, but no thanks"), it will be most interesting to see this play out. The IAs are so strong online, with their lists, and weblogs, and raw volunteer power. But while the IAs have their share of best-selling luminaries, Tog would seem to have more access to corporate America (and their attention and their dollars).
Several months ago, I (like many others) complained about Amazon's cute little marketing trick to promote their entry into selling clothing. Okay, well that was cute. I'm perhaps more annoyed with Amazon, who seems to be going for out and out deception.
So, I was looking up someone by name, trying to find if they had a web page or weblog. I put their name into quotes, and the resulting search listed this as the sponsor link at the top of the page:
Google congratulates John Doe!
Out of curiousity and an expectation that Google's ads are in fact related to search terms, I clicked on the link, which redirected me to this Google page, which asked:
I know a little about Internet branding, and a key part of it is that if brand fulfillment isn't equal to brand promise, your brand will suffer. Given that estimates are that Google is or will be a billion dollar advertising company, I am surprised they'd try a trick like this to increase the coffers.
July 29, 2003
Funding challenge for US e-gov
Yesterday's Edupage had the news that the US House Appropriations Committee has slashed the Electronic Government (E-Gov) Act budget for 2004 from $45M to just $1M. I realize this is a Republican administration (read: smaller government), but it was after all, the White House that had requested this funding. According to the quoted article, "the Bush Administration had not justified the $45 million funding request."
The article reports that the E-Gov Act:
proposes to make it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with the government, save taxpayer dollars, and streamline citizen-to-government transactions [and] establishes an Office of Electronic Government, headed by a Bush-appointed administrator within the Office of Management and Budget.
Another interesting tidbit from the article is that the legislation also:
Authorizes funding for improvement of the federal Internet portal, Firstgov.gov, so that on-line government information and services are organized "according to citizen needs, not agency jurisdiction."
Interesting! As an aside, I attended FedWeb this spring, where Jared Spool did one of their keynotes. During some Q&A, he suggested that portals in general (and Firstgov in particular) were going to have a really tough time of it if their primary activity was pointing to interfaces they had no control over.
Apparently the House and Senate will come up with some compromise that will increase the funding somewhat. I'm certainly supportive of the premise (better access for citizens), just a tad skeptical about the implementation!
July 28, 2003
Webmonkey's browser chart
July 22, 2003
Veen on web design
Nick (of Digital Web Magazine fame) pointed out that Jeffrey Veen had posted his presentation from WebVisions 2003: Beyond Usability (PDF; 6.1M). I don't know if that title does it justice, but I'm certainly adding it to my list of interesting slide-based presentations.
There are a few slides that obviously need the related commentary (like the kitchen slide at the end--perhaps an example of great experience design?), but the bulk of it works quite nicely as a standalone. And I really enjoyed the example of the USDA's HayNet with it's simple "Need Hay" / "Have Hay" links on the home page.
July 21, 2003
User-friendly email systems
Ah, last Friday's NYTimes article about the White House email system (here on CNN) is making the rounds. It quotes Jakob, so it's getting a big pickup particularly in the web usability space. Bummer.
I don't disagree that nine screens might be a bit much in order to send an email. However, any organization that gets 15K email a day has to do something in order to manage that effectively. Things like pre-selected subjects help filter the mail so that they get to the right person sooner--and they also can provide for auto-replies which may well contain the answer the person is looking for.
I'm not arguing that some of the problems in the White House system shouldn't be fixed (in particular, I am surprised to have gotten a security certificate warning going to the system). And maybe I'm over-sensitive (we've moved to something similar, though I hardly think as problematic).
But the tone of the article strikes me as being illustrative of the issue that Don Norman was talking about in Business 2.0 (found here via Google's cache):
Maybe the problem is that usability professionals don't know how to make their pitch. ... They don't know the language of business. They preach usability as if it's a virtuous thing, not a business-critical thing, so the executive listening simply says, "Yes, it's a wonderful thing, but I have to get back to work."
Anyways, it struck me that an assault on the White House's email system without consideration of the business needs is in the "not knowing how to make a pitch" category. We can shame business into it, or we can make a better case for it. I wish the NYTimes article were more of the latter than the former.
July 11, 2003
Are people still worrying about browser-safe palettes? Maybe I'm out of touch, but to some extent, it's hard to believe. I did an article back in 1997 for STC's magazine Intercom ("Coming to Grips with WWW Color") , and at that time, I provided a long explanation about the hardware and software issues related to web color. My advice at the time was to relax your expectations about web color...trying to match some specific PMS color was enough to drive anyone insane.
It's a fun site and extremely well done, so if you like to play with colors, by all means check it out. But are there really folks who still worry about browser safe? I find it hard to worry about that given the wall of TVs at Best Buy or Circuit City. All those different hues for the same programming? I think that giving up any ideas about color consistency online is the way one can enjoy life more :).
July 2, 2003
Please, G*d, let it be true!
Microsoft may have unwittingly started a revolt against its Internet Explorer (IE) browser by discontinuing it as a standalone product and blurring the future of the current version, IE 6.
How great would it be that after dealing with the feds and AOL that M$ shot themselves in the foot? Given this decision of theirs, it's nice to continue hearing great things about Safari, Opera (who are "committed to Mac" -- yay!), and Firebird.
June 8, 2003
Design process and standards
The fine folks at Digital Web Magazine have pointed to a great article by Doug Bowman at stopdesign titled In the Garden: A Design Process Revealed, where he uses his entry for the CSS Zen Garden as fodder for a design process case study. A very nice read for designers and non-designers alike.
Afterwards, you'd be well served by taking a stroll thru the CSS Zen Garden:
The css Zen Garden invites you to relax and meditate on the important lessons of the masters. Begin to see with clarity. Learn to use the (yet to be) timehonored techniques in new and invigorating fashion. Become one with the web.
Once done with that, do check out web guru Zeldman's silver lining in the depressing news about AOL's surrender to Microsoft:
If you cant see the good, here it is: what IE6 is capable of makes a far better platform for standards-based design than what Netscape 4 can do, which was where many of us were trapped the last time the browser space froze.
I see his point, but pardon me for thinking, "hmm, that's damning with faint praise."
May 19, 2003
NYTimes on wikis
Rats. Just a couple of hours after I finished a session at the STC conference called "Wikis and Weblogs: Tools You Can Use", I check my email to find all sorts of pointers to a NY Times article called Business Is Toying With a Web Tool on wikis (free, registration required).
The most distinctive characteristic of a wiki is that anyone in the group (or for public wiki sites on the Internet, anyone who visits) can edit, modify or even delete material on the pages. ... The creative anarchy of the wiki is the philosophical inverse of conventional corporate groupware software. Groupware's highly structured rules and processes do not always reflect the way people really work. Employees often ignore costly corporate-sanctioned software and revert to informal social networks whether simply e-mail or impromptu water-cooler discussions. ... While wikis can be helpful for project managers and employees in charge of small teams, corporate managers who favor greater control are more likely to be wary. That is why various entrepreneurs are beginning to tailor wiki software to corporate use.
It would have been nice to share this with folks, as this was the point I tried to make for my audience--while these are certainly interesting as personal tools, the reason to pay attention to them is for their business applications.
It was nice to meet fellow STC blogger Fred Sampson today, who shared his perspective of these tools as well (and who beat me by one day for the earliest weblog entry from Dallas :).
April 30, 2003
STC's annual conferences
Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for STC's 50th annual conference, which is being held May 18th to 21st in Dallas. If you've been meaning to register and are a procrastinator like me, then hurry up and register!
But if Dallas isn't your thing, by all means do consider submitting a proposal to present at next year's conference in fabulous Baltimore, Maryland, May 9-12, 2004. The stem manager for the usability and design stem is Caroline Jarrett, who some of you may know from her stint on the first NNgroup world tour. Yours truly is going to be managing the post-conference stem. The PC sessions are half- or full-day tutorials for which a moderate stipend is paid (assuming registrations warrant).
April 28, 2003
I'm so old...
Hey, I thought I was done for the night, but this one caught my eye. The good news is that guru Zeldman is now doing an RSS feed. But the following caught me by surprise. The image on the left is the default button for this feed. The image on the right is the button for the mouseover.
Yee gads! I know I'm close to bifocals, but am I the only one who thinks that these two are so close to each other as to be, umm, less than entirely useful as far as cueing behavior goes?
Here's the main site if you want to check it out on your browser/platform. It occurs to me that the subtle change is more useful in the nav entries above the XML button, since this slight color change is at least more obvious against the standard color (which is what you see on the main nav items).
April 25, 2003
Okay, twice in one day: an entry for the World as a Blog:
Tonight's entry from (far) eastern Canada: aMMusing. That's their red dot above the "o" in IDblog.
Page weight: myth or menace?
Oy, I really hate to pick fights with Gerry McGovern...as someone with tech writing inclinations, how can't you like a guy who's putting the focus on content? But his column, Fast-downloading websites are still important, has struck a false chord with me. Gerry writes:
So, what size should your webpage be? King and others believe that if you want to guarantee your pages download in less than 10 seconds, you should set a limit of 30 KB. My experience is that a 50 KB limit is reasonable. Aim for 30 KB but don't go over 50 KB if possible.
Now here's my petty, picayune, pedantic self. The page that says you shouldn't go over 50K (if possible) weighs 57K. Oops! Then again, his home page only weighs 43K and looks pretty decent.
Here are some other page weights (as computed by BBEdit after a save complete from Mozilla):
Is it just me? Or is it very hard to buy this under 50K limit when so many mainstream sites exceed it by a lot?
Here's my theory. First, even Jakob Nielsen (Mr. Tiny Page) notes that:
It matters less if it takes longer to load the full page and all its illustrations if the user can start acting on some information fast.
In other words, as long as HEIGHT and WIDTH tags are provided, HTML pages will render quickly and many people (apparently) will quite happily navigate before all the graphics are loaded. It sounds like Jared Spool and the folks at UIE have figured out the same thing. They write:
Testing shows no correlation between page download time and users giving up.
All this said, it isn't the greatest of design strategies to provide the majority of your users skeleton pages (text with holes where graphics should be) if you're trying to maximize user experience for all users. Reducing page size still seems to be a worthy goal, and usually means moving to CSS and optimizing graphics.
But...as I like to say, all generalizations are false. You want to do a page that weighs more than 50K? Go right ahead! You're in pretty good company. Just don't skip the tags that'll make the pages render fast even without the graphics.
A quick log on blogs
I've got some stuff to log later once I'm home, but just had to get a quick lunch-time blog in. While doing some weblog surfing, I came across Megnut's From the Margins of the Writable Web powerpoint for her presentation at ETCon. These handouts obviously pale in comparison to the presentation (look like they were more speaker aids than audience), but there were a few meaty bits in there.
In particular, I'm intrigued by the World as a Blog, which provides a nearly real-time display of geo-coded weblogs. Wow! I've got IDblog geourl-enabled, so I'm going to submit this and see how long it take me to pop up :).
BTW, this other entry from Meg, Searching the BlogSphere, looks pretty interesting too.
April 20, 2003
A browser birthday!
The folks at Digital Web Magazine have pointed to an article on cnet which celebrates Mosaic's 10th birthday. For you young whippersnappers, Mosaic was the precursor to Netscape. More importantly, as cnet writes, "Mosaic was the first to be widely adopted and introduce the masses to the Internet." Read the article if you like, but you should probably download cnet's four day mother of invention report (registration required) to get the bigger picture.
As those of us who were around (some just from the sidelines) for the Netscape IPO know, life was certainly different in the early days, as this chart from cnet shows:
Alas (she says, kicking herself), I don't have any screen captures of the work I was doing in those early days (I did my first web page in early '94...I can find a link to it, but since the company's been taken over four times and the product retired, it's gone). The earliest I can find is from a presentation that Nick Sabadosh and I did for an STC conference in 1996 to brief technical writers about the visual interface in web page design (amazing how much of this stands up 7 years later). But for fun, check out an example page rendered in early Netscape compared to the same page rendered on Mosaic 2.4. And the CSS folks complain today :).
April 10, 2003
You know, I've been doing online shopping for several years. But stuff like this is depressing. I go online to review pizza menus and see this:
March 29, 2003
Luc provides a pointer to part one of an interview with Mike Davidson of ESPN regarding standards-compliant web design. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. On the one hand, I look with longing at pages that are lighter because much of the decision to avoid accommodating 1990s browsers. On the other hand, I worry about the math...even 2% of a large number is a healthy number of visitors.
For example, the article provides page view numbers rather than visitor sessions, but if you guestimate that ESPN visitors average 4 pages per visit, then they are looking at something like 10 million visitors per day. So that means that they have intentionally chosen to shut out a quarter-million visitors from their site. Ballsy! Their somewhat compelling argument:
"This is not a hospital, we are not doctors here... people aren't dying. The worst thing that is going to happen is that people won't get their sports."
I wonder if their position will change if the advertiser base drys up for them as it has for so many others? This quote is also interesting:
[T]he success of our site depends largely on the presentation of our content. We'd rather assertively tell you why your browser needs to be updated than show you an ugly shadow of our front page and have you assume we did something wrong.
I'm don't think that I agree with this position. I believe that the majority of web visitors have very little appreciation for the amount of pixel-pushing that your average web designer goes through during the development stage. And I'd bet money that this is definitely true for those folks who haven't upgraded from NS4!
So...I don't disagree with the premise that folks haven't upgraded because they don't know that they should or could. I guess I disagree with the idea that you should strong-arm folks into upgrading. If you are going to dump folks to an upgrade page, why not dump folks to a less-sophisticated page with a notice (even a pop-up one) that says their experience would be improved by a new browser version?
I don't want to be held hostage by site visitors, but I'm not sure that I want to think so little of my visitors or my content that the ESPN route would be my first choice. Then again, I really would like those lite pages! Sigh.
Trends in information formats
A work colleague sent the pointer to this one: Five-Year Information Format Trends , a report from the Online Computer Learning Center. At nearly a meg, it's a hefty PDF download, and it's also geared towards libraries, but I suspect that many IAs, IDs, etc., might find some of their stats and analysis interesting. The report is chunked into four sections: popular materials, scholarly materials, digitization projects, and web resources.
BTW, kudos to OCLC for giving visitors the option to register or not. Nice choice!
March 25, 2003
E-publish and perish?
Ouch! That's what you can get for being nice. A free PDF download and if you're not so lucky, a bandwidth bill from your WSP for $15K :(. See "Publish (Electronically) and Perish?" from TidBITS.
More importantly, if you are doing PDF publishing, you may want to check out PDF Enhancer, which apparently does for PDFs what DeBabelizer does for graphics.
Thanks to Gordon Meyer of Usable Help for the pointer (and nice weblog).
March 18, 2003
InfoDesign and the NCAA
Hey boys and girls, it's info design and current events! (And no, it's not Iraq!)
Check out this great review of web-based NCAA brackets. This is also a fab interaction design example, but the presentation of the brackets themselves make it a very interesting ID application.
Now if only I cared about NCAA basketball :).
Fun with CSS
Over on webgraphics, Nate has found some great pointers to ways to use CSS to do (reasonably) compliant techniques related to background images and text for things like headers and drop caps.
March 16, 2003
I'm a hippie?
I logged on this AM to get the map to Jeepers (gotta love the web), and found out from Gerry McGovern's latest that not only am I a hippie, but that "the hippie period of the web is over." That's one thing. But this is another:
Consultants try to make content and information architecture
complicated. That helps them feel special and charge more. I
hear talk that because information architecture is so difficult,
it's almost an art form. There is a view that no two information
architects can have the same opinion on any given problem.
Ouch! This one ought to get folks going on the SIGIA list. Or perhaps maybe they'll disregard it as an example of the (in)famous Nielsen-style hyperbole that seems to have inspired it. (Hey, it worked for Nielsen.)
As a programmer turned tech writer turned web developer, I'm certainly happy that there is someone out there who is raising some visibility about the importance of content. This is not something that is top-of-mind for my IA or graphic design friends. But there are some of us content folks who have been around since the mid-90s who actually want to work with our IA and graphic design peers. Criticizing their efforts (while acknowledging the immaturity of the discipline) wouldn't be my choice for how to do this.
March 7, 2003
Cool color tools
Here's a website with some cool color tools. It's EasyRGB, and my faves are the color harmonies and color calculator tools. But if you care about color matching for print or monitor calibration, you'll want to check out the rest of the site.
This'll be a long hat tip...thanks to Jenny, who got it from Zeldman, who saw it originally from Jeff. BTW, if you're into web design, you should check out Jeff's page, as he's got quite the list of links to browse.
February 27, 2003
Tyranny of Tiny Type
You probably already read this over on Mike's blog, but his wife and I have been working hard getting ready for a cool event that is looking at the issues related to older adults online. Some usability, some technology, and hopefully a lot of useful info and best practices.
This is just a first in a series, so if you have any interest at all in these issues, please let me know.
February 23, 2003
Trends in online assistance
It's always nice to come across something for the tech writers in the audience. (I hope there are some tech writers in the audience! As others have noticed, the tech comm folk don't exactly seem to be taking the blog world by storm.)
Anyways, I was emailed the link to this piece titled The future of Help? Nine trends in online user assistance. As someone who did WinHelp in the 3.1 days, these are welcome trends. It's the idea of moving help into the interface (just-in-time assistance) and it's one of the reasons that sessions such as this one (on moving into UID from technical writing) are becoming more and more popular at STC conferences.
February 17, 2003
Open? I think not!
From the Federal Government as of 1:18PM ET:
February 9, 2003
I'm not sure why, but I'm feeling incredibly drawn to the whole RSS thing, unlike the whole MUD thing. Then again, I never got into chat either. I guess I must like the writing/publishing aspect inherent in Usenet/WWW/RSS rather than the interaction thing inherent in MUDs or chat.
Right now I'm experimenting with RSS readers (any recommendations?). After that, the prospect of serving IDblog via RSS is similarly compelling. I need to upgrade to MT 2.5.1 first.
After that, I'm thinking that RSS could be a a great topic for one of the papers I have due (assuming I can cover the subject in 750 words). As I'm leaning towards looking at the issue of public interest and the Web for the final paper, there seems to be a potential for linking the two. It may be time to touch base with Dave Winer.
January 15, 2003
Silly me...I thought under construction was such a 1995 thing. But apparently not for the folks at uparents.com:
I'd bookmarked this site just a day or so ago. Good thing I wasn't ready to place my online order for my diploma frame today! Maybe I won't when they go back online either...if their technology involves taking down their entire site to do a refresh, I'm not sure I want to give them my credit card. Of course, my diploma has been sitting in its cardboard envelope for over a year, so who am I to judge :).
January 14, 2003
Fun with stats
January 4, 2003
Loop Number 6, Archiving ED
One of the highlights is a virtual roundtable (i.e., all participants via email in traditional roundtable format) that included Challis, Nathan Shedroff, Brenda Laurel, and Peter Morville among the participants. The subject for the roundtable was the "critical question" of how those in the field could preserve (or archive) the field's artifacts.
I've not had the time to give this the thorough attention it deserves, but a few things caught my eye. One was that Loop's publishers built in the ability for readers to add their own comments. While this mechanism doesn't always lend itself to a necessarily high signal-to-noise ratio, I think that the ability for readers to interact with (and provide feedback to) authors in such a direct form is one of the reasons that the web contributes to what peterme called the inexorable march away from rigid, high cost journals and towards a wider, less costly distribution. It takes some courage for a journal to put out its prose and invite something between literary response and graffiti, so kudos to AIGA.
I did think it was curious that question one paired experience design and interaction design together in a way that suggested the terms were interchangeable ("Do you see value in explicitly addressing the history of Experience/Interaction Design?"). Nathan addressed this in his response to question 1:
When I use the term, Experience Design, Im not just using it as a euphemism for Digital Design. I mean the deliberate approach to building objects, services, environments, events and experiences with a focus (or, at least, an acknowledgement) of the experience that people have with these things (as opposed to focusing only on the traditional aspects of these solutions).
The panelists spend a good deal of time talking about the challenges of dealing with the issues of the user and context. For example, Brenda Laurel writes:
I would be surprised if anyone felt it were possible to record experience design without recording some of the experiences themselves with participation and responses from their contemporary audiences ...
That's a serious challenge. Another one seems to be the technological challenge. As the participants note, how do you archive an interactive experience without the hardware and software needed to enable the design?
December 23, 2002
Jakob's top ten
Jakob's gone ahead and posted his top ten web design mistakes of 2002. There are no big surprises on the list. That said, is anyone else astonished that Jakob would post a page that weighs well over 220K? No complaints here (I like the cartoons), but it just seems so un-Jakob-like :).
December 19, 2002
Mouseovers...the devil's spawn?
Maybe it's me (or my advancing age), but I just don't get the whole mouseover thing. I suspect that the real problem is not the mouseovers per se, but 1) that browsers are incapable of distinguishing between "hey, I wonder what this object does" and "hey, I'm trying to reach the other side of the page, so please stop winking and blinking at me" and 2) that sometimes potentially useful mouseovers (hey, cues are good) are just so damn annoying.
As an example of mouseovers that I think the world could do without, consider Adventis and their DHTML flyouts (a site Zeldman reamed back on December 3rd) or Eye Magazine and their annoying sound effects on top of their annoying navigation.
Like I said, consider it one of my character flaws, 'cause I just don't get it. I think what I really want is to be able to customize the mouseover setting the way that you can the click speed in Windows. Turning 'em off entirely would be kinda nice too!
December 16, 2002
The sub-titles for this entry are "Why Auntie Beth isn't getting Chris and Lexi a sled for Christmas" and "Why you shouldn't shop online at Amazon.com if you were at the office happy hour too long." I know that you have to pay a premium for shopping late for Christmas, but this is a bit much:
Emphasis mine! You'd think if the shipping was three times as much as the product, maybe Amazon could alert you? Yikes!
BTW, it's not like I have any major grudge against Amazon. I just spent $50 in their apparel store (the nieces are getting nice Lands End mittens and I'm getting a gift or two too) in order to get the $30 to spend later on the site (which is a much better way to promo their new apparel offering than saying that people who bought some book like clean underwear from some store) . But I just couldn't pass up the chance to blog a $50 shipping charge for a plastic toboggan!
November 12, 2002
What is Amazon thinking?!? Here's part of a screen I grabbed tonight:
This is perhaps not misleading in the sense that the pick your favorite color ad that Yahoo's been running lately, but still. Maybe it's swell that Amazon is selling clothes, but using their relatively well-trusted "customers who bought this bought that" functionality to get the word out is, IMO, more than a little sleazy.
But maybe this is supposed to be funny ha-ha funny? I notice that when Challis Hodge visited the link for this same book, he found Amazon suggesting Clean Underwear from Amazon's Eddie Bauer Store. By the time I'd clicked on the link (a day later), the same shoppers for this book were now looking for "Clean Underwear" from the Gap. And the appearance of the suggested apparel is obviously fleeting, as I found when I tried to visit other books whose shoppers had convenient clothing tastes for Amazon's marketing practices. All gone now!
Finally, I'm not sure when it happened, but Amazon is now pushing (even in the legit categories) that "customers who shopped for this also shopped for this" rather than the old "customers who bought this also bought this." I suppose that the former gives shoppers more options, but it's not quite as much of an endorsement that someone scanned a page compared to plunking down their cash.
November 11, 2002
The Google 500?
Move over Fortune? There's something about it that smacks of urban legend, but a variety of blogs are reporting that searching for "http" on Google will give you a list of pages ordered by Google's page rank. For example, here's the Google 100.
If this is correct, I'll be pretty happy (my company makes the Google 250 :). I'm more distressed by this, the actual Fortune 500. According to this, Wal-Mart's profits in 2001 were over six billion dollars. I'm sorry, but that's obscene. (Mea culpa...I need a little hot dog symbol like Lou has for when the weblog goes a bit off-topic :).
November 1, 2002
The wireless IDblog
I don't know how I missed this, but here's a screen shot that Mike Lee made of IDblog in mid-October with his new Sidekick:
October 28, 2002
Links and content
There's been an interesting discussion on the SIGCHI mailing list recently about putting hyperlinks in body text. In it, Steve paraphrased Gerry McGovern (author of Content Critical) as saying "If you put hypertext links in the body text, it disrupts readability."
Gee, if that's a problem, some of us webloggers are in deep doo-doo!
Based on the responses it sure seems it ultimately boils down to: it depends! Speaking of which, there's a history (and debate around origin) to the phrase it depends, but methinks it can apply here. If "readability" is really one's goal, then yes, sticking blue underlined text in the middle of a paragraph could well affect how readable something is. I.e, it's probably not the best thing to do in the middle of articles or longer paragraphs meant to be read and digested. But I'm not aware of anything that discounts Nielsen's 1997 finding: people scan web pages.
Now the percentages may have changed. I know that I have, on occasion, actually read an article on the web. But...then again, I'm probably conditioned enough to the crappy experience (low-res monitors, questionable design practices re tiny type,e tc) of reading on the web that a blue underline in the middle is the least of my problems.
October 24, 2002
An Amazon oops?
Every once in a while, I wish for my organization's website the kind of user experience provided by the folks at amazon.com. Alas, without their resources, it's a bit of fantasy. So it may be petty of me, but I get just a tinge of satisfaction to see that they haven't worked out all their kinks yet!
For one, they haven't solved the "If you're not Beth Mazur, click here" goofiness. Cookies do have their drawbacks, don't they?
But I hadn't expected this one. Being a former math major, creativity is not exactly my strong suit. So I was happy to get turned on to Jim Krause's series of books: Idea Index, Layout Index, and Color Index. Yippee...I can use all the help I can get!
So, what about Amazon? I decided to do a nice little one-click ordering. Maybe it's me, but it doesn't seem that you can aggregate things and then do one-click, so I ordered Layout Index, followed by Color Index, followed by Idea Index. So, maybe I'm easily amused, but I thought it was funny that Amazon showed me this after ordering Idea Index:
Ummm...didn't I order this book? Like 10 seconds ago?
Yeah, yeah. Believe me I understand the technical limitations. Or maybe I should be glad that Amazon is not Big Brother-like and suggests books based on the email I received that day. Like I said, for those of us who don't exactly get to play with the big boys, it's just a relief to know that they don't have all the answers. Yet.
October 14, 2002
Technologies who need people...
There's been quite a stir on the SIG-IA email list recently about Google's new computer-generated news and their flippant "No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page" (now removed). Peter Morville, of Semantic Studios and polar bear book fame has commented on this over on O'Reilly:
Google's claim that it offers "a news service compiled solely by computer algorithms without human intervention" is misleading, at best. What about the programmers who wrote the algorithms? What about the designers and architects who structured and organized the templates? What about the thousands of reporters and editors who wrote and selected the articles?
That this has hit such a nerve makes me wonder if journalists suffer from the same insecurity I attribute to technical writers: when you make your living from writing, you can worry that you aren't valued because this is something that people learn when they are in first grade. Never mind that writing for understanding is something that most never pick up ... in high school, college, or elsewhere ... but still, our colleagues and bosses are still willing to let the new admin write the reports or the engineers write the documentation.
Peter's article preaches to the choir -- to those who already get it. The real question is how to get the same message to those who don't?
October 8, 2002
Why Mozilla rocks
Just say yes to Mozilla! Count me in as one of the proud single-digit percent who is using a browser other than IE at both home and work. I had originally done this just to avoid giving M$ the satisfaction, but now I'm just quite the happy camper.
When I first installed it, I wasn't so sure that the browser's tab functions would be that useful:
But what is really nice is this little feature:
October 7, 2002
META Name=Keyword Content=DEAD!
From the folks at Search Engine Watch:
Now supported by only one major crawler-based search engine -- Inktomi -- the value of adding meta keywords tags to pages seems little worth the time. In my opinion, the meta keywords tag is dead, dead, dead.
If your own search technology uses the META KEYWORDS tag, then continuing to use it makes sense. But it sounds like you get no mileage out of it for external search. Now the question is how long will it be before we start seeing really obnoxious title tags?
September 19, 2002
This appeared today on the DCWW list: a tool called SpamNet that lets you filter out spam based on community votes! From the folks who brought you Napster and Razor, this currently works only with Outlook 2000/XP (tho they claim it will soon be available for Outlook Express). It may be enough to make me convert from Eudora!
September 14, 2002
I'm here at work on Saturday because Amy Lee is moving into my office on Monday. Big yay! She's moving into a position that will manage both the design function (which was currently open) and the production function (which I used to manage). I'm getting out of the mgmt biz to have enough mental energy to go back to school. BTW, Mike (Amy's hubby) was close. AARP used to stand for American Association of Retired Persons. Now it is just AARP (think IBM or KFC). And it pronounced A-A-R-P. None of those canine-sounding single syllables for us!
So...that said, I came in to finish moving out of my old digs and into a new office around the corner that was just vacated by a colleague off to Florida. It's a nice space, tho I miss my windows :). Worse, my old (very) boombox is not picking up WJFK. What, no Don and Mike in the afternoons? Yikes. I gotta work on that.
Anyways, here's the payoff if you're still reading after all this. So, in between moving boxes and dumping drawers, I found wellvetted.com (courtesy of URLwire). Instead of finishing the last remnants of packing, I have been sitting here clicking back and forth among some really cool sites. Don't go if you're violently anti-Flash, but if you're the type who likes looking at design annuals for the inspiration, you're sure to get sucked in too.
Of the ones I checked, my fave so far is Yulia Nau. Contrary to my normal "where's the skip intro link" reaction, I found myself mesmerized by the amazingly crafted dragon. (Hint, pay attention to your mouse cursor.)
September 11, 2002
More on the banner
In response to my comment earlier about my wide banner, Andy Edmonds suggested I simply make the width of the image 100%. I thought the resulting browsing scaling would be horrible, but after testing it out, I wonder if this isn't a better solution.
September 6, 2002
Choose your font size
Well, that was bordering on ridiculously easy! I'm tempted to add the "from the mouth of babes" category to IDblog, but will settle for "web technology" (categories will appear once there's a critical mass of entries).
Now, if IDblog's default font size looks monstrous to you, feel free to choose the sleeker style of the 20% off version: just click the smaller font link over on the top of the right column.
Finally, this works peachy in both my IE5 and NS6 on the Mac. Feel free to add a comment if it creates a problem for you!
IDblog is Beth Mazur tilting at power law windmills. A little bit Internet, a little bit technology, a little bit society, and a lot about designing useful information products. Send your cards and letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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