A great article at Berea Street on some of the most common mistakes that experienced web professionals tend to make. A couple on this list really hit home with me which I will echo here:
(too much) Visual thinking
Treating the web as WYSIWYG – starting off by focusing on how things look instead of thinking about structure first, and presentation later.
Lack of semantics
Non-semantic markup. Basing the choice of which HTML element to use on the way most graphical browsers render it by default, instead of on which meaning the element has.
Read: Web development mistakes: 456 Berea Street
I have always found writing an about page an extremely painful process on any personal project I have been involved in. ‘Asterisk*’ has a good article providing guidleines for developing these pages, guidelines which I should really follow on my personal and should take into consideration for my professional works.
“Many Web sites, especially content driven sites, should have some kind of about page. In this post I explain why you might need one and give some quick tips on what makes a good about page.”
Read: A Good About Page
Going through a large series of photos for a project I am working on I came across what could represent the ‘companies’ calendar girls. It’s not of course but I think at the time it is about the best they could do.
“Just finished a brief heuristic evaluation of a client site, basing part of my feedback on a set of questions that I find quite useful for just about every IA-related project. Every information architect should always have a set of favorite questions in their back pocket; they really do come in handy.”
Good article on teams.
“Vince Lombardi, the successful leader of football teams and of men in general, said this about teams: “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Lombardi knew the secret to success was not “knowing” something that others did not, but, rather, in executing a plan in a way others would not or could not.”
Read: Help for Team Efforts- Darwin Magazine
Client guide to web standards: What they are and why they are important is a client-friendly explanation of the benefits of web standards.
“Sites which use web standards are fast loading, can be used on many different devices and are found more easily by search engines. They are faster to develop, easier to maintain and don’t lock you into a single supplier. All these things add up to more visitors, a better user experience, increased flexibility and lower costs.”
“Sample data can make or break a wireframe, whose purpose is typically to illustrate architecture and interaction. Poorly selected sample data can end up clouding the wireframe or distracting stakeholders from its purpose. By codifying the types of sample content they employ in their deliverables, information architects can create a coherent narrative to illustrate a website’s functionality.”
Read: Representing Content and Data in Wireframes. Found viaxBlog.
“Keyboards and mice will face competition from motion-sensing, gesture recognition and haptic technologies.
Broadly speaking, such technologies are designed to allow computers to accept gestures, motions, speech and facial expressions as data input methods along with the mouse clicks and keystrokes.”
Read: User interfaces: The next generation (Computerworld)
This obscure image is a photo taken from my mobile phone at a bar in Bangkok called ‘Radio City’. I think I have somewhat of a dud of mobile phone camera as no matter what the effort the pictures all suck. I suppose though it could be me(likely), since the venerable Heather Champ seems to enjoy success with hers.
Radio City is located in the entertainment area, or more accurately a small soi, in Bangkok called Patpong. An enormously famous area known and visited by just about every visitor to Bangkok – or so I assume judging by the crowds of people wading through the famous market. The area has the good fortune to be labelled an entertainment zone as part of the local governments off and on again policy of policing morality. Unless you are the ultraconservative type who is sensitive to the selling of overpriced artefacts, illegal dvds, and the selling of various views of strange sex shows, it is an experience one should have once. More than once the experience becomes a bore and walking through the night market is really an experience best not repeated. It’s hot, very crowded, and the constant touting of ‘dvd sex’ tends to wear you down.
I’m not sure if this makes me a miscreant or not but despite the obvious reputation the area has and the fact that I dislike the experience of prodding through the masses of people and touts, I find myself continuously coming back to Radio City. The appeal has nothing to do with the young ladies sitting at the bar waiting for a ‘date’, it has nothing to do with the smiles of the bar staff who by now know me, and it really has nothing to do with the inevitable thong throwing by drunken maidens. It’s all about getting my fix of live Tom Jones and Elvis impersonators. Radio City has featured the live performance of the classics of Tom Jones and Elvis for as long as I can remember (which I guess really isn’t that long). The band is not so good. The impersonation not even close. The singing passable. But it usually proves to be a pretty good time. If nothing else it’s worthy to drop by have a couple beers and see an interesting mix of people singing and swaying to the likes of ‘My Delilah’ and ‘Sexbomb’.
The bar brings me back to the days I used to help pay the rent by touring all over Northern Ontario in a horn section that was backing up an old time Elvis impersonator. It wasn’t a gig I wanted to tell my high brow orchestral brethren about but it instilled in me a little respect for that old time groove. Of course we didn’t have beautiful young Thai. women moving to the music but the old gray haired type reliving their youth. There were the Elvis fanatics as well. A weird bunch who worship the church Elvis and followed this particular impersonator all across Ontario. I much prefer the young Thai. girls. Maybe it’s time to stop being a spectator, dust off my horn and relive the experience for myself. Imagine what my high brow friends back home would think then when they asked what I was doing to make a living and I told them I was playing back up to a Thai Tom Jones impersonator amongst the flurry of ping pong shows and short time hotels. Might be worth it to just see the look on their face.
I’ll be back to Bangkok soon and I’ll likely take the time to drop in again.
I worked at home Friday to do some concentrated effort on a couple projects. I find it difficult to gain any focus in the office for tasks that actually require me to think creatively. Too many phones ringing all the time, at desk meetings, chit chat, and interruptions. Sometimes quiet and solitude are needed to which my home office these days is ideally suited especially since it has a more reliable and faster network. But working from home is definitely frowned upon because then everyone would want to do it and then who knows what might happen.
Well lately I’m swamped with work and dealing with one of those down periods that I go through periodically. It used to happen in January when I lived in Canada. In Taiwan it seems to be a constant threat. During these periods I often find it hard to get motivated, I’m listless, and certainly uninspired. The office is certainly not a place I find inspiration – not from the work lately anyway. So it’s with this I struggle and what suffers is time. Everything gets pushed back. So this weekend I am dealing with a Monday deadline, procrastinating by writing this very entry, and decided to take a drive on my scooter and drop into work to get started.
That is except that there is no power.
I have never seen a building that has the power problems that this does. I get the impression that every few months something goes awry and they have go and do a ton of work thereby shutting the place down. My house seems fine, can’t they scale this philosophy of ‘it was designed to work’. In every instance I swear it has happened when I needed to go to the office. Of course I never know when it happens. The Intranet, though pretty, is rather useless (and they stole content and photographs from a site of mine on one part of the site!). I never seem to learn. Here I was stumbling in the dark, I work in a basement pit, looking for a way down to my office. Though there was no power all I truly needed were some notes I made. I finally arrive without falling and breaking my neck, there are no working safety lights, and get to my office door and realise that the locks have been changed. I wasn’t issued new ones.
Just now checking my mail, a system that is surprisingly still working, I tried to retrieve a large file that was posted on a webftp server. Alas that system does seem to be down as I all I get is an internal server error.
And people wonder why I have become more of a pessimist. Some days things don’t go quite as planned.
“Research has long shown that the leading factor in persuading shoppers to buy from an e-commerce Web site is ease of navigation — findings that were supported in a recent survey by Jupiter Research. In other words, customers are saying make your site easy-to-use, and you’ll earn our sale.”
Read: Attract and Keep Customers: Site Design Tips to Improve Your Sales. Courtesy of InfoDesign: Understanding by Design
I found a great site that has been linking to an article I wrote. Unfortunately the article has been moved and all they would get is a 404.
“The NetPlace is dedicated to the goal of using the Internet for increased business and personal success.
Our first project has been to gather together a directory of links and webmaster resources. Much of this directory comes from the UMN Web Design References site and our personal bookmarks gathered over the years.”
Very thorough sets of links for IA, Navigation, Evaluation and Testing, and Usability articles. A valuable and impressive resource.
Visit: The NetPlace – Tools, services, articles, discussion and news for webmasters.
A recent survey that suggests some kind of best practices might be developing.
“This survey compares 10 web sites through elements of their layout: styles, page construction and elements… The survey seeks similarities and differences between those well known web sites… What can be observed is that those web sites agree on implicit, internalized layout and design norms (Consensus rate), and that deviance from these rules (Dissidence rate) is uncommon.”
The survey made the following conclusions, directly quoted here.
Even though thousands of different layouts can be achieved using (X)HTML, web designers tend to stick, explicitly or not, to a set of layout elements. Links must be underlined, even when hovered, and the user must be able to tell which links he has already visited. web designers do not like sidebars very much when placed on the left, right sidebars are much more widespread. Every page should include a header logo and a footer; moreover, a white background is preferred. The main text font should be serif. Last, a header graphic is recommended.
Some elements of content are recurrent in web design: search boxes are quite common, copyright sentences including the designer’s full name are prevalent; 404 pages are quite used too. The habit of dividing web sites into sections is extremely common; such sectioning rarely goes over six sections.
Coding the same way
Although many techniques often exist for the same effect in XHTML or CSS coding, web designers favor some coding techniques, elements, or norms. XHTML is acknowledged as the markup language to use by a majority. When designers decide not to use some code, they massively reject it: access keys, XML prologs. Many cleavages still remain: UTF-8 vs ISO encoding, Strict vs Transitional, use of print style sheets…
Inheritance from print design
web designers share a common print design background and import some of its elements to their Internet creations: a comprehensive use of sidebars and their positioning, footers, graphic headers, typographical knowledge.
Read: These web sites are identical — or are they? (phnk)