Recently in Knowledge on the Web Category

The Web is ruled by Geeks

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How many times have we seen Star Wars used to help us learn about the Web?

There's the mnemonic to help us remember the proper order of CSS states of a link:

a:link {}
a:visited {}
a:hover {}
a:active {}

L,V,H,A or 'Lord Vader Had been Anakin'. (Or to include the :focus, it's: 'Lord Vader's Former Handle, Anakin' attributed to Andrew Krespanis)

And there's the brilliant way to explain specificity numbers with Stormtroopers and Emperors:

Designers who can't code

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With all the old 'architects don't need to know how to do the plumbing' arguements. True, but they better know how a person sits on a toilet or their designs aren't going to work.

To restate my position, as a web builder, I don't care if the designer handing me a .psd knows about the double margin float bug. What I do care about is that they know not to shove tiny lorem ipsum into a fixed height layout. They must understand what happens when the browser, content or font size scales, and design for it. 

All to often design decisions have to be made after the comp is approved. When it's a developer making those decisions, the designer has failed. 

If I have to ask whether a design will be centered in the browser, or what happens when the copywriter gives me a headline with more than two words, their failure has nothing to do with ignorance of CSS.

Designing with lorem ipsum in Photoshop is a flawed process, and it's beyond that the designer doesn't know CSS, it all to often shows the designer has a weak knowledge of the medium itself.

Things I need to read

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"Ketchup is a slim jQuery Plugin that validates your forms."

Pros And Cons Of 3 Popular CSS Meta Frameworks "Frameworks like 960 and Blueprint focus on how things look and where they are placed on a page. [Meta] Frameworks like SASS and Less focus on the logical representation of styles and the augmentation of the CSS language."

Wow, there's a whole lot more going on about HTML5 politics than I want to know about. The Widening HTML5 Chasm.

And why didn't I know that there was a CSSquirrel Comic? SVGorillas and rgba jokes!


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Seriously, June is the last time I posted? Wow. I even missed the official ten year old birthday last month. (2 out 3 of the links still work on that 10 year old page!)

Here's a link or two to make it look like something is happening while I throw together a re-design.

Why your Web content will look darker on Snow Leopard The Mac switched to Gamma 2.2 after 25 years at 1.8.

This Is a Photoshop and It Blew My Mind No - it can't really... no. I can't believe that.

You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again

Web Development Must-Reads

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American Airlines Web Site: The Product of a Self-Defeating Design Process "The biggest challenge to better design isn't getting better designers. The problem is organizational, and the hub-and-spoke decision-making process that was originally created to slash bureaucracy--that is, to create more decentralized decisions and less hierarchy. But the overriding weakness, which design thinking makes manifest, is that good design is necessarily the product of a heavily centralized structure. Great design at places such as Apple isn't about "empowering decision makers" or whatever that lame B-school buzzword is. It's about awarding massive power and self-determination to those with the most cohesive vision--that is, the designers."

Good comments in the above link too. One of mine would be that often way too much effort goes into the home page, we shouldn't forget that users spend most of their time in the interior pages - where the UX really matters.

Jared Spool's brilliant "Revealing Design Treasures from the Amazon" presentation. A must watch for anyone who's ever heard "Just copy the way Amazon does it" from a client. Of the many things you'll learn: "The simple Yes/No question that increased revenues by more than $1 billion".

Great Site Ranking in Google The Secret's Out "How many years did you register your domain name for? If it was only one then Google could hold that against you. "

Magic Ink, Information Software And The Graphical Interface. Lots of information on information design here.
"In this paper, I suggest that the long-standing focus on "interaction" may be misguided. For a majority subset of software, called "information software," I argue that interactivity is actually a curse for users and a crutch for designers, and users' goals can be better satisfied through other means."

Some links

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Cederholm: How I Might Deal with IE6 - is it time to hide all styles from IE6 users? I'd say not before the release of IE8 for most sites.

Eye-tracking studies: more than meets the eye. Google shows what some of the eye-tracking data they collect looks like.

Reading Assignments

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The $300 Million Button How Changing a Button Increased a Site's Annual Revenues by $300 Million

The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web

Design Meltdown An incredible collection of examples of design principles, elements, techniques, color usage and site types.

PVII Equal Height CSS Columns "This article covers one way of doing equal-height CSS columns, using our javascript solution."

The Singularity is coming

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When most people hear of the word 'singularity' they think of deep space or some big scary thing the Enterprise is about to run into.

If you haven't heard it used related to computer technology and the near future 'event horizon' where computers get so powerful that they themselves can create computers even more powerful than themselves, advancing a new generation of machines at a rate of an hourly Moore's Law, then you soon will. 

I'm just mentioning it here, so you can say you saw it on KIPlog first, before the movie comes out or before people start lining up to have their consciousnesses downloaded into holographic Yottabyte drives. It's a pretty complex subject, full of nano-crawlies and cyber-liches, with way too much emphasis put on technologically solving our mortality in a conveniently short amount of time. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So start at the Singularity Summit's Intro and work your way through their reading list, especially IEEE Spectrum's Special Report on Singularity. The Summit blog says they'll have some video up soon.

I'll let you know if any of this stuff makes sense to me.

Random knowledge

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I like the idea of a Knol or unit of knowledge, although they really should avoid mixing knowledge with opinion as in this Chicago Hot Dog Knol.

How Blind Salamanders Make Nonsense Of Creationists' Claims.

How to recycle a dumpster. Environmental Graffiti has lots of other cool stuff like pics of the 30 Creepiest Trees on Earth

Cheat Sheets for Front-end Web Developers

A Small Design Study Of Big Blogs "90% of the top 50 blogs used CSS-based layouts"

Interfacing Knowledge

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I've been looking for examples to explain the ways 'web applications' are changing in terms of interface design. For the most part we need tools that are familiar to use - inboxes and outboxes in email apps, posts that migrate to the top of a site or list according to popularity in Digg or organization folders and slideshows in Flickr, etc. But what about completely different ways to manipulate or view data?

Digg labs is a great example of unique data visualizations - we can see the most popular stories swarm or stack in real time. An open API is available so people who know how to do these things, can make their own.

An accomplished artist in this area is Jonathan Harris. The Whale Hunt is his storytelling project documenting an entire trip, from breakfast in Newark airport, to camp on the ice on the Arctic Ocean, to the butchering of the whales caught in the hunt. Documenting such a trip by taking at least one photo every 5 minutes is quite a feat, but designing an interface that matches the moments of boredom and excitement of such an adventure over a timeline is the real accomplishment.

Similarly astounding but on a much larger scale, is Universe which shows us our current stories as constellations and connections with the other stars in modern life.

"As humans, we have a long history of projecting our great stories into the night sky. This leads us to wonder: if we were to make new constellations today, what would they be?"

Watch Jonathan's TED talk on The Web's secret stories, where he explains several of his other projects and premieres Universe.

Speaking of the Universe and really cool interfaces, we're all waiting for the premiere of the WorldWide Telescope on the web, sometime in the spring. Again at TED, you can watch a sneak peak of the WorldWide Telescope, Microsoft Research's application that combines feeds from satellites and telescopes all over the world and the heavens, and weaves them together holistically to build a comprehensive view of our universe.

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Knowledge on the Web category.

Interface is the previous category.

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