Archive for the 'Design' Category

The “new AT&T” creates new ad … that won’t close!

June 12, 2007

We all know that AT&T is working on a new marketing campaign but this is a bit ridiculous. Today on the front page of Wired Magazine, there is an AT&T ad which is missing a critical piece – the close button. Funny thing is, this only happens on Firefox. So if you really want to read the main stories today, you need to head on over to IE. Are we ever going to solve this stupid cross browser issue? How long do you think it will take for A.) Wired to realize there is a problem and B.) That the problem is in some browser detection code which is only displaying the ad on Firefox?

Awesome!

Firefox

IE 7

Wired Ad won’t close.. unless your on IE

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What comes after “The Gradient Era”

February 22, 2007

I don’t have enough energy to do this, but it would be cool if someone could give names to each of the “Design Era’s” we have seen come to life. But here goes:

– The Bullet Era: When I first started on the web every link had a “3-d Bullet graphic” (http://web.archive.org/web/19970724115909/www.uri.edu/artsci/artsci_home.html) [note: click though on Economics]

[Somwhere along the way we graduated to the black background sites]

– Black background sites: Some of the first major designs we did were on black backgrounds (http://web.archive.org/web/19981212030944/http://www.mewstavern.com/) [note: first CF site I ever worked on – take a look at beers]

[Missing a ton of designs – for the better of man kind I moved into development at this point]

[Eventually we got to the point where we are today]

– Gradients: If you site does not use Lightbox and have Gradient headers you just ain’t cool

————————–

Well, I can honestly say that I believe that we are finally at the end of the “Gradient Era”:

Proof1: There is actually a web site that will build a gradient image for you. Yes, I did not stutter, it actually builds a gradient image: http://tools.dynamicdrive.com/gradient/. It is my recollection, that if anything ever becomes this “Mainstream” it has already met its demise. After-all, if the blinking text on my Grandma’s web page gets replaced with a gradient image then it’s all over – right?

Proof2: Two web site designs that have come out recently which don’t use any gradients. Not one.

1.) wis.dm – A social bookmarking site heavier on the “social” then the “bookmarking”
2.) mikull.com – my friends blog (yes he has some mad design skills)

So, while I can’t guarantee you won’t stumble upon a site riddled with Gradients, I can say that I am happy to ask “What is next??”.

Gotta go, off to make a few gradient images for a new menu system, I have connected Yahoo’s Menu Object into CommonSpot.

36 Hours of MAX: Small Agile Development Teams

July 8, 2006

I was just reading a blog post on “WeBreakStuff” about “Railsday: Pushing the limits of 24 hours“. I have always been a big fan of ColdFusion (CF) development and find it amazing the amount of steam applications built with Ruby are gaining recently. I found “Railsday” particularly interesting because in 2003 I presented an idea to Macromedia’s Event Marketing team which was built on the same premise. I called it 36 Hours of Max:

Excerpt from my original document:

What: A three-day competition coinciding with DevCon, for MX developers. The goal will be to coordinate the creation of a web site/application based on a strict specification in 36 hours using nothing but MX products. By holding the event at (or around) DevCon we would maximize exposure and create an added feature for future DevCon gatherings. (A humanitarian angle could be added to the “what” by choosing a Non-Profit organization and either re-designing or creating a site for them. Maybe an organization with little money or resources.)

Scenario:

Teams of 6 (could be more or less) would work together to complete an application based on a pre-defined specification. The specification is the same for all teams and the application must be built exclusively with Macromedia Studio MX.

On the final day all the entries are *collected* and the judging begins [may want to perform preliminary judging during the day on Saturday so that Judges are aware of the programs before actual judging]

The awards ceremony follows the judging and is open to all attendees of DevCon

[Optional] require no pre-coding by releasing the specification at the beginning of the contest

Since one of the values of CF is to be a Rapid Application Development architectures I was a bit surprised that Macromedia did not take me up on my idea. Maybe the idea was before its time (Hey Adobe if you are listening….) Now with the advent of Flex and the tight integration between CF and Flash I think that an idea like this has even more merit then it did in the past. I do not know a lot about the architecture of Ruby but I know a lot about CF and I can say that it would be difficult for any architecture to have the IDE/Application Development integration that CF is pushing.

Value of Small Agile Development Teams
One of the topics that WeBreakStuff spoke about was the value of small agile teams. I left a very small agile team at Seton Hall University a few weeks ago. The web team responsible for implementing our CMS has some incredible talent and interesting dynamics. Lee Clark and Mike Hyland are avid bloggers and compliment each other in their development/design skills. Where Mike leads the way in CSS and HTML layout, Lee produces database interactions in PHP and CF. In addition, there is Marie Somers (Team Lead) and Kevin Whary (Applications Development).

I have seen some good applications development teams out there but none with the dynamics that match this groups abilities. Covering the gammut of CSS/HTML/JS/CFML/Linux/SQL Server/MySQL support, the team is nimble and efficient. [Ok, enough promotion]

The real value here with teams of this size, is that they can get things done. There is no time to overthink things and rarely is any time wasted. In the fast moving environment of Web Development these are great qualities in a team. What makes this group really interesting is that they can cover start-finish an entire Web application.

Nimbleness + Proper Planning = Success
Often the notion of Rapid Application Development carries with it a connotation of poor quality. How can you produce proper applications in weeks in months?

We don’t need no stinkin’ navigation

April 12, 2006

I have been implementing web sites for what seems like forever and I have to honestly say that this is the first time I have ever heard this "Do we even really need a navigation".  The crazy thing about this statement was that the client was honest.  The other crazy thing is that the client was not your normal crazy customer they were serious and they had a point.  Why would really need some complicated navigation.  If you represent content in a logical way each of the "jump" pages in a web site should be good enough.

Obviously, they did not remove the nav all together, I think that would be suicide, but they bring up a valid point that I think needs to be brought to light.  This is not a new point, gosh, google has made this point since its inception.  What the exercise gave them (the "do we really need a navigation" exercise) was that they evaluated their content at a high level and realized that they were managing links in a complicated navigation that were not even being used.  Their theory was that the navigation at a minimal needed to offer some high level access to areas so that users that were unfamiliar with the site could "get around".  They concluded that they really needed just 2 levels of navigation for their entire site.  Note: this site is a prominent site that you would all know and receives millions of page views a week and has thousands (if not 10's of thousands) of pages so, it this is a big decision.

I liken their decision with the recent changes in the Duke.edu site. They have "googleized" their home page to have "search" as a prominent part of their "navigation".  Duke has been in the lead in other areas of their use of digital media.  A few years ago, they were one of the first Universities to give their freshman each an IPod so they could record their classes.  Other universities have begun to offer Podcasting of the lectures (I think Stanford even sells them on ITunes).  Maybe Duke (and the client above) are on to something.  Maybe we have become more sophisticated as web users and we don't need elaborate navigation's.  I will leave you with one note though (since I am currently undecided on the need for "full" navigation elements) – recently this client during a very high traffic time, created an image that linked to a major point on their site.  After a few days of low links to the major portion of the site, they added some text "Click here for more info >>" in the bottom right corner of the page – in one day with the new image they received 3 times as much traffic to the major area.  Maybe we are not so ready, but I still like the idea of "trimming" navigation's based on actual usage.  Certainly makes the CMS implementation a heck of a lot easier.

“Is ugly the new Black”

March 28, 2006

http://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2006/03/27/is-ugly-the-new-black/

What would happen if someone came along and built a better craigslist by using new techniques like AJAX? I will have to admit that I could care less about the looks of things as long as they are functional. To me, the Google Mail is successful mostly because it is easy to use. It is not the most glamourous interface but it does the job well. Microsoft, Yahoo and even my Verizon account have interfaces that spend too much time being cool and a lot less time being useful.