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Empowering users through user-centred web design | February 6, 2001 | “In theory, the web is the ultimate user-empowering environment. In practise, the very opposite is often the case. Many web sites fail to empower users and in fact frustrate and confuse them because although they offer the promise of information, services or goods at the mere click of a mouse button, they are difficult for people to use. Problems associated with the use of web interfaces are too often wrongly attributed to user incompetence, when in fact it is poor design that is to blame.” Thanks LucDesk.

Text Width and Margin Width Influences on Readability of GUIs | February 6, 2001 | “With the increase of usage of the Internet many questions have been proposed and many suggestions offered on how to design a webpage for optimal readability. Unfortunately, the majority of 'guidelines' or 'rules' for designing webpages have proven to be subjective and inconsistent. For example, many designers and publishing experts disagree on what text widths and margin widths should be used. Morris & Hinrich (1996), suggest that one should keep computer text lines short, 40-60 characters, or approximately 11 words per line. Meanwhile, Mills and Weldon (1987) propose that text with 80 characters per line seems easier to read than text with 40 characters per line. Neither of these groups give empirical data to back up their claims.” Thanks glish.

undesign - a plan for all seasons | February 2, 2001 | Webchick: “Times are tough all over. Sink or swim, as they say. What's next? Get another job in an over-hyped design studio? Accept that position as corporate creative director and help realize their vision of the next ultimate pet ecommerce site? Or, perhaps it is time to throw in the towel and move to a remote part of the coast to take up that long-held dream of being an artist. Whatever the next step, the burning question is: will we all walk away from this older and wiser? Or will the industry continue to navigate the same treacherous waters that led to this mess in the first place?”

Developing Schemas for the Location of Common Web Objects | February 1, 2001 | “An essential ingredient in constructing the content of a website is knowing the typical users' mental model or 'schema' for the characteristic location of web objects on a website. Knowledge of this schema and constructing a site that reflects this should aid in the site's accessibility. This, in turn, should produce more accurate and faster information retrieval, as well as greater satisfaction with the site. However, little is known about the average users' schema for the location of web objects on a typical website.”

Home Page Essentials | January 31, 2001 | Five Questions Every Home Page Should Answer: “We've noticed a disturbing trend in home page design — information overload. Web designers and developers seem to have resolved the 'to click or to scroll?' controversy by loading everything onto the home page. 'More and more and more is better,' they seem to be saying.” Thanks Mersault Thinking.

Web Site Identity: The logo tells where you are | January 21, 2001 | “What should Web site designers do to help users know when they are still in the same Web site or have moved to a different site after clicking on a link? This question was studied by Omanson, et.al., 1998. Their research attempted to determine which dimensions were most important when establishing a Web site identity. They had observed that many Web users are often unaware when they have moved to a different site.” Thanks LucDesk.

Survivor! How your peers are coping with the web design crisis | January 19, 2001 | “Decline and Fall? — a special issue on the industry-wide crisis. It's ugly out there, but how bad is it, really? We asked 40 of our peers to share how they were coping (or not) with the layoffs and business failures currently plaguing our industry. After reading their stories, you can add your own in the new ALA discussion forum.”

AIGA/Aquent Survey of Design Salaries 2000 | January 19, 2001 | “The tables ... list national averages of base wages and total compensation for a range of design positions, including solo practitioner. Supplemental data, including a statistical profile of the organizations surveyed, is available in PDF format. Compensation is reported in terms of three statistics: the 25th percentile, the median (or 50th percentile), and the 75th percentile.”

Interview with Jeffrey Veen | January 10, 2001 | “We interviewed Jeffrey Veen about his new book entitled The Art & Science of Web Design. A Web design pioneer, Jeffrey was the long-time Executive Interface Director for Wired Digital and determined the look and feel of HotWired.com, Webmonkey.com, and the HotBot search engine. We talked to Jeffrey about his new book and his new way of looking at Web design.”

Conceptual Foundations | January 9, 2001 | “One of the commonest mistakes of web designers is to not take the conceptual foundations very seriously, e.g. What purpose is the web site supposed to serve? Who is the target audience and what do they want? How are the HTML pages clustered and inter-related?”

Creating Usable Websites | January 5, 2001 | “The purpose of this site is to share some of the information I've acquired on website design. The emphasis is on overall design and usability, as opposed to the mechanics of creating a website.”

SiteNavigation.net | January 4, 2001 | “Webmasters complete source for site navigation javascripts, dhtml scripts and applets.” Be sure to check out the Site Navigation Guide. (Warning: Annoying pop-up adverts!) Thanks Usable Web.

Why Primary Navigation Must Die | January 2, 2001 | “Primary navigation bars provide shortcuts to main sections on a website and is displayed on most or all pages. I argue that primary navigation bars should be removed completely for three reasons: 1. Navbar links are rarely needed, 2. They are often hard to interpret for users, and 3. They take up valuable space in page top/left side on all pages.” From a collection of articles by Kristoffer Bohmann.

Conceptual User Interface: A New Tool for Designing E-Commerce User Interfaces | December 21, 2000 | “Customers wanted us to design their highly interactive e-commerce Web sites very quickly. But the Web user interface design tools we were using were too slow. iXL developed a new tool, called a Conceptual User Interface (CUI), that allowed us to quickly and iteratively design interactive Web user interfaces in a shorter period of time. To improve quality and efficiency, we used the CUI with other design steps and tools.” Groundbreaking! (Snicker!)

Creative Genius — A Look At 10 Of The Industry's Hottest Web Designers | December 21, 2000 | “The spirit of creativity is alive and well in the digital economy, thanks to people like these. Their insights and experiences can help your company push the envelope and get the juices flowing.”

Designers without portfolio | December 16, 2000 | Zeldman: “After five-plus years in the Web design business, I have nothing to show for myself. Noncommercially, of course, I have three sites that are pretty well known, including the collaborative efforts A List Apart www.alistapart.com and The Web Standards Project www.webstandards.org. Plus a self-effacing corporate site to advance my business interests www.happycog.com. But when it comes to the successful commercial projects on which a designer's reputation is usually based, you could tally mine on the fingers of an amputee. Where have all the projects gone? Two words: 1) linkrot, 2) maintenance. Two problems that plague every Web designer and rip the protective pump off the medium's Achilles' heel. The Web delivers instant access to information that may be gone in an instant.”

media inspiration | December 8, 2000 | “A resource to inspire design professionals... Every designer spends loads of time surfing the Internet looking for that great web site to get inspired and spark that creative idea. Being designers ourselves we could never find the appropriate resources that contained only well designed, creative, and inspirational web sites. Hence the media inspiration project began. Media Inspiration is a resource developed to help its users break free of their creative mind block and spark ideas from the web sites featured on our portal.”

When Kids Use the Web | December 2, 2000 | “A Naturalistic Comparison of Children's Navigation Behavior and Subjective Preferences on Two WWW Sites: This paper reports the results of scavenger-hunt usability tests conducted with 16 adolescent children (8 males and 8 females) in two age groups (12 years old and 16 years old), using two general-interest topical Web sites. The tests yield comparison data regarding both search performance and self-reported subjective preferences.”

Surf like a Bushman | November 28, 2000 | “Hunt down that elusive page, take aim with your mouse and click... Rachel Chalmers explains why Web designers could soon be asking anthropologists for advice.” Thanks peterme.

Steering Users Isn't Easy | November 27, 2000 | “Many users go to Web sites seeking specific information — and are eager to leave as soon as they find it. This means designers may have trouble steering users to material they're not actually looking for, even if the users would find the information valuable. This article draws on the experience that we at User Interface Engineering had in trying to solve this problem with the developers of Netscape's DevEdge Online site.”

Web Design Index | November 17, 2000 | “The Web Design Index, with a selection of more than 1,000 designs in various styles, is a comprehensive overview of the state of the art in web design. Enclosed is a CD-ROM containing a one-click facility to view and access the selected sites. Together, book and CD-ROM provide a unique source of reference and a means of communication for designers, (prospective) site owners, and anyone with an interest in web design.”

Adobe interviews Val Casey | November 9, 2000 | “Web design is so much more than usability. As a creative director at Frog Design, Valerie Casey, 28, is in charge of building the digital team at the company's corporate offices. As an instructor at San Francisco State University, CCAC, UC-Berkeley, and at the San Francisco Mayor's Youth Employment and Education Program, she has guided her Web design students into thinking about design as something more than whether a user immediately knows where to click. Adobe asked her about the perfect Web design education, and what makes good Web design.”

Egreetings navigation evolution | November 9, 2000 | “During my time at Egreetings, I was faced with a number of interesting puzzles to solve... When Egreetings redesigned their website in August 1999, they experienced a higher bailout from the homepage. While some of this might have been simply attributed to a new look (users often dislike change), subsequent tweaks to the navigation scheme improved the page views.”

Daemon Skins: Separating Presentation from Content | November 3, 2000 | “As designers, I often think that we have a design daemon (designd) controlling our creative impulses. When my designd goes to work, I can't rest until I have carried out an idea to its conclusion. I refer to this process as 'exorcising designd.' My latest exorcism took the form of an experiment in separating content from presentation, resulting in several new designs for my personal site. Rather than simply upload a static redesign, I listened to my daemon, and the result was a series of user-customizable 'skins' for my blog. In this article, I'll explain how I did it, why I did it, and what it taught me about the future of the web.”

An interactive sketch | November 3, 2000 | “I recently saw Chris Edwards of Art Technology Group present a nice idea he calls 'sketchy thingies.' Apparently it's common practice at ATG, and I think it's about to become a common practice of my own. Just to demonstrate the idea, I drew a sketch of www.commarts.com on a piece of vellum (transluscent paper) and scanned it. By tinkering with Dreamweaver, I was able to make the sketch interactive. I drew separate navigation labels with highlight boxes around them, then quickly cut up the scans so I could make rollovers...”

Who's the fattest site of them all? | October 28, 2000 | “Web sites have been on a forced diet for a year, at least, trying to knock off those extra bytes created by flashy Flash files, gargantuan gifs or the rotund rollover. But new data from Byte Level Research suggests the median weight, determined by the number of kilobytes (KB) of data on a homepage, is still nearly twice what a lean, mean Web site should be.”

Visual annotation of links in adaptive hypermedia | October 24, 2000 | “Visual annotation of links is a new technique for adaptive navigation support in adaptive educational hypermedia. This paper explains briefly this technique and reports preliminary experimental results of its evaluation. The results show that adaptive visual annotation is helpful and can reduce user floundering in hyperspace.”

Fourteen ways to fix the Web? | October 18, 2000 | “Here are 14 things that web surfers complain about. This poll is to find out which ones matter most to YOU — if you had to decide which ones should be fixed first, which would you choose?”

Design to realistic window sizes | October 13, 2000 | “Once you've figured out what your target audience is using in terms of window size, you need to determine the realistic window space for designing your site.”

Preparing for standard-compliant browsers | October 10, 2000 | “The purpose of this tutorial is to start you off on [an] educational process and to help you to get into the right frame of mind to adapt to the new browsers —and hopefully to ease your pain a little along the way. Part 1 deals with HTML and CSS and weaning yourself from past sins. In Part 2 we will look into Javascript and the Document Object Model (DOM). Also, for the sake of simplicity the focus is on Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.”

Talking structure | October 3, 2000 | “Web design is communication. It says specific things to specific people. It does this by offering meaningful content in the context of focused digital architecture. Navigation and interface are the doors to that architecture.”

What makes for a well-designed web site | September 22, 2000 | “I talk with a lot of architects, engineers, and building contractors in the course of my work as a writer, editor, and part-time Web-site consultant. I've detected some trends in web site design that seem to hold true for them and, perhaps, for many businesses. Firstly, no one is happy with their site unless they just completed a total redesign a couple of days ago.”

Sites By Design | September 9, 2000 | “To determine what makes for successful content design on the Web, IQ asked three design gurus [Jakob Nielsen, Brian Collins and Michael Grossman] to critique three content sites' home pages: The New York Times, ESPN and Seventeen. While there was some consensus, the three produced a wide range of opinions. Here, the experts reveal their thoughts on what works and what doesn't, lending insight into the good, the bad and the ugly on the Web.”

The Destructive Roll of Denial in Web Design | September 9, 2000 | “Four of your fellow development team members, all trying to do their specific jobs to the best of their abilities, have the power to sink your best effort at interaction design. As an interaction designer, it is your job to see they don't do so. (If you are not an interaction designer, read on anyway; you may be surprised to learn that you may be part of the problem.)”

Do Designers Read? | August 28, 2000 | Zeldman: “My sense is that many designers are inspired by what they see, but rarely by what they READ about design. I run a zine & forum about web design (ALA), and obviously it has readers and contributors. But my sense is that the designers who contribute are somewhat unusual, in that MOST designers prefer to seek inspiration purely from the WORK they see (and of course any other sources of inspiration). My sense is that designers who seek inspiration in words about design are fairly rare. Am I wrong?”

Web Site Design Process | August 23, 2000 | “...approach the problem of Web site design in three subproblems: Information Design, Interaction Design and Presentation Design. It is handy to think of the three subproblems as a series of steps, but in practice designers keep all three subproblems in mind throughout the design process. After the initial design and implementation a fourth step comes into play: Evolution and Redesign...”

Zeldman: Style vs. Design | August 22, 2000 | Excellent. “Many young Web designers — and let's face it, most Web designers are under 30 — view their craft the way I used to view pop culture. It's cool or it's crap. They mistake Style for Design, when the two things are not the same at all. Design communicates on every level. It tells you where you are, cues you to what you can do, and facilitates the doing. Style is tautological; it communicates stylishness. In visual terms, style is an aspect of design; in commercial terms, style can communicate brand attributes.”

Experience Design | August 21, 2000 | “Experience Design is an emerging paradigm, a call for inclusion: it calls for an integrative practice of design that can benefit all designers, including those who work in the new, interactive media. Unfortunately, the intense time and project pressures faced by designers in all disciplines, together with a parochialism or provincialism that is disturbingly constant among designers, prevents interdisciplinary conversations. Web designers are too busy to talk to architects, who are too busy to talk to graphic designers, who are too busy to talk to automotive designers, and so on. Not only at professional association and trade events, but also on the 'Net, we miss the opportunity to learn from and work with each other.”

The Evolution of Brand Strategy | August 10, 2000 | “The Changing Roles of Identity and Navigation Design: As the Web continues to be integrated into the world of business, it is increasingly important for companies to differentiate themselves through brand strategies that exhibit clear messages and provide fulfilling user experiences. The most successful brand strategies take advantage of the Web medium, using well-designed identity and navigation systems that showcase a site's purpose and provide the infrastructure for an intuitive user interface. This gives Web designers newfound inroads into the conception of a company's brand.”

World Wide Web Design Issues | August 10, 2000 | “Architectural and philosophical points: These statements of architectural principle explain the thinking behind the specifications. These are personal notes by Tim Berners-Lee: they are not endorsed by W3C. They are aimed at the technical community, to explain reasons, provide a framework to provide consistency for for future developments, and avoid repetition of discussions once resolved.”

A Message to Web Designers: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It | August 6, 2000 | I really hate that cliché. “The Salon revolt speaks volumes about the growing impatience that Web users are having with constant face lifts of their favorite sites or with sites that are difficult to navigate... 'In the early days, users embraced change because the Internet wasn't useful,' Mr. [Jakob] Nielsen said. 'Now they punish change because they need the Web. It's a useful tool.'”

DiK | Theory | August 4, 2000 | “So what is theory all about? It is a place were designers can express their opinions on topics that are of interest to the design community. It is not a forum, it is not a place that tells you what is right or wrong... it is a place that promotes thought and discussion between you and your buddies. It is food for thought... and a take away library. Each month three designers will write on a chosen topic...”

surfstation | xpert advice | August 3, 2000 | “The concept behind this section is to ask several top-dawgs in the design community a few questions, and by doing so, allowing younger, less-established designers to learn from the answers of these masters.” Thanks Zeldman.

Aggregating Experience | August 3, 2000 | “Problems delivering User Centered Design ...we must put good User Centered Design aside for a moment, and face the reality that often the designer is asked to wrap an interface skin on to a system. Before the web arrived, this would entail devising a interface on a set of functions. Now this has morphed into a navigation scheme on a collection of content. Content driven design on the web for both wired and wireless web sites presents a much greater interface design problem than earlier function driven design did for GUIs.” Thanks InfoDesign.

New navigation and usability ideas | August 2, 2000 | “There is a lot being done to solve common navigation / usability problems. I had a look around the web, here are a few of the more interesting ideas I've found.” Touches on searching, personalization and navigation.

Effective E-Commerce Design | August 2, 2000 | “Let's face it, the average online customer can be compared to William Hurt, floating in an isolation tank in some University basement, only without all of the electrodes and pre-historic peyote. So what's an online entrepreneur to do? If your business is to meet the challenge of selling in a narrow-band, sensory-deprived medium, you must become information intensive. Information intensity involves shifting the focus away from tangible resources and on to information.”

Usability vs. Design | July 28, 2000 | “There is an unarticulated war currently raging among those who make web sites. Like the war between dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks in Spike Lee's School Daze, this war is one that only its participants recognize. The war is not between commercial sites and experimental sites. It's not between 'Bloggers' and 'Flashers.' This war is between usability experts and graphic designers.”

Web Page Design: Implications of Memory, Structure and Scent for Information Retrieval | July 27, 2000 | “The goal of this study was to discover the optimal design of multiple hyperlinks on a web page for information retrieval tasks. Of particular interest was the optimal depth versus breadth of the hyperlinks' distribution across expertly categorized web content, with a particular emphasis on the importance of structure and labeling (or scent). The current study attempts to resolve several methodological as well as conceptual issues with past research on this topic, as well as tie the findings both to current research in information retrieval and web design for large information spaces. The differential effects of short-term memory and visual scanning will be examined as cognitive covariates in the experiment.” Thanks InfoDesign.

Restrain Yourself | July 26, 2000 | “Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should | One of the downsides of all the technical innovations of our day is that the software designers of the world have made it really easy to create wonderfully ugly sites! Somehow, in all the fuss over the Web and the never ending desire for 'more interactivity' we've substituted 'flashy' for 'functional,' and 'dramatic' for 'design.'”

The End of Web Design | July 26, 2000 | “Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, July 23, 2000: Websites must tone down their individual appearance and distinct design in all ways: 1) visual design, 2) terminology and labeling, 3) interaction design and workflow, 4) information architecture...”

The Beginning of Web Design | July 26, 2000 | “To put it bluntly, Nielsen has it backwards... This is just the beginning of web design. Not the end.”

Designer Minds | July 24, 2000 | “Let me get off the expressional and visual high for a sec. Do designer minds really think alike? You are about to see for yourself. We all know what apps they use, what their favorite sites are, where they get their inspirations, how it all started for them, etc. So what are their views on life? What would they do if they had 3 wishes? What are their views on God? Once again, you will see for yourself.”

Constructing User-Centered Websites | July 21, 2000 | “The Early Design Phases of Small to Medium Sites: Much has been said about the early phases in the design process of websites. However, the majority of this discussion has focused on the communication between the web designer and the client, such as establishing a 'feel' for the wishes and expectations of the client organization. This includes such things as establishing teams that will focus on creating a layout that conveys the desired mood or theme of the client organization. This is a very important concern, but ultimately web designers should first lay the groundwork for producing websites that are considered 'usable' by its users.” Thanks KIPlog.

IAM Sues Razorfish for Poor Design | July 18, 2000 | “The suit, which demands declaratory relief at a jury trial, alleges that 'Razorfish breached the Agreement with IAM.com by delivering wholly inadequate deliverables and services.' It alleges that some of those breaches include building a site that could not be accessed with version 4.0 of AOL's software, despite promising a site that could be so accessed; missing almost all delivery deadlines; and creating an interface for IAM's buy-side tool that was 'unusable.'”

Razorfish Retorts: Our Work's Fine, Just Pay the Bills | July 18, 2000 | “Razorfish has a message for IAM.com: Since you don't like the site we built you, and haven't finished paying for it, stop using it. In a lawsuit filed in New York's Supreme Court Monday, the Web designer demanded $500,000 damages and an injunction barring IAM, a talent casting service, from using its own Razorfish-designed site. As reported, IAM last week sued Razorfish in Los Angeles, claiming that its site was faulty and unusable.”

What Does It All Mean? | July 17, 2000 | “I am a creative director, my brother Jay, is a technical director. I attended school at Rhode Island School of Design and studied graphic design, Jay went to Carnegie Mellon for computer science — we were seemingly polar opposites until the advent of the Internet. Jay and I are now founding partners of the Independent Design Group, a user experience design and engineering firm. Having software engineers for parents, I sometimes feel that I have spent most of my life trying to ease the communication gap between software engineers and visual designers. Fortunately, engineers and visual designers share some conceptual overlaps in the terms 'architecture' and 'design.' Unfortunately, those terms are not always used in a common way...”

Content-centered Web design | July 17, 2000 | “This page anticipates a style of Web design that I hope to see a lot of a few years from now, that I'll call 'content-centered Web design'. I've been working it out using James Joyce as the test topic. The defining goal of this style is to deliver the best possible response to search-engine queries on a given topic, taking into account the widest range of motives for those searches. So no matter what a person wants to know about a topic, if your page comes up in their search-results you want to give them the best possible answer, or guide them to where they can find it. The primary strategy for achieving this goal is to exhaustively and continuously scour the Web for available resources on the topic, and link them all.”

dreamless | July 14, 2000 | “I honestly do not have all this planned out, but I have an idea. A somewhat controlled environment, where a root administrator starts a thread of discussion. The topic of the thread can either be started by the administrator or suggested by a dreamless user. It is the idea of collecting group consciousness on any given topic. An attempt to create an endless pool of inspiration — based on ideas, principles, anomalies and collective group thought.”

A Design Method | July 10, 2000 | “When working in a high-powered production environment like the web, developing a design method can help you get more done faster ... and provide you with rules to break. Tutorial by Ross Olson for A List Apart.”

Shape and the emergent property of genre in evaluating digital documents | June 28, 2000 | “Navigation is a limited metaphor for hypermedia and website use that potentially constrains our understanding of human-computer interaction. In the present paper we trace the emergence of the navigation metaphor and the empirical analysis of navigation measures in usability evaluation before suggesting an alternative concept to consider: shape. The shape concept affords, we argue, a richer analytic tool for considering humans' use of digital documents and invokes social level analyses of meaning that are shared among discourse communities who both produce and consume the information resources.” Thanks Mersault Thinking.

garden.com: a case study | June 28, 2000 | It's really just a handful bullet points from CHI99 SIG: User interfaces for electronic product catalogs.

eye candy from the underground | June 27, 2000 | “Problem: The look and feel of most U.S. corporate sites is very similar due to inbreeding. If they do it at Microsoft.com, that must be what a professional corporate site is supposed to look like, and then all sites look like Microsoft's site (or Adobe's site, or Ebay, or...) Solution: Stop sleeping with your cousin. Look elsewhere for design inspiration. Introduce some new web design ideas into the mix. Fresh meat, new blood for the design gene pool.”

This Man Can Save Your Website | June 23, 2000 | “Media designers, in both of our opinions, had painted themselves into a bad corner. All too often they reduced their work to onanistic displays of fabulousness, mightily concerned with surface appearances but unable to explain the reasoning behind their decisions. Reeking of condescension, they were given to unfortunate pronouncements such as 'This element just wants to be purple.' And this during a time when the skills a visual thinker can bring to the table have never been more valuable, or more in demand. Something was wrong. The point, we agreed, was communication, usability, the overall experience —things that human beings relate to.”

Gartner Web Site-ings | June 21, 2000 | “A weekly Gartner feature highlighting best practices for great Web sites. Only the most Neanderthal of firms would deny that e-business is a strategic imperative. But there's a lot that can go wrong when interacting with users online. Some executions will soar, while others will crash. So people want to know... What makes a good site good?”

Graphics and Web Design Based on Edward Tufte's Principles | June 14, 2000 | “This is an outline of Edward Tufte's pioneering work on the use of graphics to display quantitative information. It mainly consists of text and ideas taken from his three books on the subject along with some additional material of my own. This page is in text only format: in order to understand the concepts you need to read the books because the concepts cannot really be grasped without the illustrations, and current video monitor technology is too low in resolution to do them justice. His work has been described as 'a visual Strunk and White.'”

Zeldman's second site: Agency sites | June 12, 2000 | “Jeffrey Zeldman believes that interactive ad agencies have still got some work to do when it comes to selling themselves online.”

Jeffrey Zeldman Bites Back | June 6, 2000 | “We got a lot of (shall we say) slightly impertinent questions for Web Standards Project co-founder Jeffrey Zeldman, but that's okay. He reads Slashdot and knows the nature of the beast, and he's hard-core enough to give as good as he gets. So set your humor module to high, then sit back and enjoy Mr. Zeldman's (appropriately impertinent) answers to the 12 questions we forwarded to him.”

Online News All About Text | May 8, 2000 | “Preliminary analysis of research conducted by Stanford University and The Poynter Institute indicates that text plays a more important role than graphics as entry points for online news. Compared with similar research into newspaper reading patterns conducted by Poynter 10 years ago, these latest findings suggest some of the differences between reading from a screen and reading from a printed page. The earlier study found that readers of print newspapers look first at the lead art element on the page, then move their eyes to the biggest headline on the page. The Stanford-Poynter study of online readership found readers often fixating first on news briefs or captions.” Here's Steve Outing's view and an article from Wired.

Content VS Execution | May 8, 2000 | “E.B. WHITE said people end up in advertising because they like to write and draw. Today he might say the same about the Web. Today, people who like to write and draw end up doing more than that. We end up learning Photoshop and Illustrator and Flash. We end up learning HTML and JavaScript and Style Sheets. And the rudiments of Web serving. And how to write an invoice. And how to write a follow-up invoice. And when to contact an attorney. All in the service of that original impulse to write and draw.”

Redesigning Your Web Site | May 5, 2000 | “These days, if you're in the web design biz, chances are you're spending most of your time giving facelifts to old sites rather than creating new sites. Of course, I'm sure that some of y'all out there are creating new e-businesses from scratch. And that's cool. But for most of us, the web creation task is starting to look more like remodeling than original construction.”

Do cryptic sites equal lost opportunities? | May 5, 2000 | “How would you feel if three-fourths of the people visiting your website failed to find the product they were looking for? What if more than 80 percent of them tried to conduct a transaction and failed, not only losing you money, but also potentially endangering their own jobs?” Thanks webmutant.

The Web and enterprise identity, part 2 | May 4, 2000 | “Does your organization's current Web sites make you look calm, controlled, confident, and responsible? Cohesive, comprehensive design transcends immediate commercial objectives.”

The Nantucket Manifesto | April 19, 2000 | “The revolution is over. We are faced with the task of building a new approach to design, which yields useful, useable, and desirable products for people...”

Web Site Starter Kit | April 12, 2000 | “You've surfed so many sites that were hard to navigate, slow to load, and littered with typos once you finally arrived. Now you want to build a Web site for your business — and you want it to please, not frustrate, your customers ... you need well-written, useful content, a talented designer who understands your business and a technical expert who can test the performance of your site on different browsers and operating systems. Here's a roundup of our favorite articles on the nuts and bolts of building your own Web site.”

The Web and enterprise identity | April 7, 2000 | “This column is about the design of complex multi-site Web environments that effectively and cohesively communicate the depth and breadth of an enterprise's identity, mission, and products. The goal is to enable large communities of people to communicate effectively over time and distance.”

Recipe for a Successful Website | April 6, 2000 | “Here's the list of ingredients — and there are only six: Content, Information Design, Performance, Compatibility, Visual Design and Interaction Design. Each of these ingredients is important and not one can be left out. Would you leave out sugar in a cake recipe? Would you bake bread without yeast? Of course not, but that's what 95% of the websites on the Internet are doing — especially the commercial sites where it is even more important. A successful website might be able to get by with only five of these ingredients — if they are exceptionally strong and well-crafted — but you can't expect a site to attract diners unless all six courses are served, especially as the competition in the market heats up.”

IPO-driven Web Design | April 6, 2000 | “The earliest Web sites sprang simply from their creators' enthusiasm for a new medium. After that came sites driven by strong content, put up by newspapers or indivdual authors. And later still came functional sites, sites that let you check tailored data like book recommendations and stock prices. But that sort of thinking is so ... well, twentieth-century. Now we're in the 2000s, and the hot new Web sites are no longer driven by individual passion or content or functionality. Today's Web sites are driven by today's great commercial phenomenon — the Initial Public (share) Offering, or IPO. If you want to catch the trend, ride the wave and make big bucks in the Web business, you'd better learn fast how to build an IPO-driven site.”

False Starts — The Unfinished Web Design Project | April 3, 2000 | “False Starts, a place to store unfinished web designs, while having people criqtue them. There is no charge have your designs displayed here! Created for the web design community, by the web design community.”

Designing Usable & Visually Appealing Web Sites | March 31, 2000 | From 1997. “Part of the design rationale is to develop a design process that is user-centered... A design rationale should be documented to be used as a tool for expressing the foundation for the hundreds of decisions and tradeoffs that need to be made for each design instance. A design rationale is a lot like the 'vision' for design. While it does not answer every question for every instance of a design decision, it keeps you focused on the objectives for the site and supports the design decisions and tradeoffs that are inevitable. The design rationale also acts as a reference for developers and agencies that will develop content for a site.”

Deep structure: “Blueprinting” the site interface | March 24, 2000 | “When discussing a new Web site people often get obsessed with the home page character and graphic design. Your site's home page is very important, but the design of the home page is inherently a singular problem. I prefer to start site design discussions by establishing the basic page grid for all pages within the site, and then make the home page the first iteration of that basic page grid. This page grid or 'site blueprint' is absolutely essential to the creation of a graphically consistent, well-organized, and easy-to-use Web site.”

phong - [Tutorials] | March 23, 2000 | “These amazing tutorials will assist you in becoming one with the pixel. Previous experience in the repective programs is assumed, since these tutorials are not for complete beginners. All of the tutorials provide easy step-by-step instructions for a convenient hands on experience.” Contains things like: Starbursts, Drop Shadow, Rounding Shapes, Outlines, My Actions, Froody Grid, Anti Aliasing, Scan Lines, Color Dodge, Screen Blending, Reflecting Sphere, ePlastic, Metallic Wires, Stone Textures, Metallic Panels, Disgruntled Dots and Lighting Effects.

Dlog | March 18, 2000 | “This is a 'dlog,' as it is a design log rather than a web log. Weblog = 'blog,' design log = 'dlog.' The primary subjects here are personal pages and things of that nature: journals, web logs, and vanity pages. Other things may pop up from time to time, depending on where my curiousity lies at the moment.”

Conceptualize Your Site | March 2, 2000 | “Builder.com examines effective planning strategies for Web site design: One of a Web builder's worst nightmares is redesigning a site because of usability problems or audience dissatisfaction. With the right planning, you can conceptualize, test, and improve your site's design before it goes live. We'll guide you through effective planning strategies that you can adapt to a small business or expand to the corporate team environment. To illustrate the key points, we've conceptualized a fictitious portal for skateboarders, iRippage.com. With the iRippage.com project and its dedicated Web team, we'll show you how to establish a clear mission, determine a target audience, create user personas, and clarify design goals.”

HTMHell: Breeding better sites | Feb 29, 2000 | “Elvis had a ghost brother, Aron — a twin who died in childbirth. Elvis grew up to be the king of rock and roll. Nobody knows what Aron Presley might have become. The Web is similarly populated with the ghosts of the unborn. For every site we visit, there are undoubtedly better-designed versions that the client rejected and we will never see. If there's a rock and roll heaven, perhaps there's one for unborn Web sites as well.”

Is the Web Ugly? | Feb 25, 2000 | “With more than 27 years experience as a magazine and newspaper design consultant, Roger Black has helped change the face of such publications as Rolling Stone and Time. Now Black is guiding the way in making websites more user-friendly. Black says he tries to convince publications that they need to redesign their websites to complement their print versions. Black now has 10 times more Internet business than print busines. He commands $250,000 to $500,000 to do a redesign project from scratch.”

patricklynch.net | Feb 22, 2000 | Patrick Lynch, a co-author of the Yale Web Style Guide, is Design Director at the Yale University School of Medicine's Web Design and Development Unit. His site is a great collection of web-authoring resources. His latest visualLogic column is “Ten fundamentals of Web design.” Nice stuff.

k10k redesign is live | Feb 22, 2000 | Always a favorite.

Constructing User-Centered Websites: The Early Design Phases of Small to Medium Sites | Feb 17, 2000 | “Much has been said about the early phases in the design process of websites. However, the majority of this discussion has focused on the communication between the web designer and the client, such as establishing a 'feel' for the wishes and expectations of the client organization. This includes such things as establishing teams that will focus on creating a layout that conveys the desired mood or theme of the client organization. This is a very important concern, but ultimately web designers should first lay the groundwork for producing websites that are considered 'usable' by its users. That is, users may be enticed by websites that are aesthetically pleasing and promote an interesting mood, but they tend to be far more satisfied and stay with websites that are designed for their use in mind.” Via WebWord.

On the Web, relaunches can sink you | Feb 16, 2000 | “In a June 1999 report, Internet research firm Jupiter Communications found 37 major sites had altered their look-and-feel, on average, every 10 months. Yet the evidence suggests site relaunches carry heavy risks. Most Web site visitors want to do something or find something. Make them change the way they do things at your site, and you may confuse or discomfit them to the point where they leave. Faced with a plan for a relaunch, many site managers should Just Say No.” Via Tremendo.

Designing Web Navigation | Feb 15, 2000 | “Navigation design is one of the trickiest areas of site development. It's tricky partly because it's so subjective — everyone seems to have a different opinion of what works. It's also tricky because it's hugely important from a usability perspective. If your site's navigation isn't doing what it should, you risk losing visitors.”

When Imitation Works | Feb 10, 2000 | “In business, imitation is usually considered the simplest form of theft, not the sincerest form of flattery. But on the Internet, where sites continually borrow graphics, content, and design ideas from each other, imitation may just be good for business — and consumers. From Amazon to eToys, major e-commerce sites are increasingly adopting a strikingly similar layout on their home pages...”

Are your pages upside down? | Feb 9, 2000 | “When faced with laying out a Web page most people do the obvious thing — they emulate the print documents, newsletters, and magazine layouts they've seen all their lives. You see the results on thousands of Web pages: Plunk a big graphic on the top of the page to make it 'interesting,' then start listing the links, text content, or minor graphics below the graphic dominating the top of the page. The ironic result is that the important stuff — the menu links, navigation links, and descriptive information — gets pushed off the bottom edge of the screen where it can't be seen.” Via Tomalak's Realm.

The 5k | Feb 9, 2000 | Already an expert at Extreme HTML Optimization? Then enter this 5k contest: “All HTML, script, image, style, and any other associated files must collectively total less than 5 kilobytes in size and be entirely self-contained (employing no server-side processing).The idea behind the contest is that the rigid constraints of designing for the web are what force us get truly creative.”

Does the Amount of Whitespace Really Matter? | Jan 31, 2000 | “It has been a long-held notion that the use of open space or 'whitespace' adds not only to the attractiveness of the design of a written publication, but adds to the functionality as well. For example, it has been stated that whitespace plays the crucial role of 'directing the viewer's attention to the regions where important information is provided and allowing the global structure of the composition to assume a meaningful configuration' ... However, it has been asserted by Web usability researcher Jared Spool that these assumptions should not apply to Web design.” Via WebWord.

Being Jakob Nielsen, The Story of the Blue and the Green | Jan 29, 2000 | “In the beginning there was the left hand nav bar. It was yellow, preferably, though several other bright primary colors also showed up. Jakob called it the 'yellow fever.' In the web shops, we called it the 'left hand nav,' but Jakob called it the 'Left-Justified Navigation Rail.' Surfing for 30 minutes, you would see at least one. By the end of 96, the Web was completely filled with them.”

Internet retail store design | Jan 24, 2000 | “How the user interface influences traffic and sales: Given the resources needed to launch a retail store on the Internet or change an existing online storefront design, it is important to allocate product development resources to interface features that actually improve store traffic and sales. We identified features that impact store traffic and sales using regression models of 1996 store traffic and dollar sales as dependent variables and interface design features such as number of links into the store, hours of promotional ads, number of products, and store navigation features as the independent variables. Product list navigation features that reduce the time to purchase products online account for 61% of the variance in monthly sales.” Via psyberspace.

Wanted: Better Job Listings | Jan 24, 2000 | “Labor markets are tight, and finding candidates, especially for tough-to-fill technical jobs, is expensive. That makes the World Wide Web look like a dream recruiting tool. But it doesn't seem nearly as attractive if about three of every four online job seekers give up in frustration before submitting an application. That, however, is the failure rate that Web consultants Mark Hurst of Creative Good and Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group found in E-Recruiting: Online Strategies in the War for Talent, a study of six corporate recruiting sites.”

Hypermedia Design Pattern Repository for WWW | Jan 19, 2000 | “The Hypermedia Design Pattern Repository for WWW is an initiative of ACM-SIGWEB in collaboration with the University of Italian Switzerland. Its goal is to allow a larger community to reuse design experience gathered by other designers of hypermedia applications and systems, by providing useful Design Patterns. These Design Patterns cover various aspects of WWW development, including: structure of information, navigation, interfaces, etc. Design Patterns for specific application areas will also be welcome.” Via the CamList.

Poor Richard's Web Site | Jan 17, 2000 | “Geek-free, commonsense advice on building a low-cost web site. Learn how to build low-cost websites; save time, money, trouble. Forget JavaScript, HTML, Java, ActiveX, learn how to create a Web site without spending $1000s or learning complex technology.” Um, their words, not mine.

CIT — Information Design: Expertise | Jan 9, 2000 | A small (and old) collection of resources on Web design, Web databases, typography, PDFs and producing quality visuals.

Creating good websites | Jan 4, 2000 | “Many people have the impression of Web design as a purely technical task, somewhat akin to programming or designing a database. In their view, the 'difficult part' of creating a website is coming up with the final HTML code that makes the page display. This is absolutely not the case. If only it were that easy... In reality, web design covers an enormous range of skills, some of which are professions in their own right. To be a good web designer, you must truly be a 'jack of all trades.' It probably helps if you're a master in at least one or two of them.”

Juggling Chaos: the gentle art of prototyping | Jan 2, 2000 | “For the wide-eyed innocent, creating a prototype can be a daunting task. For a seasoned pro(totyper), a prototype can be the impetus for stocking up on Mylanta. The keys to surviving — and thriving at — prototyping are planning, flexibility, and creativity. Over the course of this article, we'll be looking at the whys and wherefores of prototyping, as well as the methods and approaches that will best see you through to the gold stars, tall drinks, and planning for the implementation stage that comes next...”

The Scent of Information | Jan 2, 2000 | “How do people find information on the Web? Basically they sniff it out. According to Spool, information essentially has a 'scent,' and as users link from page to page they pick up the scent of the data they're searching for. If they somehow lose the scent (often by following a link that doesn't lead where the user thinks it will), they have to loop back to pick up the scent all over again. (The concept comes from an 'information foraging' theory developed by Xerox PARC researcher Peter Pirolli.)”

weblogs: The www2k project | Jan 1, 2000 | A new eGroup: “The idea is to do our best to build a solid consensus by the end of the year, about which *Web design principles* are the most important problems that currently need *fixing*.” Here it is: Fixing the Web in 2000.

Dreamweaver 3 | Dec 29, 1999 | My favorite WYSIWYG html editor is at v3.

eFUSE | Dec 28, 1999 | The “friendly place” to learn how to build a better Web site. This is nice. And friendly — even though the site is basically a big commercial for NetObjects Fusion.

Web-Graphics Collective | Dec 28, 1999 | A Web graphics and design-oriented site for all levels of computer graphic experience and most platforms. It's a high-powered search engine with content including educational materials, design resources and tool information. Looks like they've recently reworked it a bit. Lotsa links.

Tim's User Interface Guidelines | Dec 22, 1999 | This is a nice one. “This is my gift to you, reader, for the holidays. These concepts have served me well in my job at Human Code. While this is a short, general list, if you understand and can articulate these concepts to others through your information design, architecture and visual design efforts, the web could be a very different place than it is today.” By Tim Gasperak. Via peterme.

Sun's Guide to Web Style | Dec 11, 1999 | “This is a cookbook for helping people create better web pages. The guidelines presented here represent the opinions and preferences of a small group of people within Sun who have created some web pages, and have looked at many more. We've drawn from our own observations, opinions and judgements about what makes web pages better or worse, as well as extrapolating from the existing body of usability and user interface design literature. Take everything here with a proverbial 'grain of salt.'”

Proposal on Documentation of the Design Process in Online Environments | Dec 10, 1999 | MetaGrrrl: “As the World Wide Web becomes an increasingly legitimate publishing medium, the need for consistency, clarity, and documentation grows. Developers need to begin focusing on the issue of adding depth and long-term utility to large web sites by thoroughly documenting the design of their sites. This documentation should include why certain decisions were made, techniques used, problems encountered, solutions (or detours) found, and other information relating more to the creation of the page than to its content.”

Designing for 'The Other' platform | Nov 23, 1999 | A really great editorial on the differences between Macs and PCs — font sizes, screen resolutions, color differences, browser inconsistencies, etc... Make sure to read the 'More details' links.

The Eightfold Path to Enlightened Websight | Nov 22, 1999 | Is it pretty, fun, cool, codeworthy...?

bryanboyer: Web99 Austin: Utilizing Hidden Information Spaces | Archive | “Utilize implicit spaces both to supplement explicit information and to provide user interaction feedback...”

Despite buzz, Web design still 'sucks' | Archive | “We've all been turned off by bloated graphics. By incessantly running animations. By complex Web addresses. By confusing navigation bars. By busy backgrounds and other visual clutter. By content headlines that make no sense.”

coolhomepages.com | Archive | “As a web designer, I wished I could scan good looking web design work to help inspire me for new projects from time to time. Sometimes I'd feel in a rut, and I often wished there was a good source to VISUALLY browse the coolest designs. This is not to say I wanted to steal other designs, which is a conclusion some people jump to — this is to say that viewing creative work from others would open my thinking and allow me to take something I'd seen, and by the time I was done, I'd modified it into something distinct and my own.”


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