Better community through printing

Readers read web pages. Readers print web pages. In 1999, the way to help readers print web pages was obvious to every major site owner: buy a proprietary, multi-million-dollar content management system avec service contract to generate multiple versions of every page. After all, you needed seven versions of every page to handle all the browsers out there; you might as well treat print the same.

In 2001, A List Apart started promoting print style sheets, and by 2003, all the cool kids were doing it. They were also mostly using free or low-cost, generally open-source, content management systems. Yay, open source! Yay, web standards!

But a problem remains: all those ponderous 1999 websites have trained readers to expect a “print this page” button and subsequent in-browser preview. How can you satisfy this basic user expectation while still enjoying all the benefits of web standards?

In Issue 226 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, Pete McVicar shows one very good way to do it. His “Print to Preview” combines alternate stylesheets and scripting to…

show how the page will look when it’s printed, perhaps display a preview message explaining what this new view is about, and then automatically print the page.

McVicar’s method isn’t the only way to do this—others will likely be mentioned in the comments—but his technique is straightforward and clean, and it takes care of users without making the mistake of trying to educate them about something in which they’re profoundly uninterested (namely, web development).

Also in this issue: “How to be a Great Host,” by John Gladding. These days, many people’s web business plan looks something like this: “Ajaxy goodness + ???? = Profits!” Other straw men seem to think five blog posts plus text ads by Google plus discussion board software guarantees a buyout by Google. It doesn’t.

Building a community takes time and work. No amount of social bookmarking and tagging can rush that process. But you can learn to avoid mistakes. And you can save time by following time-tested approaches. (Learning from your mistakes is overrated.) Gladding’s article is filled with smart, “first do this, then do that” tips that can help you grow your site’s audience with discussion that works.

Better printing. Better community-building. Better read A List Apart 226!

[tags]alistapart, webstandards, community, forum, printing, stylesheets[/tags]

Birth Announcement

The Missus (aka the Rogue Librarian) has been laboring for some time on a new community site. Today it launched.

Things I Learned the Hard Way is a place where women can share life lessons about home, family, friendship and work. Our contributors write well and they want to share their experience with others.

The new site is a place for women of different ages, situations, and life experiences to share hard-won knowledge, from the maternal to the Machiavellian (how do some female bosses use “advice” and “compliments” to keep female employees down?), the silly to the sublime. Participation is encouraged; writers are sought.

[tags]thingsilearnedthehardway, roguelibrarian, publishing, blogs, women[/tags]

Blahg

Gee, was I thrilled when I first realized that, by learning some HTML and buying a modem, I could publish anything I wanted to. Not only could I publish it, but people would see it and respond. My God, those were heady days.

Eleven years I’ve been pecking away at this page, and boy are my frontal lobes tired.

Every day I think about you and what I want to tell you. There’s so much I still want you to know. But work and family enfold me in an octopus grip. When I finally put two free hours together, updating zeldman.com is not necessarily how I want to spend them.

How about you? Still blogging? Still all fired up about it?

[tags]blogs, blogging, inspiration, publishing[/tags]

Black and Brown and 960 all over

En route to An Event Apart Seattle, I leave you with these:

Optimal Width for 1024 Resolution?
Spoiler: Turns out to be 960px.
Brown University homepage
It’s HTML! (Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya.)
Rogerblack.com
Black’s back! Black blogs! Site design by Rob Hunter. Love the “simplify” button. Red-and-black visual joke works, but shade of red needs fine-tuning. Having to employ drop-shadows on every character of body text (only Safari supports this) should be clue, if one were needed, that the background color doesn’t work.
Reflections are the new drop-shadows.
Yup.
RSS 2.0 & Atom compared
I finally get this.
Netscape 4-ever!
Scott Andrew’s back pages.

[tags]design, webdesign, 1024, rogerblack, brown university, rss, atom, standards, browsers, aneventapart[/tags]

Thursday links

Designspotter.com
A web-based platform (public group blog) for design publication, protection, and publicity. Upload an image of your work and a linked description to feature your product at no cost.
Oliver Stone, Terror Tourist
Fred Gates pimp-slaps Stone’s 9/11 blockbuster (movie review).
Google Strict vs. Google Deprecated
Does Google’s crap markup really save bytes? Philipp Lenssen finds out.
GraphicDesignBar:Design Forum
Fine new design blog, rich in inspiring links. (Yes, that’s one of Douglas Bowman’s standard Blogger templates.)
P22 News: Lanston Type Co. Summer 2006 releases
Goudy, Bodoni, and Broadway, oh my! P22 announces the latest installment of remastered fonts from the historic Lanston Type Company.
We are the Web: Fighting for Net Neutrality and Internet Freedom
Net neutrality and internet freedom are being disbanded by greedy corporate swine and the lobbyist-fattened US lawmakers who are their lackeys. In case you didn’t know.
Natural language hCard
Jeremy Keith on adding hcard semantics to ordinary body copy—naturally. (I’ve done it here.)
David Hughes Illustration
Kind to your eyes.
AsylumNYC
AsylumNYC presents all non-US artists with the opportunity to exhibit and live in New York City, providing a solo show at a recognized New York institution and the legal aid necessary to obtain an artists visa in the United States.
Weekly inspiration – 14 July
Thought-provoking UX/IA blog posts noted.
New York Times Librarian Awards
“The New York Times Librarian Awards were created to support and recognize public librarians, who do so much to nurture a better-informed society.” Nominate your favorite librarian from anywhere in the U.S.
Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent
Concise, uniquely conceived blog entries, elegantly written and cleverly embedded in photos which function as parallel blog entries. The creator is a thoughtful and multitalented web developer, portrait photographer, and book author.

[tags]librarian, awards, typography, design, graphic design, web design, user experience, UX, information architecture, IA, microformats, hcard, net neutrality, webstandards, web standards, bandwidth, Google, Oliver Stone, art, illustration, immigration, links[/tags]