Tracking Elections From the Ground Up

PollTrack is a new website that combines poll tracking data and written analysis to decipher “what voters are actually thinking and feeling” in the lead-up to the election. The site is not complete: sections are unfinished, artwork is rough, and usability problems involving labeling (“Today’s Map Today”) have yet to be sorted. But though the paint is not dry, the site’s potential fascinates.

The Presidential Race section includes a three-layered map showing current poll averages, projected averages in the coming weeks, and projected election day averages. It’s nail-biting stuff.

Commentary by Maurice Berger complements the visual data, explaining what the polls reveal or analyzing the way events in the news affect how the country says it intends to vote. Berger is a cultural historian, curator, art critic, and the author of numerous books, including White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness.

The site needs, and will no doubt acquire, polish. Copy is required to help the first-time user understand what the site is about and make better use of its features. The design feels more like a wireframe than a layout, and the stock photos on the home page are unneeded and poorly chosen. Intended to humanize, they merely cause the site to feel generic—and it is anything but.

But these are fixable problems, and almost beside the point. What matters is that PollTrack delivers insights and information on the most important election in years.

[tags]polling, election, vote, websites, webdesign[/tags]

Books-a-Million

Pssst. New Happy Cog Studios design. Books-A-Million Online Bookstore. It looks even better when you start using it. Details soon at happycog.com.

Update: A Books-A-Million case study is now available for your reading pleasure at Happy Cog dot com.

[tags]books-a-million, happycog, design, webdesign[/tags]

AEA Boston 2008 session notes

Early, initial linkage and reviews. Let us know what we missed!

Functioning Form – An Event Apart: Understanding Web Design

Luke Wroblewski: “Jeffrey Zeldman’s Understanding Web Design talk at An Event Apart Boston 2008 highlighted factors that made it challenging to explain the value and perspective of Web designers but still managed to offer a way to describe the field.”

Functioning Form – An Event Apart: The Lessons of CSS Frameworks

Luke Wroblewski: “At An Event Apart Boston 2008, Eric Meyer walked through common characteristics of several Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) frameworks and outlined lessons that can be learned from their structure.”

Functioning Form – An Event Apart: Good Design Ain’t Easy

Luke Wroblewski: “Jason Santa Maria’s Good Design Ain’t Easy talk at An Event Apart 2008 argued for deeper graphic resonance in the presentation of content online.”

KarlynMorissette.com: An Event Apart: Day one schedule

Karyln is an educator who attended An Event Apart Boston 2008, sat in the front row, and took fabulous notes. This summary post links to her individual notes from each session of day one.

Karlyn’s session notes are informative, opinionated, and fun to read, and include photos of speakers and presentations. Well worth your time!

KarlynMorissette.com: An Event Apart: Day two schedule

Karyln assesses day one and posts links to her individual notes from each session of day two (except for the last session, as “you had to be there” for the live critiques).

Idiot Banter: An Event Apart session notes

Notes from all sessions.

Slide sharing

Luke Wroblewski – An Event Apart: Web Application Hierarchy

“In my Web Application Hierarchy presentation at An Event Apart Boston 2008, I walked through the importance of visual hierarchy, visual principles for developing effective hierarchies, and utilizing applications of visual hierarchy to communicate central messages, guide actions, and present information. Download the slides from my presentation.”

Quirksmode: AEA Boston slides

From Peter-Paul Koch’s presentation on unobtrusive scripting.

[tags]aneventapart, design, webdesign, conference, aeaboston08, session notes, downloads[/tags]

So long, Boston. We’ll be back.

An Event Apart Boston 2008 is over but the memories and photos linger on.

Eric and I started An Event Apart because we saw the need for a live, concentrated, learning and sharing experience about best practices and inspiration for the standards-based web design community. Thanks to brilliant speakers, phenomenally dedicated and supremely competent staff, and an extraordinary and growing attendee base of passionate practitioners, the show is steadily becoming the thing of which we dreamed.

And the food was pretty good, too.

Thank you for the ideas, jokes, and kick-ass Keynote graphics, Luke, Jeff, Jared, Ethan, ppk, Chris, Andy, Kim, Jason, and Doug.

Thanks also to our wonderful sponsors, Adobe (who gave away six copies of Creative Suite 3), GoodBarry (who packed goodies for everyone), and (mt) Media Temple (who threw a party so good, many people who attended don’t remember having been there).

Most of all, our deep thanks to all who came. Without you, Eric and I would be two lonely crackpots with a theory that web design matters. It will sound insincere because I have a vested interested for saying and thinking this, but you are truly the smartest and coolest “audience” going, and I put audience in quotes because you are so much more than that. So, you know, thanks.

Thank you, Boston. We’ll be back in 2009. (And now, on to San Francisco and Chicago.)

Watch this space for AEA Boston session notes and download links, coming momentarily.

[tags]aneventapart, design, webdesign, conference, aeaboston08[/tags]

Monday links

WCAG Samurai
The WCAG Samurai Errata for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 are published as an alternative to WCAG 2. “You may comply with WCAG 2, or with these errata, or with neither, but not with both at once.” Published 26 February 2008. Read the intro first.
Happy Cog Studios at SXSW Interactive
Two hot panels, plus bowling.
Alex King’s Twitter Tools
Integrate your Twitter account with your WordPress blog. Archive your tweets, create a blog post from each tweet, create a daily digest of your tweets, post a tweet in your sidebar, and more.
Chopsticks by Carlos Segura
Brilliant! 51 chopstick bags by Carlos Segura assisted by Ryan Halvorsen. In EPS for your raster or vector pleasure.
Can a Gas Station Really Be Green?
Boston design firm builds green gas station in smoggy LA.
48 Unique Ways To Use WordPress
CMS, city guide, history/timeline site, intranet, movie poster and trailer site, network hub, polling site, Feedburner alternative, Twitter clone, many more.
Misleading Marketing Copy
Words and phrases to avoid if you want an honest relationship with your customers.
Pattern inspiration (Veerle’s Blog)
Design inspiration via wallpaper and tiles.
Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior (on Flickr)
Illustrations from the newly published book by Indi Young (Rosenfeld Media, 2008).
A Speck of Sunlight Is a Town’s Yearly Alarm Clock
On March 8, the sun will rise again in Longyearbyen, the first time since October.
Dockdrop
Free Mac OS X application lets you share files fast. Drag any file or folder onto the Dockdrop dock icon, then choose how you want to send it. Dockdrop uploads it and puts a URL for your upload on the clipboard, ready for pasting into an email, chat program or website.
Official Google Maps API Blog: Google Maps Without the Scripting
The Google Static Maps API provides a simpler way to add maps to your website. Rather than use JavaScript, the Google Static Maps API creates map images on the fly via simple requests to the Static Maps service with HTTP requests.

[tags]zeldman, wcagsamurai, happycog, sxsw, googlemaps, wordpress, veerle, indiyoung, mentalmodels, wcag2, accessibility[/tags]

Blue Beanie Day

On Monday, November 26, 2007, don your blue beanie to show your support for web standards and accessibility. So goes the pitch by Douglas Vos, founder of Facebook’s Designing With Web Standards Group:

Monday, November 26, 2007 is the day thousands of Standardistas (people who support web standards) will wear a Blue Beanie to show their support for accessible, semantic web content. … Don a Blue Beanie and snap a photo. Then on November 26, switch your profile picture in Facebook and post your photo to the Blue Beanie Day group at Flickr.

Is this silly or serious? Seems to me, it’s a bit of both. If enough people do it on enough social networks, it might even raise web standards awareness in a small but positive way. (As opposed to, say, busting people for a validation error, which, surprisingly, doesn’t win you their love.)

Participation is easy. Here are the instructions, from Facebook’s Blue Beanie Day Event Page:

  1. Make a personal commitment to fight Web Standards Apathy. Show solidarity with the Standardistas on November 26th, 2007.
  2. Buy, beg, or borrow a Blue Beanie (blue hat or cap, even a black or grey one will do in a pinch.)
  3. Take a photo of yourself wearing the Blue Beanie. Or take a cool group photo of you and your friends wearing Blue Beanies.
  4. Post your photo, or photos to Facebook, the Flickr pool, and other social networks on November 26th, 2007. Remember to switch your profile photos that day on all your social networks, like Flickr, Twitter, Last.fm, iLike, Pownce, Dopplr… you name it.
  5. Promote Blue Beanie Day in your blog or wiki starting today, and tell all your friends to get ready for Blue Beanie Day. Start by inviting all your Facebook friends to this event.

Related Links

[tags]webstandards, webdesign, accessibility, bluebeanieday, blue beanie day,facebook, twitter[/tags]

The Deck turns 21

Content wants to be free, but content providers want three squares a day. Advertising is often the answer, but advertising on the web tends to be intrusive. Not so with The Deck, our targeted advertising network for web, design, and creative professionals. Its secret? Just one Deck ad per page, seen only by pre-qualified viewers, in a context they trust.

It’s a pleasure to welcome three new sites: Darius Monsef’s COLOURlovers, Veerle Pieters’s veerle.duoh.com, and A Brief Message, a concept developed by Khoi Vinh and Liz Danzico that aims to become the “Op-Ed” page for design on the web.

If you have a product or service that could benefit from being in front of millions of web, design and creative professionals each month, give us a shout at The Deck. Limited inventory is available for the fall.

Event Apart Chicago wrap-up

The sights, sounds, and sense of An Event Apart Chicago 2007. Thank you, Chicago. You rocked. (Literally.) An Event Apart San Francisco is our next and final show of the year.

An Event Apart Chicago 2007 Photo Pool
Those who were there share photos in and out of the conference.
Blog reactions to An Event Apart Chicago ’07
Via Technorati.
An Event Apart ’07 Extended Mix
The interstitial playlist from the show.
Middle West
Speaker Dan Cederholm’s recap of the event.

One track continues to rule. It rules because you don’t have to decide where to go and what to miss. But it also rules because the conversations in the hallways and pubs can be centered around the same sessions. There’s no “ah, I missed that one because I saw ______ instead”. There’s a complete shared experience between all attendees, and that’s a very good thing.

Seven Lies in Chicago
Liz Danzico recaps her presentation and answers questions about information architecture.
Best Practices for Web Form Design
Slides from the powerful and incredibly useful talk by Luke W. “I walked through the importance of web forms and a series of design best practices culled from live site analytics, usability testing, eye-tracking studies, and best practice surveys. Including some new research on primary and secondary actions, and dynamic help examples.”
Design Your Way Out of a Paper Bag
Luke W: “Jason Santa Maria’s Design Your Way Out of a Paper Bag highlighted some of his creative process when working on the redesign of popular Web destinations.”
Search Analytics
Luke W: “Lou Rosenfeld’s Search Analytics talk at An Event Apart outlined ways designers and developers could utilize search query logs to uncover insights about their site’s audience and needs.”
7 Lies about Information Architecture
Luke W: “Liz Danzico’s talk at An Event Apart dissected seven often-cited information architecture rules and highlighted counter examples that exposed why these rules might be better suited as design considerations.”
Selling Design
Luke W: “Zeldman discussed the soft skills that enable designers to get great work out in the world.”
KickApps at An Event Apart
Dwayne Oxford: “It’s difficult to walk away from an event like this without a fresh perspective on CSS and the DOM, a head-full of elegant design techniques, and enough inspiration to catapult our work to the next level.”
On An Event Apart Chicago 2007
Brain Freeze on AEA: “Never a boring moment.”
She car go
Speaker, developer and author Jeremy Keith shares his experience of An Event Apart Chicago.

[tags]aeachicago07, aneventapart, aneventapartchicago, chicago, design, web, webdesign, conference, conferences, ux, userexperience, dancederholm, simplebits, lizdanzico, jimcoudal, derekfeatherstone, lousrosenfeld, jeremykeith, lukewroblewski, jasonsantamaria, ericmeyer, zeldman, jeffreyzeldman[/tags]

The King of Web Standards

In BusinessWeek, senior writer for Innovation & Design Jessie Scanlon has just published “Jeffrey Zeldman: King of Web Standards.” By any standards (heh heh), it is an accurate and well researched article. By the standards of technology journalism, it is exceptional. It might even help designers who aren’t named Jeffrey Zeldman as they struggle to explain the benefits of web standards to their bosses or clients. At the least, its publication in Business Week will command some business people’s attention, and perhaps their respect.

Avoiding the twin dangers of oversimplification that misleads, and pedantry that bores or confuses, Scanlon informs business readers about the markup and code that underlies websites; what went wrong with it in the early days of the web; and how web standards help ensure “that a Web site can be used by someone using any browser and any Web-enabled device.”

Scanlon communicates this information quickly, so as not to waste a business reader’s time, and clearly, without talking down to the reader. This makes her article, not merely a dandy clipping for my scrapbook, but a useful tool of web standards evangelism.

Contributing to the article with their comments are Jeff Veen, manager of user experience for Google’s web applications and former director of Hotwired.com; NYTimes.com design director, subtraction.com author, and grid-meister Khoi Vinh; and Dan Cederholm, founder of SimpleBits and author of Bulletproof Web Design. Dave Shea’s CSS Zen Garden features prominently as well, and rightfully so.

A right sexy slide show accompanies the article.

And lest a BusinessWeek article lull us into complacency, let us here note that the top 20 blogs as measured by Technorati.com fail validation—including one blog Happy Cog designed. (It was valid when we handed it off to the client.)

[tags]design, webdesign, standards, webstandards, webstandardsproject, WaSP, zeldman, jeffreyzeldman, veen, jeffveen, simplebits, dancederholm, bulletproof, khoivinh, subtraction, wired, hotwired, nytimes, happycog, zengarden, css, csszengarden[/tags]

InterNetwork

Why does every single social network community site make you:

  • re-enter all your personal profile info (name, email, birthday, URL etc.)?
  • re-add all your friends?

And why do you have to:

  • re-turn off notifications?
  • re-specify privacy preferences?
  • re-block people you don’t want to interact with?

Brainstormed by Daniel Burka, Eran Globen, Brian Oberkirch and Tantek Çelik, Social Network Portability, an emerging article at microformats.org, is an attempt to begin tackling these problems for good. Big- and little-d designers, you can help.

[tags]socialnetworks, portability, microformats, standards, social network portability[/tags]