Episode 6: Mobile First

Designer Luke Wroblewski.

Update! Final audio and video are now available for your listening and viewing pleasure at 5by5.tv.

This Thursday, June 3, 2010, at 1:00 PM EDT, join Dan Benjamin and me for the taping of The Big Web Show Episode Six, as we chat with leading interaction designer Luke Wroblewski about designing for the mobile space, and learn why the mobile experience for a web application or site should be designed before the PC version.

Designing for 700 million people

Luke Wroblewski is an internationally recognized digital product design leader who has designed or contributed to software used by more than 700 million people worldwide. He is the author of Web Form Design (“That rare book capable of transforming the way an entire field does its business.”—Communication Arts) and Functioning Form, and an extremely popular speaker at leading web design conferences. After long stints as Chief Design Architect at Yahoo! and Lead User Interface Designer of eBay Inc.’s platform team, he is currently Chief Design Officer and co-founder of a stealth start-up.

Watch, Listen, Participate

Participate in the live taping by sharing your questions for Luke via chatroom or phone.

Soon after taping, video and audio versions of the Episode 6 podcast will be posted in the iTunes store and on our website and announced here and via Twitter. (The complete schedule of 5by5 podcasts is available for your pleasure.)

The Big Web Show

5by5 is an Internet broadcasting network, home to podcasts like The Pipeline, The Big Web Show, The Conversation, The Dev Show, and more, with over 120,000 downloads per week. The Big Web Show features special guests and topics like the future of publishing, art direction online, content strategy, web fonts and typography, CMS shootouts, HTML5 and CSS3, building an audience, and more. Previous episodes are available for your listening and viewing pleasure.


Live Today: Web Fonts Dialog

The Big Web Show, a live video call-in show and podcast. Today's show is all about web fonts.

Update! Final audio and video are now available for your listening and viewing pleasure.

Live today, Dan Benjamin and I grill Ethan Dunham of Fontspring and Font Squirrel and Jeffrey Veen of Typekit and numerous other good things on the web about one of your favorite subjects, “real fonts on your website.”

The Big Web Show

Be part of this dialog that takes place via streaming video feed with live call-in.

Don’t miss the inaugural live broadcast of The Big Web Show today at 1:00 PM Eastern.

(And get the podcast next week by following 5by5 on iTunes.)


Nice Web Type For iPhone

m.nicewebtype.com is a light yet essential mobile site for people who design websites, love type, and struggle to keep up with the dizzying world of web fonts. In it, Tim Brown, author of Nice Web Type, creator of Web Font Specimen (what’s that?), and latterly type manager for Typekit, curates the Design Twitterverse to share the latest insights, innovations, quips, and controversies regarding everyone’s favorite new web design fetish.

Don’t leave home without it.

DWWS 3e mini-site updates

Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition

The new mini-site for the 3rd Edition of Designing With Web Standards has been updated, with additional information about the substantially revised web standards guidebook, and with tweaks to the CSS which, one hopes, now bring embedded web font goodness to Internet Explorer users, as well as our friends on Safari, Firefox, and Opera. We love the smell of Franklin in the morning.

Short URL: zeldman.com/x/60

Past Blast

Among the pleasures of running an independent personal site is the accidental discovery of an ancient page, such as the version of this site’s contact page from the 1990s that I stumbled onto this morning.

“We’ve got mail!” the old site cheerfully announces, complete with a meaningless header image. The image, like the header and navigation typography, is pixellated to convey “webbiness”—in case you forgot that you were looking at a website in a browser, I guess. “Got mail” is a play on America On-line (kids, ask your parents). “We” is the royal first person plural with which I used to write this site, despite being its sole author. I’d gotten into the habit of “we” from writing copy on entertainment sites for clients like Warner Bros. It made their sites, and mine, seem bigger. It was also an ongoing, self-deprecating joke, although not everyone got it.

As I look at this old page, the copy still feels like me, and it also, if I may say so, anticipates the playful directional body copy of Web 2.0 sites like Flickr by about a decade. (Could be coincidence. Derek Powazek and Heather Champ also wrote jovial instructional copy at the time. Others may have done so as well.)

I’m a lot more ashamed of the design. I’m particularly abashed at:

  • My abysmally stupid effort to straddle the “liquid layout” and “fixed width layout” genres by designing a page that doesn’t work as liquid or fixed. Possibly the only web design ever to put peanut butter and bicycle chains together and call it a sandwich. It should have stayed fixed, and the text and input fields should have matched the width of the illustration and header.
  • Alignment, alignment, alignment.
  • Tiny type with seemingly random hierarchy. In my defense, remember that in those days all type was pixellated. I picked 11px Georgia and 9px Verdana because those sizes looked great in that pixellated world. Still. Feh.

If your old work doesn’t shame you, you’re not growing.

It’s nice to look back and feel that you’ve made progress. When you look at old work, it should suck glaringly and you should cringe painfully. But there should also be some germ within it that you’re not ashamed of—some spark of talent or inspiration that connects to what you do now.

ALA 289: Redesign yourself

In Issue No. 289 of A List Apart, for people who make websites: 90% of web design is redesign. The hardest redesigns are the ones you do for yourself. In this special issue, we look at how two of the great ones handled the challenge of redesigning their own sites.

Erskine Design Redesign

by SIMON COLLISON

In a mere two years, Erskine Design grew from two people working at home into a full-fledged agency of eight, working with major clients. Their website needed to better reflect their achievements, abilities, and team strengths. They also sought to improve the quality of data collected during client inquiries. Simon Collison explores the agency’s thought processes, and the decisions they made as their own client.

Redesigning Your Own Site

by LEA ALCANTARA

Redesigning your freelance website is an exercise in masochism. There are no colleagues to share the pain: It’s just you. As the designer who wrote The Art of Self-Branding, freelancer Lea Alcantara knew her site had to be just right. People were bound to scrutinize any update to the design, and she couldn’t afford to damage her credibility. Follow her process and decide for yourself if she succeeded.

[tags]design, redesign, self-branding, webdesign, alistapart[/tags]

The Amanda Project

Designed by Happy Cog and launched today, The Amanda Project is a social media network, creative writing project, interactive game, and book series combined:

The Amanda Project is the story of Amanda Valentino, told through an interactive website and book series for readers aged 13 & up. On the website, readers are invited to become a part of the story as they help the main characters search for Amanda.

The writing-focused social media network is designed and written as if by characters from the Amanda novels, and encourages readers to enter the novel’s world by joining the search for Amanda, following clues and reading passages that exist only online, and ultimately helping to shape the course of the Amanda narrative across eight novels. (The first Amanda novel—Invisible I, written by Melissa Kantor—comes out 22 September.)

The site developed over a year of intense creative collaboration between Happy Cog and Fourth Story Media, a book publisher and new media company spearheaded by publishing whiz Lisa Holton. Prior to starting Fourth Story, Lisa was was President, Scholastic Trade Publishing and Book Fairs; managed the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; and oversaw development of The 39 Clues. Before that she spent nearly a decade developing numerous bestselling, franchise-launching series at Disney.

Happy Cog‘s New York office developed this project. The team:

Equally vital to the project’s success were Fourth Story’s leaders and partners, including:

  • Lorraine Shanley, Principal Advisor
  • Ariel Aberg-Riger (website, Twitter), Creative Development & Marketing Manager
  • JillEllyn Riley, Editorial Director
  • Dale Robbins, Creative Director
  • David Stack, Director, Digital Partnerships
  • Melissa Kantor, Writer
  • Peter Silsbee, Writer
  • Polly Kanevsky, Art Director
  • Sam Gerstenzang, Technology Consultant

Today’s launch is not the end of our relationship with Fourth Story Media. The Amanda Project will continue to evolve, and Happy Cog will remain an active partner in its direction and growth. We thank our brilliant collaborators and congratulate them on today’s milestone.

Read more

[tags]amanda, amandaproject, theamandaproject, TAP, happycog, design, webdesign, contentstrategy, userexperience, publishing, books, aarongustafson, lizdanzico, erinkissane, whitneyhess, mattgoldenberg, kellymccarthy, jasonsantamaria, jeffreyzeldman, lisaholton, dalerobbins, davidstack, JillEllynRiley, ArielAberg-Riger[/tags]

Brighter Planet beta

The Happy Cog-designed social network for Brighter Planet is now in public beta. Come on down and kick the tires. Brighter Planet helps you take control of your environmental footprint: measure your climate impact, discover simple ways to reduce it, track your progress, and share your experiences with other people who who want to make a difference.

Happy Cog‘s New York office developed this project. The team:

This truly collaborative project could not have been conceived or completed without the brilliant and generous work of Brighter Planet team members including:

  • CTO Adam Rubin (bio, blog, Twitter)
  • Co-founder and Product Design Director Andy Rossmeissl (Twitter, bio)
  • Senior Systems Engineer Seamus Abshere (bio)
  • Rails developer Rich Sturim (Twitter, bio)

Not only is this young, passionate team dedicated to reducing climate change and all things green, they are also marketing kingpins, shrewd user experience designers, and badass developers.

We love our clients. These folks and this project are dear to us. And it’s a fun way to make a difference. I hope you’ll check out Brighter Planet’s new beta social network.

[tags]brighterplanet, climatechange, beta, site, launch, launches, webdesign, projects, work, happycog[/tags]

The new old minimalists

The earliest websites were minimal in the extreme, but without the style and flair to make a virtue of their simplicity. 37signals and Kottke pioneered the combination of simplicity with deft design sense. Cardigan made it art.

Although it is never popular, never the dominant trend, rarely wins design awards, and almost never earns acclaim from designers, design stripped down to its essentials is always a good idea, and especially on the web, where every byte counts. We salute the old and new practitioners of minimalist web design, and solicit your thoughts on pioneers or present practitioners who combine a minimalist aesthetic with significant design chops.

[tags]design, webdesign, minimalism, history, web design history[/tags]