Inspiration and perspiration

AIGA | Aquent Salary Survey Calculator
Are you getting paid what you should? Find out with this free online calculator, created by AIGA and Aquent after surveying nearly 6,500 design professionals.
Pantone’s Fall Fashion Color Report
The fashion forecast is for cool, calm colors from the earth. Wear them tomorrow, see them on your website the day after.
Magic 8_Ball on ‘Zune’
Daring Fireball has fun kicking Microsoft’s me-tooism.
CreativeIQ: Create Letterhead Templates in MS Word
Creating letterhead templates in Microsoft Word that don’t suck.
Most Inspired
Design inspiration aggregation.
Netdiver: Outstanding
Design inspiration, collected by Netdiver. Sharp concepts and fresh perspectives.
“People nearby started to panic”
A mobile phone rings on a London-to-New-York flight.
Time Capsules: Douglas Coupland: September 11
From the vantage point of a 52-day book tour that began on September 11, 2001, the author recalls the surreal first days of post-9/11 America.
Congress: Hall Pass Revoked

If Net Neutrality didn’t do enough to get you squirming HR5319 AKA Deleting Online Predators Act AKA DOPA should serve as proof that Congress should no longer be allowed to vote on any laws governing the internet. In case you missed the news, DOPA basically will require all public schools and libraries to block access to social networking sites and chat rooms.

The Agency Model is Dead – Blue Flavor
Brian Fling of new agency Blue Flavor lists “signs of the decline in the traditional agency” and discusses his agency’s nontraditional approach.
AppZapper – Making uninstalls easy
AppZapper for Mac OS X lets you confidently try new apps while knowing you can uninstall them easily. Drag one or more unwanted apps onto AppZapper and watch as it finds all the extra files and lets you delete them with a single click.
Bokardo: Why Netscape Will Succeed
Bokardo, a blog about social web design, says Netscape’s reinvention of itself as a mass-market version of Digg will succeed.
Zach Klein: Connected Ventures + IAC
The guys behind collegehumor.com sell to Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp.

[tags]design, business, inspiration, fashion, color, AIGA, salaries, links, digg, netscape, blue flavor, bbc, douglas coupland, 9/11, 911, writers, book tour, publishing, memoirs, mac os x, macosx, software, net neutrality, online predator, london, new york, nyc[/tags]

Get a job, fill a job

Some people who read zeldman.com have positions to fill. Others are looking for work. The ones with positions to fill are looking for clued-in designers and developers; they can’t find enough of them. The ones looking for work have had their fill of ordinary jobs; they seek greater challenges, and they have the chops to succeed. So I’ve added the 37signals Job Board to this site’s sidebar.

There were job boards before 37signals had one, and new job boards have popped up since. But of all the job boards old and new, 37signals’s seems to me to do the best, uh, job of connecting smart people with good positions. Recent job board postings include:

The Job Board is linked on pages at Signal vs. Noise, A List Apart, and zeldman.com that generate millions of page views a month. It’s the best place to find or post a web tech or design job.

[tags]webdesign, webdevelopment, jobs, 37signals[/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]

ALA 221: Navigation and writing basics

Building better website navigation. Engaging readers with writing that keeps them coming back. Issue 221 of A List Apart is all about the basics.

Where Am I?

by Derek Powazek

It’s 2006 and we’re still messing up global navigation. Derek Powazek gets back to basics and offers a few simple guidelines for getting it right.

Gentle Reader, Stay Awhile; I Will Be Faithful

by Amber Simmons

Bloggers and copywriters take heed: it takes more than daily publication to build relationships. Amber Simmons provides advice on engaging readers and keeping them coming back.

Authors

Working the web since 1995, Derek M. Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek’s claims to fame include designing the Blogger “B” and the Technorati identity, writing Design for Community, and cofounding JPG Magazine. He is the cofounder and chief design officer of 8020 Publishing.

Amber Simmons is a freelance writer and a web designer at the University of Texas at Austin. In her free time, she writes about religion and ethics at Breathless Noon. She can occasionally be found wrangling with code at Technical Poet.

About A List Apart

A List Apart explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices. Explore ALA’s articles or find out more about the magazine. A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites, is published by Happy Cog™.

Credits

Editor: Erin Kissane. Art director: Jason Santa Maria. Semantician: Eric A. Meyer. Illustrator, watercolorist: Kevin Cornell. Production manager: Erin Lynch. Technical editor: Aaron Gustafson. Editorial intern: Henry Li. Production management interns: Andrew Fernandez and Russell Heimlich. Directed by moi.

Amazonked! (or, the 2nd Edition Dilemma)

Amazon.com gets an enormous number of things right. And it gets them right years before competitors even think of them. Nearly everyone in web design or online sales, when tasked with innovating, simply copies from Amazon. Amazon can even do things traditional, brick-and-mortar stores can’t. For instance, Amazon can stock and profit from items almost nobody is interested in. But there’s one thing Amazon has trouble with: second editions.

Designing With Web Standards, 2nd Edition was listed at Amazon for nearly a year before the book was written; it could be found by clicking a mislabeled “used and new” link on the first edition’s Amazon page. As no information pertinent to the second edition was available at the time, the “second edition” page used first-edition imagery and text.

The second edition is now available at Amazon, but it is mostly filled with first-edition editorial text and first-edition reader reviews. Its star rating (the at-a-glance, impulse buyer’s decision-making tool) is likewise based on the first edition. Initially Amazon’s second-edition page also showed first-edition cover art, a first-edition table of contents, and a first-edition “look inside the book,” but those errors have been corrected. The other problems may never be corrected, not because Amazon is uninterested or unwilling, but because second editions pose a special problem to Amazon’s databases—and possibly also to its information design. But as it would be bad manners to highlight a problem without proposing a solution, I’ll do so two paragraphs from now.

The problem is not unique to DWWS2E. When Eric Meyer wrote Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition (O’Reilly Media, 2004), the “Editorial Review” on Amazon’s second edition sales page referred to the out-of-print first edition. Two and a half years later, it still does. Most reader reviews also refer to the first edition—so much so, that one reader felt compelled to preface his review by pointing out that he was writing about the book being sold on the page, not about a previous edition.

What should Amazon do?

Replacing first-edition publisher-supplied text with second-edition publisher-supplied text is an obvious place to start. The next right move is less clear, but I think we can find our way to it.

One possibility that initially seems right is probably wrong. Amazon’s DWWS2E page might say, “This book has not yet been reviewed” until a few reviews of the second edition have been written and approved. Likewise, the star rating might be kept blank until a few readers have rated the edition being sold. Yet to have no reviews and no star rating would be wrong in a different way, because a second edition is not a fledgling book taking its first baby steps into a possibly indifferent marketplace; it’s a successful book that has been updated.

A graduated migration is probably in order, and it could work in two phases. When a second edition initially becomes available, how readers felt about the first edition is worthwhile information, at least as a rough buyer’s guide. By this reasoning, when an old title debuts in a new edition, it’s okay to keep up the old reviews and old star ratings, as long as their connection to the earlier edition is clearly labeled.

The second phase follows immediately. Once new reviews and new star ratings trickle in, Amazon should dispense with the old reviews and old star ratings—or make them available on a page where the old edition is still sold, with a “What readers said about the previous edition” link. How many reviews and star ratings should Amazon collect before removing the old reviews and old star ratings? The directors at Amazon, who are brighter than me, and who have access to more data, can figure out that part.

[tags]amazon, publishing, marketing, writing, books, retail, long tail, dwws2e, web standards[/tags]

ALA 220: Problems and Solutions

Issue 220 of A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites, is all about problems—avoiding the avoidable and coping with the rest. Stuck for design ideas? Lost your work? Issue 220 can help.

Interns Andrew Fernandez and Russell Heimlich contributed mightily to this issue. As always, the visual stylings of Mr. Kevin Cornell add sauce and savor. Bon apetit!

I Wonder What This Button Does

by Mike West

We’ve all lost work to file overwrites and other minor disasters. There are remedies—and as Mike West explains, you don’t have to possess awe-inspiring technical skills to take advantage of them.

Designing Through the Storm

by Walter Stevenson

As designers, we all face the inevitable slump. That point where our creativity stagnates and we find ourselves at a dead end. Walter Stevenson offers suggestions on staying productive and creative.

A List Apart explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on designing with standards. Explore ALA’s articles or find out more about the magazine. A List Apart, For People Who Make Websites, is a publication of Happy Cog™.

[tags]a list apart, alistapart, web design, webdesign[/tags]

An Event Apart Seattle

Join Kelly Goto, Erin Kissane, Jason Santa Maria, Eric Meyer and me for a jam-packed day of design and code on glorious Puget Sound.

The Time and Place

Monday 18 September 2006, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Bell Harbor International Conference Center
2211 Alaskan Way, Pier 66, Seattle, WA 98121 (Map)

Beautifully situated at Pier 66 on the downtown Seattle waterfront, Bell Harbor provides stunning views of the city and across Elliott Bay to Mt Rainier, plus easy walking proximity to the shops and restaurants of world-famous Pike Street Market.

The Schedule

Doors open at 8:00 am and the fun starts at 9:00:

9:00 am Hardcore CSS [Eric Meyer]
An in-depth exploration of what makes CSS work, how it works the way it does, and how you can make it work harder for you.
10:00 am These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For [Zeldman]
Selling design, accessibility, and web standards to tough clients, stubborn bosses, and unconvinced colleagues.
11:00 am BREAK!
11:15 Solving (Re)Design Problems [Jason Santa Maria]
Visually repositioning a beloved brand (namely, A List Apart). Design as problem solving. Knowing which problems to solve.
12:00 pm “One True Layout” [Eric Meyer]
Incredible stroke of genius or gross hack to be shunned? Eric analyzes this new “miracle” CSS layout technique and examines the pros and cons, both immediately and into the future.
1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Sponsor Giveaways
Free software and services courtesy of Adobe, AIGA, Media Temple, Mozilla, and New Riders.
2:10 pm Textism (Writing the User Interface) [Zeldman]
Better design, better branding, and better usability through word choice. Editing for designers.
3:00 pm Designing for Lifestyle [Kelly Goto]
As design migrates from the web to mobile devices, our approach must also shift. Learn how companies are using ethnographic-based research to design smarter interfaces.
4:00 pm BREAK!
4:10 pm CRITIQUES [Kelly Goto, Erin Kissane, Eric Meyer, Jason Santa Maria, Zeldman]
A rip-snortin’ romp through the design, code, and content of sites created by some of the smartest people in the world — namely, the attendees of An Event Apart Seattle

The Afterglow

Join us after the event for a Happy Hour and a Half featuring free cocktails, sponsored by Blue Flavor.

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
The Alibi Room
85 Pike St Ste 410
Seattle, WA 98101-2001
(206) 623-3180

[tags]aneventapart, an event apart, seattle[/tags]

Applications on parade

The ice caps may be melting, the nations may be playing chicken with the Apocalypse, but there is still some good in the world. Today we look at two newly released (free, open source) web applications and a (new, free) community built around that oldest of human activities. No, that other oldest of human activities: sharing stories.

Waferbaby’s open source CMS

Waferbaby is both a site and a person. The site has been around for about a dozen years, the person (Daniel Bogan) for somewhat more. But wait. Now Waferbaby is also a third thing. It is also the content management system (CMS) that Waferbaby the person built to drive Waferbaby the website. The website has many features. So does the CMS. Why do you care? Because you can use the CMS if you want to. Waferbaby, the open source content management system, built with Ruby on Rails and “freely available under a liberal BSD license” is yours for the taking. Be gentle.

Enhanced Simple PHP Gallery v2.0

Point B Studio’s Enhanced Simple PHP Gallery is free, open-source software that lets you post photos online. The brainchild of Rich Pedley and Paul Griffin, the program is thriving at the nurturing bosom of brilliant web architects and developers.

With version 2.0, it has been completely overhauled to support detailed annotation (“footnotes”) of objects (such as artwork or photos), including citations, dimensions, latitude/longitude and other identification metadata.

A demo page lets you log in as an administrator and put the program through its paces. Point B welcomes comments and suggestions. Happy gallery-mongering!

Dandelife debuts

(Disclaimer: I sit on Dandelife’s advisory board.)

Dandelife is a social network built around the telling of your life’s stories. You can use Dandelife to create your own personal biography and then share that with the rest of the world. Imagine all your own notes on all the people you’ve met, the places you’ve been, the events you’ve gone to and the stories you could tell about them all. That’s your Dandelife.

Co-founder Kelly Abbott, late of Airshare.org and other socially conscious web projects, is that rare entrepreneur whose primary motivation is not cash but community. Soft-launched this week, Dandelife isn’t perfect yet, but it is already attracting storytellers, and Abbott hopes to recruit more creative people spinning more yarns, “making the site that much more fun to waste time at.”

Tags are beginning to emerge: there are drinking stories, nickname origin stories, 9/11 stories. People are joining and sharing. Here are a few stories that struck me:

a very long story about how i got an unfortunate nickname
Embarrassing but well written coming-of-age tale.
Champagne Katie
The story of an unfortunate nickname.
Hilarious brush-up (sic) with death
Life and near-death in the Himalayas.

An angry fix

Some of the best minds working in web standards have been quietly or loudly abandoning the W3C. Björn Hörmann is the latest. His reasons for leaving the W3C QA Group make compelling reading (hat tip: Terje Bless). I believe in W3C standards, particularly the ones you and I use every day, but I worry about the direction in which the W3C is headed.

Beholden to its corporate paymasters who alone can afford membership, the W3C seems increasingly detached from ordinary designers and developers. Truth be told, we and our practical concerns never drove the organization. But after ordinary designers and developers spent nearly a decade selling web standards to browser makers and developing best practices around accessibility and semantics, one hoped the W3C might realize that there was value in occasionally consulting its user base.

Alas, the organization appears unconcerned with our needs and uninterested in tapping our experience and insights. It remains a closed, a one-way system. Like old-fashioned pre-cable TV advertising. Not like the web.

To be fair, the W3C solicits community feedback before finalizing its recommendations. But asking people to comment on something that is nearly finished is not the same as finding out what they need and soliciting their collaboration from the start.

We require coherent specifications based on our and our users’ actual needs. Upcoming accessibility and markup specifications fail on both counts. We require validation tools that work and are kept up to date. Instead, tools are still broken years after problems are reported.

Two things could happen. Either the W3C will make a course correction, or the standards-based design community will look elsewhere.

[tags]web standards, w3c, wcag, xhtml, web design, microformats[/tags]