Browsing articles tagged with "Web-Design Archives | april.holle.blog"
May
18

Self-Inflicted Undue Pressure

I’ve been speaking to several colleagues lately within the web design community, and I’ve come to a harsh realization. I think that as a whole, our industry creates it’s own self-inflicted pressure with deadlines and customer relations.

Granted, some customers can come into the relationship wanting the impossible, but often, with a little enlightenment, customers can grasp how Rome cannot be built within a week. But I feel often, instead of investing in this conversation, we instead push ourselves to build things quicker, faster, and cheaper.

Sometimes we can just have a simple conversation with our clients, and often they’ll be totally accepting of our need for more time to create the desired product. Many times when I talk to a client, they themselves are not prepared for the product to be finished, they don’t have the content ready yet, they still need to gather all their product photos, etc.

Why do we tend to forgo these honest conversations that can strengthen our client relations and really give us a better working relationship in the long run? Is it our need for deadlines? Perhaps our procrastinative nature drives us to seek this adrenaline rush that is the last-minute push? Maybe a way to curb our creative natures that drive us to constantly expand the scope of possibilities for the project?

This issue has always frustrated me, why push ourselves to slam something out when there’s always more time to work? Sure, things have to get done, but does the quality of work have to suffer? We quit trying to achieve the best possible, and start undercutting to hit some date that really isn’t anything more than a spec of time in the span of the universe.

So I thought I’d toss it out there and see what you guys thought, why do we do this to ourselves?

Jan
18

Links of the Week Vol. 4

Coke has made a great interactive game area called The Happiness Factory, where you enter into employment at Coke as four different types of alien like workers. Check it out!

If one of your new years resolutions is to be happier at work, check out these 25 ways you can improve your mood at work.

Virginia is passing laws against DWT (driving while texting), apparently a new state trend, in 2007 Washington, New Jersey and our very own city of Phoenix passed laws against DWT.

Interesting Daily Design Workout by one designer to continue to flex his design muscle. Each day he produces a new design every day within 30-60 minutes and keeps a nice lil calendar of his work so we can share his daily design.

One hundred people from the ages one to one hundred playing the drums.

Inspiring post by Seth Godin regarding the passionate worker and his hobby job. Definitely captures how I feel about what I do.

If you like short cartoon silliness, check out Glumpers, these lil blobs are funny!

Looking for your 32 pieces of flair? Check out Prickie.com for awesome designer buttons for your fetish.

Do you think you know what great web design looks like? Hone your skills at CommandShift3, it’s like Hot or Not, but for websites.

Does your new years resolution have something to do with better health? If so check out a Cambridge University study on four steps to increase your lifespan by 14 years!

Bringing bad design to justice. It’s the design police!

Dec
11

CSS Continued…

CSS is easy enough to start to learn, but it really takes some practice to master and understand the beautiful efficiency it provides. These techniques of efficiency separate the apprentices from the masters in the art of CSS. Now that I know what I know now, I wish someone would have told me these secrets from the beginning. The longer you practice great CSS techniques, the better you’ll be at it, so I’m giving you a head start with my first blog series: CSS Continued…

So listen closely Grasshoppa. 😉

Nov
25

Blue Beanie Day: Celebrate Web Standards

Celebrate web standards by donning a blue beanie Monday, November 25 and while you’re at it, take a picture and post it to the flickr group. This event was brainstormed by Facebook group formed around Designing With Web Standards. The book was written by Jeffrey Zeldman who is well known for his and talks around the world regarding standards compliance. See his two cents on the event.

Nov
5

Refresh Phoenix: Blueprint CSS

Come on over to Inza Coffee House tomorrow night to join me and the crew of Refresh Phoenix as we discuss Blueprint CSS.

Blueprint is a CSS framework by Olav Bjorkoy, which “aims to cut down on your CSS development time.” Matt Heidemann & Matt Gist from Integrum Technologies will talk about their recent work with Blueprint. They’ll show examples of the framework and a project they recently used it with.

See ya there!

Oct
21

Local Lifestyle Magazines Recieve Facelift

I’m proud to announce that Terralever launched two new sites into the world wide web this week. We have just finished production on a redesign and large back-end content management system for Cities West Publishing sites, Phoenix Home and Garden and Phoenix Magazine.

I am really proud to have been part of this success. The website may seem large and elaborate, but with the use of themes, masterpages, and dynamic content the site itself is about 20 pages in total. This was the first website in which we were really able to experiment with large scale theme usage and I learned quite a bit about how to make the front end flexible enough to reskin.

Making sure css naming conventions were simple enough to reuse through out the process was a key piece of the puzzle. I used the content to determine the class and id naming instead of color or position since both of these could change dramatically. This was not only important to switch from theme to theme within the sections of the site, but also we chose to reuse quite a bit of code from one site to the next to save cost for our client. Thus, the reasoning in similar layout from one site to the other.

Making sure each piece of content knew what month and what section it appeared in was also a large undertaking in this process, thankfully our wonderful back end development team did an amazing job of coordinating how the data manipulated the themes and sections with in the site.

In addition to the amazing design and development that went on to create the front end look and feel, there was an amazing effort on the back end administration system. Back behind all that wonderful content is an editorial staff that needs to input it in every month in a quick efficient manner! To help them with this, Terralever created an amazing custom content management system that allows the editorial staff to select which issue an article appears, what section, enter in the content and add supplemental photos to each story.

For each story the editorial staff has full access to create and layout articles however they please. They can add as many photos, call outs, etc to make each layout custom to the story it holds. To help them with this process, we created five templates for them to start with, allowing them to enter content quickly and then make the necessary additions with more photos, more call outs, etc.

The administration also gives the staff full access for the featured flash piece on the homepage, to create and edit user polls, add events, showcase photos in galleries and have users sign up for news and emails.

While these sites were a big project and some nights were spent eating at my desk instead of in front of the TV, it’s always worth it in the end. To go to a live URL and see something you’ve invested so much and learned from is amazing.  These sites are definitely two projects I’m proud to have been a part of. I hope you enjoy using them as much as I enjoyed building them.

Oct
15

Bill Buxton: What Makes a Good UX Designer?

I happened across a video interview with Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher for Microsoft Research, on Canadian User Experience today and thought some of his points were very interesting in regards to what makes a great user experience designer.

He was questioned about what a college graduate should focus on when entering the ux career field at Microsoft, and his answer was interesting. “I don’t want a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. I want “T-Shaped People”, People who have a broad understanding of the whole field (the horizontal part of the T) but then have deep understanding and perspective in one discipline in particular ( the vertical part of the T).” He went on to describe how having this deep knowledge in one area of the field makes you very creditable and an expert in your area. This deep knowledge allows you to catch details of UX that someone with shallow knowledge likely would have missed.

Building a team of T-Shaped People allows you to have experts in all areas of your full field, yet all of them have a broad understanding of the task at hand and how they fit into the process. Being a T-Shaped person allows you to be trusted as an expert of your area of discipline, and other experts have to trust that you know the very miniscual details of your expertise.

Sep
16

Letters from Code Camp

So I spent a good chunk of time yesterday over at the Phoenix’s Desert Code Camp and I must say, what a great set up! There were lots of sessions available for most every type of coder. I found two sessions to be especially interesting, SEO for Coders and Designing the Obvious.

 The SEO for Coders session went over how developers can start from the inside out when creating a site to really give SEO a fighting chance.

Some of the on-site SEO considerations are:

  • keywords in the domain
  • relavant, keyword rich content (Content is King!)
  • keywords in page titles (Page Title should go before Site Name)
  • clean, keyword rich urls
  • keyword proximity and density throughout the site (use Ranks.nl to test density, 2-5% is good, anymore and possible spamming might be considered)
  • having keyword encompassing meta tags, make sure all your keywords are covered
  • internal links
  • relevant, keyword rich alt and title tags
  • valid xhtml code that’s quick loading

Some of the off-site SEO consideration are:

  • inbound links to your site
  • reciprocal link exchange
  • press releases
  • forum comments
  • e-mails
  • paid links and pay per click

Overall it was a great session that covered the basics of SEO as well as some of the tips and tricks of the trade. Such as using dashes instead of no space or underscores in your page urls. I confirmed a lot of my beliefs about SEO as well as learned about some new tools to look for great keyword combos and how to better market my sites outside of my own.

Designing the Obvious was a wonderful session as well that covered some of the overlooked, but very important pieces of designing a user-friendly site. Some of the highlights were:

  • first impressions are important, make sure you put a lot of thought into the front page of your site
  • use wireframes to mock out your site before designing or developing, it saves time and money
  • pay attention to diagonal balance, don’t force it, but be aware that the users eye will tend to shift from the top left to the bottom right and try to put your main branding and focal point to fall within that diagonal line
  • when designing navigation try to use verb noun pairs to support the users mind set of getting things done
  • many sites are now changing the style of used objects to make them more pronounced on the page, the more the user uses it, the darker it becomes, making it easier for the user to find what they’re really interested in
  • we need to explain exceptable values on forms, approach form design as if you were a user looking at it the first time, make sure everything is instructive and clear
  • there are three states to any interaction on the web, invitation to act, manipulation or the steps to complete the process, and completion and confirmation, confirmation is the least remembered step in web site creation, but a very important step for the user, make sure to include it

Robert Hoekman, Jr., the speaker for Designing the Obvious session, also has a book out by the same title. Also check out his blog and he’s starting Up Down Repeat Workshops that you may want to check out, the next one coming up is about form design.

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This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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