Browsing articles tagged with "web-site-design Archives | april.holle.blog"
Dec
1

Lots to Do This Week

I just wanted to make sure you were invited to all the awesome web and design happenings this week in Phoenix!

Tues, Dec 4th – Refresh Phoenix

Refresh Phoenix meets every first Tuesday of the month to discuss current internet issues and trends. The topics range from becoming your own boss to css frameworks to make your work more efficient. This month the topic is results from the 2007 Web Design Survey that was put out by A List Apart. This should be a very interesting conversation since there really has never been a survey of the internet industry.

When: Tuesday, December 4th 6:30 – 9:30 pm (come early to get some networking in)

Where:
Inza Coffee
8658 East Shea Blvd, Scottsdale

Fri, Dec 7th – 16th Annual AIGA Art Auction

AIGA Arizona is holding it’s annual Art Auction event in Downtown Phoenix at MonOrchid Studios during December First Friday! AIGA Arizona is pleased to present over 100 original works of art (paintings, mixed media, photography, digital art, sculpture, jewelry, and more) displayed on sale in live and silent auction formats. Plus bid on a selection of special packages that include dining, entertainment and recreation. This year’s art auction will also feature the Mohawk Show.

When: Friday, December 7th 6-10 pm

Where:
MonOrchid Studios
214 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix

Sat, Dec 8th – BarCamp Phoenix

BarCamp is an ad-hoc un-conference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. All attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one. This is great because you can both speak and be an audience member.

When: Friday, December 8th 9 am – 5 pm

Where:
University of Advancing Technology (UAT)
2625 W. Baseline Road, Tempe

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
9

Happy Hyperlinks & Link Love

I came across a great article this morning that discusses how to make your links stand out while not making them a pain in the ass to use. Links are great assets that can increase the value of your content by providing supporting material for your discussion and satelliting your topic to similar sites throughout the web. But, if your users can’t find these morsels of greatness or if they get annoyed by the way the links are provided, the whole value is lost. To learn more about the art of hyperlinks check out the full article over at Coding Horror. You may also be interested in a quality assurance article regarding the use of “click here” by the W3C.

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
16

Seth Godin: How To Create a Great Website

Seth Godin recently posted his top 10 principles to create a great website. I really agreed with his perspective and wanted to elaborate with my own views.

1. Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a dealbreaker.

When you involve too many people into the process you start to conform and compromise until a great, original idea has transformed into a safe, bland piece of uninspiring web junk.

2. Change the interaction. What makes great websites great is that they are simultaneously effortless and new at the same time. That means that the site teaches you a new thing or new interaction or new connection, but you know how to use it right away. (Hey, if doing this were easy, everyone would do it.)

The web is all about interaction and ease of use, make it easy and make it essential to life. People flock to technologies and websites that make it easier to connect, share, do, and use in a way that wasn’t possible before. Take for instance, Flckr, it’s made photo sharing so remarkably easy that the whole world started sharing their snapshots. Or look at MySpace, making connecting to old friends easy, customizable so you can have your very own space on the web.

3. Less. Fewer words, fewer pages, less fine print.

There’s a new trend on the web where less is more. Don’t pitch to the client, don’t dance around the fact that you have a service they are interested in, just give it to them straight. If they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t be on your website, and they’re on your site for more concise, to the point information about you, the services you provide, and if you’re right for them. However, on the web, attention spans are at an all time low, so make it snappy!

4. What works, works. Theory is irrelevant.

Ultimately, there is no golden ticket to being a giant on the web. For years everyone thought we needed MORE everywhere on the web, and then came along Google: a logo, a text box, and a button. PERIOD. While you may think for a long time on how something may work, the true test is just to launch and see what happens.

5. Patience. Some sites test great and work great from the start. (Great if you can find one). Others need people to use them and adjust to them. At some point, your gut tells you to launch. Then stick with it, despite the critics, as you gain traction.

The bigger the site, the more complex, the more bugs you’re going to find. You can test EVERY scenario on how a user will try to use something, and then the day you launch, a user will show you a different approach you didn’t think of. The web is ever evolving, even if you launch today and it’s perfect, you’ll still need to update to stay fresh. Nothing on the web is forever. If you place your flag in the sand and wait two years to build on what you’ve created you’ll realize you have to totally rebuild because you’re washed up. Keep fresh, keep building on what you’ve made.

6. Measure. If you’re not improving, if the yield is negative… kill it.

You can spend a ton of money on a new site, but how do you know you’re getting a return on your investment? Do you know how many new contacts or sales are coming to the website? Do you know how many visitors you have and what your conversion rate is? If you’re not getting the numbers and contacts you want, where are your users bailing out of the system? Knowing all this information is key to making sure your investment is really being returned and that what you do next is really required to boost those numbers. Don’t be afraid to bail out of something that isn’t working after a period of time. Don’t beat a dead horse, just get up and move on to another approach.

7. Insight is good, clever is bad. Many websites say, “look at me.” Your goal ought to be to say, “here’s what you were looking for.”

Just because your site has all the bells and whistles doesn’t mean you’re going to draw in those users you want. Building on the less is more strategy, make sure that that select content you choose to include in your website is insightful and what the client is really looking for.

8. If you hire a professional: hire a great one. The best one. Let her do her job. 10 mediocre website consultants working in perfect harmony can’t do the work of one rock star.

Think of it as if you’re going to the doctor, would you tell him that your leg is broken and how to set, pin and cast it? No. Would you go to the illegal doctor working out of a shack instead of a highly trained doctor in a hospital? You should have the same regard for your interactive professional. Tell them where it hurts, tell them what other marketing meds you’re on, but don’t tell them how to do their operation. Even though you might save some money in the short term by going to a hole in the wall web shop, you’ll get want you pay for, junk. You’re going to reap the benefits of plunking down the dollars for a professional organized, designed and developed website.

9. One voice, one vision.

Make sure you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. You should have a solid idea of what you’re looking for. This will save time and money when you start looking at companies and solutions to help you build your website.

10. Don’t settle.

In the end, you ARE paying for a service. Don’t be steamrolled by a company who simply isn’t giving you what you need or thought you were going to get. Make sure the company you’ve selected for your project is right, and feel free to shop around. If your idea simply isn’t going to happen for your budget, more than likely several companies will tell you.

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.

What is this?

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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