Friday, June 22, 2007

An Event Apart: Day Two


There is way too much to share here. I can't say how much this stuff has inspired me.

I heard the term 'designed by a webmaster', and it was like taking a blow to the chest. I looked back on what I would have called 'some of my best work' and wretched. it was designed by a webmaster. The content was there, it was very functional and I would say usable. It did not however, look like something I 'wanted' to use. There was no user engagement.

Khoi Vinh talked about using grid layouts for the website, and it made so much sense. Clean, efficient and it allowed the web page to tell you where to click, how to use it.

Mike Davidson began the revolt, or helped to continue it. Encouraging everyone to set the standards for web usage and design instead of waiting for a bloated bureaucracy to tell you what to do. I was ready to burn my shorts in solidarity.

It was hard to sit in this conference and listen, so many ideas that I just wanted to start immediately working on.

The folks at A List Apart including Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer are truely inspiring and I thank them whole-heartedly for bringing these minds together.

Stay tuned, I have more to share

Thursday, June 21, 2007

An Event Apart: Day One

Today was the first day of An Event Apart in Seattle. All in all a good day. The speakers are engaging and interesting, with a good mix of humor and information.

The group at A List Apart, starting with Jeremy Zeldman and Eric Meyer proclaim the site is for Website Builders. To be honest I didn't catch the subtle nuance of the phrase. The event however cleared that up. Instead of targeting the developers or designers out here, the range of topics engage the entire experience of a website or web application. From the details of typography to the thoughts technology and enabling web visitors, the speakers shared their insightful experiences in creating websites.

Here are a couple of the speakers and the topics given.

Secrets of the CSS Jedi - Eric Meyer
Eric started us off with a discussion on CSS browser defaults and how to minimize the differences in browsers for the pages. He also shared with us those items that are not only difficult to change, but not worth the worry either.

Writing the User Interface - Jeffrey Zeldman
Here we received advice on how to not overburden visitors with too much info, as well as how to be sure the information or instructions provided are not only concise but clear and easily understood. He also provided that any percentage of customer baser is worth consideration, maybe you can't accommodate for one reason or the other, but you still need to give it thought.

Designing You Way Out of a Paper Bag - Jason Santa Maria
Jason schooled us in the finer details of the site design process, providing examples of wireframes, graybox diagrams and multiple proofs. He maintained that while the client is the final say, they came to the designer for a reason, for expertise, and you should not be afraid to showcase your ideas and thought processes and give the client their monies worth.

Are You Experienced - Andy Budd
Perhaps to me the most insightful discussion was that given by Andy Budd. Andy talked about designing a user experience. He provided examples of how most sites are given to designing around the user or the business or the technology. The experience should take all that into account but should not be defined by that alone, that a graceful combination can provide the website visitor with a fun, engaging and helpful website.

And now on to Day Two ...

Change of Format

When I first started this blog, it was to post simply random thoughts, or at least that is what I told myself. I also told myself that I could work on my rapidly decaying (some may say non-existent) writing skills.

It doesn't seem to be doing any of the above. I am finding myself not making the time to write, and it seems that when I do, I just want to complain.

So, the train is off of the rails.

I am turning this into a technical blog. Yeah I know, another technical blog. I want to use it to expose what I have learned and allow me to coordinate that with what others have learned, mostly in website design. Not the graphical aspects but the design of the sites themselves including usability, typography, data collection and data sharing.

Thanks for reading so far and I hope something I say in the future will be found interesting.

Friday, June 08, 2007

What is up with our legal system?

Apparently Paris Hilton is really upset. What good is all that money if you can't buy your way out of jail time?

I remember years ( and years, and years ) ago when OJ Simpson was found innocent in a court of law for the murder of Nicole Smith. I was not concerned at the time about guilt or innocence, the jury found him innocent. I was in for a lesson. After being found innocent in a criminal court, Smith's family was not only allowed to have him tried again in civil court but they won. Apparently he was slightly guilty for her death and the criminal court just missed the evidence. At first I thought this was double jeopardy, something our Constitution is supposed to prevent. But no, since a civil suit is only about money, its allowed. So even thought he was found innocent of the murder, just because he was a suspect and that was enough to get Smith's family a whole bunch of money. I certainly hope that made up for the grief and loss. It's old news, often debated, but old. It did make me slightly wonder about our justice system that it could itself ignore its own rulings.

In Paris' case, I heard the comment of a legal professional that letting Paris go back home instead of serving her time, undermined the purposes and goals of the system. What do I know, several people also stated that the Sheriff' department has the right to override the judge in it's determination of where a convicted criminal can serve their time. To them the judge only offers suggestions. Call me crazy, but a drunk, doped up porn star potential murderer(*) should serve out the time they are given, especially if they were given parole and already proved they couldn't do that right. On the other hand, based on past civil suits, i could sue her just for making me nervous about being on the same road as her, mental anguish I assure you.

* In case you are concerned about my choice of words, make no mistake, they were chosen. Anyone who drinks and drives or dopes and drives is simply a murderer in search of a victim.

I say most of this to get to another point.

In the Seattle Times last week there was an article about a kid who was tried with a group of other kids for a 'Columbine-style' incident at a school here in the Northwest. (Article) He was found innocent while others were convicted. Those convicted are back in school. He is not, the school district has expelled him and will not allow him to return until he admits that he did wrong, even though a jury has acquitted him of the crime. He's innocent, but they want an admission. Does anybody see the logic in this, please tell me.

Here children is another lesson about our justice system. In the US you are innocent until proven guilty (by everyone but the press), if acquitted you can always sue them for something else, or at the least just ignore the reality of the situation in favor of a reality where you get to decide instead.

I love this country, but some of the people that live here are just looney.