Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The myth of the fold

In web design and development there is almost always a desire to surface as many items of content and functionality above “the fold”* as you can possibly cram in there: Top news, latest blog posts, branding, primary navigation, secondary navigation, customer testimonials, carousels, search box, Twitter stream, log in box, and of course at lease a couple ads.

Below is a brief catalog of the many years of user research that debunks the concept of the fold.

Let us be free of this burden once and for all. Our users already are.

The myth of the page fold: evidence from user testing

Blasting the Myth of the Fold

Unfolding the Fold

Life, Below 600px

Debunking the “above the fold” myth

Below the Fold: Why Scrolling Isn’t A Bad Thing

* The fold is the viewable area of a web page seen by a visitor upon first landing on the page, without having scrolled. The concept comes from newspaper design. Since newspapers had to be folded in half to fit in racks or on newsstands, the attention-grabbing headlines and photos had to be placed “above the fold” to entice people to pick up the paper.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday Top 5



Christmas Decoration Win
From Failblog: “Good news is that I truly outdid myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after two days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by. Second, a 55-year-old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize that it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.”



White House iPhone app
With the announcement of the first-ever official White House App, the Obama administration to pursue technology and communications as a means for public engagement, in stark contrast to the previous administration. Among other things, the app reportedly delivers live video streaming for the president’s public events. Browsing the App Store, there are several other White House and Obama related apps, although some of them appear outdated (originating pre-election), or just plain lame. One other that caught my eye, however, was the White House Photostream app (will open iTunes), which is probably pretty cool. I’ve mentioned before that the White House’s photos are available on Flickr.



Dear American Airlines
Fascinating story in which a solo designer decided to redesign American Airlines’ crappy home page and publicly call out their design team. Then a member of the AA user experience design team responded. Shortly thereafter, that employee was fired.



Sea Shepherd vs. the Japanese research whaling fleet
It’s terribly interesting to read the press releases of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society regarding the January 5 ramming of one of their vessels by a Japanese whaling ship, and the ensuing battles in the Antarctic Ocean. There’s no dispute that the Japanese ship rammed the $2 million speedboat that looks like it comes right out of a Batman movie — the smaller craft wasn’t even running its engines and there’s video evidence from at least two angles showing the impact.



The Third & The Seventh
Watch this short film ( would definitely suggest watching it in full screen at least, if not HD), then afterward, hover over this link to learn a secret about it.


The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thursday Top 5



Park Street Renovation
Slideshow of a Bernal Hill house that was renovated to modernize and double (!) its square footage. Here are some other Dwell slideshows.



Enor Moose
A story with pictures.



Surprised Kitten!
RFLMAO! [via Jason]



How a Web Design Goes Straight To Hell
This is so true. [via Jessica N.]



Charlie Brown Christmas Performed by the Cast of Scrubs


The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

The history of enews.org

History and Name

I registered enews.org, my first domain, in 1997. It was not long after the dawn of the web, and domains were expensive. Back then it cost $100 to register a single domain for a two-year period, whereas it’s about $10 per year these days.

I tried to get the .com and .net versions, but they were already taken. Enews.com was a company selling magazines online, and was later bought by Barnes & Noble (today enews.com redirects to www.barnesandnoble.com).

The name enews.org had several benefits. It was short, which was important back then. Browsers had no autocomplete function, so making people type long URLs was a no-no.

The name also had the advantage of being slightly ambiguous. Not always a good trait, but in my case ideal, as I wasn’t entirely sure what the site would evolve into, and I liked that it could mean either “electronic news” or “environmental news,” both of which were things I had an abiding interest in.

Lastly, the domain was actually available, which was practically as difficult back then as it is now. At the time, the web was really taking off, and savvy pioneers were buying up as many domains as they could afford. At $100 a pop back then, I certainly couldn’t afford many, but I did purchase a couple others back then that I still have (today I own 30 or 40 domains; I’ll write more about those some other time).

At the start I used enews.org as an online magazine of sorts, and a launchpad to other sites I liked. I had collected and written some articles and was putting them in a section on the site I called Freehold, sort of a melange of topics from music to censorship to art. I also hosted my friend Tony’s list of rock bands he’d photographed (I still host it, actually, and it hasn’t changed much since 1998). I was putting together a Dandy Warhols fan site but I later partnered with the band’s webmasters instead, and just sent them some of my photos. Sadly, I never had enough time to finish many of the articles I was working on &emdash; coding had to be done entirely by hand back then and it was a time-consuming chore. I also pointed visitors to some off-site links I had something to do with, like Bay Area Action, the Headwaters Forest site, the EcoCalendar (all of which I designed and maintained), and one or two others.

Later I began using enews.org to host a calendar for my design clients, so they could see my schedule and where their projects fit in, and could avoid hearing me say “I’m too busy on other people’s deadlines right now to do your [insert design project here].” I’d also upload JPG drafts of early designs, then I’d email clients a link where they could view the works-in-progress.

Early technology

In the early days I coded entirely by hand using the excellent program BBEdit. But it was a hard thing to do back then: there was no color-coding of tags and error-checking had to be done by hand, so if you left out a < or something, you had to search through line-by-line until you figured out why your page was completely broken.

Later Claris came out with a tool called HomePage, and Adobe developed PageMill. I tried both when they were still in beta, and they were an enormous step forward but still had lots of problems. After they shipped, I found HomePage to be the more consistent and functional tool, and I used that for several years, still finding BBEdit indispensable for a lot of stuff as well. At the time, I estimated that switching to HomePage had increased my web page creation productivity by 10x. FTP was done with Fetch and graphics were of course done in Photoshop.

A few years later came NetObjects Fusion and Macromedia Dreamweaver. I found Fusion to be promising but a little half-baked at first, plus it was just too expensive for me at the time. Dreamweaver seemed too error-prone and crash-prone so I decided to keep an eye on its development but to hold off. I eventually switched to DW and have been using it as my primary development tool until this writing (Feb 2009).

I’ve tried numerous FTP apps over the years and I like Transmit, but usually I just rely on Dreamweaver’s integrated FTP. Graphics and all the web design I do is created in Photoshop first, and images are sliced and optimized using PS as well. I use Illustrator for some graphics but if they’re going to the web, then they always get imported into Photoshop for placement, sizing, and optimized export.

I’ll write more about the tools and technologies I use today in a later post.

10+ years

In 2007 I realized it was my website’s 10th birthday and thought about putting up a special commemoration of some sort, but I just didn’t have the spare time in my life at that time. I guess I’ll have to wait until 15 or 20 : ) For now, the screenshots below will have to suffice.

Previous versions of this website
Click on screenshots for larger versions.



Version 1
1996–1998

This is the earliest design I could find. There might have been an earlier one, but if so it’s apparently been lost. This is a terrible design by today’s standards, but it was the cutting edge of sophisticated web design for 1997. Freehold and Rally Cry were both hosted on enews.org. The other two sites I link to here were separate things I created for Bay Area Action and the Bay Area Earth Day Coalition.



Version 2
1998–2000

This is when I started using the site more for my design business. That’s my hand holding my business card. Digital cameras were still very new then and I didn’t own one (they were pretty expensive), but I had a decent HI-8 video camera and a very cool video input card on my Mac, so I could take video and digital still captures with that. I turned off the lights in my office at night and shined a desk lamp at just my hand; a few quick Photoshop edits later I had a pretty cool picture for the home page.



Version 3
2000–2002

In 2000 I shut down Western Front Graphics and joined with two partners in a design firm we called Flux51. Of course we had our own site at www.Flux51.com. For that reason, and because all my free time went into volunteering with nonprofit Bay Area Action and Acterra, I had nothing at all on enews.org for two long years, just this placeholder. I know, pretty lame huh? : |





Versions 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2
2002–2005

I got motivated to redesign the site in 2001 or 2002 and I finally launched an all-new site with lots of cool new content, especially photo galleries. This version had good shelf-life, and I expanded it and tweaked it numerous times over the years. I later built out my portfolio on this design framework, and it also hosted some sites for friends, like Olya Milenkaya’s art portfolio, Diane Choplin’s photos, and Velma Gentzsch’s blog.



Version 5

2005–2009

In 2005 I finally had time for another overhaul, and I redesigned the home page, added an all-new portfolio page, and added a photoblog. My blog was still using a Blogger template and I meant to get around to matching it to the rest of the site, but sadly I got busy with work and never had enough time. Overall this design has served me well over the past three years. It’s gotten me a few new clients and has been featured on several web design and CSS galleries.



Version 6
2009

This is the design I’ve been working on for several years, by far the most in-depth redesign of enews.org ever. I invested time and effort in deep research and numerous iterations before I found a design I could commit to (more about the process here later). I even considered switching all my stuff over to MarkBult.com, since I own that domain too (and I still might do it). As you’ve probably noticed, the enews.org branding is nearly invisible on the new design. This was on purpose, but there were many pros and cons either way, and I’m still kind of waffling on those, so I kind of split the difference and kept the domain (since so many people know me by it), and rebranded the design. Much of this is actually launched and my new portfolio is about 75% done, but I haven’t had time to convert the blog to WordPress, back up and install the Pixelpost photoblog, and so, so many other things I need to do. I got really busy with freelance work this past year and had nearly zero time to work on the site, so it remains largely unseen for now.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Top 5



Russian goth wedding
[via OffBeatBride]



Free Social Network Icon Pack
Well-designed icons.



Laura Stec’s Cool Cuisine
Not sure if “How to chow an onion” is relevant to global warming, but it’s a good how-to for the cooking novices like me anyway.



Titan
In case you need to rent a robot.



10 Things I Hate About Commandments



The weekly Thursday Top 5 lists the five most notable, interesting, funny, outrageous, cool, or simply strange things of the week. It is intended for distractionary purposes only. Do not take orally. If ingested, seek a doctor’s advice. If you like it, share it with others, or check out the long list of previous entries.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

This is why I’m never going to work at Google

In the past year, a few people who knew I would be on the lookout for a new full-time position have asked me if I’d consider working at Google. These two articles provide some insights as to why Mark Bult + Google would probably never mix.

Doug Bowman, a highly experienced designer who I respect a lot, has left Google to join Twitter. Of his departure, he writes:
“...Without a person at (or near) the helm who thoroughly understands the principles and elements of Design, a company eventually runs out of reasons for design decisions. With every new design decision, critics cry foul. Without conviction, doubt creeps in. Instincts fail. ‘Is this the right move?’ When a company is filled with engineers, it turns to engineering to solve problems. Reduce each decision to a simple logic problem. Remove all subjectivity and just look at the data. Data in your favor? Ok, launch it. Data shows negative effects? Back to the drawing board. And that data eventually becomes a crutch for every decision, paralyzing the company and preventing it from making any daring design decisions.”
Read the rest...
This New York Times profile on Google’s VP for search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer, gives several examples of why I’d find the company a challenging environment (and I don’t mean “challenging” in the positive sense, I mean it as a diplomatic way of saying “constant pain-in-the-ass”). Not to mention the fact that I would never get so much as an interview at Google, since I didn’t even take the SAT:
“At a recent personnel meeting, she homes in on grade-point averages and SAT scores to narrow a list of candidates, many having graduated from Ivy League schools, whom she wanted to meet as part of a program to foster in-house talent. In essence, math is used to solve a human problem: How do you predict whether an employee has the potential for success?”
Read the rest...
Don’t get me wrong, I use Google products a ton. Gmail is open all the time on my computer and Google Search is a daily routine, I use Google Maps a lot and Blogger runs this very blog you’re reading (at least as of this date). I’m a big fan of the Goog. I just don’t think I could ever work there.

Over the past few weeks of interviews and further reflection on what I want my next job to look like, I’ve become more convinced that I should concentrate on applying at smaller companies with less bureaucracy and institutional cruft. More on that later.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Project: New Ozark Handspun site design



Here’s a peek at one of the design directions I’m considering for the new version of OzarkHandspun.com. Click the image for a larger version.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Top 5+3

Velma and I are going on a site visit to beautiful Sequioa National Park for a few days and I thought I’d be generous and post some extra distractions for those of you stuck behind desks while we’re backpacking through the redwoods. So here are three bonus links along with your normal five. Don’t say I never gave you nuthin’.



“Barney Miller” on Hulu
I loved this classic sitcom from the ’70s and ’80s, so I was pleased to see Hulu has added every episode. I’ve watched several so far, reliving my childhood with pre-adolescent glee. Plus the show had one of the all-time raddest theme songs (I can say “rad,” it was the ’80s!), and I found a free MP3 at TelevisionTunes.com. Now I just need to find all the episodes of “Taxi” somewhere online.



TelevisionTunes.com
Of course, I then spent half an hour looking up TV theme songs on this site. Best finds were the aforementioned Barney Miller, a semi-good quality version of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” TV theme, and the awesome “Streets of San Francisco” intro, which I’ve been wanting for years.



The Unofficial Apple Weblog’s Mac 101 series
I’ve been a Mac user for almost 25 years now (*whew*) so it’s not surprising that I’ve picked up a lot of power-user tips over the years. But even I learn something new once in a while. For PC-to-Mac switchers, novices, and even old timers, the Mac 101 series on TUAW is a great way to pick up quick and easy tips that will make you more productive and save time and effort. I perused the entire series a few nights ago and there are some great shortcuts and tips that will undoubtedly leave most Mac users thinking, “Aha! That’s how you do that!”



The Evolution of Apple.com
Snapshots of Apple’s home page, from 1997 to today.



Brute force Hubble fix saves the day — again
Play-by-play description of the second time spacewalking astronauts had to resort to brute force to repair part of Hubble on this latest, and so far very successful, trip. Some other interesting play-by-play descriptions of the recent trip are available in other posts on CNET News’s Space Shot blog.



What Would Penis Do?
The artist of these shorts has a new book.



Aerial Virtual Tour of New York
Dizzyingly cool. Switch it to full-screen and be amazed.

“Space Oddity: Steve Lamacq Live’s guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
I recently found this broadcast from BBC Radio 1 about the history of the Hitchhiker’s phenomenon, produced to introduce the 2005 movie. Features interview snippets with Douglas Adams, Simon Jones, Stephen Fry, actors from the original BBC TV series and radio shows, fans, and a bunch of people involved with the movie. Oh, and it’s hosted by the original Marvin, in character of course. It’s actually quite a good show, regardless of the movie being rather a let-down. [31:24 min, RealPlayer stream]

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Updated a couple posts

I updated these two popular posts yesterday. Just thought I’d drop a reminder here in case anyone’s on the lookout for these sort of resources.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Job boards for designers and web developers

List updated May 12, 2009

I’ve been collecting this list for a while, in anticipation of having to use it one day. That day’s fast approaching here, so I thought I’d publish the list.

Here are all the job search sites I know of that cater primarily to the creative and design communities, plus the tech / online media sector. There are a few other job-related services thrown in too, toward the bottom of the list.

As an aside: I was rather disappointed that the hiring reps at a former employer (in the tech industry), were not aware of most of these. When I was looking to hire seasoned design talent and was getting utter shite filtered to me from HR, I had to give them most of these so I’d have some decent portfolios coming in.

Coroflot
http://www.coroflot.com/

37Signals Job Board
http://jobs.37signals.com/

Authentic Jobs
http://www.authenticjobs.com/

Crunchboard
http://www.crunchboard.com/

Krop
http://www.krop.com/

Fresh Web Jobs
http://www.freshwebjobs.com/

Just Creative Jobs
http://www.justcreativejobs.com/

Metafilter Job Board
http://jobs.metafilter.com/

Slashdot Job Board
http://jobs.slashdot.org/

AIGA Design Jobs
http://www.aigadesignjobs.org/public/default.asp
From the AIGA / American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Elance
http://www.elance.com/

AlleyInsider Job Board
http://jobs.alleyinsider.com/

ArtyPapers Jobpile
http://artypapers.com/jobpile/

Boxes And Arrows Job Board
http://jobs.boxesandarrows.com/jobs

CSS Beauty Job Board
http://cssbeauty.com/jobs/

Hire an Illustrator
http://hireanillustrator.com/v2/

Djobber
http://djobber.com/
[thanks to commenter mick]

Web Developer Jobs UK
http://www.webdeveloper-jobs.co.uk/
[thanks to commenter matthew]

Job Thread
Offers posting your job openings to multiple sites.
http://www.jobthread.com/

JobCoin
Publishers can get paid for hosting job boards.
http://www.jobcoin.com/

Emurse
Resume hosting service.
http://www.emurse.com/

Jobamatic
Job board implementation for online publishers.
http://www.jobamatic.com/a/jbb-static/home

JobBazaar
Hosting service.
http://www.jobazaar.com/

OpenSourceStaffing NEW
http://www.open-source-staffing.com/
Developers and programmers: Apache, Drupal, Joomla, LAMP, Linux, MySQL, Perl, PHP, Plone, Python, Ruby on Rails, Samba, and iPhone apps, among other technologies.

TwitterJobSearch NEW
http://www.twitterjobsearch.com

Style Apple Job Board NEW
http://www.styleapple.com/public/jobboard.php

Ars Technica Jobs NEW
http://jobs.arstechnica.com/

Sitepoint’s “Looking To Hire” Marketplace NEW
http://marketplace.sitepoint.com/categories/looking-to-hire
Looks like mostly freelance and junior- to mid-level positions. No surprising, since that seems appropriate to Sitepoint’s target audience.

Read/WriteWeb Job Board NEW
http://jobs.readwriteweb.com/
Mostly developer/programmer listings.

Ajaxian Job Board NEW
http://jobs.ajaxian.com/

SearchWebJobs NEW
http://www.searchwebjobs.com/

Freelanceswitch NEW
http://jobs.freelanceswitch.com/
Mostly freelance jobs, obviously.

Smashing Magazine Job Board NEW
http://jobs.smashingmagazine.com/

CreativeHeads.net NEW
http://www.creativeheads.net/search.aspx

CreativePool UK NEW
http://www.creativepool.co.uk/employee/jobboard.php
For UK jobs.

devBistro Tech Jobs NEW
http://www.devbistro.com/jobs
Lots of IT and developer listings, sometimes a few design postings.

Evolt Job Board NEW
http://evolt.org/jobs
Not a very easy to use site.

indeed NEW
http://www.indeed.com/q-web-design-jobs.html
Aggregated search results for jobs from Monster, 37Signals, Dice, and many others.

Think Vitamin Job Board NEW
http://thinkvitamin.com/jobs/?job=69

jobs.wordpress.net NEW
http://jobs.wordpress.net/
Just WordPress-related jobs.

Web Designer Wall job board NEW
http://jobs.webdesignerwall.com/

DesignM.ag job board NEW
http://designm.ag/jobs/

Wired job board NEW
http://jobs.wired.com/

Mashable job board NEW
http://mashable.jobamatic.com/a/jbb/find-jobs

Programmer Meet Designer NEW
http://programmermeetdesigner.com/
Looks like mostly freelance gigs.

Behance Network job list NEW
http://www.behance.net/Job_List

Design:Related job board NEW
http://www.designrelated.com/jobs

Creative Hotlist NEW
http://www.creativehotlist.com/

FWA (Favorite Website Awards) job list NEW
http://www.thefwa.com/?app=aboutus&id=30
Unfortunately, since the site is all Flash-based, in-page keyword searching via your browser is impossible.

The Designers Network job board NEW
http://jobs.designers-network.com/
International jobs.

Web Freelancers NEW
http://www.webfreelancers.com.au/
For Australia and New Zealand.

Web Directions Jobs NEW
http://jobs.webdirections.org/
For Australia and New Zealand.



Agencies

Creative Circle
http://creativecircle.com
[thanks to Kim and Velma]

Accolo
http://www.accolo.com

24seven
http://24seveninc.com

Filter Talent
http://www.filtertalent.com

Creative Group
http://www.creativegroup.com

Aquent
http://www.aquent.com

Artisan Creative NEW
http://www.artisancreative.com
They work mainly with creatives.

Emerging Blue NEW
http://www.emergingblue.com

The Talent Factor NEW
http://www.thetalentfactor.net
Agency with a focus on technology companies.



Suggestions?
Know of any I missed? Leave a comment and I’ll update the list.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A 2008 holiday gift for our friends and family



Velma and I decided to do something a little different this year. Happy holidays to you and yours.

This mini-site took me about 2.5 days for design, about 2 days for coding. I hope you enjoy it.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sneak peek of the upcoming redesign

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had some time to do some personal work on three evenings, so I started coding the new template for my redesigned portfolio. I’ve been working on this design in Photoshop for years. Seriously! (Although only in fits and starts, with long gaps in between.) But I’ve been planning for the past four months to take off this December from all other work, to concentrate on finally redesigning the whole website.



Here’s a sneak peek of the new design. This is actually a screenshot of the HTML-rendered page. It’s coming out almost perfectly identical to the PSD, so I’m psyched about that. “Every pixel matters.”

So far so good — no major coding problems so far (had to ask my friend Aaron to help me debug one JavaScript I couldn’t get to do exactly what I wanted) and all my code is validating (although it’ll break as soon as I embed the first YouTube video on the new site — meh).

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Introducing DianeChoplin.com



I spent much of this week coding and testing a new site for my friend (and client) Diane Choplin.

Diane is a longtime friend whom I met through BAA, where she was the coordinator of the Schools Group for a year or so. These days she directs the documentary photography program at SF’s Academy of Art.

I bought Diane her first domain years ago as a gift, and put up a rather rudimentary gallery featuring some of her photos from her time in the Peace Corps in Niger. We’d both neglected the site ever since, but a few months ago we decided to do something about it.

While I’d been working on the designs here and there for a few months, we had a mad rush to finish this week as Diane was applying for a fellowship and had a deadline. So the site was built entirely in the last week and a half, using Photoshop, Lightroom, SlideShowPro, Soundslides, Dreamweaver, and W3C-compliant XHTML Strict and CSS.

It’s not completely finished. There are always some loose nails to be nailed down (although I’m just happy it validates and works in all the major browsers), Diane didn’t have time to finish some of the galleries yet, we need to tweak some little things in SlideShowPro, there’s a Discussion section to be added later, and the whole thing needs to be converted to Wordpress.

But it was done (enough) for her deadline, and all the pages but one validate. The one that doesn’t contains some poorly generated code from Soundslides, the Flash app she used to make her multimedia slideshow (their fault, not Diane’s), so I’ll have to fix that later.

Let me know what you think of DianeCholpin.com. Leave a comment.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Notes from AIGA Compostmodern 2007 (part 2)

Last January I attended Compostmodern 2008, a green design conference presented by the AIGA SF.

I’ve already written about Boisset Family Estates and DeLoach Wines (“The environmental impact of the wine industry”), and CleanWell hand sanitizer and soap (“An alternative to normal antibacterial soaps”) (which I use and heartily endorse), but I hadn’t had time to write up some of my other notes and impressions.

My pocket journal (an ultra-thin Moleskine) is where I jot down such things while I’m out and about. My electronic journal (this here blog yer lookin’ at) is where I save those things for posterity, and share them with others. So here are a few ideas I heard speakers talking about, which made impressions on me:

Self-Indulgent Design
Designers practicing “self-indulgent design” is equal to driving a Hummer. Examples: Elaborate, unnecessarily long brochures, annual reports, and the like which often contain just three words per page and use fluorescent or metallic inks, plastic sleeves, and other wasteful and nearly impossible to recycle materials.

Low Rate of Paper Recycling
Still only 50% of paper is collected for recycling, and whether all of that actually gets recycled or not is another story. Yet 35% of the waste going to landfills is still paper! C’mon people! I can hardly believe that it’s still so difficult for people to just have two separate containers near their desk, and to be mindful of which one gets garbage and which one gets paper. This is not rocket science. A child can do it. And often, children do it way better than adults.

Electronic Design is Wasteful Too
One big eye-opener for me was something I already knew, but that I hadn’t really processed completely (or maybe I just didn’t want to admit it to myself): Web designers aren’t really polluting and wasting less than print designers. We think of the web and electronic design as a more pure and less wasteful design process, bypassing the pesky problem of deforestation for the pulping of our paper and the nasty chemicals used in the printing process. But in fact, always-on web servers and storage for videos, PDFs, and other files is not free. Servers = energy consumption = oil drilling, coal burning, even *yikes* nuclear energy (and waste). And let’s not forget that servers and hard drives go bad within a few years, all those cellphones and other nifty electronic devices we’re designing iApps for become some Third World country’s e-waste problem (and those countries’ poverty, environmental, and health problems eventually become our problem).

And here are a few links to things I heard about or saw at the conference:

LetsGreenwashThisCity.org
PG&E started a huge publicity campaign a year or so ago under the laudable banner of “Let’s Green This City.” A group of citizens has formed the Green Guerrillas Against Greenwash to unmask the $10 million publicity campaign as mere greenwashing, and offers San Franciscans an alternative in the form of Proposition H.

PaperSpecs.com
An independent (not owned or sponsored by any paper companies) database of information that designers and printers can use to specify paper stocks. It’s a paid service ($19.95/mo. or $158.40/yr.), and I haven’t paid for it, so I don’t know how good it is. They have some free paper, printing, and environmental information available too, but you can’t access the paper database without paying for membership.

Encyclopedia of Life
EOL.org is a new project that intends to harness crowdsourcing techniques to create a vast online resource of information about the Earth’s 1.8 million known species.

The Designers Accord
“A global coalition of designers, educators, researchers, engineers, and corporate leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact.” I joined earlier this year.

Core77 / BusinessWeek Design Directory
I’d seen DesignDirectory.com a couple times before, but hadn’t bothered to list myself until this year. In participation with the Designers Accord, you can search the directory exclusively for firms/individuals who have certified that they’ve adopted the accord.

Freedom of the Press
In the gallery I observed a single display copy of Freedom of the Press, a newsprint publication by Brian Ponto and Lindsay Ballant. In excellent culture-jamming style, in 2004 they commandeered newspaper racks in New York and inserted their own newspaper with stark observations on American politics and how Americans get their news.

CheatNeutral.com
A satirical nod acknowledging how many people (including me) view carbon trading: “Cheatneutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and not cheat. This neutralises the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience.”

Compostmodern 2009
Saturday, February 21
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hitchin’ site featured in a new book



Just in time for our anniversary (well, a day late, since it was yesterday), I received this book in the mail today. Before we got hitched in 2006, Velma and I created a custom wedding site, Mark & Velma’s Hitchin’ Party.

It was featured on a bunch of CSS design galleries, and now it’s in The Web Designer’s Idea Book. Get your copy from Amazon.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Browser testing your web design

An important part of web design and development is getting the pages to display nearly identically in all the major browsers (and minor ones too). These online services allow you to perform cross-browser and cross-OS compatibility tests.

Litmus (formerly SiteVista)
Definitely my favorite. Excellent interface and functionality. And unlike most others, Litmus offers full-length screenshots of the page(s) you’re testing. Sign up for the free account which lets you try on two browsers. You’ll like it.
www.LitmusApp.com

IE NetRenderer
As a Mac developer, I often use this free German site to do quick tests in IE. Does not do full-length pages like Litmus does.
meineipadresse.de/netrenderer

Browsershots
Have not tried this yet, but they have an impressive list of OSes and browsers.
www.Browsershots.org

Browsercam
Have not tried this.
www.Browsercam.com

CrossBrowserTesting.com
Have not tried this.
www.CrossBrowserTesting.com

BrowsrCamp
Have not tried this.
www.BrowsrCamp.com

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Black balloons
Awesome spot from We Can Solve It.



HEMA
European retailer HEMA put up this innovative site to announce...er, something. I don't speak Dutch. [thanks Jason]
producten.hema.nl

Instructables: Harry Potter wands
Make your own with painted paper and hot glue.
www.instructables.com/harry-potter-wands

Bill Scott
Former Yahoo Bill Scott (he's now with Netflix) gave this talk at CNET about a year ago, but I was glad to watch this video again for a refresh. If you're a web developer or user experience designer, it’s chock-full o’ really good things for for you to know. His personal website is very, very useful too, and if you're not already aware of and using the YUI Interface Library, it's a must-see.
Video presentation: http://video.yahoo.com/watch/1285664

How to Enjoy Sushi
Now that I've watched this awesome instructional video, I'll be prepared to visit Japan!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C5SbdCPmck

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ack! Attacked by angry mommies!

Sheesh people. Read the gorram date of the post before you tell me what a shitty designer I am.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Cirque du Soleil: Wheel of Death
A few weeks ago I surprised Velma and my mom by taking them to see Cirque in San Jose. They had the Wheel of Death at this performance, although there was only one of the contraptions (with two wheels and two guys). Still, it made my skin crawl to watch it.



Great beer ad
Nice slogan too: "Carlton Draught — Made from Beer"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYZs7VJaAlQ

The Email Standards Project
Finally.
www.email-standards.org

Know your rights as a photographer
Good legal tips for the next time you're stalking Britney of taking a picture at the airport. I'll have to remember these the next time I'm in Boston and they give me a hard time again about taking pictures in the T.
photojojo.com/content/tips/legal-rights-of-photographers

MP3.com Live: Queensrÿche
Queensrÿche was one of my favorite bands when I was in high school, and they played a live acoustic set at my former workplace recently. Wish I could've been there to catch it, but these four videos are good.
www.mp3.com/news/stories/10972.html

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

ZDNet and the Green Enterprise



My friends over at ZDNet have launched their redesigned website and it's looking great. I never used ZDNet that much before, but the new changes to the site make finding content and just browsing around a lot more pleasurable. I spent some time the other day watching some of the interesting videos in the "Green Enterprise" section.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Warning – NSFW: What's Your Favorite Curse Word?
Britain's Channel 4 asks loads of celebrities to share their favorite swear words.



Garfield Minus Garfield
I used to love Garfield. But I hey, I was in 4th grade. I grew out of it shortly thereafter, though my mom insisted on buying me Garfield stuff for many years thereafter *sigh*. Today, the power of digital imaging allows us to make a giant leap forward! The results is a funnier strip.
garfieldminusgarfield.tumblr.com

"Home From Africa: 13 Symptoms of Peace Corps Withdrawal"
My friend Diane was posted to the African country of Benin [correction: she was in Niger, but met her future husband in Benin] in the Peace Corps after college. When she'd tell me stories about her time there, it struck me as a very difficult lifestyle for two years. Listening to this radio program from Transom reminded me of a lot of her stories.
Photos and MP3: www.transom.org

Left-Handed Toons
(by right-handed people)
www.lefthandedtoons.com

Mini site
I have to admit Jason's right about this site: "It's cool and there's little bits of humor in it too." And I really the new van-like model.
www.miniusa.com

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Introducing Milenkaya.org



I am pleased to announce the launch of Milenkaya.org, the professional website of Olya Milenkaya, graduate student at Virginia Tech.

I've been working on this simple, one-page site for Olya off and on over the past few months while she's been traveling around Eastern Europe. I worked out the last few kinks this week and put it up.

I registered the domain for Olya years ago, at the same time I registered Olya.net, but we'd never done anything with Milenkaya.org until now.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thursday top 5 + bonus 5

I didn't have time to post a Top 5 last week, so here's a double dose.

Statetris
Because games should be educayshonal.
www.mapmsg.com/games/statetris/usa/

The Black Sabbath Show
I think every 1970s metal act should've had a cartoon.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYPH3fhojM4

Desktops for true web dev geeks
If you don't know what a div tag is, you're not going to get these at all.
www.happywebbies.com

Fart in the duck
Oh, those wacky Dutch.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRUGGy9RVrM

Robots playing Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"
"LEV the thereminbot and his newly-built pal thumpbot play "Crazy" with help from a 20-year-old MT32 synthesizer. OK, Lev's a bit out of tune, but hey, ROBOTS..."
www.youtube.com/watch?v=19RJEnNUg1I

"Assassinz"
New funny stuff from the Duncan Bros.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAHKRWdl6z8

"BBS: The Documentary"
Anybody remember dialing up to BBSes before the Web? I guess everybody needs a hobby: Some guy spent four years filming a documentary about BBSes.
www.bbsdocumentary.com

"Planet Earth"
This is a spectacular series from the BBC. I will second my friend Olya's recommendation too: Get the BBC version featuring David Atetnborough as narrator, not the Discovery Channel version featuring Sigourney Weaver. I mean, I like Sigourney and all, but she ain't no Attenborough. It's available in HD btw.
www.amazon.com/Planet-Earth-Complete-BBC-DVD/dp/B000MRAAJW

A flickr group for Robert Heinlein fans
Okay, so I'm a dork, but I started a group on flickr.
www.flickr.com/groups/heinleinia/

The Green
I wish I had cable so I could watch programming like this. In a poll ten years ago, almost 80% of Americans said they'd call themselves environmentalists. Yet most people do very little to make the environment better or raise awareness. Programming like this makes me optimistic.
www.sundancechannel.com

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two upcoming conferences



I'm looking forward to these two conferences coming to San Francisco next month: An Event Apart happens October 4 and 5, and the Voices that Matter Web Design Conference happens October 22–25. I'll be heading to both.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mobile Web Design



Cameron Moll has published a new book titled Mobile Web Design. I don’t have it yet, but based on his previous work I'd bet it's pretty good.

Despite the name, this book is not just for designers. You may want to check it out if you are in any way part of the development of content for mobile devices. There's a general dearth of info available on mobile web development, so it's probably a good addition to your library.

It’s only available as a PDF download now, and I’m not sure if it’s going to bookstores and Amazon later or what, but I’d be willing to bet it will. However, you can get it cheaper as a PDF now ($19), and the first 599 buyers will entered in a drawing to win an iPhone.

There’s a sample preview available too.

UPDATE: There's also a new article today on A List Apart on mobile web design in the new age of the iPhone and Mobile Safari.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday top 5

"Remind Me" by Royksopp
Music video comprised totally of information graphics.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBvaHZIrt0o

The Geekster Moleskine
A Moleskine hard drive enclosure.
www.zonageek.com

CNN.com's new design
A lot cleaner
www.cnn.com

iPhone Day!
www.superdeluxe.com

"Rabbit," aka "Idol"
This is a very strange, but extremely cool, animated short movie. Jason and I saw it in an animation festival at the Castro Theatre earlier this year. Warning: Mildly disturbing content.
grouper.com/video/MediaDetails.aspx?id=1621438

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ubuntu designers get "inspired" by Download.com button



I was browsing the Ubuntu* site today and I noticed a very familiar-looking green button. I opened up a separate browser window and went over to Download.com, and sure enough, whoever designed Ubuntu's website had used the button I created for Download.com.

Luckily, they'd changed the icon inside the button, since that's a Download.com trademark (you'd be amazed at how many software sites use that trademark without authorization, though).



I don't mind this, I don't even consider it stealing. I'm sure every designer has once or twice taken a small element from someplace else and used it, changing the critical parts so there's no major similarity anymore. In this case, if they'd used the Download.com icon, it would have been a blatant ripoff (not to mention trademark infringement). If they'd just changed the color, again it'd be a serous ripoff. But when it's just the outer part of a button, a button ferchrissakes, I don't care at all. I mean, it's just a button shape, not a logo or an illustration that I'd spent hours or days on. It probably took me less than ten minutes.

This is similar to the incident I wrote about recently where someone made a WordPress theme that used some of my design elements, but in a way that the result didn't really look like my original design much at all.

* Ubuntu is a free, community-developed, Linux-based operating system that you can run on Macs, PCs, and other Unix-capable computers.

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