Tag Archive for 'design'

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I revamped the CSS and a cou­ple of graph­ics to be more fes­tive… why should Valen­tine’s Day be for 1‑day only? Enjoy, while it lasts… ;-)

24 Ways

24 Ways”:http://24ways.org/ is a kind of _advent calendar_ for markup geeks. I’m now in the process of redesign­ing (as oposed to “realigning”:http://www.alistapart.com/articles/redesignrealign) my port­fo­lio site, and it’s been fun tun­ing in to these lit­tle tutorials.

My favorites include:

* “An Expla­na­tion of Ems”:http://24ways.org/advent/an-explanation-of-ems – I love using _ems_

* “Intro­duc­tion to Scrip­tac­u­lous Effects”:http://24ways.org/advent/introduction-to-scriptaculous-effects – for a lit­tle javascript splash

* “Putting the World into “World Wide Web””:http://24ways.org/advent/putting-the-world-into-world-wide-web – I _work_ in local­iza­tion, so I enjoy this kind of thing.

Free Delivery

Oslo Finance Hav­ing read Greg Storey’s post about Icon­Buf­fet’s Free Deliv­ery, I signed up and received my first deliv­ery: Oslo Finance.

Any­body want to trade? Taipei Night Mar­ket looks pret­ty cool.

UPDATE: I now have Oslo Atmos­phere, Taipei Night Mar­ket, and Taipei Bud­dies 2… and, will glad­ly trade!

14 is My New Favorite Artist


Thanks Ray­mi.

links for 2005-09-10

Site Header updates

Down with Flash! Say good­bye to SlideShow­Pro… I’ve decid­ed to use Nick Chap­man’s Ran­dom Images javascript class to pull the most recent pho­tos from my Flickr Pho­to­stream.

How­ev­er, the Flickr RSS feed does­n’t pro­vide the orig­i­nal-sized pho­tos, so I’ve got some tiling action hap­pen­ing above… any­one got ideas how to make a Flickr RSS Feed, with the orig­i­nal-sized Photos?

Tattoo

Tattoo”, posted by nedward

Pres­ley’s new tat­too, done by Cus­tom Claire, of Fat Ram’s Pump­kin Tat­too, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

links for 2005-05-07

Redesign followup

Thanks again to every­one who has writ­ten me about the reboot. I’m still get­ting used to see­ing my site look­ing like this.

And, yes, I’m still work­ing out a few kinks. I did receive my Flickr API key, so hope­ful­ly I’ll find some time this week­end to get my site head­er pho­tos plugged-in.

Nick Chap­man post­ed his javascript solu­tion that I men­tioned in my pre­vi­ous post… and it looks very cool. I can’t wait to try it out.

Redesign… version 4

Some­how, some way, after more than eight months tool­ing around in Pho­to­shop, I man­aged to give this site a major design refresh. The moti­va­tion was the May 1 Reboot, but I’ve been try­ing to get this done for quite some time.

First, my objec­tive was not to total­ly re-brand myself and my site. I like how this site’s struc­ture and style have evolved over the past 2+ years, and I love the green & orange. So, job #1 was con­ti­nu­ity.

Keep­ing this in mind, there was a lot of room to improve…

Logo
I switched to a Mac­in­tosh almost 2 years ago, and it was one of the best pur­chas­es I’ve ever made. I want­ed to keep the old Ali­son “N”, but fig­ured it would be nice to aqua-fy it, in hon­or of OS X.

Nav­i­ga­tion
The site head­er and nav­i­ga­tion in the last design took up too much real estate. I always admired Jason Kot­tke’s deci­sion to min­i­mize his nav bar in his last redesign:

The yel­low-green thing at the top is a tag. Like the red tag on Lev­i’s jeans or even the red stripe on Pra­da shoes. It’s small, out of the way, but when you see it on some­thing, you know exact­ly what you’re hold­ing in your hands.

I decid­ed not to go too small, since I want­ed to make it easy to click and nav­i­gate, but I com­bined the site head­er and nav­i­ga­tion in one hor­i­zon­tal green block… the gra­di­ent was used, in order to break up the “block-iness”.

Pho­to Headers
I knew that this time around, I want­ed to make the pho­to head­er a bit more dynam­ic, and eas­i­ly updat­ed. Flickr has become such an impor­tant and enjoy­able part of my online life, that I decid­ed it would be great to inte­grate my Flickr Pho­to­stream into the site header.

This how­ev­er posed some dif­fi­cul­ty… how to inte­grate? Sure, Flickr has a great API, but it would be quite daunt­ing for this cod­ing ama­teur to build the kind of pho­to head­er that I envisioned.

So, I looked around for some help. I remem­bered Bryan Bell men­tioned that he was work­ing with Nick Chap­man on a kind of site head­er built using alpha-chan­nel PNGs, and javascript. But, despite some show-and-tell, it seems that they don’t have it worked out yet. And, after spend­ing about an hour try­ing to fig­ure out how to get a 24-bit PNG to play nice in IE 6 WIN, I decid­ed that I did­n’t real­ly need my logo to over­lap my pho­to header…

Still, Bryan and Nick­’s idea got me think­ing — Todd Dominey’s SlideShow­Pro would be an excel­lent match for what I want­ed — though, I’d have to deal with the trade-off of hav­ing Flash embed­ded in my site. Hav­ing spent the past 2 years learn­ing about and embrac­ing Web Stan­dards and con­cern for acces­si­bil­i­ty, I’ve avoid­ed using Flash… but, the more I read about SlideShow­Pro, the more I thought that it was the per­fect fit for what I want­ed. It has built-in sup­port for the Flickr API, it’s eas­i­ly cus­tomiz­able to any dimen­sions or col­or palette, and it’s built by a guy that I respect and enjoy read­ing.

I was­n’t able to get the Flickr func­tion­al­i­ty imple­ment­ed yet, (wait­ing on my request for an API key), so I just threw a cou­ple of pho­tos togeth­er for this launch.

Feed­back?
Please email me or leave a com­ment, let me know what you think. I did a bit of test­ing on IE6 WIN, so hope­ful­ly there won’t be many quirks to work out.

links for 2005-03-26

Peepers

Peepers”, posted by nedward

I was brows­ing around the Goril­laz site today, kind of look­ing for­ward to the new record, and I stum­bled across a link to a Birm­ing­ham UK art col­lec­tive, Beat13. I real­ly liked the illus­tra­tions done by Lucy Mclauch­lan, so I ordered a screen­print… only £53.00, lim­it­ed edi­tion of 200.

To Integrate, or not to Integrate…

Matt Haugh­ey and Dave Shea have an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion going, con­cern­ing the inte­gra­tion of posts, dai­ly links, and flickr pho­tos into sin­gle feeds, and why this sucks.

I’ve heard some grum­blings a while back about my deci­sion to fold my dai­ly links into my main blog. (Mr. Yovanoff, I’m look­ing at you…) But, I still feel that a post is a post is a post. Hav­ing “dailies” appear inline with oth­er con­tent not only pro­vides deep­er con­text, but it also moti­vates me to write about oth­er topics.

Per­haps I will research a method to strip out my del.icio.us posts (by MT cat­e­go­ry?), and pro­vide a feed sans links.

Facelift

It was a long time com­ing, but I gave this weblog yet anoth­er design tweak, con­vert­ing the hor­rid image map nav­i­ga­tion to CSS-styled unordered lists.

This design has served me well for the past 2+ years… a major re-design has been in plan­ning for more than a year, but I almost enjoy tweak­ing this one more. There is val­ue in con­stan­cy.

The real motive for doing this, is that my cat­e­go­ry choic­es for posts have been lim­it­ed to the same 5: books, music, movies, fea­tures, and posts… I could­n’t add new cat­e­gories, because the image nav­i­ga­tion, and com­plex script­ing behind its dis­play would­n’t allow for it.

Stu­pid right? Design­ing with flex­i­bil­i­ty is some­thing that I am learn­ing… pix­el-per­fect, heav­i­ly-graph­i­cal sites can turn out to be a pigeonhole.

Maybe I just need­ed 2+ years to strip away, and un-design it to the point where the con­tent becomes the most impor­tant component.

Any­way, every­thing is a bit in flux at the moment, so there might be fur­ther changes to come.

M‑Beat Theme

mbeat.gifI’ve been look­ing for a good menu con­troller for iTunes, and it’s been a dif­fi­cult search. I test­ed many apps, includ­ing Quick­Tunes, You Con­trol Tunes, and Syn­er­gy. Each has its rel­a­tive strengths and weak­ness­es, but I just couldn’t get every­thing I want­ed in one package:

  • Dis­play track info on the menubar

  • Unob­tru­sive design, that blends with my OS X theme

  • Glob­al key­board shortcuts

  • Pop-up floater with track info and album art

  • Sol­id app, that doesn’t crash

In the end, I decid­ed to go with The Lit­tle App Factory’s M‑Beat, which sat­is­fies all of these require­ments, and includes sup­port for skin­ning themes.

This bit of cus­tomiza­tion was the clinch­er, because I wasn’t sat­is­fied with the way the default “look” inte­grat­ed in my menu. So, I cre­at­ed a theme to match my Milk OS X theme:

mbeat2.gif

Terminal blog

I stum­bled upon an inter­est­ing blog design in my refer­ralsklypso.com. Paul used “Ter­mi­nal” for his blog’s type­face. It’s quick-load­ing, lean-and-mean, but Paul chose to for­go the CSS trend, and build it with old-fash­ioned Tables.

As soon as I saw it, I had a flash­back to col­lege and X‑Windows, Lynx, Emacs… And then back to high school and 9600-baud con­nec­tions to BBSs. We’ve come a long way, no?

Welcome CSS Vault Visitors!

Thanks to Andy for sub­mit­ting this blog for recog­ni­tion at CSS Vault. I’m hon­ored to be includ­ed among the many inspir­ing sites.

(I hope it doesn’t mat­ter that I’ve more or less had the same lay­out and design for more than a year now.) But, thank you very much.

X‑mas in Buffalo

Ornament on the familial X-mas tree

Ornament on the familial X‑mas tree

Macy and Jeremy at Spot Coffee, Elmwood Ave.

Macy and Jeremy at Spot Coffee, Elmwood Ave

Exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘X‑mas in Buffalo’

The limits of Push-button Publishing

Moveable TypeA while back, Jason Kot­tke began tweak­ing his site lay­out, merg­ing his “remain­der” links into the dai­ly thread of his weblog, and cre­at­ing a dif­fer­ent look for “Fea­tured” posts such as movie and book reviews.

When I last redesigned (now more than a year ago), I thought a lot about how to use MT cat­e­gories, and the impor­tance of draw­ing a visu­al dis­tinc­tion between fea­tured posts, and short­er dai­ly posts. It was nec­es­sary to weigh cer­tain types of posts as more rel­e­vant than others.

This not-so-cre­ative solu­tion was to use a styled post title & a unique icon—for music, movies, books, pho­tos, & spe­cial posts—and leave non-fea­tured posts unstyled (albeit bold­ed). Also, I try to use a small pho­to for each fea­tured post. By using PHP and some MT tem­plate code, I was able to hack some­thing together.

Jason’s method of using 5 weblogs for 5 dif­fer­ent kinds of posts seems over­ly com­pli­cat­ed and unwieldy for me, because I have oth­er blogs on our domain. But, there is a point where PHP hacks can defeat the pur­pose of using “push-but­ton publishing”.

I very much like his idea of embed­ding these remain­dered links in the chrono­log­i­cal thread of the weblog—Because these are time­ly links ref­er­enc­ing cur­rent events or memes, why not?

I always thought Anil’s method of group­ing links under a date would be almost mean­ing­less for my site—as I only post 1 or 2 items per day. My Dai­ly Book­marks have no ref­er­ence point—they are mere­ly sort­ed descend­ing by date. Once again, Jason gets me thinking…

Verizon’s UI, Part II

An update on my Ver­i­zon annoy­ances– After a few weeks of assur­ances and pass­ing the buck, I’ve been told that we won’t be able to get DSL for our new house. No dis­cernible rea­son was giv­en, just a “no”.

So, to put my mon­ey where my mouth was, I decid­ed to pun­ish Ver­i­zon for this by switch­ing our phone to Com­cast.

All this sup­pos­ed­ly “good” dereg­u­la­tion in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions indus­try still leaves those of us in Boston with lit­tle choice. Since we’re already going to pay Com­cast for cable tv & broad­band inter­net access, why not be done with Ver­i­zon for­ev­er?

Now we’ll have 1 bill to pay, and here’s hop­ing that their online man­age­ment is bet­ter than Ver­i­zon’s — It can’t get much worse.

Web Standards

There’s been a lot of talk around the web recent­ly about design­ing bet­ter web sites:

I’ve just spent a good chunk of my sat­ur­day work­ing on this very site. Though it may look as near­ly iden­ti­cal to yes­ter­day’s Ned­ward, I’ve done some major over­hauls “under the hood”.

  • First­ly, I’ve made a huge effort to more accu­rate­ly sep­a­rate struc­ture from con­tent. A lot of images are now spec­i­fied in CSS, and stray <br />s rather than clut­ter­ing up the code.
  • I’ve improved the seman­tics of the site. Bye Bye <span class=“title”>Hello World</span><br/> … wel­come back, <H1>,<H2>,<H3>
  • Unordered list bul­lets! What a night­mare it is to replace default bul­lets with cus­tom images… a nice solu­tion was to use our friend background:url

Hav­ing just fin­ished read­ing Mr. Zeld­man’s book on Web Stan­dards, believe me, I’ve seen the light. It’s real­ly a shift in think­ing for a whole indus­try of peo­ple like me who designed and built web­sites in the 90s.

Actu­al­ly, for­get about the 90s– the project I work on now, (which is for a cer­tain soft­ware mak­er locat­ed in a cer­tain north­west­ern state), I rou­tine­ly have to deal with and debug some of the ugli­est pro­pri­etary IE code known to man. I almost feel I should apol­o­gize to this client for not fix­ing it for them. Sad­ly, that’s not what I get paid to do.

There is an ele­gance and beau­ty to cod­ing with web stan­dards. And Zeld­man’s book is good not because it’s a total ref­er­ence of all things CSS – it’s not — he assumes we all under­stand the basics of CSS. What’s most inter­est­ing about it is Zeld­man’s expla­na­tion for why we did­n’t code prop­er­ly in the past, and why we must now.

I like Jason Kot­tke’s point that there are oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions to design­ing good web­sites, such as good seman­tics and acces­si­bil­i­ty. I guess I’m head­ing in the right direction.

Verizon’s UI

Since we’re in the process of mov­ing, I’ve spent a lot of time switch­ing util­i­ties to the new apart­ment.

For a few months now, I’ve been pay­ing our Ver­i­zon phone & DSL bill online, because it’s easy and I don’t need to dig up my check­book. How­ev­er, Verizon’s online bill man­age­ment leaves much to be desired…

Verizon.com welcome screenWhen you log in, the account sum­ma­ry dis­plays the amount you owe, list­ed under “Pay­ment due” (see screen-shot at left). So, I would peri­od­i­cal­ly log in, note the dol­lar amount, and after a few clicks, a cred­it-card pay­ment was submitted.

There is a prob­lem with this sys­tem however—the bill sum­ma­ry info is tak­en direct­ly from your last print­ed bill, and is in no way reflec­tive of any pay­ments made since the billing date. This result­ed in us over­pay­ing month after month.

Gen­er­al­ly, it seems to me that a brief account sum­ma­ry should show your up-to-the-minute bal­ance, and click­ing “View Bill” should show your last print­ed bill (which may not show recent pay­ments). This log­ic, how­ev­er, seems to have escaped Verizon’s web team.

Verizon.com page shown when you click View BillInstead of the cur­rent bal­ance greet­ing you after log­ging in, you’re forced to click on “View Bill”, and scroll down the page to a curi­ous­ly phrased line that reads: Total Cur­rent Live Bal­ance as of 9/11/2003 is : $0 (see screen-shot at left).

Total Cur­rent Live Bal­ance. Does that sound like an after­thought, or what? Why on earth would this bit of infor­ma­tion be found in the mid­dle of a past bill, and not on the billing sum­ma­ry?

I can only sur­mise that a lot of users like me start­ed com­plain­ing about the con­fu­sion, so they had one of their back-end devel­op­ers insert a bit of code, with­out both­er­ing to hire a UI per­son and ask them if what they were doing was intuitive.

Though it may seem like a small issue, I think it is embar­rass­ing­ly bad—because it could cre­ate a neg­a­tive per­cep­tion that online Ver­i­zon pay­ments are a has­sle. And, it’s not going to con­vince users to switch to “Paper-Free Billing”.

Attn: Ver­i­zon, I am avail­able for UI consulting.

Buffalo Central Terminal Update

Chuck Maley's Central Terminal picturesA while back, I post­ed about a piece of archi­tec­tur­al won­der­ment lying van­dal­ized and dor­mant in Buffalo—the old Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal. It’s a beau­ti­ful Deco train sta­tion from the 1920s, plopped into an oth­er­wise unex­cep­tion­al sub­ur­ban neighborhood.

At the time the sta­tion was built, Buf­fa­lo was still an indus­tri­al and cul­tur­al cen­ter, with a pop­u­la­tion over one-half mil­lion. It was sec­ond only to Chica­go for its tan­gling rail net­work. How­ev­er, by the late 1970s, both the city and the sta­tion had seen bet­ter days. The sta­tion was board­ed up, and the trains instead stopped at a new, strip-mall like park­ing-lot sta­tion not far away.

Well, there is some good news… it seems that some peo­ple do care about pre­serv­ing the city’s her­itage. Despite its van­dal­ized and trashed inte­ri­or, the build­ing is draw­ing crowds—including some Cana­di­an urban explor­ers.

What I love about struc­tures like the Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal is that they were built for the pub­lic to use. It’s absolute­ly unthink­able to imag­ine pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions build­ing such pub­lic spaces today—I think those years have passed, (as have the years of ridicu­lous­ly cheap immi­grant labor).

Here’s hop­ing there is a devel­op­er out there with deep pock­ets and a cre­ative will.

The Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal at a glance:

  • The Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal opened four months before the Wall Street crash of 1929
  • Designed to han­dle an antic­i­pat­ed Buf­fa­lo pop­u­la­tion of 1.5 mil­lion, it cost $14 mil­lion to build
  • The 17-sto­ry office tow­er stands 271 feet high
  • The sta­tion closed in Octo­ber 1979 after years of dwin­dling rail pas­sen­ger service
  • A 1969 study esti­mat­ed it would cost $54 mil­lion to restore it for office use, and $16.3 mil­lion to demol­ish it

Suckahs, Version 7

New Suck­ahs.

Email bugs to me, please…

Libeskind PR Affront

Today, the a pan­el in NYC will decide on which of the 2 final designs will replace the World Trade Cen­ter. Libe­skind has been every­where, as Gawk­er points out… but it looks like the Think team will get the call. I’m glad, despite the tin­ker­toy lat­tice­work. Stay tuned…

UPDATE: Aw Hell no. Every­one spoke too soon… Libe­skind Design Cho­sen for Rebuild­ing at Ground Zero (NY Times)