Homophily

(via O’Reilly’s Radar) Homophily refers to the tendency to associate with people who are like you. This is as common in chat rooms as it is in elementary school lunch rooms. There is a natural tendency to seek out and associate with other people that are like us in some way. It makes us feel like we “belong”, like we are not alone. Sometimes this is harmless and even beneficial, as when quilters find each other and form a club. They get satisfaction and enjoyment out of their shared interest. Sometimes it is very bad, as when young men and women with radical inclinations find each other and push one another toward terrorism, strengthening one another’s resolve to kill. Generally […]

Green Means Stop

Today we are going to talk about what colors say. For instance, Green often says “it’s not easy being me”… Okay, Green doesn’t really say that, we all know that Green only speaks Dutch… Colors convey important information, however they sometimes tell us the wrong thing. A green stop sign is a great visual contradiction. We learn from a young age that “green means go”, “red means stop”, and yellow either means “slow down” or, depending on your parents, “go like hell”. So what happens when you switch around the colors on a traffic light? You get a whole bunch of accidents when people receive conflicting signals.

Good Software Isn’t Enough

I work hard every day to become better at what I do. I sit in my office reading blogs, books, tutorials, and anything else I can get my hands on and work on experiments and projects to hone my programming and design skills. I do this to avoid facing the trunk monkey in my car that attacks me when I go out… or possibly I do this so that I can produce really great websites. However, it is apparent to me that no matter how much I learn it will not be enough if what I build is not useful to people. So the real question is not just how do we build things well, but how do we build […]

Message 2 of 1

Message 2 out of 1 Messages – My Answering Machine My answering machine recently told me I was listening to message 2 out of 1. This struck me as an odd numbering scheme. I know it’s been a while since Sesame Street but I’m pretty sure counting just doesn’t work like that.

Using Ajax Wisely

Ajax is a set of technologies that is used to rewrite part of a web page without a complete page refresh. Jesse James Garret coined the term to describe a set of technologies currently coming into their own. This happens by using JavaScript to send a request to the server for information and then using DOM based JavaScript to rewrite a portion of the web page with the data that is returned. Using this method allows for complex form validation while the user is filling out the form in stead of and in addition to validation following submission. This means that a user can enter their ZIP code for their shipping address and see the shipping charges added to the […]

Quick Tip: Fresh Eyes

Next time you’ve spent hours working on a layout grab someone who has not seen it yet and ask them to look at it and tell you the first things they see. Don’t let them study the page, just have them glance at it and tell you what pops out at them. If it’s not the most important pieces of information on that page then you’re headed back to the drawing board.

Finding the Essence

Starting from a blank slate to create a new site can be a refreshing experience, a chance to get it right the first time. However, with so many possibilities for what you can build how do you decide where to begin? What is vital to the success of the project, and what is just gravy? And, to beat the metaphor into the ground, do we need the gravy or is it a tasty treat that will kill us slowly over time? Step One After your initial research and brainstorming sessions you are likely left with a wish list for features and functionality that is longer than a greedy kids letter to Santa. Step one is to define the essence of […]

Jargon and Secret Codes

How often have you tried to read a web site only to find that it is packed with jargon and secret codes in the form of acronyms and abbreviations that are never spelled out? Sometimes it appears that the author’s intent was to obfuscate their meaning for all but a select few individuals who are already in the know. When building a web site there are some simple techniques and some oft overlooked markup that can alleviate this problem.