Make It Mean Something

Today I will talk about an odd situation I have encountered. I want to take more photos. However, I have been spending a lot of time looking at my photos and at other people’s collections and I’ve noticed that there are far too many photos that don’t speak. Photos that don’t say anything at all about the world, or about humanity, or about anything at all. I have photos of flowers and buildings and signs and mailboxes and grass and clouds and trees and basketball rims. And they don’t tell a story, they don’t reveal anything about me or anyone else. Perhaps this is misguided, because sometimes a close-up of a flower can be used to add some fine texture […]

Trimming Pages

I’m currently redesigning the Hallmac RV Rentals site. It is being moved from an old school tabled layout to a new CSS and XHTML compliant design. After a few initial frustrations fighting CSS bugs in browsers to get the layout working I’ve discovered a new joy in converting the site. As I transfer the pages over to the new design I get to strip out tons of font and table tags. It’s great to look at the code disappear and yet still see that page looking great thanks to the attached style sheet. My code is so much cleaner and easier to work with, and as a bonus the page sizes are shrinking rapidly. It’s really quite satisfying in a […]

The Lines

I spend a fair amount of time studying design; web design, print, industrial, whatever, I just like to examine designs and see what makes them succeed or fail. And one of the themes I have seen throughout is that good designers follow the rules, but great designers know and use the rules and then they break them artfully. I have always been a color inside the lines kind of guy. So I have to make a conscious effort to push past the limits I place on myself. I know the fundamental rules of design, what makes a clean effective design, but I have to step back and then knowingly push my designs past the point where they are correct to […]

We Have a Winner

The winners for the Macromedia Flash Wallpaper Contest have been announced and I’ve won first prize out of over 150 entries. Obviously, I’m rather excited and happy my design was chosen. Here are the files at various resolutions: Source: (9MB) Feel free to download and use them and to play around with the source file. I’d also encourage you to look through all of the other entries, there are some really great designs and source files that you can explore.

Technology Top 3

Veerle brought up the topic of a wishlist for gadgets and gizmos. So I got to thinking about what new things I want the most. 1. A Tablet PC with all the trimmings I want to get one with the bulletproof glass, the lightning quick processor, piles of ports, the detachable, rotatable keyboard, built in 802.11 and Bluetooth, a clot loading CD-RW / DVD-R drive and a nice big, thin widescreen (not one of those 10″ deals). 2. A Cell Phone/PDA combo I want a Cell phone with a big screen, a clamshell design that opens two ways, a QWERTY keyboard, 802.11 and Bluetooth (so it plays nice with my new Tablet), easy to use menus, a huge hard drive […]

Effective Advertising

A recent discussion with my sister-in-law has prompted me to take another look at online advertising. As much as we hate to face this fact as web designers advertising pays for much of what we do. Most of the web sites you visit will have sponsors or advertisers displaying logos and ads on the pages. However, there are good ways and bad ways to incorporate advertising into web pages. I’d like to take a few moments to share my thoughts on the matter. Ads that flicker and pop annoy users and they mentally link that annoyance with the advertiser, which is clearly not the intended effect. Each ad should be an attractive portal to a web site and a positive […]

Got Ethics? Part II

This is not an article about the kind of shady accounting found at Enron or WorldCom or the anti-trust cases against companies like Microsoft. Rather, today I’d like to look at the ideals and world views that drive companies and individuals to certain destructive, ill-conceived behaviors in the business world. In particular, what drives some companies to embrace a cut-throat approach to doing business and others to take a more holistic, socially conscious approach. In the former category we find the organizations that ruthlessly squeeze their suppliers, undercut competitors, and lie to their customers to make an extra buck. In the latter group we find the companies that refuse to sell their customers personal information, that treat their employees generously, […]

An Evening At Menlo

I had an opportunity to meet with a number of people at Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor this evening and to learn more about the company. I have to say I’m impressed with what I’ve seen. They are incorporating some if the best HCI and programming practices that I know of into one effective development team. They are on my short list of companies I’d jump at the chance to work with. I was also reminded of one of those little big things that gets lost in the day to day drudgery of working and studying. One of the reasons HCI appealed to me enough to get my Master’s degree was that by doing my job, and doing it well, […]