A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Porter, Joshua

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Are Designers Focused Enough on User Needs?

I find that many designers give much more of their time to learning the latest standards trick than learning the latest “designing for users” trick. Here are a few reasons why this may be so.

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2008). Articles>Web Design>Standards>User Centered Design


Common Ways Links Fail Users

I’ve thought of a few ways that links can fail users. By preventing these sorts of things (which admittedly, aren’t all that easy to prevent) we can design better links with the hopes of attaining that place where users never get lost.

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Hypertext


Designing for Context with CSS

The medium is the message: Imagine providing unique information exclusively for people who read your site via a web-enabled cell phone — then crafting a different message for those who are reading a printout instead of the screen. Let your context guide your content. All it takes is some user-centric marketing savvy and a dash of CSS.

Porter, Joshua. List Apart, A (2004). Design>Web Design>CSS


The Effect of Web Standards on Users

The current crop of web standards (XTHML & CSS) have had a dramatic effect on the work of the web designers who have adopted them. Writers of the best kinds have trumpeted the benefits of these standards over the coding practices that had become second nature to most (image spacers, anyone?).

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2008). Articles>Web Design>Standards


Five Points Concerning Designers Vs. Usability Folks

Web designers and usability folks don’t seem to get along very well. Web designers say that they don’t need usability folks because they design with inherent usability: it’s simply a part of good design. Usability folks, on the other hand, say that everything must be tested. Who’s right? Can both be right?

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability


The Freedom of Fast Iterations: How Netflix Designs a Winning Web Site

The designers of Netflix.com have a smashing success on their hands, but we didn't find them resting on their laurels. They want to get even better, and for them that means iterate, iterate, iterate. Netflix isn't the only company using a fast iterative design approach. Google has also gained attention for their unorthodox design methods, with many people complaining that they have a huge stable of products, but only a few they've designed well.

Porter, Joshua. User Interface Engineering (2006). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Workflow


No Standard for Migrating to Web Standards

Lately, it seems like everyone is talking about migrating to web standards, like XHTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). What's the big deal about these standards? Why should web teams invest the effort to learn new coding techniques and convert all their legacy sites over to standards-compliant sites? Time and Money, that's why.

Porter, Joshua. User Interface Engineering (2002). Design>Web Design>Standards>XHTML


Seven Reasons Why Web Apps Fail

I’m not one to believe that we’re in a Bubble 2.0 or anything like that (aren’t we always bubbular?), but here are a few ideas about why some of the web apps out there fail.

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2006). Articles>Web Design>Programming>User Experience


Some Reasons Why Web Standards Are Difficult to Learn

It seems like the box model shouldn’t be difficult to learn, but it is. I’m not sure why, but I think it may have to do with complexity that arises when you have boxes within boxes. At that point, it becomes an exercise of adding margin here, taking away padding there, and setting margins and paddings to 0 over there. Combine that with floating and positioning: relative, absolute, fixed, and it gets hard to know where the spacing between objects comes from, even when you’re working in standards-supporting browser like Mozilla. On top of this you have the box model hack…which only complicates things further. Even browsers get the box model wrong.

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2008). Articles>Web Design>Standards>CSS


Transitional Layouts in (X)HTML and CSS: An Interview with Eric A. Meyer

In a pivotal user test a couple years ago we found out one of the secrets of great web sites: they inspire confidence in users. This article explores how to measure it and use it to your advantage.

Porter, Joshua. User Interface Engineering (2003). Articles>Web Design>XHTML


Using Ajax for Creating Web Applications

In the past few years, developers could choose between two approaches when building a web application. The first approach was to create a screen-based system with very rich interactions using a sophisticated, powerful technology such as Java or Flash. The alternative approach was to create a page-based system using easier-to-learn core web standards like XHTML and CSS whose more basic capabilities force less-rich interactions. A new technological approach, dubbed Ajax, might just be the right mix between the two.

Porter, Joshua. User Interface Engineering (2005). Articles>Web Design>Standards>Ajax


UX Engagement Metrics

Remember when hit counters were all the rage? I do. I remember putting them at the bottom of my web pages to see how many people were reading and then reloading them incessantly to watch the number go up. Time was when hits and page views were the king of web metrics. But now we have a new metric to focus our energy on: engagement. How engaged are our users, we ask? How often do they visit? Are they really involved in our design, or did they give up on it? Here follows a list of engagement metrics that have been used over the years. As you go down the list the metrics go from almost meaningless (hits) to very meaningful (daily active users). This is a spectrum of engagement metrics that you can use for your own projects.

Porter, Joshua. 52 Weeks of UX (2010). Articles>Web Design>User Experience>Log Analysis


Who Cares How Pretty Web Sites Are?

A few weeks back, I wrote about why I think web standards are difficult to learn. I wrote that because I was spending 80% of my time getting my code into XHTML 1.0 and styling it with CSS so that it rendered consistently across 5 or 6 browsers. What was I doing the other 20% of the time? Creating content, of course. I was putting together what a huge percentage of my site visitors come for. When I thought about it in these terms (time spent), I felt like styling with CSS was a lot of work for comparatively little gain. After all, people will still be able to find the site, read the content, and click on the links, whether or not I’ve styled it.

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2008). Articles>Web Design>Standards>Usability

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