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Digital Web Magazine

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A-Z Indexes to Enhance Site Searching

On a Web site or intranet each of the alphabetically arranged entries or subentries is hyperlinked to the page or to an anchor within a page to where the topic is discussed. Since an alphabetical index can be quite long, it is often divided into pages for each letter of the alphabet. Typically, each letter is linked at the top of the page allow a jump to the start of that letter’s section of the index.

Digital Web Magazine (2005). Articles>Web Design>Indexing>Information Design


Accessibility from the Ground Up

This accessibility thing sure is catching on. And it’s ready for prime time. Yes, Web accessibility is growing up.

May, Matt. Digital Web Magazine (2005). Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Accessible By Design

The demand for accessible sites is growing, but web workers, like you, are often unclear how to make sites more accessible. Designing an accessible site isn't necessarily harder, but it involves unique limitations that make you approach design from a different perspective.

Pavka, Anitra. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility


Accountability of Accessibility and Usability

Focus on your users, all of them. Learn from mistakes currently made on the Web. If a user can't fill out a form, they can't buy anything from your site. People turned away by unusable sites will probably try a competitor's site. Don't be the site that turned people away. Make your Web site as usable and accessible as possible. It's the business savvy thing to do. It's the right thing to do. If you don't, someone just might force you legally to do it or threaten to sue.

Pavka, Anitra. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Usability


Adding Value through Search Engine Optimization

The easiest way to increase your added value is to do small things that have a large positive return for the company. If you’re looking to find something easy to do that has a large positive impact on your value, look no further than thinking about search engines and how your portion of a Web site can be optimized for them.

K'necht, Alan. Digital Web Magazine (2003). Design>Web Design>Search>Search Engine Optimization


The Age of Information Architecture

For the most part, information architects are communicators and strategists. While others merely tolerated the mishmash of responsibilities, they relished it. Designers often put up with having to write HTML but jumped at the chance to 'just do design.' Programmers were forced to meet with clients and work on strategy, but all along probably wanted to just write code. When these two ends of the spectrum split off, the empty middle was a perfect place to be. At the same time, there was an increased (but still hidden) need for information architecture. As the average web project process matured, more problems arose. Formal documentation was needed, business objectives were taking on increased importance, and, as the size increased exponentially, information organization became a much more important role. (The fact that this evolution took place during the 'dot.com fallout' is not insignificant, as this led to the placement of web projects under the same microscope as other business endeavors.) Some of these positions could be filled by existing disciplines; project managers, business analysts, and usability specialists transitioned from 'traditional' work and were added to web teams. Still, there was something missing. The connection between 'the big picture' (business strategy, high-level user tasks, basic structural architecture) and the nitty-gritty (categorization, labeling, bottom-up information hierarchies) often wasn't being made. This is where information architects fit in.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Articles>Information Design>Usability


Alien Typography

Many of the principles that the print typographer has learned and holds sacred, are no longer true when the medium is a neon sign, a television title sequence or a Web page. Text that is not printed on paper takes them into alien territory.

Gillespie, Joe. Digital Web Magazine (2001). Design>Typography>Online


Apples and Oranges

Usability and design are two fields that collide more often than not. But why is that? Why can’t we all just get along and center our efforts around delivering a better product, a top-notch Web site or a user-friendly interface. Everybody would benefit from an open-minded, reciprocal understanding. Right?

Hilhorst, Didier P. Digital Web Magazine (2004). Articles>Usability>Design>Collaboration


Are Accessibility Statements Useful?

An accessibility statement provides website visitors with information on how to utilize any accessibility features implemented, together with known barriers and how to overcome them. This information is usually presented on a dedicated page within the website. This article will look at the benefits of providing an accessibility statement together with common problems, before evaluating whether accessibility statements are useful.

Tomlinson, Leona. Digital Web Magazine (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Policies and Procedures


Better Web Forms: Redesigning eBay's Registration

Even the smallest adjustments to a page's design, layout, and content can make a major improvement in the overall quality of the page. Taking a fresh look at sections of a site that have been ignored for a while can give you an entirely new perspective. By making small incremental changes and testing them against real world scenarios, we can more easily focus on continuous improvement without going back to square one every time.

Dimon, Garrett. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Design>Web Design>Forms>E Commerce


Building a Bulletproof Contact Form with PHP

The humble contact form: It's the cornerstone of nearly every website, from the humble personal blog right up to the corporate megasite--and a billion small business sites in-between. In the early years of operating a website, we were happy to put our shiny new email address out there for anyone to mailto, but the rise of the spammer has made us justifiably wary of publicizing our contact details--enter the contact form.

Pennell, Matthew. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Design>Web Design>Forms>PHP


Building Intranets that Matter

Despite best intentions, intranets often fail to deliver on the value they promise. Why? Companies take an 'if we build it they will come' approach. Too often, intended users don't come. And if people don't use the intranet, it will never deliver value.

Singh, Shiv. Digital Web Magazine (2003). Articles>Web Design>Intranets


Building with Rusted Nails

We can compare web design and development to the process of building a house or a structure. The development of every web site has a process that these craftsmen must follow in order to achieve the finished structure. These phases are generalized and somewhat vague at times, while some may even be grouped or varied in name, but they are all essential steps in each web construction.

Finck, Nick and Peter Fielding. Digital Web Magazine (2001). Design>Web Design>Workflow


Captions for Video with Flash CS3

In the exercise that follows, and in the second part of this series, we are going to add captions, using both methods, to the same video. For those passionate about web standards, the first method involves the use of Timed Text captions. If you go this route, you need to follow the standard laid out by the W3C. There is a lot to it but, in a nutshell, it requires you to create a specific type of XML document using the required tags.

Green, Tom. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Flash


Captions for Video with Flash CS3 (Part Two)

In this article, we’re going to look at a method of captioning a Flash video file: embedding the XML directly into the FLV file. In very simple terms, the XML document will contain the cue points for the captions. When one of those cue points is reached, the caption appears over the video.

Green, Tom. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Flash


Capture a Screencast with a Mac

While putting together a good tutorial movie for your blog or for an article you’re writing requires some thought and preparation, and would benefit from extra time spent on post-processing, the good news is that capturing screen shots and screen movies can be done inexpensively on a Mac. Although I take a glance at the wider context of preparing an entire tutorial and give you some tips along the way, my focus here is on the low-cost software you can use.

Jordan, Miraz. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Articles>Documentation>Video>Screen Captures


The Care of Content: A Red-Pen-Wielder's Perspective

What is the world (wide web) coming to when even us blue-haired English teachers have something to say about the Net? After all, we're supposed to be consumed with the past--a time long before the binary code when writers still used quills, and men, unfortunately, wore tights. (Sorry for the visual.) Well, in defense of red-pen-wielders everywhere, I have to say that just ain't so. Technology, particularly that which furthers education, is our concern. And the Internet (yes, I just started a sentence with the world 'and') is a source of great conflict. On the one hand, it is a storehouse from which vast amounts of knowledge may be retrieved--it provides information that may otherwise be inaccessible. On the other hand, because of its nature as an abyss, it's an illimitable source for the plagiarist. So, ironically, something that should catalyze learning is actually, in a way, simply making it easier for students not to learn.

Blum, Daphne. Digital Web Magazine (2000). Articles>Education>Information Design


Client Centered Design

What is the difference between user centered design and usability? Until writing this column I didn't have the faintest idea.

Koch, Peter-Paul. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Usability


Client Side Load Balancing for Web 2.0 Applications

Load balancing increases the reliability of a web site by routing requests to other servers in the cluster when one of the servers is too busy or fails. There are many techniques for achieving load balancing. There is an approach to load balancing modern web applications that does not require any load-balancing hardware, and handles failure of servers more gracefully than round-robin DNS.

Zhu, Lei. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Design>Web Design


Collecting for Design

The habit of collecting, analyzing, designing, and innovating in this fashion is making me a more systematic and disciplined web designer. Through analyzing the best design patterns and techniques used by today's web design community, I'm able to more critically assess my own designs, and create new solutions to common interface challenges.

Smith, Matthew. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Design>Web Design>Methods


Composition and Usability

Since the advent of the Web, we've seen a myriad of design schemas evolve--from the simple navigation/content style of site to the cluttered portal. And as this evolution has progressed, so did the war between UI designers and usability experts. On one side, there are usability experts who want to make every website look exactly like Yahoo because users know Yahoo and so they will automatically know how to use the site. On the other side, there are UI designers who want to design entire sites in Flash and Shockwave just because it's cool. Overly dramatic? Well, yes, maybe a little--but it's not entirely a false analysis. Many UI designers that work with usability folk complain that their creativity is hampered, whereas many usability gurus complain that designers are confusing a site's user with their visual semantics. But are the goals of UI designers and the usability folk that far apart?

Cecil, Richard F. Digital Web Magazine (2000). Articles>Usability>Web Design>Semantic


Concept Design Tools

Designers of digital products and services like ourselves can dramatically improve our work by generating more concepts early in our projects. In this article, I’ll try to make concept design easier to learn by illustrating three simple tools for generating concepts.

Lombardi, Victor. Digital Web Magazine (2008). Articles>Information Design>Methods


Cooking With Stock

It’s not a secret. We all use stock imagery in our day-to-day design work. So why doesn’t anybody ever talk about it? Just like the inventory of a grocery store, not everything you see on a stock photo site is an ingredient for a gourmet production. By far the worst mistake you can make when choosing stock is selecting stereotypical or clichéd images to convey a concept.My guess is that we’re all just a little ashamed. We want people to see our work as just that: ours. When you have to tell someone that you didn’t create that grungy texture, or you didn’t take that beautiful photo, it feels a lot like admitting that you’ve cheated on a test. But this is nonsense—as designers, it’s our job to put things together and deliver a composition that looks good.

Beaird, Jason. Digital Web Magazine (2008). Articles>Web Design>Graphic Design


Creating a Site Design Plan

All the books tell me to set goals for my site. OK. They say that those goals need to be measurable and definite. Fine. But asking my client, “What are the site’s goals?” never seemed to get me what I wanted. It occurred to me that a better approach might be to get some background info from the client and then set the goals and present them to the client for approval.

Morrill-McClure, Karen. Digital Web Magazine (2005). Articles>Web Design>Planning>Information Design


Creating The Perfect Portfolio

At its core, building an online portfolio is much the same as any other design brief—the only difference is that you are your own client. So as with any design brief, it’s best to begin by asking yourself, “who is my target audience?” Let’s look at two types of portfolios.

Ta'eed, Collis. Digital Web Magazine (2008). Careers>Resumes>Portfolios>Web Design



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