Web Design

Current style in web design

Carl Beeth

The multi dimensional weblog

In the coming years, more flexible content structures and more machine readable content will change blogs into fully-fledged online extensions of our identities.

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Added tags

Finally added tags to my regular posts. One thing I struggled with, was if I was going to use commas or spaces as separators or rather if I was going to allow multi word tags. In a way I think it is a little illogical to only allow one word tags as some combination don’t make much sense unless they are merged. Lets say I wanted to tag a story "intelligent design" in a single wording system like del.icio.us it would be tagged as both "intelligent" and "design" which makes very little sense. on the other hand if I wanted to tag something "fly fishing" there would be some relevance in also tagging it "fishing" but then "fly" would not be very relevant.

After looking around on the net I found a good post on 37 Signals that swayed my decision to go with multi word tags and for me the most logical was to have them comma separated in one field.

Designpedia - Airbag

Lot's of links to interesting design sites

Carl Beeth

No Functional Spec

Jason Freid of 37Signals explains why we should not write functional specifications and instead concentrate on building the interface.

Don't write a functional specifications document. Why? Well, there's nothing functional about a functional specifications document.

Functional specifications documents lead to an illusion of agreement. A bunch of people agreeing on paragraphs of text is not real agreement. Everyone is reading the same thing, but they're often thinking something different. This inevitably comes out in the future when it's too late.

This rings so true! The only way we can be sure we are talking about the same thing is if all the players are looking at the user experience though interface mock-ups.

AJAX Dangers

AJAX is the hot new web framework that makes web application act more dynamic and responsive. Essentially what it does is allow a web page to update portions of itself by communicating and parsing little xml snippets back and forth with a webserver. Gmail is a good example of an AJAX application.

Although a lot of web application would benefit, there is also potential to make some serious mistakes using AJAX

Trackback Sucks

better trackback page design

Trackback is a system used by some weblog tools to automatically alert one weblog of a related post in another, the idea is great and would allow weblogs to act a little like a distributed discussion group.

The problem it is never used in its intended way and now it does more damage than good. Take this post by Barlow post as an example, It’s a great post about his first hand experience with post 9/11 airport security and the legal system, but then come the trackbacks, just a long series of "look cool post", "Barlow has a great post", "you must read this" etc... Even if there is one trackback that does contain something interesting it is so buried in the noise that nobody will see it. Much worse however is that the much more informative comments are buried after trackbacks and look very similar to the trackbacks. My guess people that are not familiar with weblogs and even some that are will never even get to the comments, they’ll just scratch their head at the trackbacks and move on to other things.

It would be very easy to solve this with design. First thing would be to move the trackbacks under the comment and design them differently, personally I would just leave the post title and the name of the referring weblog out.

Web Developer Extension

Chris Pedrick’s FireFox Extention


There is a new version of Chris Pedrick’s fantastic Web Developer Extension for Firefox. A lot has been said about how Firefox is gaining on Internet Explorers, the main arguments tend to be tabs and security. In my case it is the extensions extentions that make me use it and in particular the "Web Developer Extension" that has saved me days of frustration.

The new version .9 now allows me to see what CSS applies to a certain element without using the unwieldy DOM inspector. In short if you do any type of webdesign and don’t have this extention you are wasting valuable time.

Carl Beeth

Web Standards for Business

WASP - Web Standards for Business

Carl Beeth

Custom Corners & Borders with CSS

ALA: CSS Design: Creating Custom Corners & Borders

Carl Beeth

CSS is Good Masochism.

We are masochist if we enjoy making CSS based web sites! The proportion of time I spent designing this last iteration of my site versus the time working on CSS coding issues must be something like 1 to 10, this is completely ludicrous.

Part of the problem was of course that I wanted a mixed fixed and flex multicolumn layout a thorny issue in CSS design, add to that, the usual browser issues and the whole experience was quite painful. I even walked away from my initial design requirement of having all the margins and gutters fixed width because we could not figure out an elegant way to get a fixed width gutter between the two flex width columns. illustration of the columns and gutters wanted

Another painful thing is getting control over floated elements. On the positive side, things like fine-tuning the design are much easier with CSS positioning.

Now that I have built a few CSS based sites of varying shapes and sizes I am disappointed that we seem to have traded in one series of hurdles and restrictions for another. Yes the designers net benefit are in the CSS camp but it is still just a step up in purgatory.

CSS Best Practice

Discusion of what should be CSS Best Practices

Carl Beeth

Design Not Found

The best and worst of contingency design

Carl Beeth

Persona-Based Design

CIO - How to Play to Your Audience

Carl Beeth