Thursday, June 30, 2005
A Dashboard Widget allows you to select any color you want and find its Hex, HSV or RGB values without opening a graphics program.
ColourMod allows for selection and input of colors and values, and updates style sheets.
Colorcombos.com covers more detail on ColourMod's versatility and benefits.
Visit the Combo Tester page, click on the pencil and paper icon to play with the ColourMod, or on that tab from the colourmod site.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Blogging: Attracts the fine minds of your clients to your fine products and services through the many search engines and shifting forms of information retrieval. It is easier and less expensive for them to find you, than it is for you to find them.
It encourages two way communications with your customer base who will spread the word even further through their community webs; this is even more so among researchers, intellectuals, computer geeks, and specific communities, such as Spanish speakers, etc. (via Blogging functions Comments and trackbacks.)
Presence on the web is an ongoing quality, kept fresh by your blog; you and your company become real people to your clients.
One to many – blogging enables you to communicate to many readers at their convenience. This can evolve into a community base of people with similar needs and challenges communicating with one another.
Your expertise and knowledge is made openly available – if you are an industry expert it is apparent.
As you write on subjects you document where you learned about it, from who, and what specifically, extending knowledge and communication, possibly your education growing in the field as a result.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
There are lots of reasons to blog to promote and grow a small business, but the ‘how’ part is the most important to get started. There are two kinds of blogging: public and anonymous.
First and most importantly there is public blogging linked to your professional website, where you identify who you are, with information on how you can be contacted, and encourage two way communication on the yummy goodness of your product.
Second there is true blogging where you write anonymously about any subject matter you choose, including your business, and if you have time for a creative outlet.
This is the Jekyll and Hyde of blogging. Because you write naturally, you should set up both blogs, because ideas and thoughts will occur to you as you write that may not be in your best business interest to publish on your public business blog, but remember –
here your Good Fairy Marketing Manager reminds you never, ever tell anyone who you really are in your anonymous blog even if you become famed writing it, not your wife, best friend or worse enemy, in person, over the phone, or in email. Keep yourself free.
Hyde (anonymous) blogging makes you a more interesting person to keep a secret, and gives you a sense of personal power as well as being an outlet to muse freely on any subject as true self expression without fear of reprisal, in the market or any other way.
The Free Stuff ---
To start blogging you need your business email address and I recommend starting out in Google’s Blogger http://www.blogger.com/ because you can link your blog easily to your existing Website, and “best of all it’s free!”.
Blogging software works very similarly from application to application, and there are clusters of similar bloggers using the same platform, but for the Hyde blog I recommend you choose MSN Spaces http://spaces.msn.com because it is integrated very well with other Microsoft products and very easy to learn to use, and it is free also.
MSN Spaces is dedicated to a good user experience and freedom of speech (despite Press saying they don't, those working on Spaces take it VERY seriously, they believe in freedom of speech) and Microsoft Terms and Conditions spells out that you own your own content, MSN Spaces just publishes it on the Web for you.
For anonymous blogging over Spaces, first create an email address on Hotmail because you will need to sign in using your Microsoft Passport.
If you link your business blog yourself to your business site, on a UNIX based server system the file name for your blog in a unique directory should be index.html (or your choice of appropriate extension), if a Windows based server system the file name should be default.html. These settings and more are configurable in just about any major league blogging software.
By being connected to two very different blogging markets you are also covering more turf in terms of search indices and engines.
However, if you have a little money and some time, and you want to start with the best publishing platform software which is very configurable, try MOVABLE TYPE or TYPEPAD, http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/, http://www.typepad.com/ Typepad currently has a 30 day free trial offer.
So, that is just to begin. Go out without doing anything else and set up both your blogs right now.
Write your blog in some other software product, such as Microsoft Word, so that you do not accidentally delete it in the online format and you have a backup of your text. As of this writing Spaces can not easily control the appearance of fonts but that is expected to be remedied very soon.
Remember you can edit, change dates, delete, and otherwise change anything you publish.
In the case of your product, as with many services on the Web, it is actually more cost effective for your clients / customers to find you than it is for you to find them, by attracting their fine minds to your fine product.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Go to one.org and watch the video and sign the declaration. Get up to speed on what Live8 is all about.
Go to live8.technorati.com and put one of the badges on your blog. It is pretty easy to do, you just need to add the code on the badge page to your weblog template.
Go and read the posts about Live8 on Joe Trippi's blog and on Powerline - this is a nonpartisan effort.
Pick the show that's nearest to you - and send an email to me, Joe, and to John with the following information:
Your name and age
Your blog name and URL
Which show you want to go to (please only pick one show), and
Your snail mail address (so we know where to send the show packets)
Go and blog about Live 8, and tag your posts with the Live 8 tag (instructions on how to do this are here). You've got to put the badge up on your blog and have posted at least once about Live 8 with the tag to get selected.
Keep an eye on your mailbox. Given the incredible time crunch, we'll let you know what's up no later than Thursday June 30th.
Tell all your friends. The goal here is to get 100,000 blog posts out before the G8 summit, and to get as many people out there blogging about Live 8, third world debt relief, the plight of the hungry and poor everywhere and what we can do about it.
There may be additional credentials that we can get from the Live 8 people, and Joe, John, and I are going to work our butts off to get credentials for the other shows as well, including Toronto and the shows in Great Britain. More to come. In the meantime, please go out and listen, read, and blog - together perhaps we can help to shift the conversation, and influence country policies to help to make poverty history.
Live 8 Blogging
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The CNN UI / UX team added lighter colors, and some vertical text, self referenced with similar colors. The color pallet is much more interesting, and feels more transparent. There is a much stronger focus on video, with easier access throughout the initial page.
Green is one of the most easy colors for the human eye to differenciate, as more of our visual range is assigned to it.
One of the interesting things about how they are doing this update of the interface, is adding new changes gradually, almost so you wouldn't notice. This way readers/customers can become accustomed to the changes slowly, and not feel as if they are lost.
Speaking of lost, I was so excited to see how well MSNBC.com was doing with their UI design. But suddenly they introduced page long Flash ads that one has to close in order to read the page contents. Their team has somehow suddenly forgotten the idea of User Experience!
FI! I can hardly wait until they have driven away enough customers to put the ads back in their place! I was so hopeful!
Monday, June 13, 2005
What was cool about it was that in the course of our conversations I was shown the original designs for the Web site, and I quickly analyzed it and got everything right in terms of what they had already done and the improvements they needed to make.
But better than that I knew exactly where I could take them successfully to the next stage in functional design.
I discussed what basic changes to make it user friendly and easier to read and negotiate. I mentioned, because the audience would be predominately male, that the images and shapes should be attractive and relaxing to the eye, and begin with some females, then show people, including people of color working together on systems, laptops and with handheld devices.
Also I showed that the straight lines were too formal and tended to zoom the enduser's eyes right off the screen.
Then the interviewer showed me the next design, executed by two additional designers which surprise! surprise! surprise! - showed curved lines and a pleasant looking woman. It was "sexier" in the sense of appealing, and more relaxed.
Each time the interviewer showed me a new revision, I discussed what needed to happen - and I was correct each time - what an ego booster!I showed him some modern designs of a group of programmers and IT guys working in a friendly environment, but using futurist fonts, with a slightly Star Trek style design, that it was much more appealing to the audience they are designing the site for.
Speaking about flexible design (such as with CSS) and how to communicate process I showed him some designs that include process, and discussed how showing breadcrumbs and numbering processes is OK, it sets the enduser's expectation that it is a process, and how many steps to expect.
He also showed me some very bright red designs that covered the entire screen - I had to agree that it was more than a bit overwhelming. Color as used by a trained artist, who is also a colorist and understands the physiological and physical responses people have to strong color can be a useful tool, or it can fail to achieve useful goals if misused or misunderstood.
I discussed four primary design elements and strong design considerations for Web page design:
1. Who is your audience?
2. Where is the most useful real estate on a page and why is that vital?
3. What is the golden rectangle or golden mean and how is it used to direct the eye in refined designs?
4. How mammals, including human beings react to being presented with any screen or vista.
For me design is often spontaneous, it comes complete, or nearly complete in a flash of insight. Which is not to say that there are not going to be any changes. Often too I draw things on paper and evolve, consult with others, redesign, and rework until it is very close, and then do a final version which is submitted to be tested.
The UI testing, such as performed by information architect testers, often will uncover unexpected or unanticipated design flaws, which can be fixed and retested on an iterative basis.
In the case of working with Developers I found that they are readers pure and simple - if something is a huge red circle reading BUY ME HERE RIGHT NOW, they will skip it, and probably perceive it as an advertisement. But if it is in even a small font and reads, Buy name of product now then they will perceive it and click on that text.
This is exactly what the world's leading experts have been saying all along about design. For those interested in what is new in the field, considered checking out and subscribing to Dr. Jakob Nielsen's http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ current issues in Web usability.
Microsoft is a great company that has a lot of wonderful technology at it's fingertips - getting things right with the human - computer interface and interaction is a bit more difficult.