Archive for January, 2006

Defying The Dimensions

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Felice VariniFelice Varini defies the dimensions with an amazing portfolio. Placing two-dimensionality into a space originally reserved for the third dimension, Felice Varini creates mind boggling illusions that keep you pondering on how they were done. Varini’s canvas? Everything around us, including the buildings.

Source Order, Skip Links and Structural Labels

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Web Usability has issued a new accessibility study on the importance of Source Order, Skip Links and Structural Labels.

Is page source order important to screen reader users? Recently, the idea of placing the informational content of a web page before the navigation has gained some currency. This paper reports on our research into the relevance and importance of page source order, skip links and structural labels for screen reader users.

My personal preference is to place the content before the navigation, but the study suggests screen reader and text browser users expect the navigation to appear first. Less experienced users seem to have a harder time with content appearing first, while the more experienced users don’t show much preference. One thing all test users do have in common, however, is that semantic, structural markup makes the web experience a whole lot easier. Worth a read.

The Best Word Book Ever

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

The Best Word Book EverA very interesting photoset on Flickr compares issues of “The Best Word Book Ever” from 1963 and 1991.

I think it’s fascinating to see how cultural changes occur in such a relatively short time, and how strongly they influence design and publishing, and, in this case, the way children are brought up.

Has anyone here ever had to revise a old work to comply with today’s cultural standards? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Feed Icons – Help Establish The New Standard

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Feed IconRecently, Microsoft announced on the IE Blog that they will be adapting the Firefox RSS feed icon for Internet Explorer 7. In an update, they mention that it will also be used throughout the new Office 12 suite. This is a nice demonstration of the influence the little Firefox browser has been making in the IT world.

The biggest argument towards this purely graphical icon is the fact that the regular user doesn’t necessarily know what the technical acronym “RSS” stands for (and shouldn’t need to) and thus shouldn’t even have to be confronted with the term. Also, with alternative standards (kind of an oxymoron, eh?) such as Atom around, “RSS” doesn’t cover the whole field anymore.

Content syndication is an excellent technology for the web on a practical and social level, and developing one common standard visual brand for it will help further popularize it. In order to support the icon as a new standard throughout the rest of the web, Matt Brett has launched a new website: Feed Icons. He offers the icon in numerous editable formats and encourages recoloring as, I quote:

We believe that as a symbol, the feed icon is recognizable enough that it doesn’t need to be restricted to one colour.

I’m going to have to update my RSS page one of these days.

New Windows Vista Font Just A Rip-Off?

Monday, January 9th, 2006

The following article is about two years old, but in light of the recent campaign begin for the new Windows Vista, it’s more current than ever. In his article “A Second Helping”, Fredrick Nader brings to light the baffling similarities between Vista’s new default system font, Segoe UI, and Frutiger. Wikipedia states:

According to a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the owner of the design, Linotype, filed in 2005 a complaint with the European Union’s trademarks and design office in Alicante, Spain, arguing that Microsoft’s Segoe typeface is a plagiarism of Frutiger Next.

Web Developer 1.0

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

Web Developer Toolbar LogoThe best web developer tool ever just got better! Chris Pederick has released the first stable version of his infamous Web Developer extension for Firefox. Version 1.0 boasts many new improvements, among others:

  • Live HTML-Editting
  • Display rulers and photoshop-esque guidelines
  • More consistent and clearer menus
  • Display hidden elements (this was my feature wish :) )
  • New outlining features
  • A comprehensive “Display Element Information” tool
  • Small Screen Rendering
  • Many more features that could fill up another page.

If you develop websites and you haven’t tried out Web Developer yet, I suggest you drop everything else right now and give it a spin!

CSS For Bar Graphs

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

CSS Bar GraphsApples To Oranges presents some nice CSS-driven bar graphs that can be generated dynamically on a server-side basis. They could also be animated very easily via JS-libraries such as script.aculo.us. Fairly simple but it does a good job.

PHP + CSS Dynamic Text Replacement

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

Alex Giron and R. Marie Cox have come up with a new dynamic image replacement technique: PHP + CSS Dynamic Text Replacement. What separates this one technique from the rest of the crop is the fact that you can style your headers with regular stylesheets and the PHP script will interpret and render them accordingly. Being able to use any font in a stylesheet regardless of web safe issues sounds like fun! No JavaScript or Flash involved, either. It has a few limitations at the moment, but maybe someone among my readers can help improve the technique.


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