Digital Web Magazine

The web professional's online magazine of choice.

News : March 2004

New Issue of Digital Web Magazine

In this issue of Digital Web Magazine we are happy to bring you a great article by Matt Mullenweg that examines the art of PHP for Designers. It used to be that there were coders and then there were creative types, and never the two should meet. As things change versatility plays an important role for any designer. Having the basic understanding of programming in a designer's toolbox can prove to be very beneficial. If you are a designer looking to expand your skill set, this is the article for you. That's it for this week, see you again next week.

March 31, 2004 at 9:28 AM

Nick Finck

Lessons Learned from SXSW 2004

While we are on the subject of SXSW and lessons learned: Kevin Smokler has published his annual 10 Things I Learned at SXSW 2004. For the record, Kevin's panel was perhaps the most inspirational panel I attended this year.

March 30, 2004 at 3:24 PM

Nick Finck

The Web's focus on Standards

Being that we like to cover all sides of a debate, Jeffrey Zeldman writes some very good points about the influx of web standards in general. A few points I want to make: Jason never said we shouldn't be worrying about web standards, but we shouldn't be basing our entire existence as web professionals around it (well, unless you are the guru of web standards like Zeldman). The other point is that there was only one panel about "How to make money with your weblog" and that was the panel with Jason Calacanis and Brian Alvey (though, to be fair, Brian barely got a word in edgewise). In defense of the panel I was moderating; there is a difference from a panel on how to make money versus a panel on how to do business using web logs.

March 30, 2004 at 3:19 PM

Nick Finck

Beyond Social Software

Jeff Veen writes a great post about going beyond the social software and actually using it to our advantage; easing the use of technology. The post is entitled Will you be my friend? He brings up some very interesting points, let's see who is actually listening.

March 30, 2004 at 10:09 AM

Nick Finck

Which came first?

Well, the big question today is chronological or reverse-chronological for web logs. I'd tell you my opinion on this but then the people in the UK might have to start driving on the right side of the road and books would have to be authored so they are reable only in mirrors (thank you, Da Vinci).

March 30, 2004 at 10:01 AM

Nick Finck

How well can you use the web?

No matter your opinion of Nielsen, love him, hate him, or sometimes a little of both, he actually has something positive to say about the way the web is going in an article over at the "Beeb". I never thought I would say this, but I agree with him, at least regarding designers and developers dropping their obsession with style over substance and making sites easier to navigate. But, don't expect to see the "I Love Nielsen" bumper sticker on my car just yet...

March 30, 2004 at 8:03 AM

Ken Westin

Driven by Design

Starting two years ago BMW decided to launch several new car designs that stirred controversy among the public (most notably the new 7 series). Back in September 2002 Fast Company published an article examining the design strategy of one of the worlds most influencial car manufacturers which is still very much worth your time today.

March 29, 2004 at 4:51 PM

Didier P. Hilhorst

From Design to Code

Design is free from limitations, that is, if you never publish your site online. Practice is very different. So how do you make the transition? Veerle Pieters shares her experiences converting design into healthy and valid code.

March 29, 2004 at 4:24 PM

Didier P. Hilhorst

Letters to the Editors column

Recently, thanks to a suggestion from Krista Stevens, the editorial staff and I have decided to start publishing a "Letters to the Editor" column. The concept is simple, we get emails all of the time from our readers with some good comments and questions. Well, we would like to publish some of those comments and questions along with our responses so other readers can benefit from the answers and information. How it works is just about as easy. Simply use the Letters to the Editor web form and select "General questions and comments" for the "regarding" field (note: questions can cover any web related topic). We will periodically go though and publish the best comments and questions to the web site. However, in order to get things started we need to hear from you.

March 28, 2004 at 9:40 AM

Nick Finck

New issue of A List Apart

Issue #175 of A List Apart is out. In this issue Christian Heilmann writes about a simple DOM trick called The Table Ruler that helps guide users when scrolling through large tables. The article is complete with examples. Also in this issue Mark Wyner writes an article about using CSS in email entitled CSS and Email, Kissing in a Tree (note: we tested these solutions on a few email clients, not all of these solutions will work for everyone, testing is the key).

March 27, 2004 at 12:58 PM

Nick Finck

Lost in Design School

Since everyone and their mother has been linking this like they are getting paid for it I thought I would join in: Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School. Pretty funny but oh so true. [first noticed on dezwozhere]

March 27, 2004 at 12:20 PM

Nick Finck

Debunking Nielsen?

Nerija Sinkeviciute-Titus published a great report on Daniel Rosenberg's presentation for BayCHI called Seven Myths of Usability ROI. Mostly some great quotes, but a good read none-the-less. Nevermind that Oracle, though robust, is still one of the hardest systems to use. [from SuperfluousBanter]

March 27, 2004 at 12:11 PM

Nick Finck

Happy Cog redesign

Jeffrey Zeldman announced the redesign of Happy Cog Studios today. It is version 3.0 for the site (code-named "creme"). Along with Zeldman heading up the efforts at Happy Cog he is backed by some of the best people in the business Brian Alvey and most recently Adam Greenfield. Having known Adam for quite some time now, and recently meeting Brian for the first time at SXSW I can say this crew is top notch.

March 26, 2004 at 4:36 PM

Nick Finck

Designing for the Small-Screen

In perhaps what could be one of the last few articles WebMonkey will publish is an article by Heidi Pollock entitled "The End-All Guide to Small-Screen Web-Dev" It talks about the benefits of CSS and XHTML based designs when accessed via PDAs, cell phones and the like. [from Meryl's Notes]

March 25, 2004 at 12:30 PM

Nick Finck

Building Structure

For those of you who are dealing with figuring out ways to better organize information, or perhaps making information easy to find I direct your attention to this great article by Lars Marius Garshol: Metadata? Thesauri? Taxonomies? Topic Maps! [from InfoDesign]

March 25, 2004 at 12:24 PM

Nick Finck

New issue of Digital Web Magazine

In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine columnist David Wertheimer returns from a long hiatus with a great article entitled "Don't Forget to Architect the Home Page." The article includes some great tips on how to finalize the design of your home page. Also this week we are happy to announce that web designer Didier P. Hilhorst has joined the ranks of the redesign staff. We are happy to have Didier helping out with the design and we hope to get things wrapped up pretty soon now. We have also decided to use Basecamp to help manage not only the redesign project but our weekly publishing, editorial calendar, and communication strategy ongoing projects. It's proven to be quite a handy system for streamlining the complicated processes we have to deal with every week. That is it for this week, see you in seven days.

March 24, 2004 at 7:44 PM

Nick Finck

When IA Goes International

Lou Rosenfeld writes a great post about Multilingual, Multinational Information Architecture Design. He has posted the following to the AIfIA list: "[I] Would love to learn what others see as the big challenges and, ideally, would like to begin cataloging what models already exist for designing internationalized architectures." Feel free to add your own comments.

March 23, 2004 at 2:01 PM

Nick Finck

Didier Hilhorst Speaks

Skinnyj has published an excellent interview with interaction designer Didier Hilhorst. As some of you may know, you will be seeing much more Didier and his work on Digital Web Magazine, read the interview to find the hint.

March 23, 2004 at 9:14 AM

Nick Finck

A Call for Volunteer Book and Software Reviewers

Ok, we are officially putting the call out for regular book reviewers and software reviewers. If you like reading web design and web development books or using web design and web development software and enjoy writing we want to hear from you. Benefits of reviewing books or products include a profile page, bio, by-line and free books or software. For more details about what our editorial style is and what other benefits may come your way, please read our Guidelines for Contributors.

March 23, 2004 at 8:41 AM

Nick Finck

The People-Centric Web

As a follow-up from my last post (yes, Eric, that means you will have to read down the page) I wanted to point out that Keith has also posted on the subject of The People-centric Web. The Web is about people and making our lives easier, it's not about showing off how cool of a designer you are or what cool tricks you can do using the right tools, and it is certainly not about just how compliant your code and markup is. All these factor in to the overall product, yes, but the user is the most critical component of a successful web site.

March 22, 2004 at 7:45 PM

Nick Finck

Going Forward in Reverse

Ok, it is time to but an ugly thread to rest and move on. For the past year or so (maybe even 2 years if you are reading certain blogs and sites) all discussion in the web design community has been focused on web standards and CSS. Some of the more experienced web designers are starting to get annoyed, here is a great round-up from Paul Scrivens: "They Are Just Tools Man." I couldn't agree more. I remember some of the hallway conversations from last year's WebVisions event here in Portland. They included the phrase "why do they have a marketing and ROI person up there speaking?" I hate to tell you this, but we are going to do it again this year. If you really understand the main issues on the Web today, you'd ask yourself, "why isn't there more web marketing and ROI people in the web industry?" Food for thought.

March 22, 2004 at 1:36 PM

Nick Finck

New issue of A List Apart

Another new issue of A List Apart is out, issue 174 to be specific. In this issue Caio Chassot writes a great article about Accessible Pop-up Links... not that anyone anywhere should ever use pop-ups, but "Sometimes we have to use pop-ups—so we might as well do them right."

March 19, 2004 at 5:23 PM

Nick Finck

SXSW 2004 presentations, notes and photos

For those who missed it or were unable to attend SXSW this year:

Blogging for Business (summary)
Hi-Fi Design with CSS (1 & 2)
CSS: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly (1, 2, & 3)
Ridiculously Easy Group Forming
The Frontiers of User Experience (PDF)
Interface Design: The Three Little Thingies (PDF)

Ste Grainer Panel: Blogging for Business
Douglas Bowman SxSW CSS Presentations
Tantek Çelik SXSW struggles and triumphs
D. Keith Robinson SXSW and XFN
D. Keith Robinson SXSW Downtime
D. Keith Robinson A Quick SXSW Progress Report
Matthew Mullenweg Have We Met?

PhotoMatt (5 galleries)
JaneForShort (9 pages)
SXSWblog (about 2 pages + photos from previous years)

March 19, 2004 at 12:53 PM

Nick Finck

New issue of Boxes and Arrows

A new issue of Boxes and Arrows is out. In this issue Christina Wodtke writes a great article entitled "Terrible Twos" which covers the second birthday of the publication. Also in this issue various staff members contributed to the IA Summit 2004 Wrapup; Day 1 and Day 2.

March 19, 2004 at 8:41 AM

Nick Finck

New issue of Digital Web Magazine

In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Craig Saila interviews web designer Douglas Bowman of Stopdesign. Craig's questions revolve around the topics of CSS (of course), the Wired redesign, Webmonkey shutting down, Doug's company Stopdesign, and SXSW Interactive 2004 (spring break for web geeks). Keith and I attended the interactive festival in Austin and there is plenty to share. Check the What's New blog to see the list of people we met and what titles they have inherited for the year. Meanwhile, we continue our search for book reviewers and yes, even software reviewers. If you want to find an easy way to get free books or software, let us know. See you next week.

March 18, 2004 at 4:52 PM

Nick Finck

People we met at SXSW 2004

Ok, rather than just posting a standard list of names and links to people I have met, I have decided to give everyone a title of sorts. The titles were developed and given based on a complicated algorithm using darts, sticky notes and newspaper clippings. Without further delay, here is the list, enjoy:

Most anticipated meeting: D. Keith Robinson
Most overdue meeting: Nick Bradbury
Best dressed: Anitra Pavka
Most currently freelancing: Dan Cederholm
Best height: Christopher Schmitt
Best icons: Josh Williams
Best Photographer: Matt Mullenweg
Best creative director glasses: Doug Bowman
Best thinker: Tantek Celik
Best new look for the year: Allison Headley
Most universal business card: Matt May
Best smart-aleck: Simon Willison
Most blind-sighted by Keith: Mark Trammell
Most known but never met: Brian Alvey
Most modest: Dave Shea
Best new face: Kimberly Blessing
Most Illusive: Michael Schmidt
2nd most illusive: Adam Greenfield
Best quasi-suite: Justin Hall
Most independent: Matt Haughey
Best conversationalist: Molly E. Holzschlag
Best Father: Eric A. Meyer
Best Couple: Heather Hesketh & Steve Champeon
Most networked: Hugh W. Forrest
Best vacation shirt: Ian Lloyd
Most happy: James McNally
Best pitcher: Jason Fried
Most informative: Jeffrey Veen
Best Style: Lance Arthur
Best short chat: Susan Kaup (AKA Sooz)
Most on time: Mike Wasylik
Best hat: Leonard Lin
Best bling bling: Jish
Best advocate: Jay Allen
Most inspirational: Kevin Smokler
Best hair: John Halcyon Styn
Best branding: Min Jung Kim
Busiest Person: Anil Dash
Best lurker: Nikolai Nolan
Most friendly: Kevin Wen
Best use of creative text: Ethan Marcotte
Most out of control: Jonas Luster
Best airport conversation: Yvonne Adams
Best greeting: Michael Buffington
Best napper: Wes Felter
Best stealth photo: Jane Wells
Most seen, never met: Craig Newmark
Most regret not meeting: Biz Stone

Did I meet you but you are not on the list? Let me know and I will add you as soon as I have time. Of course, donating some cash would help speed up the process.

March 18, 2004 at 2:49 PM

Nick Finck

Info Design / Architecture Deliverable Schemas

Some time ago Peter Bogaards wrote this great list of IA/ID deliverables complete with definitions, backgrounds, DC elements and references. The piece is entitled "Info Design / Architecture Deliverable Schemas." A bookmark worth keeping.

March 18, 2004 at 7:45 AM

Nick Finck

Digital Web Magazine staff at SXSW

Well, for those of you who missed meeting your favorite Digital Web Magazine staff members, Keith and myself (ok, maybe not your favorite but you know what I mean), Matt Mullenweg as a great photo of Keith and I from Saturday plus several more great photos from the event.

March 18, 2004 at 7:10 AM

Nick Finck

Lightboxing's Latest Card

Veer pits Taylor Tyng against Corey Holms in the latest edition of Lightboxing. Each received the six same visual elements to create a design solution for the concept of "rush". The end result? Two stunning designs.

March 17, 2004 at 2:34 PM

Krista Stevens


Just a reminder for those who are IAs and attending the SXSW Interactive confernece. We will be having a AIFIA F2F in Austin, Texas on Sunday, March 14th after Fray Cafe. I hope to see you there. Here are the details:

It will be held shortly after Fray Cafe at about 9:00 or later on March 14, 2004. Contact me if you plan to attend. We will probably meet at the Fray Cafe and move the party to Club DeVille (about a 2 block walk).

Who Doors are open to AIfIA members and anyone the law allows.
when 9:00pm until we pass out
where We will meet at the Fray Cafe and walk 2 blocks to: Club DeVille, 900 Red River St. Austin 78701, (512)457-0900
Why: Get a chance to meet other AIfIA members and IAs in the community. Maybe even have some good food and drinks while we are at it.

March 12, 2004 at 4:48 PM

Nick Finck

Redesign Case Study

D. Keith Robinson writes a great case study on the redesign of Asterisk. It's always pretty interesting to see how different people go about a redesign, keith lays it all on the table for you to read.

March 11, 2004 at 8:00 PM

Nick Finck

New issue of Digital Web Magazine

In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine Brandon Olejniczak returns to explore an often neglected benefit to accessible Web sites: accessibility not to just humans but to machines such as search engine spiders. The article is entitled "Optimizing Your Chances with Accessibility" and also covers the topic of readership and traffic through accessibility and optimization. Also, I want to remind you that Keith and a handful of Digital Web Magazine staff members and authors will be attending SXSW which starts this Friday in Austin Texas. If you see us around, please introduce yourself to us. Lastly, we are officially putting the call out for regular book reviewers and software reviewers. If you like reading web design and web development books or using web design and web development software and enjoy writing we want to hear from you. See you again next week with some more great articles.

March 10, 2004 at 11:14 PM

Nick Finck

Back to the Past

Ok, so it's about time to address the hot topic of the week. PhotoMatt wants to throw out rotten cabbage, Simon Willison shakes his head in disgust, and Keith asks why. I'll refrain from calling anyone incompetent for the moment, but think about this, what if the video store pulled all of their DVDs and went back to beta? Retro only works in the fashion industry.

March 10, 2004 at 2:29 PM

Nick Finck

How do you edit your blog?

Spoken like a true editor, Keith writes a great post about Personal Blogs and Editing. Long time readers will know that my posts are filled with typos so the method of editing that works best for me is often pounding my head on the keyboard a few times and then correcting the error.

March 10, 2004 at 2:20 PM

Nick Finck

Defensive Design

One of my favorite sites that I frequently visit which I always seem to find something interesting to read about how to design web pages and how to not design web pages is Design Not Found. Well, as you know, 37signals is the crew behind that site. They are also responsible for the recent release of the book Defensive Design for the Web. I can't wait to get my hands on one and slap someone around with its 264 paperback pages. Anyway, check it out.

March 9, 2004 at 9:06 PM

Nick Finck

Coming Soon: Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook

Dan Cederholm of SimpleBits fame has written a book based upon the SimpleQuiz series of web standards conundrums. Due out in June 2004, Web Standards Solutions: The Markup and Style Handbook explores mutliple ways to handle markup situations when building with web standards and the pros and cons of each method.

March 8, 2004 at 2:27 PM

Krista Stevens

Version 2 Voting Underway

All told, there were 33 redesigns of Project Gutenberg entered into the February edition of Version 2. You can view the entries and vote for your favourite. The March redesign candidate is the Cooperative Bug Isolation Project. Your have until 11:59 p.m. EST, on March 31st, 2004 to get your entry in. Good luck!

March 8, 2004 at 2:21 PM

Krista Stevens

Style Master 3.5 Released, Reviewed

Westciv has recently released Style Master 3.5, a WYSIWYG CSS editor for Windows and OS X. Didier Hilhorst provides a brief review over at SuperfluousBanter.

March 5, 2004 at 9:56 AM

Krista Stevens

New Issue of A List Apart

Issue 173 of A List Apart is out and includes some great articles; CSS Sprites: Image Slicing's Kiss of Death by Dave Shea, and Zebra Tables by David F. Miller. For those who don't know Zebra tables are basically coloring every other row in a table... this is intended to replicate the old fashioned greenbar paper and improve readability of large amounts of data.

March 5, 2004 at 8:31 AM

Nick Finck

New issue of Digital Web Magazine

In this week's issue of Digital Web Magazine our very own Editor in Chief, D. Keith Robinson writes about A Recipe for Learning Web Design. This article is but one small step for Keith's mission to help educate others on what it takes to get into the field of web design. When Keith came to be about writing this article for Digital Web Magazine, he said he wanted to write something he would like to read if he was trying to get into Web design... something practical. And that is just what this article accomplishes. I imagine we will see more articles of this nature from Keith in the not to far future. Lastly, the What's New blog is slowly making the transition to the home page, please update your bookmarks. See you next week with another great article.

March 3, 2004 at 10:12 PM

Nick Finck

Paid Search?

Ok, some of you may have been following the story about Yahoo's paid search and some of you may have no idea what's going on. Thankfully people like Tim Bray help cleaify the situation in this post: ongoing ? Yahoo Paid Search, Translated. Pretty funny, but also pretty sad at the same time. This is one of the main factors as to why I don't use Yahoo to search for anything.

March 3, 2004 at 11:38 AM

Nick Finck

Scott Benish

Scott Benish, a very talented Portland local, has updated his portfolio. For those who don't remember, Scott was once a co-owner of Dreaming America... the same guys who published Ranger Magazine. Anyway, he has done several projects since then and his work continues to impress me. Go check it out.

March 2, 2004 at 8:55 PM

Nick Finck


Keith has a published a great piece on his Disconnected Thoughts On Outsourcing. I think he means "Offshoring" as outsourcing could be the shop one block over. At any rate it was just the other night that Dateline ran a story on this very issue and it seems to be gaining interest in the political realm of things. I think my biggest concern is that it does not appear to be a symptom of just the Internet and computer industries, it is spreading on to industries such as accounting and even management.

March 2, 2004 at 12:33 PM

Nick Finck

2004 IA Summit in Austin

A whole bunch of blog notes and presentations are springing up from the IA Summit. Here's a brief list:

Thomas Vander Wal
Dan Saffer
IA Summit Group Blog
Jeff Lash
James Spahr

Faceted Browse J-Flow
Myths about Taxonomies and Dublin Core (PDF)
Site Traffic Report poster (PDF)

March 2, 2004 at 12:19 PM

Nick Finck

10 Usability Principles

If you are looking for a great elevator pitch (well, slightly longer than that) for usability here is one of the better ones: 10 Usability Principles to Guide you Through the Web Design Maze. Though I dent to disagree with numer 3 on the list, IA is not usability. [from Column Two]

March 2, 2004 at 11:38 AM

Nick Finck

Media Temple

via Ad Packs