TAG: User-Centered Design

Web Sites and Window Width

Jeremy Keith finds the new alistapart design utilizing a 1024 pixel fixed-width layout too wide. (I wrote up my initial thoughts a few days ago)

It seems that designers creating a 1024 pixel wide design are making a certain assumption …something like “screens are continually getting bigger, so our designs can get bigger, too”. But it’s also an assumption that most folks want to browse using a single window, and have that window take up the entirety (or close to it) of the available screen.

But I agree with Jeremy. I have 15 inches of screen to work with, which is plenty wide enough to handle a 1024 design, but I never make windows as big as I can. So there is a small horizontal scrollbar in the new redesign when I view it, but I just deal with it. The new two-finger scrolling feature of my Powerbook also alleviates a little frustration with this. Jeremy says he will deal with it by creating his own stylesheet.

In fact, in recent weeks I’ve been seriously considering buying a new Apple display, with 20 or more inches of viewing capacity, large enough for an even bigger design than the new Alistapart one. But the reason is not so that I can stretch one window and make it as big as possible, the reason is so I can have two windows at ~800 pixels wide.

So I wonder if, instead of seeing everyone adopting a wider fixed-width design, we’ll instead see a comfort level forming with slightly smaller, liquid windows. There is, after all, an upper limit to everything, except plasma TVs, of course. Perhaps we’ve seen the beginnings of it with this new design. And, perhaps other folks have the same opinion that I do: that two windows are better than one.

So, what’s your window habit?

Update: Jon Hicks has an interesting discussion: Is 1024 OK? about this with comments from the designer, Jason Santa Maria. He makes the same point that I make, that not everyone is going to maximize their window. Also, read this quick interview with the designer.

Just goes to show you that we’re all still trying to figure this thing out.

ALA 4.0: A Few Thoughts

Alistapart, the venerable (hey, Mike Davidson used venerable, too) web design magazine started by Jeffrey Zeldman, has been updated to version 4.0.

A few thoughts as I peruse their design and new articles:

  • It’s beautiful. Just Pretty. This is a design that I would be really proud of. Jason Santa Maria takes a color pallete I love and adds little details like the black seal for a wonderful affect (update: JSM points out the old articles are grey. So now I *really* love the color pallete, as it gives a sense of home)
  • I wonder if changing the domain name will hurt traffic like it did for Keith Robinson (update: that was just temporary until the DNS propagated – great, if not intentional, advertising!)
  • Ruby on Rails, the platform underlying it all, is the cat’s meow
  • Comment feeds are now standard in WordPress installations. I’m in the process of adding them (along with other things) to my own hacked templates
  • We need more voices like those at Alistapart and Digital Web. Nothing is quite like sitting down to a new edition of those two publications
  • I really hope they start publishing on a regular schedule again
  • It looks like nobody’s figured out categories/tags yet. Here’s another shot at it
  • Jeffrey should write more. Just the tone he writes in is wonderful to read
  • Why is the layout left-aligned, and the comments paged?
  • Joe Clark is curmudgeon-like, and I mean that in a good way
  • Interesting use of “user science” as a top-level category
  • In Safari, when you roll over an article title that wraps, there is an interesting affect
  • What is the meaning of Semantician? :)
  • The bar is now higher

Instant Tryability: the Big Advantage for Web-based Apps

Update:Added attention/tryability graph. To follow up on yesterday’s post: application innovation is happening on the Web at a much faster pace than it is on the desktop, allowing people to switch away from Windows to their OS of choice. Driven mainly by Google and Yahoo using open APIs, this innovation is showing that web-based apps […]

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Interface Elements for Providing Feeds and Having People Subscribe to Them

There are many options for creating an interface element that points to your syndication feed. Below are some of the most popular ones: Plain old XML icon The original, orange XML button popularized by Dave Winer Part of Jeremy Hedley’s reworked buttons (my personal favorites) XML A CSS-only XML icon Feed Technology Specific RSS Orange […]

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Deciding What Features to Implement: Let Features Emerge From User Behavior

Part two of the series “Deciding What Features to Implement”. In this edition I observe a powerful new class of features that emerge from the aggregated behavior of a web site’s users: emergent features.

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Controlled Vocabularies Cut Off the Long Tail

Controlled vocabularies are, by their very definition, exclusive. The Long Tail paradigm, however, relies on inclusion. So, doesn’t that leave us with an easy choice?

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Deciding what Features to Implement: Go for the Win-Win.

Deciding what features to implement on a site is not easy. It’s not that designers lack ideas, we often have many of them: too many to implement. Somehow we have to sift through these ideas and figure out which ones are the best ones to implement in the scope of the project and which ones aren’t worth the time and effort. Here’s one way how.

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Design Challenges

What’s your biggest design challenge?

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I’ve Heard of Folksonomies. Now How do I Apply them to My Site?

Tons of conversations about folksonomies. Little talk about how to apply them to your site. What gives?

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Controlled Vocabularies and Folksonomies: Why Change is Good.

In my last two posts, I’ve been hinting at why I think folksonomies like del.icio.us work: they are harnessing user behavior, rather than predicting or dictating it. The key to this is the ability of the folksonomy to change over time, an ability that controlled vocabularies often lack. In this post I’m going to explain further what I mean by that.

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