Tag Archives: CSS

SXSW Day 4: Full Day Fanatacism

Okay, so I kicked this one off a little later than usaul, but that’s because I logged in the fullest day so far here at SXSW.  The official tally is 6 panels, 2 happy hours, and 1 wet party.  I’m a little under the weather this morning but that’s due to the massive amount of stuff that I and my lovely girlfriend did and the rain storm that hit us last night.  Don’t fret, however, we are taking it easy this morning and heading back down to the convention center to try and make a couple of more panels and keynotes on the last day of the Interactive portion of SXSW.  There’s much to go over, so I’ll try to make it condensed.

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Quick Book Review: Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think


I just put down the second edition of Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” so I’m putting down some quick thoughts about the book as a whole. For those of you that don’t know, web usability is a big topic when designing, developing, and marketing a website. Steve Krug comes from a background of years of consulting in this field and put a condensed version of what he has learned in “Don’t Make Me Think.” The book is divided into 3 main sections, usability on the whole site, usability on the home page, and how to test for usability. All said Krug does a good job of summarizing what all it takes to increase website usability while leaving the door open for more exploration.

The title alone is what someone who reads this should walk away form this book. “Don’t Make Me Think” is more of a command than just a title. When people blaze through websites, they move at a pace faster than normal conversation. Where you should choose your words wisely while talking with someone (especially someone important), you don’t have the luxury of choosing words on the fly when presenting a web page to someone. It is the responsibility of the website to make it as easy as possible from the beginning to avoid any confusion. Confusion slows people down, which will lead them to other websites.

The first part of the book talks about website usability as whole. Krug breaks it down to about 6 different parts of the page where confusion can creep. Some of them made sense and some of them were gotchas I haven’t thought of. I came away with two concepts. First, keep things simple and consistent across the whole site. Second, make the site look like some version of a tabbed catalog or book. This makes more sense when developing a business site, but the concept can be used for other purposes. Essentially, a crisp clean book with easy to search and indexed tabs will make the most of what your target audience wants.

We shoot on to the second part of the book where Krug throws that out of the window and talks about the home page. Krug says that the home page can have a different look from the rest of the site because of its welcome mat mentality. To me that meant it’s the cover of the book or catalog to flip through, and then some. You need tell them what it is and how to dive deeper, but give just enough shine to lure them away from other books. Here Krug makes exceptions to the rules, making them good rules.

The last part of the book talks about how to perform duct tape usability testing. From his experience, he maps out the hardcore way to sample a user base and record interactions with a web page for top notch results. Then, much like this book, he runs over the quick and dirty way to get comparable results with just a camera and an office. All that’s really needed is to openly discern what type of natural browsing behavior someone exhibits when hitting the website the first time. I haven’t really thought about web usability testing before, so getting a glimpse of both sides of the spectrum really help in determining where I can apply usability testing to my projects.

Out of the whole book, the part where I most identify was the downright silly arguments bred from design suggestions or decisions. Believe or not, I have been privy to some absolutely ridiculous arguments. The classic examples he provides, including the ‘technical issue’ trump card, have all been played out in front of me. I may have even dealt some out myself. The point that’s made here applies to my trials and meeting tribulations. The focus of the website should be geared toward the target audience and not one’s own beliefs. The context and content should always aim for the target audience. This is where Krug uses usability test to figure out if the site works or not. Leave it up to strangers, not someone who’s had a hand in the whole development process.

Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” is a great read if you into making you website super user friendly and therefore super cool. If you have an afternoon pluck down and cull out the basics. The concepts within will help catch any low hanging fruit (which he suggests throughout the whole book) while not wasting any of your time building a site. Krug does gloss over some topics like Cascading Style Sheets, but that’s a monster topic on its own. Regardless, pick up this book if you want exposure to solid design principles, amateur or professional alike.

The Pre is in the Palm of my Hand


Coming in a little late than the rest of the pack is my Palm Pre review.  Hey I was too busy playing with it, er, analyzing it to the best of my abilities so I can give a fair handshake to this polished stone looking device.  We are going to cover the hardware side of things.   We are going to cover the software side of things.  Up and downs, what’s good and what’s not, and what we have to look forward to are all topics that I will cover.  Oh, yeah, the massive cell phone search ended.  I have a Palm Pre.

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Cell Phone Search Update

Old Cellphone

On St. Patrick’s Day, most of the web is teeming over the announcement of the iPhone 3.0 SDK and I figured that it was time to update my cell phone search.  It’s been a couple of months since I first talked about my search and some things have changed.  I still don’t know what to go for yet, but the last revelations from Apple, Palm, HTC, and Blackberry have helped me figure out where to aim when I finally pull the trigger.  Oh and by the way, the contract is now month to month.

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While We Get Settled In, Let’s Git Down To Business

I’m still working with what to bang out here at hoketronics.net.  Long term wise, I’m looking to integrate some social media profiles I have floating around in the name of consolidation.  Also, I’ll look into implementing Open ID using hopefully some WordPress plugin magic. The content needs to be filled in as well.  Look for some pages to crop up.  Also, I’ll be testing out designs on the fly so if it breaks, please be patient, it will be all good real soon. But that’s for this site.

I’m working on another site, http://www.kccollegegameday.com, to help show my love for college football.  I first turned it out last year when a friend of mine and myself needed a reason to go watch college football every week out at some sports bar establishment.  That idea quickly turned into a website.  By mean quickly, I mean I hit up GoDaddy, registered the name, did the one click install from their scripting site, setup emails/accounts, searched and installed a free template, and blasted out an announcement.  The site could use some refreshing almost as bad as this one does.

Really, it’s just minor ticks that need improved.  I really dig the color scheme but some of the style is just not lining up correctly.  A great example is the bullet points.  If a big point lands, it will center in the middle and look off.  Chances are I’m going to customize the current template, much like this open source base one here.  So look for some additions at that.  There’s also some rotating image header script that’s piquing my interest.

Backend wise, I mentioned that it was a one click WordPress install.  Welp, working with the new release here, I’ve decided to begin work on upgrading WordPress on KCCGD.  Right now, I’m weighing two options.  First, I can roll out the complete package and run an update script to bring the old database/code up to the current release.  Or I can research about using one instance of code for multiple blogs.  I haven’t figured out which one, but will talk about the decision and experience soon.

All of this work needs to be tracked and I’m in the middle of getting back into habit of revision control.  I used CVS way back in the day at one of my K-State jobs and have heard of Git, Subversion, and Mercurial.  I’ve used Git in a limited fashion at work for some Python projects, but have yet to taste Subversion or Mercurial.  More than likely, I’ll be doing something other than Git as a reason to learn new software.  What is the best version control software for websites?  Maybe the first step is to see what WordPress uses for their version control.  At any rate, I’ll be talking about what route I go with that in the near future.  Until then, check out KC College Gameday and let me know what you think.