It is always nice to think about the way we use our tools and lean on them so much for the design process… I know first-hand that in certain software environments, you really need to visualize the solution for a developer so they have a snapshot to code towards. Would love to meet someone who does web design for a living but can’t / won’t use Photoshop.
This fluid search form works well with any resolution and is the first working example of
that I’ve encountered in the wild that’s easily translatable across platforms.
Also, a sweet responsive schema for accordion-style pagination to full-width resolution of content divs. I’m going to try and incorporate this into the next >250 word subpage I need to make for a client, as it makes total sense for the user while staying semantically relevant in the code.
When I hear the argument for less buttons and more gestures, it always feels a little like we’re designing for a future that might be different than right now. How does your audience know to interact? Should they know already? Are you willing to teach them? All good questions to ask before pushing towards gestures as a replacement for UI elements.
Interesting viewpoint about how many stylesheets should be in a css document. Also, some interesting sidenotes about CSS preprocessors and what you serve to the client in their loading of a webpage. Not sure if every site can use this schema, but most all sites can have their stylesheets broken into Global, Sectional, and Page-Specific schemas.
If you haven’t guessed from the title, this is a post about Apple retina displays and a few of the techniques we can actually use for coping with the aftermath of images twice as large for mobile iDevices and the inherent speed problem with the mobile networks where we leech our digital lifeblood of bandwidth.
So What’s the Problem, Huh?
Let’s get some of the formalities out of the way before you tune out - I’m the first guy in line for a new iProduct. I pay attention to all of the Apple conferences and press days. In other words, I like the products Apple puts out. That said, I’m also the quickest to hop on twitter and gripe about what’s not working. Remember antenna-gate 2010? Yeah, I do too. That said, this isn’t a bash-Apple post, per-se.
I love the crisp retina display and how pretty (most) things look on it. Like all designers in 2012, I’ve become accustomed to making the responsive stylesheet adjustments and made sure the logo isn’t fuzzy. I’ve yet to complain about the high-res displays on mobile devices because there’s a sweet spot for every client when it comes to speed vs beauty - I’ve been just chugging along in happiness with many of the compromises and fixes that designers and developers have come up with to deal more gracefully with big images.
As things have it, this false veil of security will fall away with the current iPad AND the soon-to-launch 15” Macbook Pro donning the super-dense displays. Being a designer, coding for this is a double edged sword - on one hand you want to include the super-high-res images so that the design is still flawless when zoomed in on these fancy new monitors. On the other hand, you don’t want to make your clients deal with loading a 750kb background image and double-sized images for everything else while over shoddy 3G on your iPad.
Fix #1: Check Your Format, Silly Goose
When was the last time you were given a monochrome (single color) logo or brand mark to put on a website? Every 5th one, right? Now ask yourself when the last time you tried making it into a .SVG file… not quite as often, eh? That’s what I thought! The format that you use is super-important, especially if you can use elements that are vector like SVG - it’ll look good even when zoomed to 500%!
You’re a web designer. You need transparent images. .GIF files don’t cut it, I understand. But have you tried using PNG8+A (it’s PNG8 with an Alpha channel)? Fireworks can do it (you finally have a reason to use it!!) and iOS supports it. The best part? I’ve seen size savings of at least 50% on large backgrounds I’ve tested. Don’t take my word for it - others have testedthis with similar results.
Fix #2: Encode Like a BOSS
In case you were wondering, the new iPad has a display resolution of 2048×1536 (over 3 megapixels if you keep track of that kind of thing), and an uncompressed RGBAimage of this size takes 12.5MB. Holy cow is right!
Using tools like PngCrush or ImageOptim to really compress the final .PNG files may seem frivolous, but it’s amazing how much more snappy the site loads when every image is completely optimized. Especially with double-size backgrounds, you’ll need every kilobyte back that you can get.
Fix #3: Look Ma, No Images! Just @font-face Icon Sets
That’s right kids, soon you too will make a font set that has ONLY the vector icons you need for your website. Color changes, scale changes, perfect on zoom, and the ability to manipulate text-shadow and other font properties is really appealing, right?
Check out my favorite library for this, Iconic. It’s open source (GitHub) and is a tour-de-force (over 170 icons) of everything you would need for a standard website. Size of the total library in .ttf? Try 18kb on for size. Go ahead and start using this - it’s a great method! (side note: People are experimenting with this for charts as well, but it’s not quite in the wild for us just yet.)
Thanks for making it this long! There’s still a long way to go before we have smart ways to really serve everyone the content they really need 100% of the time, but with these tactics you can use RIGHT NOW, we can at least do our clients due diligence to battle the resolution and bandwidth issues that Retina displays are causing when using traditional web development methods.
This was too hilarious not to post — from when I was Head of SEO at cj Advertising and got solicited often for linkbuilding. The following is an actual process that the “professional” said they he / we needed to follow for guaranteed success.
1. Pick ONE keyword you’d like to rank for. Some of my sites target a lot of different keywords but I focus one cycle on one keyword only.
2. Write and post a keyword optimised article to the money site (OPTIONAL but highly recommended)
3. Write ANOTHER article, preferably 500+ words to improve your success rate with AMR. I’ll call this article the promo article. Hand-spin the article with the help of TheBestSpinner to 70+% unique but PRESERVE THE KEYWORD. I always make sure article is well spun and can be read by a human. No, one click spinning is NOT good enough, sorry. The idea is to write the same quality article you’d put on your money site.
4. Write as many titles for the article as you can (THREE as a minimum). Then spin them with TheBestSpinner and combine together so you have a multi-level spun title.
5. Make a video off the article. I simply use paid version of Animoto and put some free images from Dreamstime together with some key phrases from the article. I then cut Animoto logo with Sony Vegas HD and also add watermark with money site link.
6. Make PowerPoint presentation and PDF off the article. For PDF I use paid version of Zinepal. Give it a go, it’s very cool. Make sure each page of your PDF and PowerPoint presentation contains links to the money site.
7. Upload video to YouTube. In description field use your money site URL and some descriptive text preferably containing your keyword. It should look something like this (URL first, then description).
hxxp://www.moneysite.c0m This is a cool video about keyword. Watch it now to be totally shocked and awed.
8. Upload both PowerPoint and PDF to SlideShare and Scribd. Again, use URL of the money site in description and add some text (DIFFERENT for each file)
9. This is a hard part. MANUALLY submit spun version of your article together with embedded YouTube video to the following Web 2.0 sites: Squidoo, Hubpages, Weebly, Wikia, Wetpaint, Wikispaces, Posterous, Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogspot, Bukisa, Zimbio, Skyrock, MyLivePage and any other Web 2.0 site not supported by SENuke that you know. As a minimum I submit to Squidoo, Hubpages, Weebly, Wikia, Wetpaint, Posterous, Tumblr, Zimbio, Blogspot, and Bukisa. Yes, Hubpages, Wetpaint, Wikispaces, Wordpress, and Blogspot are supported by SENuke but I still submit to them manually because… THE KEY IS TO EMBED VIDEO!
I use TWO links in each article, both pointing to a random page on a money site or to the root of the money site (I rotate URLs using spinner syntax).
If you have time I’d recommend the following additional white hat submissions. Write three more completely unique promo articles and use one on Bukisa, another on InfoBarrel and the last on Quondio. Bukisa accepts well spun content but they kinda picky. InfoBarrel and Quondio are unique content nazis. Remember to EMBED VIDEO.
I usually just submit spun article to Bukisa and ignore InfoBarrel and Quondio. However I have Quondio account and I am going to start using it for my blog (they charge one off $5 fee for the privilege to post there).
10. If you have blog network subscription like UAW or ArticleRanks, post your spun promo article there together with YouTube video. I post to ArticleRanks and set distribution to 250. I’ve tested AMA, MyArticleNetwork, SEOLinkVine, FreeTrafficSystem and they are all crap because they have NO quality control whatsoever. Articles that get circulated in these networks are poorly spun garbage. The only two article distribution networks that have good content that I tested are ArticleRanks and UAW. I receive trackbacks from ArticleRanks blogs and they are mostly 0 PR blogs with good content (no poorly spun garbage).
Similar to Web 2.0, I use TWO links in each article, both pointing to a random page on a money site or to the root of the money site.
11. Blast promo article with SENuke to all Web 2.0 sites it supports excluding those you’ve posted to manually.
12. Take YouTube link, SlideShare and Scribd links and all Web 2.0 links where you posted your article manually and with SENuke. You will use this list several times.
13. Use BMD to bookmark this list of sites using bookmarking sites that come with BMD (100+ sites). Enable CAPTCHA solving in BMD for this submission. Ping the bookmarks with BMD after you finish.
14. Make RSS feed of this list and ping it. To save me time I wrote a script that makes RSS feeds from my URLs and pings it. You can use links2rss and then upload a feed to your web hosting account and then ping it with SENuke or BMD. Or, you can use Linklicious paid subscription. I DON’T like Linklicious because they turn all your links into 301 redirects that’s why I wrote my own script.
15. Use SENuke to blast RSS feed to RSS directories.
16. Prepare resource box for the promo article. I ONLY use TWO links in the resource box when I blast article with AMR. One is a random URL from the list of Web 2.0 sites I’ve submitted my article to (including video, PPT, and PDF). Another is direct link to the root of the money site.
I usually write two to three version of the resource box and spin them together using TheBestSpinner. Here is how my resource box usually looks like.
Discover ways to have great results with stuff nowadays. Grab my [product name review]and discover proper way to do stuff. Simply click here to visit hxxp://www.moneysite.c0m
[product name review] and hxxp://www.moneysite.c0m are links.
17. Blast article with AMR. I successfully registered on 3000+ sites and each submission goes successfully to around 1500+ sites. Out of it I get at least 200-300+ auto-approved articles. Some articles get approved later on. I have received trackbacks from AMR submissions even after 6 weeks (it took them 6 weeks to approve my articles). I didn’t pay attention to where I submit and I was kinda surprised to find some of the articles I’ve blasted with AMR approved by EzineArticles
18. Collect the list of the approved articles. Make RSS feed from it and ping it with SENuke or BMD. Then, blast this feed to RSS directories with SENuke.
19. Use BMD to bookmark all approved articles on 1000+ shitty Scuttle/Pligg/PHPDug sites. The goal is to have ONE ARTICLE to be bookmarked at least on ONE bookmaking SITE. Don’t try to bookmark EACH article on EACH bookmaking site. It’ll take weeks
I harvested my own list of 1000+ Scuttle/Pligg/PHPDug sites with Scrapebox. I deleted all the sites that require CAPTCHA to submit a bookmark from the list (account creation is OK, it’s one off process).
Make sure you DISABLE CAPTCHA and select an option to skip submission if CAPTCHA is detected. Otherwise you will burn through your DeCaptcher credit pretty quickly and the whole submission will take a lot of time because BMD sometimes reports that CAPTCHA is not required for submission when it really is.
20. Collect all Web 2.0 URLs and article URLs and blast them with Xrumer to 5000 forums. You have a few options here. First is to rotate links to money site, Web 2.0 and articles (I did it on 1+ year old domain). Second is to blast to Web 2.0 and articles (I did it on a brand new domain). Third is to blast to articles only (I did it on a brand new domain too). This is a small 5K blast because it is only one promotional cycle and I do many.
I haven’t tested it yet but I have a feeling that two Xrumer blasts will be very effective, one to the money site and second to Web 2.0 and articles. I don’t own Xrumer yet so I just order blasts on forums. When I get my own Xrumer I’ll run the tests properly.
21. Collect all forum profile URLs and spam the shit out of them with Scrapebox. I used a list of around 60K auto-approve URLs that I collected using various sources.
22. (OPTIONAL) Use Scrapebox to spam the shit out of Web 2.0 and articles.
23. (OPTIONAL) Use Scrapebox to spam the shit out of money site, if you dare.
I did both 22 and 23 on 1+ year old domain and 22 only on brand new domain. I didn’t dare to spam the shit out of brand new domain directly
I NEVER LOST ANY RANKING OR GET SITE DEINDEXED WITH THIS METHOD. EVER.
If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. But you will get a good diversified link network from the day one. Search around and you’ll see people who take shortcuts are whining their sites disappeared from index after the blast or get deindexed or whatever. This method is all about building a good link network and tools like SENuke, AMR and BMD are just used to save time and manual labour.
SOME RANDOM TIPS
I use one set of SENuke accounts per niche.
Open as many accounts as you can on 100+ main BMD sites. The more the better. You submissions will be faster and your accounts stay alive longer.
Pinging a lot of links with BMD takes time. I usually ping everything in one go and let it run overnight while I sleep.
Don’t worry about your Xrumer/Scrapebox links getting indexed. Let Google find it. It works kinda like drip feed this way. They will and DO appear as backlinks in Market Samurai over time.
If one point has been driven home more than any other over the past ten years, it’s been the trend towards increasing options. Regardless what media channel you’re talking about, the face of technology, consumable media, and social interaction has morphed into a billion-headed hydra. TiVo has given way to theYouTubes and Hulus. Myspace users rabidly jump ship to Facebook, while early adopters of Twitter are now branching to Path and other alternatives. With the pace of innovation continually quickening and the attention spans of users shortening by the hour, what is the digital marketing world supposed to do? In a word, we need focus more than ever. But what do we focus on?
The Tale of the QR Code
Let’s use QR (Quick Response) codes as an example. From billboards to movie posters, from product packaging to coupons, they have become a part of the culture in the East. 6-7 years ago, QR codes were supposed to also take America by storm, mounting their assault on legs gained in the East, in Japan, China, and Korea especially. The few American marketers that took QR codes seriously and started including them as a part of their packaging (I still have a few albums with QR codes on the back of the jewel case) soon realized that Americans just weren’t ready for these handy, quirky looking barcodes. Much in the way that Americans never truly adopted Infrared linking in phones and laptops, the QR code has mostly lived in Asia and to some extent Europe. Now that 25% of all Americans have smartphones, more and more QR codes are starting to pop up. The technology has been driving the preferred medium of communication.
So what lesson can be learned from the QR code? “Early Adopters” may have jumped the gun on including these codes as a feature of their U.S. marketing plans, but what pushed them make the decision to include QR as part of their campaigns? Just because they could? Could the space and attention used by the QR code have been used more effectively? How much of their target U.S. demographic even knew what QR codes were 7 years ago? All these questions point us back to the f-word: FOCUS.
“Me-too” is the Anti-Focus
Extrapolated across the entirety of the digital realm, we can make a list of questions to ask ourselves about each channel we choose to target. Let’s pick on Twitter for another example. Just because you CAN sign up for a Twitter account, does that mean you really need one? What value does it add to your campaign? What is your plan for engagement beyond just “having an account”? Are you tweeting anything of value? Can you justify having an area for a Twitter stream on your site? If you can’t answer these questions, you probably don’t need a Twitter account for your product or service, or you need to spend more resources developing a holistic plan for social engagement through Twitter.
Businesses are often guilty of riding the “me-too” wave, either because a competitor has a service or feature or because they read a blog about the next “great new thing”. Reactionary planning is one of the most toxic ways to form a competitive strategy. If you want something because someone else already has it, you will perpetually be playing follow-the-leader. Focus on your core assets and develop a strategy for those channels that hit your demographic the broadest. If a significant portion of your customers / users are on Twitter, by all means be there! Brainstorm ways to engage clients with your product or services and focus on executing them! Just don’t fall in line behind everyone else in your industry… That is, unless you don’t mind always finishing second to someone else’s focused efforts!
Recently, I had a coworker come to me and ask if their project looked good enough to go to the client. I replied “Just clean up the typography in the footer.” This was met with a blank stare. They had no idea what I wanted done. This prompted some introspection: What makes for good typography? In this post, I will be outlining some basic rules-of-thumb for the non-design savvy.
1) Type on the web needs to be legible.
You’d think that this would be a no-brainer… but then you’d be wrong. Make sure that your color choices for foreground and background work well together. Try to keep dark text on a light background for ease of reading, and make sure that text is large enough to be read by the majority of your users.
2) Serifs and Sans-serifs are best buddies.
Have big elegant serif headers in a typeface like Caslon, Garamond, or Georgia? Couple them with a nice clean sans-serif like Trade Gothic, Helvetica.
3) The devil is in the details.
Imagine a sunny Sunday afternoon and you’re cruising down the highway. Top back on your convertible and everything is right in the world… until you pass by a billboard that just looks off. Nothing is misspelled… but those letters… some seem to close together and some seem too far apart. DOH! They left the standard kerning!
It’s been said that the difference between success and failure is a slim line. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the difference between mediocre and great can be found in the attention to leading & kerning. Proper use of type can really set the tone for the rest of the piece and is more subconsciously pleasing to the end user / viewer / consumer.
Following a few simple rules of type can take you and your projects a long way. What are some more basic rules of type? Leave a comment to share it with me!
Everyone knows what WordPress is… blogging is synonymous with this particular brand of CMS. Though I’ve used it for a few years now with projects and other things, I am amazed – still – at the flexibility.
I learned how to skin the blogs and optimize for usability, but with looking at the latest updates there is almost no need anymore. Install a plug-in. Do you need to dive into the PHP files and add some includes for your own areas and subnavigations? Nope. Use a widget. Dynamic frontpage? There is a widget for that too. The truth I have come to is that it is hard to not to use it as a backend for any client site that needs a CMS OR just searchable, organized, and indexed pages.
I have been kicking around the idea of doing a non-profit site that illustrates, documents, and gives a brief history of several different buildings in downtown Nashville – hopefully bringing awareness to thearchitectural history of Nashville that is fading more quickly every year. Let’s use this as an example of why WordPress is so valuable.
The case is starting to get stronger in our example. Now, search engine indexing and result rankings are naturally higher with blogs. Image and content management is a snap with the newest Admin panel. SEO plug-ins can boost your rank and page views while making widgitized areas is helpful for dynamically managing what you would have to hand-code. The fact that you can change the appearance of the site with a click is also HUGE! How painless would it be to transition a standard xhtml site? About as painless as laying on a bed of needles.
Wordpress, you are both a savior with your content management and a hassle to go through the extra steps. Maybe one day you will be even easier. Until then, I can deal.
The Circle of Life: Destruction of Physical Advertising and the Domanance of Digital
(WARNING: the following is personal speculation)
I’m not Orwellian by nature, but the past couple of nights I’ve had these dreams. Twenty years in the future when everyone is doing more with less. How is this applicable to Ad Boards?
As I see it, the ink-and-paper ad-board of today is on its way out. Technologies like rfid, bluetooth 2.0, digital ad-boards, and wifi clouds are proving promising for a future of personalized advertisements tailored to our current trends and needs. I see wireless as the way we will carry our info with us. Pretty soon, we won’t even have to plug in our jump drives. Much like the keys of high end autos, we can just leave them in our pockets. We will tether with whatever machine we are working with. We can use tech like retina scanning to avoid data theft. Our wireless thumb drives will hold our bookmarks as well as our recent net browsing history. Tags from jumpdrive data can be pulled by scanners to see what we’ve been browsing lately, and change the ad-boards as we walk/drive by.
Say I’ve been browsing I Love Typography and read an article on slab-serifs. It can then take this data to post paid-for ads by type foundries that would have the same tags as the article I read. So that ad for the jewelry store that I wouldn’t bat an eye for is now dynamically changed to advertise the typeface Boton. I am WAY more likely to stop walking to read this ad than, say, the jewelery store ad.
We see the beginnings of this today, with targeted ads like Google AdWords and the like. Ads that are using this concept of browser history to determine what to advertise. What would have to change for this to come to life? The technology is there.
Can’t you see our mobile phones becoming the centralized hub of everything we do? With enough flash memory, the sky is the limit. iPhones are already a converged media platform where people do everything from browse internet to watch movies to keep contacts to talk to someone. It only makes sense that all the wireless thumb drive I mentioned earlier will be our mobile data devices. Since 3g, many streaming services are possible. We don’t have to have all of our data or preferences on our phone: it can be streamed to it live. You can tether with a workstation and then have everything setup the way you want it. Your bookmarks. Your mouse and cursor settings. Your brightness and gamma settings for different monitors.
This puts us into an age where everything is decentralized and data is anywhere and everywhere. It is only a matter of time before affordable global internet is available, and this unleashes a realm of completely new marketing opportunities while destroying some.
To channel Disney’s Lion King, I guess it is the marketing circle of life.