Norty Pig Version 6

February 16th, 2005

Well from my reckoning its version six - Norty Pig. Minimalist, slightly interactive, featuring my digital photography in a small random fade in banner, xhtml 1.0 with css, tableless layout as per usual. Keep an eye on the variation of images as I still have to increase the number of images in the array… less boxey perhaps or just a smaller box? Is my left brain slowly waking up?

Project New

February 15th, 2005

Kevin Leitch is offering up a great resource for the new web designer or designers new to the web standards approach in the form of a course called Project New. Issue One is out at the moment so its a good time to have a look if you’re one who’s never taken the big step out of tag soup. I really can’t encourage you enough.

That said I note the comments on several well known standards blogs recently about some of us bloggers not offering original content and simply referring to links - ie other peoople’s original content, so I’m tentatively putting up Project New in the hope I won’t be stoned or summarily castrated by my fellow designers here. By original content I must add that its nearly all been said before and if only one of us can say it once then its time we stopped blogging here and now. I guess its up to you, the blog reader, audience, purveyor of electronic comment. I hope the links I do suggest lead budding and intermediate web designers on a course to better information, simple word of mouth.

fluxx, Brother Jones and Rammstein

February 12th, 2005

On the front end of sites I like on this day is fluxx by BJ Cook, a subscriber to the Web Standards Group mailing list. It shows the direction I’d like to take Norty Pig if only a decent graphic artist with web experience were to happen along. Three ticks to BJ for keeping it cool under the hood too.

Another couple I think are interesting are Brother Jones Artworks and in a totally sick sort of way Rammstein, although for the latter I kind of liked the music which helped.

I’m just sure there’s more out there than single header picture with chunks of plain text…

When Shite Be Big Brown Shite

February 11th, 2005

Often when small businesses are confronted with the idea of whether or not to get a web solution they either don’t see the value in it (’Oh I was thinking under $500′) or they don’t know how to judge the actual value of the product. To many businesses it comes down to asking what will I get for $4,000 that I won’t get for $400? Or similarly, a family friend had been fielding quotes for a site to represent a national company and he emailed me that the quotes ranged from $8,000 to $80,000. Now thats a lot of pressure to be under when you don’t know whats going on under the hood or are not as web sophisticated as say another developer.

So here is what I really don’t like. I don’t like people who use FrontPage 5.0 like its Publisher, who don’t know about web technologies, who can’t be bothered learning about how to maximise the clients potential, who have bugger all time to think about information architecture and documentation, who have not improved or changed what they do or how they do it for the last x number of years, who misrepresent themselves and what they can and can’t provide clients, who don’t want to be better at what they do, and who charge a few hundred dollars for a four page site.

I can see the point for a mini league but I’ve never played in one and figure after about grade 6 I’d outgrown the opportunity. What do I have to offer? The fact I will always be better next year is a fair indication that I’m at least interested in my work.

Preventing Image Theft

February 10th, 2005

I’ve done work for artists in the past and the more astute do ask the age-old question about ‘how do I stop my images being pinched’? The best thing about the web is it lets people look at your images in the privacy of their own home - the bad thing about the web is exactly that! What stops them from using those same images for financial advantage?

Although I would have to attest there aren’t any methods to totally protect yourself from a determined thief, Tim Murtaugh’s article Protecting Your Assets pretty much covers available options. Remember a really determined thief will look in your source code or a number of devious tricks. Like I hear stated often, if you aren’t prepared to lose something then don’t put it on the web. One effective way that should be considered though, as it is already an offshoot of better web design, is the optimisation of images - create JPEGs that don’t save at the best quality but still look good.

I’m sure industrious server side programmers have effective methods as well but its really a compromise. What protects your image but doesn’t mess with user experience or accessibility?

DOM, DOM, DOM

February 9th, 2005

A particular headache of mine is the amount of neolithic JavaScript that still kicks around the web when modern browsers support the DOM. If you haven’t been out in public for a while thats where you use getElementById to reference instead of document.all and the like. Not only on the web, practically every JavaScript book on the shelves is just plain old fashioned bad coding, too. Reading 2005: The Year of the DOM gives me just enough hope to cross my fingers and hope not to die with document.bloody.all.

The Objectgraph Dictionary toward the end of the article was a pretty useful link, too.

Links from Russ’ List

February 6th, 2005

As a subscriber of the Web Standards Group mailing list the irregular page from Russ has often cost me half a day of reading. Like today for instance. Some of these I just have to pass on so excuse the nortiness of pinching yer links Russ but I honestly can’t help it today and I’m half way down the page.

First a subject close to home at the moment, Interview With a Link Spammer gives a good insight into who drives this end of the spam business.

Second How to Build a Successful Freelance Web Design Business was great. Even if you don’t read it all check out Kevin Airgid’s site. I know what some designers think about Flash but you can’t deny its Wow factor and after all its ‘mostly’ about money and ‘a bit’ about politics. A web designer I know says ‘all web designers are whores’ and we are, honestly, at least most of us, whores for the dollar. To those who can afford to retire I apologise no end and envy you no end.

Having read Kevin’s article I backtracked and read another one on Multidisciplinary Design which was food for thought, too.

Basic SEO Common Sense

February 6th, 2005

Search engine optimisation has become a mixed bag of tricks in people’s minds where unscrupulous spammers stand next to more legitimate organisations and it becomes hard for the layman to see where they should put their money. The promises of number one results can even blind their eyes to the possibility they may do more harm than good by going to the wrong SEO company, in fact many tricks can lead to great initial results only to land them on Google’s banned list. Is it worth the risk?

A good primer for basic SEO is 456 Berea Street’s Basics of Search Engine Optimisation which simply explains good content that is well written with good links pointing to it and good page titles will put you in pretty good stead for Google and others to index your site.

Although I’ve never seen any solid proof that good semantic markup directly affects SEO personally it is widely accepted that if it doesn’t affect SEO directly then it definately does no harm. Why risk trying to fool a huge corporation like Google in the short term when they have the money and every reason to catch up with your latest tricks? CSS spamming seems to be a topic on unscrupulous lips today but what about its success tomorrow? And if you’re dishonest in your SEO why would we trust you in other business dealings? The moral of the story is do it right and you should be indexed for the right reasons.

Phono Phunk and Airbag

February 4th, 2005

Just to lighten the mood and if you’ve never been there before you should check out a site that’s really kind of cool. Phono Phunk is the work of a Melbourne guy called John Serris who has a lets just say it ‘uber’ sense of humour. My faves about his site are the menus, cool style switcher setup an idiot like me can play with for hours - um left, right, left, center left, right, left, center right, umm doing it again aren’t I? Sorry. Read the ‘about’ page for a pretty good laugh. Which led me to remember this site, I’d forgotten I used to read it for a while and lost it somehow. A great read, Airbag has a bit of everything. Pink is a stark reminder of the willingness of Iraqi militants to attack the core of American values - ok Barbie! Next it’ll be Genie or bloody Flipper, pulling a look-a-like Mousketeer or an old retired president in front of the cameras. Now why was America in Baghdad again. Oh yeh the oil…

Unobtrusive JavaScript

February 3rd, 2005

Just as CSS separates ‘how’ something should be displayed separately from ‘what’ should be displayed there is another necessary level of what ‘behaviour’ should be applied. This is where JavaScript comes in and its a major tool in any web designers arsenal, one I need to brush up on over the next few weeks myself as it so happens. Anyway the best place to start is Unobtrusive JavaScript for just such a mission.

Frankly the majority of tutorials at this point in time still seem to be the old document.all (IE5 and below) and document.layers (NN4) variety, rather than the DOM using getElementById, which doesn’t do me that much good. So this next few weeks I’ll be delving back into JavaScripting the right way cos I’m tired of relying on forums to fix the little things.

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