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Trouble in Electric Ladyland

The best just got better

Meet The Weasels
The web site designers your mom warned you about

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Software we'd Like to See:
From the people who brought you Autonuke: software to warm your heart. Introducing Bidnessbot

Taking your Business online? Look before you link
The web site that launched a thousand (annoying) e-mails.

Do unto Microsoft
Our top ten alternative punishments for Microsoft...

The Motley Fool
Cool fool

You're thinking something. Tell us what it is.




Building a Brave New World
If you like reading about web site design, learn more in sitebuilding
It is hard to imagine that only five years ago there were no web site designers. No monitor tans. (Or far less of them). Nobody talking about how to integrate web site architecture with the e-commerce model...

Bagging on E-commerce trends
Net Research firm Jupiter Communications raised some eyebrows with a September press release suggesting that the problem with many online merchants may be that they aren't using enough technologies like Macromedia Flash enough to dazzle visitors to their sites into spending more money.

The press release read in part "Many retailers have designed their sites for the lowest common denominator, which is shortsighted, particularly for vendors of high consideration goods" and went on to recommend that retailers use technologies like Java, Flash and chat rooms "to enhance online shopping experience and close sales."'s Mark Hurst, always a proponent of streamlined e-commerce, was quick to respond, writing a week later in his September 8th column

"Now I agree that there are some ways to make Flash and other plug-ins useful to e-commerce customers, and that sites should explore those technologies. But it's just wrong to state, as Jupiter did, that "consumers expect a richer online shopping experience because of the exposure they receive through new interfaces on most sites."

Personally, I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Hurst. There are far too many instances where Flash works well, (high impact entertainment sites, interactive games, sports sites and internal presentations come to mind) to possibly excuse using it in the wrong context, which is probably going to be the case if you're talking about using it in an e-commerce related project.

Our opinion: If you feel strangely compelled to design with Flash at all times, you should think about taking projects where it's use is appropriate or applying for a job at Macromedia.

The Death of Web Design
If you follow the web design field at all, it's likely you're familiar with Dr. Jakob Nielson, the former Sun Microsystems usability guru who has become a well-known if occasionally persnickety critic of contemporary web design. Nielson's recent book "Designing Web Site Usability. The Art of Simplicity" is pretty much required reading for anybody seriously interested in the field. Nielson's design philosophy - which can be summed up as "keep it simple and it'll probably work pretty well" has won increasing acceptance in the web design community, as witnessed by the number of successful sites that seem to have prospered by scrapping elaborate layouts in favor of a straightforward user-focused approach.

In a July Alertbox column titled The End of Web Design Nielson took his argument even farther, calling for uniformity, "Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know." In other words, web surfers have already made up their minds. They've adjusted to the navigational structure of the Yahoos and the Amazons of the world. Anything that strays from those norms is probably unwelcome and probably will not be accepted.

Nielson followed up in an interview with a Jeffrey Selingo of the New York Times saying

"In the early days, users embraced change because the Internet wasn't useful....Now they punish change because they need the Web. It's a useful tool."

It was hardly surprising that the comments provoked a mini-firestorm of criticism. Web Sites that Suck author Vincent Flanders wrote "Jacob views the web as this wonderful place where you can find information quickly and easily and the information comes quickly directly to you and the web is this one, big organic world where we all get along".

Michael Sippey of Stating the Obvious didn't mince words, writing "To put it bluntly. Neilson has it backwards."

Deleting the Weaselspace
They've been there since the beginning.

They make life harder for everybody else and soak up our bandwidth without pausing for a second to consider the consequences of their actions.

Meet the weasels.

The web site designers you keep hearing about who somehow sign clients, make money and win awards - all without knowing a single line of code

[Full Article]
The challenge is very real. creating a web site that doesn't confuse and annoy your visitors to the point of distraction is easier said than done.

Many pros have been at it for years - with varying degrees of success.
Dr. Jakob Nielson thinks simplicity is the answer. So do we.

Zen and the art of clickability

Mozco! Garash!
Japanese web designers are quietly establishing themselves, as one of the leading forces in contemporary web site design, with work that is bold, artistic and usually very tasteful.

Igarashi Susumu is one example

[Full Review]

Pixel Park
You'd think web site design would be a field dominated by American companies, considering the technological head start we had in the early years of the Internet boom.


The picture is changing as clients discover the advantages of working with web production teams from other countries

[Full Review]

Webpages that Suck
There's plenty of good design on the Net and plenty of good designers.

But there's also a dark side - sites that seem to have been handed down from Bob in accounting. Then there are those which frankly make absolutely no sense at all.

A not particularly serious look at web pages that suck courtesy of expert suckologist Vincent Flanders

[Full Review]

Dreamweaver 3.0
The standard in WSYWIG (what you see is what you get) site design tools. Hardcore coders may prefer HomeSite (Allaire) or HotDog from Sausage Software, but Macromedia's Dreamweaver remains the popular choice .... more

[Full Review]

Minneapolis-St.Paul fontographer Chank Diesel has had the kind of success and influence in the web design community that most designers only dream of. His funky neo-psychedelic grungy creations are everywhere - from Taco Bell commercials to album covers to the dials of wristwatches.

The success of his fonts and a dedication to the art of cool has made Chank a mini-celebrity in web design circles. Sadly, copycats have taken his ideas and quickly reduced them to cliché. The widespread overuse of fonts based on his work meant the whacked-out font movement in web design was gone almost as quickly as it arrived.

To think we knew him back when he was just another college kid passed out in the snow in front of the Mac Weekly.....

[direct link]

Testing Your Pages
If you're trying to break into web site design, here's a tip that may help you avoid real embarrassment. You should always test your pages in alternative browsers before you take them to a client.

Web pages have a habit, of shall we say, behaving in unexpected ways when viewed in in different browsers.

The best way to protect yourself?

Testing. Testing. Testing

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