December 2009 Entries

Move beyond the top ten

You know what is the one thing stopping you from finding truly actionable insights from your web data?

Web analytics gems lie deep in the data and we spend our lives looking at the top ten rows of data. – Avinash Kaushik

Excellent article on diving deeper into your analytics. The top tens should not be the key source to evaluation of your KPI's. You need to move some data around to get at the meaningful content. One of the great links he demonstrated is the Juice Kit Keyword Tree. Take a look and have fun playing with the data.

D-I: Our agile development process

We have transitioned from billing our clients by the hour to billing them by the point. These point estimates therefore easily compute to provide the answer to “How expensive?”. – Dave Goerlich

Some great information in here on the process that Designing Interactive has been using to manage their projects in an agile fashion. There are many different theories, practices, and methods out there, so it's always nice to see how someone is practically applying it to their business.

Is the user experience overrated

No matter how much reading we do, we will never fully comprehend our users, but with proper testing we are able to take a little peek into their complex minds and habits of our users. –James Costa, The Phuse

Web accessibility no longer an afterthought

It’s still a challenge, however, for the Web community to remember that as it pushes forward with exciting new technologies like HTML5 that could reinvent the Internet experience, it must keep in mind the needs of those who can’t type 60 words per minute, operate a mouse like a scalpel, or see the unobtrusive pop–up windows that point to the next destination on the page. CNN

Some very good points made in this article. Be sure to read it in it’s entirety.

Jeff Croft: Design-heavy web agencies

As I’m sure you know, web applications have become much more common over the past few years. There are still plenty of content-oriented websites to be made, but more and more, what clients come to us for is apps. Based on the rosters of several high profile firms out there, it seems that most of the “developers” on the team are focused on the front-end (HTML/CSS/JS), and/or are what I like to call “CMS wranglers.” A CMS wrangler is one of those folks who can make Wordpress (or EE, or MT, or whatever) do just about anything imaginable, given enough time to hack. Jeff Croft

Great article by Jeff, honestly questioning how web agencies get their development work done. This touches on some recent conversations I have had around what makes a Content Management System, and how I don’t see Wordpress, etc as valid options to build web applications. Be sure to check out the comments, too, as there is some good discussion there.

CMS breakdown

So, an organization spends tens of thousands of dollars to build a website upon a full-access Content Management System (CMS) platform. Over the coming months every department head is issued an administrative login, which is passed on down the line to other employees. Pretty soon, 50 people have updated the website adding page upon page with 50 different writing styles and 50 different online agendas. 12 months later, the organization is left with a mangled site map and is forced to hobble along for years until they can afford to begin the process again. What a sad, yet common, story.Trent Walton

(Emphasis Mine)

The reason social media is hard for most organizations

It's a process, not an event.

Seth Godin

I couldn't agree with this more. I see so many companies jump on the social media bandwagon, only to tire of it days or weeks later. I think the same realization was made with blogging. Everyone wanted organizations to blog, but they didn't have the time, energy, desire, or resources.

From what I have seen, it's not always at the fault of the organization. There are "web companies" that push for it, or even use it as an event themselves.

The state of web design education

So what has gone wrong? Well, for a start I see a lot of generic “web design” courses placing too much attention on tools and technology. Rather than teaching people Flash, Photoshop and Dreamweaver, we need to teach design fundamentals like grid layouts, typography and colour theory. We need to create students that are connected to the medium and have an understanding of the provenance of their craft; students who are schooled in critical thinking, who can deconstruct ideas, analyse briefs, solve problems and critique solutions. Just because you’re a digital designer doesn’t mean everything has to be digital, so we need people who can sketch out concepts, articulate their reasoning and defend their decisions both written and verbally. Andy Budd

Well said, Andy. Look forward to more of his discussion on this topic.