iterative arts observations from a UX guy


10 Web Design Elements You Shouldn’t Neglect

As has been said, the Devil is in the details, and yet we so often neglect those very tiny details. For instance, I believe that the difference between an $40 pair of jeans from Old Navy/The Gap and $300+ designer jeans really comes down to 1000% more attention paid to 2% of the details.

Which leads to this important reminder, courtesy of Web Designer Depot. Here's the opening salvo:

When it comes to designing and building websites, it never seems to happen fast enough.

Given this fast pace, many small details that are eventually required to build the website are often left out of the design process. While these details might be minor, they are what take a website from nice to truly awesome.

These details are often easy to miss because they don’t drive the overall look and feel of the website. The problem is that as your development team works through the design, it will be forced to design and create these elements for you anyway.

You could adjust the production cycle so that the developers have time to return these assets to you, but why not just get it all done up front so that the process is that much cleaner?

They've drawn up a list of 10 things that often get neglected in the design/production stages that can make the difference between your Old Navy site, and a True Religion site. The image below will take you to the article:

link to Web Design Depot's article

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How to Steal Like an Artist

Austin Kleon, whomever he is, has my profound admiration for putting fingers-to-keyboard and writing this out for us all to share in:

How To Steal Like An Artist (and nine other things nobody told me)

He says in this post, clearly and concisely, so many things I've concluded, discovered, thought about, and believed in for so long, that it makes me insane with jealousy.

To read and understand this article would, I think, without overstating it, give one tremendous insight into my mental and artistic processes.


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How To Use CSS3 Pseudo-Classes – Smashing Magazine

Okay, confession: I've always been a little in the dark about the pseudo-selectors. Even the name is kind of hard to get a hold on, at least to me...

CSS three logo

But along comes this very interesting article which does a great job of explaining what pseudo-selectors are, why you should care, and then giving really useful examples with clear explanations. Wish I wasn't on deadline right now, or I'd spend the day dropping CSScience and generally hacking about. But one day, dear reader, one day...

How To Use CSS3 Pseudo-Classes - Smashing Magazine.

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Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design | Webdesigntuts+

Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design | Webdesigntuts+.

this is the introductory article of what appears to be a very well-written and illustrated series on web design foundations.

I must make some time to absorb it all.

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Microsoft wants to help you create and maintain a dynamic web site

See to get the installer for MS's WebMatrix software.

Runs under windows only, makes use of IIS, .NET, MS Transact SQL Server, some other other technologies.

Publish to: dotNetNuke, Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, others.

Might be a very useful learning tool for some. I'm installing it now (and probably opening about 65.8 security holes in my desktop) to test out "when I get a minute."


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Freemind and your ass will follow

We've talked mind maps in school since semester 1. We did them on paper, or geeks like me did them in Visio, or LibreOffice Draw... Some of us might have even done them SINCE that class in semester 1! 🙂

But those versions can be hard to mine. It can be hard to manipulate (esp. paper!) those nodes to help you see what you've created.

FreeMind is an Open Source, Java application that seems to have a LOT going for it:

  • it seems simple enough to get started
  • it seems deep enough to reward much use and experimentation
  • it seems deep enough to handle multiple approaches and scenarios
    • I first started using it the other day to "store" or "note" some paragraphs from a book I was reading while offline that I wanted to look up on the 'net later. Being able to cluster them into nodes, based on the chapter from which I'd copied them would help me track down the copied text in the ebook later, and it would help me keep the related material -- and any further/expanded info I found online -- together and relate-able.
    • I can easily see how this will help me layout and coordinate my work toward my Independent Project in New Media (I'm writing curriculum for teaching Object Oriented Concepts to Digital Media Arts students)

Best of all (for me), as a cross-platform app, with one file structure, I can use it on my Linux-based netbook as easily as I can use it on my Win7-based home computer, and it might just work out as a portable app, which I'm bullish on these days, also.

Give FreeMind a shot, see if it actually helps you track and organize various bits of knowledge and content to re-shape that content into something useful or new.


Update (so soon?): looks like FreeMind might be mired in development hell, but FreePlane has been released as a development branch, and it definitely has a portable apps version!  The interface is, at first look, a little more crowded, but we'll see how that affects usability.

Update#2: Freeplane is the one to choose. There are a few useful extras, and the portable apps version makes it great to work with in many places. I've got it installed on the portable hard drive I carry back and forth to school, my linux netbook, and my windows desktop at home. Working very well, and a quick-to-learn app. Quite happy with it.



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How would you like your (graphic) design?


This is one of the most easily-digested of a gaggle of great images related to web/graphic design that you can find over at

This reminds me of a favoured saying about jobs/work:

You can:

  • enjoy what you do
  • work within the law
  • make lots of money

You may choose two.



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Crystal Ball Gazing

Found in a pdf, an assignment from my first semester of DMA, Interactivity course.

These are notes I made in preparation for doing the Crystal Ball gazing assignment:

  1. The future of technology is very portable, wearable, perhaps even implantable.
  2. A principle of corporate content management systems is not necessarily to make
    information/data easy to find (though it must be that), but that the system should be designed
    and leveraged so that the user has the information at‐hand WHEN it is needed, and is
    prompted of that need by the system. The user needn't keep the due dates and milestones in
    mind, but will be prompted by task lists running in the background when things are due, what
    assets they require to perform the task, and where to put the results. This distinction is what
    the author of The Design of Everyday Things (Donald Norman) refers to as "Knowledge‐in‐the‐head" vs.
    "Knowledge‐in‐the‐world." The next step of the task list is triggered by notification from the
    user/system that the step is complete. this can be automatic, e.g. when a file appears in a
    folder of the document library, or manual, as when a supervisory user over‐rides a needed task
    by re‐scheduling or deprecating the task list item. the task list will keep track of items in a
    "hold" state.
    The task list and milestones will be visible to all stake‐holders.
  3. The computing cloud will play an immense role. we are continuing the move, first begun by
    widespread adoption of the internet, of moving discrete file locations from the equation, and
    placing all resources/assets in centralized places. This return of the client/server model is a
    repudiation of the philosophy that kick‐started the PC revolution of a "PC on every desk."
    We've come full‐circle to the recognition of the value of a central repository for
    knowledge/data connected to multiple personal access points. These access points CAN be a
    desktop PC, or a portable PC, or even a simple portable device that can access and make use of
    the repository. Tools to view and manipulate the data are necessary at some of the access
    points, but not all of them. Simple personal devices need not be burdened with large storage
    capacities or heavy applications that alter/create the information.
    These devices need to be easily integrated with clear but flexible models of how to use them.
    The interfaces need to aim for transparency of purpose and use.
  4. The down‐side of "always connected" has been and will continue to be the expectation on the
    part of the organization that the user will be available and able to work with/comment
    on/complete tasks at any time. A clear division between uptime and downtime needs to be
    established and respected.
  5. Wearable devices and their interfaces need to be discreet and sexy. People shouldn't feel
    beholden to or enslaved by their access devices. Neither should the perception of being a "part
    of the machine" be an accepted part of the use of the devices. People would be willing to look
    like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, not Patrick Stewart as Locutus of Borg. (Okay, the Internet
    can provide plenty of examples of people eager to become like Locutus, but we're talking about
    third‐stage adopters here, not the lubricant‐bleeding‐edge.)
  6. Projected interfaces — like keyboards or menus —will need to be very adaptable to the place of use. a flat, table‐like surface isn't always going to present itself. Voice activation/control will also be necessary. Eye tracking and gestural controls need to be developed to the point of invisibility on the part of the user.

blame the pdf for the semi-wonky formatting. I can't be bothered to correct it too much.


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Getting into the swing

Hello, dear theoretical reader.
I've been advised by several people who have only their own sanity to gain that I should be making more use of my own blog, and not clogging the public channels with my observations, finds, & musings.
So, here-goes:

Technical Web Typography: Guidelines and Techniques

a very deep article about Web Typography.



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