Axure Interactions on Grouped Elements Reminder

This is a note to remind myself that interactions applied to a group folder do not work if any of the enclosed elements have an interaction. Also AxureEx is an incredibly useful set of methods for including javascript in an Axure file:

AxureEx can be found here:
http://www.dejongh.dk/wiki/doku.php?id=interaction:axure.ex_api

And the downloadable file is here:
https://github.com/Sam-Hepworth/Axure.Ex/releases

Credit to Sam Hepworth

Microdata and html5

Spending some of my time off exploring microdata and html5 more in depth. If the semantic web is going to finally gain wide adoption microdata is going to be the catalyst. Unfortunately as easy as it is, it still involves a some effort to add microdata to your code. Still it is a million times easier than XML or other semantic formats.

Unfortunately, I think performance will still be an issue in actual implementations. Microdata is still fairly verbose and also referencing the scope/schema from a third party server may be a problem for some high traffic servers. Adding microdata to your mark-up can easily double or triple the size and there is always the latency issue of referencing a third party server.

These were the sources I was reviewing;
html5
http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/
http://diveintohtml5.org/
http://html5demos.com/

microdata
http://www.w3.org/TR/microdata/
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=176035
http://html5doctor.com/microdata/

The Fold Zone

More and more web designers are seeking to dispel the notion of the browser fold. Yet there is still the reality that users can not see all of a page’s content if it is taller than a browser window and they will potentially leave the page before discovering the additional content. There is often an email sent from the CEO or other senior manager stating that they want some graphic or link moved above the fold. This typically ruins the layout or requires major reworking to get things to fit.

I guess I should back up a bit and explain that the fold is an invisible line where the content of the page is not visible below the bottom of your browser window (and/or to the right side if there is also more content than can fit into one screen horizontally). It is borrowed from the print world where certain print formats such as newspapers and brochures are folded. The content that was most important appears on the front page before the fold to be sure that the consumer would notice it.

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Stretchy = Bad… OK maybe not

Stretchy layouts are not good, yet every über techie who has a 20 inch or larger monitor wants web sites to stretch when they open their browser to the width of the monitor. Well maybe not every über techie wants stretchy layouts, but enough that comment on design related message boards that it really irks me. Why is it bad, because paragraphs that span exceedingly long widths are difficult to read. This is of course assuming they are long enough to still take several lines. A single line of text is not hard to read. And, of course, if the site is only images or video, then it is not as much an issue if at all.

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HCI 445: Inquiry Methods and Use Analysis

I finally completed the last of the core courses for the HCI program. Now I only need to take two more electives and do the capstone. This last class was definitely one of the better courses I have taken. While it was similar to the HCI 460 course it is different in that it focused more on the the initial user observations whereas 460 was about usability testing methods and reporting. The class started out with us doing our own user observation. This involved finding a task to study a user performing. Then finding a user and arranging a time to observe them.

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CSS hacks/unhacks: using IE conditional code to solve CSS problems

Working on a recent layout, I was finally confronted with the need to have an IE CSS hack. I hate hacks, because they often break with browser updates and aren’t easily remembered. So I avoid them as much as possible. However, I finally succumbed to having to use a hack… except the method I use is not a hack so much as relying on IE functionality. My designs typically can be made to work in Opera, Mozilla/Firefox and Safari browsers very easily, and then occasionally take some head pounding to get to work for IE (first windows then mac). While some might suggest designing for IE first, that is not desirable as I use a mac to develop on, although I do use a PC at work. Also, when resolving a design for IE first, it is tempting to not check the others, as IE is still the browser of the masses. Working with Safari, Mozilla first gets the less numerous browsers out of the way. The additional nightmare of IE is that you have to deal with the subversions, 5.0 does not work the same as 5.5, which is not the same as 6.x (don’t mention 4.x browsers).

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Site Update

The code behind the site has been updated. If you notice anything looking out of whack let me know. The update involved mostly scripting updates and a change to the database schema, but there were also some tweaks to layouts and entries. Just send a comment to any message to let me know if something is wrong. All comments are reviewed before posting (because I don’t get that many posters… and I will never let the poker spam get posted) so don’t worry about it being seen by the world. You can click on the “more” link to get some of the boring details… otherwise, thanks for visiting.

~jim

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