HCI 430: Prototyping & Implementation

I just finished HCI 430 Prototyping and Implementation. This class involved designing interfaces for windows applications and writing the code to make them work. I was a little nervous about taking this class because although I can write code, most of it is procedural scripting; PHP, VBscript, JavaScript and all of that is focused on web applications. Despite that, I wasn’€™t sure how I would handle this… it turned out to be trivial. I have never written a formal windows application in any great detail (I’ve done “hello world” and temp converter tutorials, but that’s it), yet this turned out to be only slightly more complicated than developing web applications. Especially when using the Visual Studio IDE.

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Why, Oh Why, IE

[Edit: Life is getting much better these days with IE 9 beginning to support standards and be consistent as Firefox and Safari (and now Chrome and there is always someone on Opera)]

Usually, I start out creating my designs for this site by testing them in Safari (yes, I am a Mac user… so consider this my first contribution to the holy war of mac vs pc). I also test Mozilla on the Mac/Windows and feel that if it looks good in those two I am generally on track. Eventually, I get around to checking in IE on Windows and then IE on the Mac (although, I don’t know why anyone would still use IE on a Mac). Here, I typically find some fatal flaw that IE just craps on. If it were not for the fact that Windows forces users to use IE (software update with Moz, I don’t think so), most everybody would have chucked it a long time ago. Now, only due to the security lapses in IE, has Firefox (Mozilla’s light and fast version) begun to claim some users back from IE… but you still have to use IE. And most users still do…

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The Power of CSS

Since wordpress layout is based on css, I wanted to do something similar to the CSS Zen Garden. I hope to create a new designs every now and then… None of the code in the theme file is changed when switching between designs (although I did modify the code from the original WP install). I was going to write my own feature to handle allowing visitors to switch the theme for themselves. Instead, I used a plug-in to provide this feature… There are so many plugins for wordpress, which is one of the strengths of the platform. So why reinvent the wheel, well except when you don’t like the options that exist. I added a facebook like plugin and really do not care for how it is working so I may bake my own shortly here. Besides the CSSzengarden, there are hundreds of designs/themes for wordpress, so the challenge is for me, to try and do something fresh (or personal, which should be fresh).

Japan 1
This is the default that loads when you first visit the site. It features a rotating head image using jQuery. The photos and image are all taken by me in my travels.

This is a plain layout stripped of most images. Great starting point for new designs as well as for anyone visiting on a slow connection.

These are old designs that have been retired due to the upgrades. I may bring them back sometime when I can convert and test them fully;

This was the old default. It uses a picture I took of Mt Fuji covered with snow for the banner.

This one uses a Macromedia Fireworks pattern with a shot of the Pacific ocean. I took the picture of the Pacific from the hotel in Ito city Japan. Sorry you can’t see much more, the full image has a little island that is offshore about 1500 meters.

Ok, so it took a couple weeks to get this one up… having a couple of kids, a full time job and going to grad school takes some time. Well this one is not finished, but I wanted to get something out. It is kind of inspired by early 20th century typography… but it doesn’t do justice to what I was thinking of… Jan Tschichold, El Lissitzky… et al.

Splotch or blocks, something bright and colorful. This was created using some filters in Fireworks. I wanted to create something that looked a little like water color painted blocks.

Used a photo taken from inside the Denny’s in the city of Ito, Japan for the head (taken in 2003). The concept basically was to have the water fade into the page content.

HCI 513: E-commerce

HCI 513 was basically a class about “An integrated study of design, technical, and strategic issues for Internet commerce”. Since I work full time as a web administrator I didn’t think I would learn much, but the professor was very informed and provided addiitional insight into the various aspects of e-commerce. Particularly, I learned even with the nice web services offered by FedEx and UPS, that implementing shipping on an e-commerce site is fairly complex. The projects we have worked on at work always charged a flat rate, although we are working on an implementation now that integrates our publishing group’s DB, which has a shipping calculator. But that is done on the inventory/fullfillment app side, so all we do is pass the address and get the data back from the API.

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HCI 511: Designing for disabilities

I am taking a class on the issues of designing software/websites for the disabled. It is very informative so far. It seems that many businesses are ignoring this at their peril. While one case was dismissed two years ago (Southwest Airlines), another went against the organization (Marta), and several more were settled out of court for nominal sums. Well nominal in the sense that they could have spent that money upfront on accessibility and avoided the negative publicity.
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