The Most Amazing List For Web Standards And Best Practices You’ll Ever Find

Have I got the list of lists for you. Are you looking for the very best list of authoritative standards sites?

Web Standards Authority Sites

Prepare web site goals by researching web standards.

One of my most favorite persons, “iamlost” (sure, he has a real name but this one is so cute) just posted the list to beat all lists at Cre8asiteforums. It goes into web site standards, web best practices, server stuff, Internet stuff, database goodies and organizations.

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A Site List For Web Standards And Best Practices

A New Way to Navigate Web Pages (Maybe)

Two hurdles web designers face when designing web sites are how to setup the information architecture and from there, create easy to understand navigation. Hopefully, an easy to understand navigation scheme also means easy to use. But, should we really have to THINK about navigation?

I don’t want to. I want to be able to scan words that tell me where I am, where to go, what happens when I get there, and why I should take a few extra seconds out of my day to follow a link to a new page. I appreciate not getting the run around, going in circles, getting lost, finding dead ends and not having to put in much brain effort. A web site’s job is to make my experience there pleasurable and fruitful.

So, a web site like Cooper.com is a total mystery to me. Rather than clicking navigation to new pages, a link simply takes site visitors to a different area of the same page. This design is stunning, especially when you consider that the folks at Cooper are leaders in web design usability. Take a look:

Here is the homepage:

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You get a hint on the right side that maybe you need to do something there. I dislike being forced to mouse over page elements to figure out what the page wants me to do. Their homepage has traditional navigation link labels and content falling off to the right side that I had to THINK about how to get to.

Here is what happens when I click into that right side content area:

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The content shifts to the center, the homepage content moves to the left and new content appears to the right. There is no jumping to a new page. Whether you move from left to right, or click on one of the global navigation links, you are taken to a different area of one page.

It’s kind of interesting. It reminds me of online magazines with pages that “turn”.

Search Engines, Accessibility and More Opinion

I haven’t researched how search engines might handle this type of site navigation. For starters, SEO promotes the approach of many web pages, optimized for specific keywords. What about PPC landing pages? Can a site like this be crawled or is bound up with scripts?

For special needs users, this type of interaction between user and web page may be a blessing. Scrolling is a bit easier to do with a hand that tremors than a constant hunt and click approach. My accessibility friends may have more to say about this. (I hope so!)

Of course, from a usability perspective, one can imagine many reasons why we may not be ready to leave our present navigation design habits. For more information and opinions, read Why Do We Need Navigation At All?

Regardless of how you organize the content, the larger point is this: giving users a table of contents does much more than simply provide users with a means of navigating the content. The table of contents expresses the hierarchical relationships of your content, and by so doing gives users a sense of your content’s overall story and structure. Even if users can’t find the answer to their question by navigating the table of contents, they can find other meaning in browsing and perusing the structure of your content.

What do you think? Are you up for a change in the way we navigate web sites?

What if you never had to leave the homepage to use a web site?

Does the Social Web Impact Human Behavior?

CNN’s online news site recently posted a poll that asked, “Are you tired of social networking?” When I had checked their results, it showed that 74% chose “YES.” Yet according to Inside Twitter by Alex Cheng, Mark Evans and Harshdeep Singh, after analyzing information disclosed on 11.5 million Twitters accounts, 72.5% of all users joined during the first five months of 2009. 85.3% of all Twitter users post less than one update per day. Twitter is not the sole means of social networking of course, but this is one small example of conflicting reports regarding the Internet and human behavior. While not everyone is comfortable online, as a world civilization we’re adapting to the changes Internet technology is making in our lives.

What might this mean for online marketing and user experience web design? Should social networking development cycles be investigating usability? Might they also be considering the impact of social media web sites on human behavior and society?

The CNN poll was inspired by a piece they ran called Do You Suffer From Internet Fatigue?, which focused on a PEW study called The Mobile Difference. Pew found that only 7% of people use the Internet as their primary means of social communication. Yet, some of them feel guilty if they can’t keep with all the various forms of the social Internet.

According to John Horrigan, Pew Internet Project’s associate director of research:

“The most high-tech group we labeled the “digital collaborators.” The digital collaborators are the ones with the most technology, doing the most with it and loving it the most, and really are about not just using technology to communicate with others but to cultivate their creative lives.”

Horrigan discussed young people and their usage of cell phones for texting and Internet for social networking with sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This is how they communicate and socialize, and when they have to go “off the air,” they apologize for not being there.

Do we need a break? According to Horrigan, the answer is yes.

“I think it’s fairly well known in the tech community that traffic for blogs and so-forth dives on the weekends, so I think people tend to use the weekends as a way to take a little bit of a breather.” SciTech blog writer, John D. Sutter , who invites discussion on the topic of Internet fatigue (see resource below), shares that many are indeed fed up with information overload, or feel that “online social networks are ruining our society.”

It’s Google’s fault

One thing you can always count on with humans is that they will always find someone or something to blame for whatever they dislike. The July/August 2009 issue of The Atlantic has a technology article called Get Smarter that presents the perspective that human beings are an evolving species and one of our natural triggers is “How do we cope with this?” The author, Jamais Cascio, explores whether the “hive mind of the Internet” can influence everything from personal growth, entertainment and communication to scientific discoveries, because we now have a tool for visualization and simulation. We’re adapting to the Internet by way of “fluid intelligence,” which is the “ability to find meaning in confusion and to solve new problems, independent of acquired knowledge.”

By contrast, others such as Nicholas Carr who wrote Is Google Making Us Stupid? for the magazine presents a different view. He argues that our brains are being rewired and it’s harder for us to relax due to information overload.

Linda Stone, a technology thought leader, likens what we as web developers call “hyperlinking” to “continuous partial attention.”

“To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — CONTINUOUSLY. It is motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter.

We pay continuous partial attention in an effort NOT TO MISS ANYTHING. It is an always-on, anywhere, anytime, anyplace behavior that involves an artificial sense of constant crisis. We are always in high alert when we pay continuous partial attention. This artificial sense of constant crisis is more typical of continuous partial attention than it is of multi-tasking.”

We’ve spent a good deal of our energy creating usable web sites that make it easy for people to find where we put everything, but we focus far less on their physical and emotional experiences. We may take it for granted that site visitors will follow every link. Search engines follow hyperlinks. Persuasive site design calls for making links compelling, noticeable and worthy. When was the last time you thought, “I want my customer to rest for a minute and gather their thoughts before they purchase from my web site?”

Design for future

The future came yesterday. Internet technology isn’t going away. We’ve adapted. We’ll keep finding more ways to use it. It’s estimated that 2 billion people will be on the Internet by 2010. That’s next year.

In a very short time, we’ve made quantum leaps in how we think, share and interact with one another, both as individuals and as consumers. With social networking we share ourselves in ways we never dreamed of doing face to face. We don’t have to leave the house to purchase products. We can call or send a text message to someone from wherever we happen to be, rather than hunt for a telephone booth. The line between our personal and public information has nearly disappeared. Our values, beliefs and human behavior are changing as a result.

In a white paper, A Road Map for the Post-Web 2.0 World Jerome Nadel, MS, CUA, CPE / Chief Experience Officer Human Factors International, Inc., writes:

“In the era of interactivity and user-created content, user experience is changing the very way we do business. There was a time in which digital technologies was just another asset of the enterprise, a tool used to execute strategy developed by management, and delivered to customers. That model has been flipped on its head. As we zoom past Web 2.0 into the realm of Web 3.0, customers are using technology to drive products, marketing and strategy.”

Are we worn out with social media? Do we really suffer from Internet fatigue? I think the answers depend on several factors, such as your age, where you live, personality, income, work life and personal values. To be sure, Internet marketers are having a blast and can’t quite figure out what all the fuss is about. And yet, in private, some of them admit they’re indeed worn out.

I believe we’re learning to cope with the technologies we’re inventing and people still prefer simplicity. Google shot past the other search engines because its interface was simple. The takeaways for us, regarding usability and SEO, is that our value lies in our fascination with and understanding of Internet technology and usage. We know how to “work it.” Could we wreck a good thing? Sure. We can contribute to the chaos and as result, drive people away from wanting to interact with social networking web sites. Companies can continue to develop applications and tools that invade public privacy. We can support adults sites or consider how what we are doing affects human civilization in the long run.

Or, I was just visualizing sitting on the beach with a frozen strawberry daiquiri on sunny day with a light breeze messing up my bangs, watching a school of dolphins off in the distance, breathing in coconut mango suntan lotion and letting the ocean waves lull me into total relaxation.

My computer, video, camera and cell phone are nowhere to be seen.

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This article was originally written by Kim Berg and published by Search Engine Land, June 19, 2009

Angelina’s Leg and User Friendly Web Design

In case you missed it, Angelina Jolie made quite the impression at the recent Oscars by showing off her right leg. One small act was a marketing sensation.

Would it not be truly incredible if web designers were able to find and flaunt their web site’s sweet spot, I wondered? (Because of course, I see a woman’s leg and immediately think of usability, right?) I mean, come on. Another winner from a different category, a man, after seeing Angelina strike her pose on stage, proceeded to copy her and stuck his own man leg out while raising his head high in the same “I am Queen of this Universe” gesture that she did earlier.
Angelina Jolie in the news
It didn’t have quite the same effect, but since he was the first to follow up and repeat what she did, he is now famous too. Facebook meet Google Plus.

If you think your web site has the same type of stunning surprise for your target market and your data proves otherwise, what is the secret to making it zing and sizzle? What was it about Angie’s bared leg that compelled someone to create a Twitter account for it called “Angie’s Right Leg”?

Was it the element of surprise? I don’t think so. This is the Oscars and historically, the more drastic the ploy to get attention, the more chance for success. She had competition (a supposed nipple and tossed pancake mix for starters). We know who she is, so it’s not like she HAD to remind us by doing something spectacular.

Was it because she showed off her leg? I doubt that too. Had it been a long, slender hairy leg, the reaction would have been different. So, she knew enough to not only plan ahead by creating a strategy for implementing her pose (Had she seen the Super Bowl and Madonna’s hot “Strike a Pose” number?), but she made darned sure her presentation of the object, in this case her leg, was polished and perfect. She likely practiced before ever stepping foot on the red carpet and did user testing with Brad.

This is where web site design runs into trouble. There’s no plan. No planned strategy. No practice runs and user testing on a targeted, specific user group. There’s often no thought of mental models, persuasive design or getting experts to review the web site before launching it to the public. Angie was not posting in front of her bathroom mirror. She knew exactly what she was doing and was flawless in her presentation (however, I think she’s far too skinny.)

The magical power and subsequent global reaction was simply the smart decision to deliver exactly what people aren’t consciously aware they even want. She knows that buried somewhere deep in the DNA of every human is our love for beautiful things, including bodies. She knows that hordes of today’s women are strong willed, independent, proud of their achievements and sexier than ever. She knows her movie history too. While a black and white silent film won for Best Picture, the sad fact is that in those early days of film making women were covered up. Even Howard Hughes had to find a way to cover up Jane Russell’s breasts to make the censors happy.

Sure, Angelina Jolie and her right leg stepped out to show the world a few things that, whether or not we are fully aware of it, spoke to us. Not everyone accepted her pose with humor or good nature. Women called her a “whore”. Some people were angry. Others took the opportunity to complain about her life, movies, Brad, kids, causes, etc.

Kinda reminds me of the variety of reactions we may have whenever Google, Facebook or Twitter stick out a leg. Nothing keeps a brand (or famous person) front and center better than causing a ruckus.

Sneak Preview: Emotional Design and Affective Computing

According to popular prejudice, women embody ‘emotion’ and ‘irrationality’ whereas men embody ‘rationality’ and ‘objectivity’. As such, designing for emotions/affect stir up gender issues. Are women better designers of technology which uses emotion and affect?

Affective Computing, Affective Interaction and Technology as Experience
One free chapter and several videos are available now for Affective Computing, Affective Interaction and Technology as Experience

The video below is on Designing Affective Interaction Products Dealing With Stress:

Does Technology or the Internet Make People LESS Connected?

I was recently witness to a debate at a local gathering that began when one man angrily claimed that people who live on their cell phones and laptops are “selfish” and “not connected with people”.

His statement turned into a long discussion with people as young as a woman in her early 20’s to a gentleman in his 70’s speaking their opinions. Interestingly, the youngest one in the bunch was the most reasonable. She agreed that many behaviors are impolite. She reminded everyone that we each make our own choices and what is felt as “right” for some may be considered “wrong” to others. There is no such thing, another person said, as the “right” way to do things. Who decided things are not perfect as they are?

The first man insisted that people can’t be connected or involved in their environment around them when their face is glued to a computer device or their ear has a cell phone attached to it. He finds this selfish and the beginning of the end of humanity because we’re not caring about each other and ignoring one another until we’re free to come out of our techno-trance.

Other people love that technology gives us search engines, social sites and email. (Not to mention new medicine, better healthcare, environmental advances….) They say they are more connected then ever. It was agreed that many people are rude with their cell phone usage. But again, by whose definition of what is proper usage? Who decided that overhearing conversions or cell phones blasting in meetings is wrong? What moral code is broken when people don’t pay attention to their environment? How do we define “dangerous”? One person gave several examples of how even our definition of “dangerous” is biased and based on lack of information, fears, and myths.

It was a debate with no winners and many opinions. Oddly enough, I kept my mouth shut and just listened. I’ve seen this topic brought up before, but without the idea that maybe everything is as it should be.

Are you fed up with how technology has changed our habits and behavior towards one another? Does the Internet make you feel disconnected physically from people or perhaps more spiritually connected (energy, spirit to spirit, etc.)?

Who decides what is right or wrong behavior or social rules as each new type of technology is developed and brought to the masses?

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