Rants, Usability & Accessibility, Web Design, Web development

Please display PDF links properly! - Whatwasithinking.co.ukOver the last couple of months I have been working on a great number of design, usability and accessibility reports for clients of mine. Some of the sites I worked on are pretty good, and all you can recommend is maybe tightening up their call-to-actions or look at a couple of points of Section 508 to validate properly. Then there are some that need a bit more help than that. That is natural, some of the sites have been up for years and could do with a new design or will need some more development work.

But what gets me going of late is the inability of some websites to display their PDFs properly…

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Flash Development

On Flash - SWF files can now be found and indexed - Whatwasithinking.co.ukUp until a few months ago flash files used to be an absolute nightmare when it came to SEO and indexing its content for search engines. The best solution was always to have alternative content available or to use as little information as possible within a flash file of a corporate site, and about 90% of the time designers would only use flash for non-important browsing routes or as visual treats (think flash image slideshows, think flash maps but with the ability to get to a destination without using it). What good is a website that looks great but can hardly be found?

Yesterday Google announced an update to their search engines with the help of Adobe Labs. Read more about this new development after the break.

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Web Design, Web development

Installing FireFox 2 alongside FireFox 3 - Whatwasithinking.co.ukWith the arrival of FireFox 3 (and its record-breaking amount of downloads in its first 24h) more and more of us web architects and web developers are getting rid of their beloved FireFox 2 installation and are moving all their bookmarks, themes and extensions to version 3 of the popular browser. And rightfully so, version 3 is faster, much more stable and its updated Gecko engine is displaying your website creations in the best possible way… or is it?

I came across a couple of odd bits when developing a website – it seems like Firefox 3 is displaying a floated element’s width of 100% correctly, whereas FF2 would not fully acknoledge the width unless the element was previously set to “clear: both;” (or something along those lines, unfortunately I am still relatively new to the CSS cut-up world.

So we decided to install FireFox 2 again on the design-machines next to an existing FireFox 3 installation without causing any issues with the extensions or other settings between the browsers. I got it to work pretty much instantly on the first go, but since colleagues and friends were asking about how to get FireFox 2 to work with FireFox 3, here is a quick step-by-step guide after the break. Continue Reading

Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility

On Information Architecture and user-testing - Part 3 - Usability testing and Accessibility testingFollowing my previous article we are now going to put our website prototype to a first test before we begin developing the website. While the functionality and navigation makes sense to us – after all, we just spent the last week(s) working on it – we need to ensure it works the same way for others as well. We understand how we get from a destination page to the product or trip we are after and finally to the enquiry page – but will anyone else do so as well?

Usability testing will reveal if the flow of the site works, and accessibility testing will ensure that our site complies to any relevant accessibility guidelines.
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Flash Development, Web Design, Web development

On Flash - map integration with Yahoo Maps + ActionScript 2.0In my job it isn’t always about a swish flash interface, a cool looking site or animation these days – it is about integration, about offering functionality that jumps out from the rest of the competition. The magic word is integration. A client of ours approached us about adding a special sort of travel-blog.

What we would like is some sort of members-only application that allows our users to track their journeys with us and to maybe blog about them, but it should look swish and very easy to use. We would like a similar functionality for our travel guides who would then post information about the tours.

The idea of a blog is a great tool for customer retention, if done right it allows users to post comments about their journeys, maybe with images to keep a log of what they are doing while on that trip. It would allow visitors to see what is going on on a journey with <Company Name> and what you can do or what the user(s) saw and took part in. Obviously, I wanted to offer a little bit more than just a blog. My idea was to work on a map-blog… Continue Reading

Flash Development, Web development

Air development, specifying an interactive galleryA few weeks ago I mentioned a dev-off between the Silverlight-loving developers and the AIR-fanatic design team and promised to keep you guys in the loop as to what is happening in the meantime. As you may remember from a previous article, we are planning to develop an application for users to view a photo gallery of a client’s website, to receive updates, and to give the user the ability to rate and / or comment on these photos. We have now begun working on the first steps for this project and to prepare a base of information for the application to source the information from and to work on.
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Information Architecture, Usability & Accessibility, Web Design, Web development

Following my previous article about Information Architecture and user-testing you we came to the point where we have researched quite a bit into the client’s company: we know the brand, we know the product(s) and its userbase, and we have acquired demographics of the target market. It is now up to us to design and develop the client’s website.

Many of the designers I worked with in the past have then gone and worked on first mock-ups of the home page and a product page – nicely designed and with a bit of flash here or there – which they then sent to the client to get feedback and develop a new or final draft of these pages. And then they went off and started developing the website, without much (or any at all!) time spent on the information architecture or usability (and accessibility) of the client’s website. In today’s article I want to go through a couple of best practice approaches to information architecture and usability for Business-to-customers (B2C) websites. Continue Reading

Web development

The mobile web, adding value to your website

Q: What is with you most of the day (and night) next to your wallet and your watch?
A: Your mobile phone!

About a year ago I received my upgrade-phone, an XDA. Nice piece of technology, fairly quick (for a Microsoft OS), it has Sat-Nav and I can sent and receive my emails. Plus, it has WiFi and a nice display size. Plus it allows me to go online quickly to check for information: be it the AA or BBC travel website, order updates or tracking and at times even social networking sites (I know I’m sad). The though is now, how can we use this very personal device for our client’s websites? What are the benefits – and how can you make use of them? Continue Reading