TheNextWeb Highlights 9 Free Display Typefaces...

Tnw 9freetypefaces
If you are, like me, a fan of all things related to typography, then you are probably, like me, easily sucked into articles with headlines like:
9 Awesome free display typefaces you can download right now

And indeed this post from TheNextWeb's "Design & Dev" site did pull me in...

... but that's okay, because I enjoy seeing what designers will come up with for new typefaces.

The 9 highlighted in this article are not necessarily ones you would use for typical written text but rather are designed for "display" usage, i.e. signs, banners, logos, etc.

It's a nice collection and I've got some ideas in mind for a couple of them... :-)


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1997 Video of Steve Jobs: "Focusing is about saying no"

In all the ongoing commemoration of Steve Jobs, a friend posted to Facebook this short video clip of Steve Jobs from the 1997 WWDC event that so perfectly captures his design philosophy ... and that "focusing is about saying no":

Good summary of his design views... and also a fun trip into seeing a much younger Steve Jobs.


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How Fast Do Your Pages Load? Check Your "Site Speed" In Google Analytics

How fast does your website load? How fast do individual pages load? With Google stating that site speed will factor into future search engine result placement, how can you tweak your site to make it load faster?

To help with all of that, Google announced earlier this month a new "Site Speed" report available in Google Analytics. I've enabled it for a number of my sites (it's not on by default) and the results have been quite interesting. Here's a view of the average load speed of my Disruptive Telephony site:

Sitespeed

Overall, my pages on the site take about 12 seconds to fully load into a web browser... perhaps because I dynamically load in various RSS feeds into the sidebars. That is the point of the report, though... I can now start digging into WHY pages load slowly. The report also shows the data for each individual page (at least, for pages that have had visitors), letting you dive down into more details.

In fact, you can explore a whole range of details. As Google's blog post notes, this report can help you understand:

  • Content: Which landing pages are slowest?
  • Traffic sources: Which campaigns correspond to faster page loads overall?
  • Visitor: How does page load time vary across geographies?
  • Technology: Does your site load faster or slower for different browsers?

Now, as I mentioned earlier, the Site Speed report is not enabled by default. As explained in this Google support note, you need to tweak your Google Analytics tracking code to start sending a new variable back to Google. Assuming you are using the current asynchronous tracking snippet, you just have to add one line to your tracking code:

 _gaq.push(['_trackPageLoadTime']);

After you make that addition, GA will start collecting your speed data from that point forward. Now, you should note that GA only uses a sample of your overall data to generate the reports and statistics... but you can see very clearly in the user interface what the sample size is.

Note that there are two important caveats about this report.

First, the Site Speed report is only visible in the "New version" of Google Analytics. After you login to GA, you probably have to click the "New version" link at the top of the screen to switch:

Ganewversion

Once you are in the new version of GA and then select one of your sites, you'll see a "Site Speed" report in the left-hand nav bar:

Ganavbar

The second caveat is that this Site Speed report only works in some web browsers per the Google help page:

This report currently supports the following browsers: Chrome, Internet Explorer 9 and previous versions of Internet Explorer with the Google Toolbar installed. More specifically, the Site Speed reports require browsers that support the HTML5 NavigationTiming interface or have the Google Internet Explorer toolbar installed

With those two caveats in mind, I've found the report to be quite a useful view into what is going on within my site. What do you think? Have you enabled this yet? Did it help you understand where you might want to make some changes?


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Fun with 404 Pages - The SMSified.com Example

Earlier this week we at Voxeo launched SMSified.com, a new service where developers can use a super simple REST API to send and receive SMS messages for only 1 cent per message (you can read the various SMSified blog posts to learn more). One of the fun hidden features of the new site, to me, was the 404 page (click the image to see it in all its glory):

Smsified404

I've always enjoyed it when companies have a "fun" 404 page when you land somewhere on their site... and so its great to be at one of those companies, now ;-)


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Clueing a User In: Why is this Verisign Webinar Signup Form a FAIL?

Anyone else see what is fundamentally broken with this form and the resulting validation error dialog box?

Webinarsignupform

Don't do this! Make it very clear to users exactly what information is and is not required.


UPDATE: (a few hours later) Verisign let me know via a tweet that they had fixed this ... and would be more careful with their asterisks in the future ;-) Good to see that they were monitoring Twitter ...


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KISSmetrics' Great Infographic on The Evolution of Web Design from 1990's to Today

Mashable.com today published a great infographic that was created by KISSmetrics on "The Evolution of Web Design".

For those of us who have been working with the web from its earliest days, it's a great trip down memory lane. I remember learning of "the World-Wide Web" back in 1991 or so when all you could do was telnet into info.cern.ch. I had written and was teaching an "Introduction to the Internet" class for large companies in the Boston area... and had a section at the end about "new topics" that included a brief mention of this world-wide web thing :-) Shortly, thereafter, of course, I was rapidly developing courseware in how to create HTML pages and helping people learn how to set up websites.

We've come a l..o..n..g.. way from hand-coding all our pages using an editor like "vi" or Notepad...

Kudos to the KISSmetrics team for coming up with the cool infographic. The full graphic is huge... but worth checking out.

Webdesigninfographic

P.S. Kudos to the KISSmetrics folks for also providing a "Facts and Stats to Tweet" area below the infographic, complete with links to tweet out those stats. A well-done example of making it easy for people to tell the story you want and get people coming back to your site... ;-)

Factstotweet


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Have You Ever Seen A SignUp Form Quite Like This? (Loggly.com)

Signup forms... we've all seen them... probably made them... but have you ever seen one quite like the form to sign up for the beta of Loggly.com?

Beta | Loggly.jpg

Yes, it takes me back to my childhood days and Mad Libs, but isn't that a much more fun experience than the standard form full of fields?

Kudos to the Loggly team for doing something different in the sea of signup forms!


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At What Point Do We Just Stop Caring About IE6 Visitors?

Tasmania: Junked Out Old Car

Flickr credit: elisfanclub

As I've been working more with CSS3 and HTML5 (and starting to write about it), a common theme I've found in CSS books, websites and other material is this:
"... and then you have to do this to make it look right in Internet Explorer 6..."

... and then you do this for IE6... and then you do that... and then you add this kludgey hack... and then you add that kludgey hack... and then you click your heels three times while sacrificing a goat on the eve of a full moon in order to get your 2010 web page to look good in a browser that came out in 2001!

ENOUGH ALREADY!

How much time, energy and other resources are we going to continue to waste?

At what point do we in the communication business just stop caring about IE6 users?

Yes, yes, I know that the "proper" answer is that "it depends" and you need to look at the visitors coming to your website. And yes, I can see from those stats that one of the sites I work with actually has about 7% of its visitors using IE6.

But seriously, folks... are we going to continue to design for the lowest common denominator simply because either organizational inertia or organizational incompetence is keeping people using a ~10-year-old browser???

I mean... upgrading to a newer version of IE is FREE! There aren't any of the cost issues associated with, say, Office. (And yes, I recognize that some of those companies still using IE6 are probably also still using Office 97!)

Yes, I realize that some internal apps or sites may break... but come on, how long has it been? And think of how many security issues you would address simply by moving away from IE6!

MY VOTE...

I know my vote... I'm in the process of redesigning some sites and I am NOT going to care about IE6 visitors. Now, maybe I have that luxury because the sites involved are around "emerging technology" and if you are interested in that topic it's pretty certain you are NOT using IE6 (and the stats show that)... but I'm also considering taking that option for some other sites, too.

Enough!

P.S. Hey, Facebook stopped supporting IE6 back in August... can we get other large sites to do that, too?


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For all you love fonts, check out what's coming in Firefox 4...

Wood Type

Flickr credit: lwr

If you, like me, enjoy good use of typography, check out the support for control of OpenType font features via CSS coming in Firefox 4:
http://hacks.mozilla.org/2010/11/firefox-4-font-feature-support/

These are some of the minor nuances in typography... but they can add up to make a site or document just look that much better! I'm looking forward to trying them out once FF4 becomes available..


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Nettuts+ Video Tutorial: Getting Clever with CSS3 Shadows

Lately I've been doing a great amount of experimentation and testing with CSS - and seeking to understand more of the goodness that comes with CSS3 as more and more browsers support both HTML5 and CSS3. In that experimentation, I came across this great video from Nettuts+ about how to create shadows with CSS3. I thought it was quite cool and recommend it for anyone else playing around with CSS3:

Now... if only all the browsers out there would fully support CSS3!


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