Show 71: macBoag

Paul Boag

On this week’s show Paul talks about user login and registration, Patrick Haney shares his opinions on good design and Marcus covers picking the right web design agency.

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News and events

The world of web design seems to be bristling with news this week. Nevertheless I have managed to pick a mere five stories worthy of sharing with you:

The WASP Street Teams

The importance of web standards is a message that has now largely reached the majority of professional web designers. If you read blogs, attend conferences or indeed listen to podcasts then you probably know and work with standards. However WASP recognises that there are still a lot of web designers who are not so aware. They are therefore setting up Street Teams, which are local groups who share the “good news” of standards with their local community of designers.

Admittedly there is little in the way of details at the moment, but in principle this sounds like an interesting concept.

Elitism within web design

The Brit Pack has come under attack since SXSW for being an elitist group. Similar bizarre claims are often levelled at conference speakers, however this is the first time it has been directed at a group like the Brit Pack. Exactly why they are considered elitist is beyond me but it does raise an interesting question about what role more prominent members of the web design community should be playing.

Why semantic URLs matter

Robert Nyman has published a nice little post on the value of semantic URLs. In other words why:

domainName.com/page/foo.html

is better than:

domainName.com/page.html?query=foo

He talks about usability and search engine optimisation as well as looking at the development benefits it provides. If you aren’t already using semantic URLs then this post is definitely worth reading.

Buying and selling websites

There is an interesting article this week on Sitepoint. It looks at the idea of buying up failing websites, revamping them and then selling them on. This is definitely worth reading if you are a web design company like us looking for alternative incoming streams beyond pure development projects.

The future of Open ID

I was gutted to miss the Future of Web Apps conference in London. I was therefore understandably excited to see that the podcasts are already online. I was even more excited to see that Simon Willson had taken the time to match up his slides with the podcast to create a screencast on Open ID. Open ID is an area I see huge potential in and can’t wait to see how it develops in the future.

Client corner: Selecting an agency

We have an interesting discussion this week about the pros and cons of different types of agencies. For example should you look for a small specialist agency that focuses on one area of web design or turn too a massive ad agency that handles everything from web design to print and TV. Specialist agencies offer more experience and expertise in their particular field but often require more management, as you need to work with multiple agencies to get the different elements of a project done. Conversely, larger agencies tend to be slower moving and so lack the cutting edge experience in specific areas but allow you to get everything done “under one roof”.  

Ask an expert: Patrick Haney on what makes good design

Patrick Haney is a designer for Harvard University but is probably best known for his flickr photoset. It started as a personal project to keep track of websites that inspired him. He would see a site he liked, grab a screenshot and add it to flickr. However over time more and more people subscribed to the feed until today Patrick is known for his good eye for design. He therefore seemed the logical person to ask: “what makes great design?

Agony uncle: user Login

Creating a secure area on a website can be a tricky business. Not only are there technical challenges but also usability issues as well. How do you handle usernames and passwords, what if the user loses their password and how do you streamline the registration process? In this week’s agony uncle section we look at setting up a secure area, the technology and the downsides of locking content behind a password. 

Review: Moving to the mac

So while I was away in the states I bought a macbook. I know, I have been rude about macs in the past but the exchange rate was so good and it just sat there looking all black and sexy. Since returning to the UK I have been undergoing the process of moving across. This has proved an interesting experience and so I thought I would share some of it on the show. I cover things like:

  • Apples attention to detail in their hardware
  • The intuitive interface of OSX
  • Why good user interface design is about leaving stuff out
  • Why I am missing Office 2007 (Entourage sucks!)
  • The rose tinted glasses of most mac users
  • Why I believe that Vista is a viable alternative for some users.

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