Web Design News 04/05/10

Paul Boag

This week: Steve Job’s shares his thoughts on Flash, Ben Ward makes us understand the web and learn how to calibrate color for the web.

Thoughts on Flash

Probably the biggest story of the last week has been Steve Jobs public statement about Apple’s attitude towards Flash which goes into detail about why they don’t allow the plugin on iPhones, iPads and iPods.

Of course this has ignited much debate, skepticism and even anger in some cases.

The statement would suggest an end to the relationship between Apple and Adobe which is backed up by Kevin Lynch’s quick response on Adobe’s blog stating:

…given the legal terms Apple has imposed on developers, we have already decided to shift our focus away from Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices for both Flash Player and AIR. We are working to bring Flash Player and AIR to all the other major participants in the mobile ecosystem, including Google, RIM, Palm (soon to be HP), Microsoft, Nokia and others.

We look forward to delivering Flash Player 10.1 for Android smartphones as a public preview at Google I/O in May…

Understand the Web

A really interesting article entitled Understanding the Web has been written by Ben Ward he opens with:

Perceptions of the web are changing. People are advocating that we treat the web like another application framework. An open, cross-platform, multi-device rival to Flash and Cocoa and everything else. I’m all for making the web richer, and exposing new functionality, but I value what makes the web weblike much, much more.

Ben’s article encourages us to take a step back from the murky waters of buzz words, catch all terms and the altruistic claims of rival corporations and actually think about what the web really is and how:

It is not acceptable to [him] that 21st century knowledge retention has become so short and shallow as to be overwritten by influential ranting on Twitter. A greater tool for the dissemination of misinformation has never been known.

He goes on to write, and this follows on nicely from our pervious news item about Apple:

Meanwhile, the feuding between Apple and Adobe regarding Flash on iPad took an unexpectedly public twist, with Steve Jobs writing at length everything that John Gruber had already described about defending his platform from third-party influence, but also that Apple are choosing to invest in native running open standards. Jobs incorrectly brands this ‘HTML5’. He also criticises Flash for being proprietary whilst evangelising the H.264 video codec (licensing for H.264 is not ‘open’, either.)

I won’t quote the article in it’s entirety here instead you should head over to Ben’s site and read it for yourself.

Designing for a hierarchy of needs

For all of us that took High School Business Studies, you should be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Created by American Psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1943 it defines the idea of a physiological hierarchical system of needs in human beings.

This might be tricky to describe on an audio podcast, so do check out the link in the show notes, but the hierarchy is visualised as a triangle, with the widest point at it’s base, and sliced horizontally into 5 sections.

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

The widest, at the bottom are the basic ‘physiological’ needs that we, as human beings, require in order to survive such as food, water, shelter and sleep. The next level up are our ‘safety’ needs, such as personal and financial security, health and protection from the elements. The cannot be met unless our basic physiological needs are met. Continuing upwards we have our ‘love/belonging needs’ which caters for family, intimacy and social interaction. Next, our ‘esteem’ needs which give us confidence, status, recognition and independence and finally, the main goal is ‘self-actualisation’ which grants us peace, knowledge, self-fulfillment and the realization of our personal potential.

The key concept in Maslow’s hierarchy is that our low-level needs have to be catered for before we can successfully achieve our high-level needs like esteem and self-actualisation. This article puts a web-related spin on the hierarchy which may come in useful when sites are measured against it.

At the bottom of the design hierarchy, in place of human ‘physiological’ needs are ‘functionality’ needs, a site needs to physically work and meet it’s basic functional requirements. Next comes ‘reliability’, the site needs to have stable and consistent performance. ‘Usability’ needs ensure the site is easy to use. ‘Proficiency’ needs allow the user to be empowered and achieve their goals and finally the ‘Creativity’ needs layer on aesthetic beauty and innovative interactions to allow the site to be held in high regard.

All in all, the Design Hierarchy is a little nudge to remind you to ensure your site hits those low level needs first. It doesn’t really matter if your site looks amazing if it’s plagued with performance or functional problems.

This isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ idea and seems to be a very contextual concept, but worth a look at.

How to Calibrate Color for the Web

Have you ever put hours into a design adding layers of detail and subtlety only for it to go unnoticed on someone else’s monitor? If you’re answer is yes then the How to Calibrate Color for the Web guide at the Web Designers Depot is well worth a ready.

Ben Gremillion summaries with:

Accurate, consistent color is one of those minor details that most people—including web designers—choose to ignore in the face of parsing errors, web standards, client misinformation and good ol’ deadline pressure.

But it’s also one of those elements that make for a better overall experience. Once designers start to notice deviations in hue and muddy shadows, not wanting to do a better job will become unusual.

He talks about Color Shift, White Balance, Industry solutions like ICC Profiles and tips on actually peparing the room your working in for color work.

If you recognise that the mobile web is important and you need help deciding on a strategy, then book a mobile consultancy clinic.

Book a consultancy clinic or contact Rob about a more in-depth review.