Quick Review: eduStyle.net / The eduStyle Guide to Usable Higher-Ed Homepage Design

If you’re involved in web design and development for Higher Education then you may already be aware of the great website eduStyle which showcases examples of website design from Higher Ed institutions from around the world with the aim to provide a place for “web professionals to learn from and be inspired by work of their peers“.

The main feature of the site is a gallery where you can browse through various sites. Each site has a screenshot of the website and you can then click through to a detail page showing a large image and of course the URL of the site. It also allows you to vote for the site as to whether it’s ‘My Style‘ or ‘Not My Style‘. eduStyle also run the annual Higher-ed Web Awards so if you see a site you like you can also nominate the site for an award via link on the detail page. There’s also a blog with regularly updated articles and info about events etc.

Review of “The eduStyle Guide to Usable Higher-Ed Homepage Design”

Ok, slightly odd to call this a review when I haven’t even read the book yet! However, eduStyle have published a book titled “The eduStyle Guide to Usable Higher-Ed Homepage Design”, given that the website is such a good resource then it’s certain that the book will be very useful too. It’s been released as a PDF version initially and will be published in print in due course for those, like myself, that like the feel of real paper! The book has some interesting goals:

  • Get External Validation of Your Design Ideas
  • Learn Best Practices and Common Pitfalls of Higher Ed Homepage Design
  • Get Tips To Improve the Usability of Your Homepage
  • Find Out Leading Edge Design Trends
  • Discover Common Themes Between Noteworthy Winners
  • Understand the Reasoning Behind Your Competitor’s Designs
  • Learn Secrets That Can Get Your Homepage Noteworthy Status

Anyway, that’s enough rambling about a book I haven’t read, you can go to the eduStyle site to read more about it yourself!

~Rick

A List Apart Web Design Survey 2008

I took the “A List Apart Web Design Survey” last year and it was well worth doing as it was the first effort to try and establish a picture of the working conditions of people who are involved in building or maintaining websites.

You can read the results of last years survey at www.alistapart.com/articles/2007surveyresults, you can download the findings of the survey as a PDF document.

Last year over 33,000 people took part in the survey and the organiser intend to improve on the results of last year’s survey:

This year?s survey corrects many of last year?s mistakes, with more detailed and numerous questions for freelance contractors and owners of (or partners in) small web businesses. There are also better international categories, and many other improvements recommended by those who took the survey last year.

Essential Reading for Web Designers – Second Edition

I wrote a post back at the end of 2005 called "Essential Reading for Web Designers" in which I wrote about a few books that I considered essential reading for anyone who does website design. Primarily these books focused on using web standards, at the time these books were the few key books about this subject.

Since then a lot more books have been written but the books I wrote about then are still very important. In fact two of them have been updated with a second edition bringing them right back up to date with the current state of web design. As these second editions have come out I thought I’d make a second edition of my own and update my list of essential reading too!

Cover image of Design with Web Standards - 2nd EditionDesigning with Web Standards – Second Edition by Jeffrey Zeldman

This second edition by an author who was recently called ‘The King of Web Standards’ in a recent interview on BusinessWeek.com brings this key book up to date. the back cover states:

Best-selling author, designer, and web standards evangelist Jeffrey Zeldman has updated his classic, industry-shaking guidebook. This new edition, now in full color, covers improvements in best practices and advances in the world of browsers since the first edition introduced the world to standards-based design.

View Designing with Web Standards – Second Edition on Amazon.

Cover image of Bulletproof Web Design 2nd EditionBulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS, Second Edition by Dan Cederholm

This second edition, due for release in September 2007, updates this excellent book. Dan writes about it on his own website saying:

This isn?t a giant update nor a new book entirely. Rather, it brings the examples in line with Internet Explorer 7 (which wasn?t released when the first ed. was published) and adds several more examples based on ems (which were sorely lacking from the original book). There are of course errata fixes and nips and tucks throughout as well, and about 30 additional pages were added in total.

View Bulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS, Second Edition on Amazon

Cover image of DOM ScriptingDOM Scripting: Web Design with JavaScript and the Document Object Model by Jeremy Keith

This book focuses on best practices for Javascript coding. It’s a great book aimed at web designers rather than programmers so it’s an excellent way to get into the power that the DOM and Javascript can offer:

The book is aimed at designers rather than programmers. If you’ve learned the benefits of Web Standards through CSS and you’re now ready to move on to the next level, this is the book for you. It will show you how to add stylish, usable enhancements to your web pages using Web Standards that guarantee future compatibility.

View DOM Scripting: Web Design with JavaScript and the Document Object Model on Amazon.

Cover image of Bulletproof AJAXBulletproof Ajax by Jeremy Keith

Following on from DOM Scripting, Jeremy Keith writes further about best practices in Javascript programming. This book focuses on how to use AJAX but in a way that degrades well and is accessible:

Using flexible design elements that adapt to the user?s needs, Web sites continue to work beyond the typical browsing environment. I believe that the same philosophy can be applied to Ajax. Far too many Ajax applications are built like a house of cards, dependent on just the right stack of technologies in the browser. Browsers that don?t support the required technologies are locked out and their users are turned away. To avoid this, you need to create flexible applications using bulletproof Ajax.

View Bulletproof Ajax on Amazon.

And many more…

These are just a few books on these subjects, but they are a few that I would definitely recommend reading, and probably in the order I’ve listed them too. A quick look on Amazon (or in my Amazon aStore found under the ‘Store’ section above) will find many other books to take your web design and development further.

~Rick

Take the “A List Apart Web Design Survey”

A List Apart are running a Web Design survey to gather statistics about the people involved in the web design industry around the world. They’re after as many as people as possible to take the survey to help gather these statistics, so I’d encourage you to take it if you work in the web design industry or even if web design is just a small part of your job. Your input will be of great use, I’m personally looking forward to the final results of the survey!

Here’s a bit of info from their website:

Designers, developers, project managers. Writers and editors. Information architects and usability specialists. People who make websites have been at it for more than a dozen years, yet almost nothing is known, statistically, about our profession. Who are we? Where do we live? What are our titles, our skills, our educational backgrounds? Where and with whom do we work? What do we earn? What do we value?

It?s time we learned the answers to these and other questions about web design. And nobody is better qualified than the readers of A List Apart to provide the answers. Participate in our first annual survey to increase knowledge of web design and boost respect for the profession. Selected participants, chosen by random drawing, will win one free ticket to An Event Apart event held in the continental U.S.; an Apple 30GB video iPod, an Event Apart jump drive, or a funky A List Apart T-shirt.

Go check it out!

I took the A List Apart Survey!

~Rick

Naked CSS Day ’07

If you are visiting this site on the 5th of April then don’t worry, the site isn’t broken! If you’re visiting after the 5th of April then you won’t see what I’m talking about. The reason this site looks (or looked) ‘funny’ is because all of the stylesheets for the site are disabled to promote Web Design according to Web Standards.

CSS Naked Day ’07” is a concerted effort by a whole heap of people online to promote the design and development of web sites according to Web Standards. The initiative was started last year by Dustin Diaz who explains it by saying:

The idea behind this event is to promote Web Standards. Plain and simple. This includes proper use of (x)html, semantic markup, a good hierarchy structure, and of course, a good ‘ol play on words. It’s time to show off your <body>.

Hopefully my site looks ok in all of it’s naked CSS glory :)

If you don’t know anything about CSS or Web Standards then go take a look at these resources for a quick starting point:

Anyway, that’s just a few links for starters, there’s lot’s of good stuff there. The “Designing with Web Standards” book is a great introduction to the whole concept, and the last two books are great for taking your skills further forwards. All three are really well written and are essential books to read in my opinion.

~Rick