Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday, Brown Saturday, and Cyber Monday 2011

There is a lot of new things coming this year to the typical Black Friday turnout. The biggest difference this year is start times for the sales, Wal-Mart is starting at 10:00pm Thursday night which has actually stirred up quite a bit of controversy because many people believe shopping shouldn’t get in the way of the family time of thanksgiving, but many retailers are starting deals on thanksgiving anyway. Target, Bestbuy, and a couple others are opening at 12:01 Friday morning. This has been an interesting turn out from the typical open at 4 or 5 am in years passed. It will be interesting to see if it will calm down the typical injuries associated with Black Friday to split up the opening times more. One big problem I can foresee is that some people who go at 10, and 12 will be getting miniscule amount of sleep for when some of the others open at 5 or 6. In my experience the only thing worse than the crowds are grumpy tired crowds. Almost all the ads have been revealed or leaked, if you want to view the scans (Walmart ad Scans) (Target ad Scans) (Best Buy ad Scans).

So this got a question started for me, do I venture into the eternal swarm of frantic shoppers just to save some money? Or do I just try going on Brown Saturday (nicknamed that because some times its super crowded and all the good deals are sold out) or just wait for Cyber Monday. I prefer online shopping to regular stores anyway, but many sites are starting an online deals week, with exclusive black Friday deals, and Cyber Monday specials too. I am wondering if the notion of “Black Friday” may start to fade away, and some marketing director will name it something like Gushing Savings Week, or Deal-A-Bananza Week. (I hope neither of those get used because they will just call it Black Friday week, or something like that).

So what am I to do, well these deals always make me realize that buying anything electronic throughout the year is meaningless when I can get it severely discounted if I tough out the Jungle of consumers. I am just going to shoot for online deals this year, I dislike the crowds and seeing the worst in humanity for a $20 of savings. Every Year Amazon has spoiled me with amazing week long deals Amazon's Black Friday Week
and exclusives for Cyber Monday. So this year I am going to sit this one out, so far none of the in store deals are amazing enough to risk my life over.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You are not a Designer, and I am not a Musician Article Discussion

You are not a Designer, and I am not a Musician Article Discussion

This article is about how many hobbyists are calling themselves designers. It goes more into explaining how a true designer, constantly looks into improving their skill. They do more than just sticking to one style to fit all solutions. A true designer is willing to put aside their style, and find what is unique about the company and translate it into the web medium. He also made good arguments on how if you take a picture with a cell phone, it doesn’t make you a photographer, if you sing in the shower it doesn’t make you a professional singer. Now this isn’t to say that you should give, up on making websites. You can become a designer, but it requires a lot of dedication and constant practice.

I think this is a very good article that helps explain how many people enjoy doing something on the side, and expect to be paid a designers salary to do imitation work. There are a lot more steps that designers have to learn, which is why they deserve to be paid more than just hobbyists. The article also mentions how when you see a really neat website and you take a look at the designers gallery, you realize it was just a one hit wonder, its looks like a happy accident. Now I know that not every website is going to be groundbreaking and win awards, but if you look at the profile of a designer, and realize that they just repeated the same layout 32 different ways, the concept of them being a designers quickly fleets away.

So what we come away with this article is a question are we working towards being a designer? Or are we down the path of web fads and same stylization? “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black” – Henry Ford. We need to make sure were not thinking along Mr. Fords logic here, the customer can have any style as long as its mine. We need to think what bests represents our clients beliefs, actions, and company, and how will this website aid them for the future?

Read the full article You are not a Designer, and I am not a Musician here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Everybody Loves Cake Especially if its Accessible and Usable Cake

Can you have accessibility and usability at the same time? Sure, as long as you code your site carefully. In the article Let Them Eat CakebyAaron Gustafson Aaron shows us with some examples how we can use DOM, in connection with JavaScript and CSS to make a site extremely usable. He walks us through the process step by step, but to be completely hones I wasn’t sure exactly what DOM was, so I looked it up and found out it stands for Document Object Model, which for short means that it is a programming language that interacts with html xhtml,. It will do for this article, so using it he breaks up a webpage which is his article (Original html of his article site) Using DOM and JavaScript he shows us how to be able to get this single page, to be broken down into sub categories so you can skip to what section you want easily without having to scroll up and down. To be hones I would have made a dumb mistake of having multiple web pages for what he was able to accomplish in this single page. So after he gets the functionality down, he is able to turn the original html for his article site into (Into this finished site) You can definitely see the CSS difference, but if you have ever wanted to make multiple section website that also prints as the original.

Gustafson’s article can work like a tutorial to help you accomplish the bridge between accessibility, and usability. The article inspires me to keep learning and looking for ways to combine both accessibility and make it usable for the visitors to. Sometimes we never give the users any credit they are smarter then we think, but we need to be careful not to make our site a chore to navigate, because in the end content will drive visitors, and helping them get there is the web developers job. In the end this article helped me understand how HTML and CSS is just the bread and condiments of your web sandwich, there are many different meats and toppings out there. Making the sandwich delicious is a different topic, but always keep looking for new knowledge.

To get some JS and DOM knowledge check out this book
Murach's JavaScript and DOM Scripting (Murach: Training & Reference)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

By Jennie Robinson
Published on November 28, 2005

This article is telling us how we shouldn’t fall victim to using marketing and business terms in our website. How by making things dull for the reader nobody will want to read what is on our websites. It argues that we should be authentic in how we convey our message. We should write and describe not define what we are writing about. As put by the writer Jennie Robinson the audience is God. It makes a lot of sense, in the end whether anyway will revisit your website or explore more of it depends if it is interesting enough to remember. This should be in careful context, don’t imitate hip sites because they have likely invested a lot of research and time into knowing their market. She also interjects that we should avoid jargon and buzz-words, because they should be written out, even if there considered short hand, eventually it gets translated to normal length.

I think that most of the arguments are valid, because if I start skimming a website and it sounds uneventful or forgettable I grab the information I originally wanted and leave. I often find myself reading whole articles if written well, and genuinely interesting. Even under short timing conditions. I think most of the time you should write descriptively instead of defining your message, but you also want to make some part shorter in case your just skimming. The best example is review sites, I will instantly scroll down to see what the score was, and if I am puzzled I will read the article, or if there points are interesting I may investigate further. Now back to jargon, or buzz-words (though there not the same, the purpose between both are similar) they should be used on very specialized sites only. If you are a plumbing company and there is jargon to describe one of your products, definitely put it in the description, but if you sell to the general public define it, or leave it just in the keywords. Just take a step back if you are making a site, and have someone else read it, if they think its bland chances are it probably is. Oh and choose who you let proofread it carefully, not to be cruel but there are some people who are tasteless, or hate everything. Don’t let them proofread it. If you would like some more tips for writing I found this book to be a great help The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well


Friday, September 2, 2011

Are Experts born or raised?

In the article the expert mind (click expert mind for link) it talks about the psychological studies regarding experts, and chess. It starts off talking about famous chess master Jose Raul Capablanca, of Cuba. He played a circuit game with 28 amateurs taking only 1 or 2 seconds each game he wins all the games. I was very impressed by that kind of skill he possessed. The main point of this article is to argue the topic of are experts naturally talented, or do they put in more hard work, and time then everyone else? They use chess, because chess is very easy to record success and skill levels.

They show a study and ask amateurs and masters to memorize a chess game from an actual game, and one that is randomly moved throughout the board (Ross 67), the experts were able to recall the real chess game almost flawlessly after just a few seconds, but were very comparable to the amateurs in the randomly arranged one. This argued that the chess masters memorize specific games and positions, but don't just memorize everything better. It also introduces the Chunking Theory (Ross 68) which suggests that people can remember information in what is called blocks, so instead of memorizing all 20 pieces they just memorize the normal position, and add the differences. Then from there they propose it takes about 10 years of thoughtful study and practice to become an expert (Ross 71).

This article supports the idea of the book Outliers: The Story of Successby Malcolm Gladwell. They both argue that experts or outliers are made through practice and study, for 10 years or 10,000 hours. I do agree with them natural talent is nice to have but if you find no need to push yourself further and study harder your talent can and will be outclassed by someone who is willing to practice harder, and longer. I think we often stick with our natural talents, because that is what we have had the most success of in our daily life, but we can amount to anything if we are disciplined to stick with it and practice hard at it. Most people want to be an expert in their field, are you willing to do what it takes to become one?

Is the article well-written?

I feel the article is well written especially considering the person who wrote it is a chess player himself. His facts are very sound, and I have seen similar studies argued in different books. I feel that this article is very applicable to anyone who is striving to go into a field, irregardless of the field. For example Web Designer can use it as inspiration if they are struggling with code, and if they study and practice, could create very complex sites, extremely quickly. Chunking theory also works well for web design, if you can master the html codes and css codes and the order they are usually presented, you could easily recall a large amount of css with very little time, and effort when starting from scratch.

Is the article applicable?
Are arguments in the article valid and sound?
How is information in the article applicable to Web designers?

Ross, Philip E. "The Expert Mind." Scientific American. Aug 2006: 67. Print.