Recap: From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web – Molly Holzschlag

This month we were honored to welcome Molly Holzschlag to Refresh Detroit. Molly is considered one of the godfathers godmother of the Web. Her talks centered around “From Documents to Apps: Evolving an Open Web”. As an advocate for open standards, she outlined how the open web allows for the empowerment of all individuals via global access.

She started her talk with a quote from Hillman Curtis that I am very fond of and wanted to share:

“Be prepared to reinvent yourself. Be prepared to go out on a limb occasionally, and be prepared to do the things that you feel strongly about”
– Hillman Curtis

I’m not going to give you a play by play of her talk because she was kind enough to let us record it. The full audio is available below and on Soundcloud.

A few things that stood out for me while she went through her presentation and interacted with the audience were:

  • Setup a personal advisory committee, no one person knows everything about the web.
  • It’s survival of the most adaptive, not survival of the fittest.
  • On the Web nothing matters, browsers, OS, data format, or language.
  • The definition of “open” often means transparency. But the preference is to mean authenticity.
  • The many things rule: Never look at one thing and thing it is just one thing.
  • Adopt a error forgiveness. We cannot know it all.
  • ARIA is the important piece that most Web sites are missing.

Molly gave us five main points to move forward

  1. Support existing content
  2. Ensure interoperability
  3. Define the user agent behavior (Solve problems from real-world issues)
  4. Better handle errors
  5. Evolve what we have

Some pictures from her talk

    

DudaMobile: Simply Awesome!

Recently, I tried out DudaMobile. They just launched their new, self-serve platform that lets existing website owners create a mobile version of their website and enable auto redirects when accessed via mobile devices.

This is essentially a boon for small business owners. Ones who don’t have much complexity on their website, but since the mobile phones are now an important channel for bringing in more revenues (or providing a better Quality of Service). DudaMobile instantly creates a mobile version of their existing site. For free. This means a LOT of savings in terms of time, effort and money.

The mobile website can also be customized to add themes and custom colors. They also provide some cool widgets – particularly apt for a mobile site: click to call, SMS sender, maps and directions etc. Still, if you happen to have a developer in the office who wants to improve the look and feel, you can choose to do so as well – simply using CSS and HTML.

Behind the scenes, my guess is that there is a service that detects HTML elements like hyperlinks, image divs, tables etc and applies a relevant jQuery layer on top of it. So the cool mobile-optimized buttons, background colors, resized images etc. Anyone who has a different discovery, feel free to share.

Here are two basic advantages over similar competing products:

  1. Mobstac: relies mainly on rss, cms etc to draw/paint the site (or so it seems). But seems that they generate automatically. But one MAJOR disadvantage: most of the websites I tried couldn’t be converted. Seems they really have to either rethink their choices or log in a ton of man-hours before this could really knock off everyone else.
  2. Moably: asks for email/signup even before previewing. This is SUCH a major turn-off. Totally not done. Also doesn’t appear to automate the process. Seemingly they would offer a quote to develop the website. Hence, not really a true competitor in terms of time/price. Off course, the quality could be fairly different. Haven’t tried, no comments on that.
  3. For the free version, the mobile website will have some ads on every page with a DudaMobile footer. A free site is also limited to 10 pages and 500 MB. The free version URL is also the Duda URL (dudamobile.com/yourcompany) Mobile site analytics are also included in the free version, which in my opinion, is a huge plus.

    For $9.99 a month, DudaMobile offers an ad-free site with customizable footer. Also include cool widgets like SMS sender, maps & directions etc. Also the URL for a paid site is personalized (m.yourcompany.com) EMail support is available for the paid version. Per their website, they are soon bringing in Google Adwords integration too.

    Now thats the way to go Duda!

Recap: Web Design Process… More or Less

For our July meeting we were lucky enough to have Colleen Case and Maria Gosur from Schoolcraft College to talk about the Web Design Process.

The talk was about a framework for the web design process, taking 45 hours of teaching time and compressing it to 45 minutes. They discovered 40% of the population is re-tooling skills to the web, while 60% have grew up with the skills and looking for something advanced. Colleen is an interactive teacher, shifting from sage on the stage to guide by the side.

“The medium is the message”
– Marshall McLuhun, 1964

The content of the communications is blended with the medium. With the way it is sent, the interface is content.

Framework for team dynamics

  • Together everyone achieves more
  • It starts with a common vision
  • Creating a swing

Process (stages of development that are happening concurrently)

  1. Define the project
  2. Scope of the project
  3. Information architecture
  4. Build and integrate
  5. Site publishing

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/philltran/status/91287274905546752″]

Define the project

  • Figuring out who is on the team and what they do
  • It’s important to define these up front

Scope of the project

  • Common vision, defining an audience, review the data, technical needs
  • Audiences can mean more than one
  • How do we talk to the audience as a human
  • Persona’s should have names and refer to them as actual individuals
  • How can we best deliver your content to your audience
  • The scope of a website doesn’t end when it launches, it stretches for years after.
  • You can’t jump ahead in the process

Information architecture

  • Looking at all the information and start recognizing patterns
  • Sticky notes are a great way to visualize information to recognize patterns
  • Chunking is grouping information
  • Queueing is prioritizing information
  • Filters is creating unique access for multiple users
  • Abstracting is creating a consistant look from page to page to orient the user and allow them to get around
  • Where does the complexity of the site lie? In the back end or frontend for the user?

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/philltran/status/91291238355046400″]

Build and integrate

  • File management and naming conventions
  • Optimizing multimedia
  • Populating content
  • Site testing, not just functional but also the ascetics

Site publishing

  • Site Launch
  • Training, Updates, Maintenance
  • Debrief

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/refreshdetroit/status/91297540523298816″]

Things often overlooked

Your client knows the problem. Design is problem solving.

The project manager talks to the client so there is a single voice and ears for the entire project. One person can have multiple roles.

The content expert might not always be client. Writer/Editor. Usability Testing, Information Architect. Technology Researcher.

Visual designers are the person on the team that everyone’s favorite. Photographer. Illustrator. Multimedia Designer. Bringing the illustrator in early on can yield a lot of illustrations that explain the process to get everyone on the same page. It can expand understanding.

Technical designers look at everything that makes the website possible. Database developer. IT security specialist.

Usability designer. Test/focus group coordinator. Search engine optimization manager. Social media manager. Site analytics. Transition coordinator.

We consume web content as snacks, not meals. We scan, pick and choose what to interact with.

More Information: http://designprocessmoreorless.com/