Useful links: Forms in Tables, Customer Service, Female Gamers

A complicated question about making a form within a table that is accessible gets a great answer from Jared Smith at Web Standards Sherpa’s Facebook page.

You read A List Apart without me having to remind you to, right? Nevertheless, I thought this customer services post called Designing for Services Beyond the Screen was really excellent. How can you take the lessons from this article and apply them to your site?

Wow, talk about going mainstream. Ms. Magazine is getting into the fray on the topic of the miserable representation of women in gaming. Actually, About Half of Gamers are Women. It’s a good summary of the topic if you haven’t paid much attention before.

Useful Links: Mobile Tips, Wireframes, Prepare for the End

Mobile Website Design: 30 Pro Tips at Creative Bloq makes some excellent points and has some graphics that look helpful to use in a classroom. This graphic, for example, in tip 15.

content stacking wireframe

In keeping with that wireframe image, take a look at this inspiring collection of wireframe sketches from various designers. UI & Wireframe Sketches for Your Inspiration.

July 1 will be the end of Google Reader. Are you prepared? I’ve been using Netvibes after trying it out along with Feedly for a week long trial period. Netvibes won. Here’s a list of 12 alternatives to Google Reader. Just a reminder that there are links in the sidebar so that you can subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog using what ever reader you love the most.

Useful links: Web Design Chemistry, Deliverables, Shared Streaming, Jobs vs. Cook

Atomic Web Design takes an interesting metaphorical look at how the bits and pieces (or atoms and molecules) of a web design work together.

The Big Think: Breaking the Deliverables Habit is from Robert Hoekman at Smashing Magazine and is definitely worth thinking about.

Not so long ago I wrote Shared Streaming: Good or Bad? Netflix has decided that shared streaming is happening whether they like it or not and is catering to it with Multiple User Profiles for Accounts.

Is it just me, or does it seem that now that Steve Jobs is gone the Apple fanboys (and fangirls, may I add) feel free to poke jabs and complaints at Apple for various decisions regarding new products? It’s as if they are challenging Tim Cook to earn their affections all over again regardless of the quality of the products. The tweets during the recent announcements about iOS7 were often critical and bitchy – where has the unquestioned glowing enthusiasm gone? Was it all about Steve Jobs and not about Apple technology at all?


Useful links: WCAG, NOT selector, touchscreen thinking

Making Your Website Accessible, Part 1: Understanding WCAG is an interesting look at WCAG. In addition to explaining the basics of using WCAG, the author also discusses some of the drawbacks and problems.

Here’s a video of Russ Weakley explaining the CSS NOT selector.

 IA in the touchscreen era. This is a long post, but I promise you’ll never be bored reading it.

Useful Links: Brodigan, 7 Tips, Self-Hosted WordPress (Infographic),

Chrissie Brodigan’s Blog is about UX and excellent. Take a look.

Feel in need of a good giggle? Check out Laura Scott’s inspired post 7 Essential Elements to Create Amazing Top 7 Lists.

Nice infographic about WordPress, with a bit a advertising for the source – Copyblogger – thrown in. The Copyblogger steps aren’t essential to the process, helpful as that website can be to a blogger.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Self-Hosted WordPress Website
Like this infographic? Get more WordPress and hosting tips from Synthesis.

Thoughts On Being Iconic: Is Facebook an American Icon?

Think about cultural icons. You know, things like The Statue of Liberty or movie lines like “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” Think about Apple products. Think about Facebook.

That’s right. I said Facebook.

How can I think Facebook is iconic? Because it’s now become a symbol. I don’t mean a symbol on the stock exchange. I’m talking about a symbol of a way of life, of a generation, of a movement. And here’s proof in the form of Katy Perry’s latest video.

Facebook is no longer just a social media site. It’s now a way of communicating something about life and art that transcends social media. In other words, a cultural icon. If Andy Warhol were here, he would paint Facebook.

So what does it take to become iconic? Here are Virginia’s rules on becoming iconic.

1. Everybody has to Know about Whatever IT Is

Everybody knows about Facebook. Even if they don’t use it. In the U.S.A. about 59% of the online population uses it. The rest of the people just listen to endless news reports about it.

What is something everyone know about that you consider iconic?

2. Everybody has to Value Whatever IT Stands For

Everybody knows about The Statue of Liberty, too. But it’s more that just knowing about it. It stands for something important.

The Statue of Liberty = freedom. The Land of the Free. That’s what we are and we have Lady Liberty to remind you. You love freedom, right? Me, too. I scream, you scream, we all scream for freedom. We all feel a thrill when we see Lady Liberty standing in New York Harbor. We all recognize her image as she lifts her light. Why? Because we all value freedom.

Freedom is so important we are willing to die for it. The things that symbolize freedom – be they statues, flags, slogans or images – stand for those things we cherish and value. They are iconic.

What iconic symbol stands for something you value?

3. You Have to Love IT Every Single Time

Every time you watch “Casablanca” you love it, right? You can throw out lines like, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” in appropriate spots and everybody knows what you are referring to because they all loved “Casablanca” too.

It bears rewatching. You never get tired of it. You’ll go out at midnight to see it on the big screen. It’s a cultural touchstone. It’s iconic.

I could have picked something more modern than “Casablanca.” Perhaps “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” When a story like Joss Whedon’s favorite ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ episodes to marathon on LOGO makes national news, you’re dealing with the iconic.

What iconic bit of culture do you love every single time?

4. IT Can Excite and Thrill

Just looking at it, touching it, using it, has to be exciting. Has to thrill you and make you feel cool and powerful and fabulous. I’m thinking of Apple’s product line here: everything from the first aqua iMac to the minimalist interface of the iPod to the sleek and brilliant iPad. This rule applies to anything extraordinarily beautiful as well as to anything that works effortlessly and beautifully.

It’s so cool to carry or wear or be around that you are cool too. We all agree on this. We bestow coolness on you because you are smart enough to have this iconic thing beside you.

What beautifully designed and thrilling thing do you consider iconic?

5. Stories Are the Road to Iconic

We love stories. We tell stories to each other, we read stories, we follow stories on TV, we watch stories in the theater. We get personally attached and involved with the stories we love. We’re passionate about our stories, our characters. I think having a great story helps make the ordinary iconic. So many of our icons came from stories. The emotional connection comes from the story, from the idea, not from the thing.

If you set out to create something that everyone would know about and love and enjoy time and again, how would you do it? How would you create something iconic that would endure through generations and across cultures? Would you start with a good story?

I think you’d have to have a good story. That’s my step one.

What do you think is the next step?

[Note: Cross-posted at BlogHer.]

Google+ Redesign News and Tips for Using Google+

Google+ made some changes and upgrades last week and I thought it was time to take a second at this site, both to see what’s new and to discuss helpful features. Google announced the changes on the Google blog in Toward a Simpler, More Beautiful Google.

google+ new look


If you are familiar with Google+, you can see from the image the look has changed to something sleek and minamalist. Google describes it as “more functional and flexible.” Google touts the new navigation, saying,

  • You can drag apps up or down to create the order you want
  • You can hover over certain apps to reveal a set of quick actions
  • You can show or hide apps by moving them in and out of “More”

A few of the other changes (you can get the full list in this video) are easier ways to join conversations, ways to track activity around conversations you’re following, and a page just for Hangouts. Some of the menu items pop out for more precise options, such as the Photo menu.

google add photos pop out


The Profile page changed to include something that bears a whole lot of similarities to the Facebook Timeline, with a large image. Take a look at how She Geeks describes the Profile changes in Google Receives a Fresh Redesign that You Might Like.

The redesign raised the hackles of developers whose apps broke, and engendered a mocking meme about whitespace. You can explore those issues in Google Introduces a Familiar Redesign and Google Angers Developer with Google+ Redesign.

Getting the Most from Google+

After several months using Google+ it remains way down on the list of social networks I check regularly. Perhaps I’m not following enough people to get the value I was hoping for from it, but I don’t find it especially important – yet. I think the Hangouts feature is terrific, but people I’d like to share a Hangout with (for example, my book discussion group) are not all on Google+.

Even so, I’ve learned some tricks that help me get the most from Google+. They seem almost secret, because they are a bit hidden. If you take a second look at the site now to check out the new look, perhaps these tips will help you get more out of Google+.

The first almost-secret is circle volume control. It’s a bit tricky to find.

google more menu


Start in your stream with the Home button. Then pull down the More menu and select a circle. I picked my circle called BlogHers. That will bring posts from BlogHers to the top of my stream. And, it brings up a volume control slider to the right of the page.

volume control slider


Use the slider to determine the amount of volume as a percentage of your total stream you want to see from the chosen Circle. I find this really helpful. I recently added a circle called Women Who Work in STEM, and, wow, those women are talkative! I can turn the volume down on those posts, while getting more volume from my BlogHer circle.

The second almost-secret is Sparks. A Spark is basically a saved search. I searched on the keywords “web design.” You see the results immediately, of course, but when the results appear, a button to “Save This Search” also appears. Click it and your search is saved.

I saved another search, too. This one was for “social media.” Now, when I’m on the Home page looking at my stream, I can find both those searches in the More menu and check for new search results anytime.

saved searches in menu


Your Reaction?

As with any change, reactions to new design are mixed. It’s interesting to use Google+ to search for “Google+ redesign” and see the mixed reactions. My personal reaction is, “Oh, Google+ changed.” What’s your response?

Honestly, I’m more excited about using features that were there all the time like the Volume Control and Saved Search. The new design is just “Okay. Thanks for letting me know.”

Editor’s Note: All screen captures from Google+ by Virginia DeBolt. Cross-posted at BlogHer.