Useful Links: OpenAIR, Queer History, Lucidpress

If you’ve never been on a team designing a site in one of Knowbilities OpenAIR events, it’s a great experience. You learn a lot about accessibility and have a good time. They still need 3 teams for this year’s event.

A Queer History of Computing at Rhizome is the first of five posts in a series. The first post is about Alan Turing, an English mathematician who is considered by many to be the father of computer science. This is a fantastic project, I hope educators find and use all five posts in the series. The series will be all men. A similar project on queer women would be wonderful, too.

Collaboratively Create Multimedia Documents With Lucidpress. This multimedia tool works with Google docs but is “slicker” and is free for students and teachers.

What A-B Testing Is and Why You Should Do It

When you are running a business, it is important to test your advertising and marketing strategy so that you can develop a better method of reaching your target audience. The primary goal of marketing is getting the name of your company and the products or services that you provide out to the public. The second goal of advertising is tempting your target audience, or the customers that your products are designed to help, to consider purchasing the item or paying for the services. One method of finding the right advertising strategy for your business is A-B testing.

What Is A-B Testing?

Before it is possible to actually apply A-B testing in your business, you must understand what it is and how it works. If you do not know the basics of the testing strategy, then it is hard to use it in a practical manner.

A-B testing is a term that describes a systematic study of different parts of your marketing strategies, website or other tools that you use to gain the attention of your potential clients. write about what to test. You have two items or elements that you are comparing in a controlled setting. If you’re looking to test more than one variable, have a look at this post on multivariate data analysis here. The comparable elements or items are labelled as A and B during the systematic test. Another name for the experiment is split testing or controlled randomized tests. It is a literal comparison of two items to find the element, statement or item that is better at attracting potential customers or getting the results that you want.

A-B Testing
A-B testing Image credit: Walter Rumsby

How It Works

Although it seems like a simple experiment, the testing strategy does require a little work to ensure that it is a controlled study. Before you attempt to determine if your new strategy is appropriate for your goals, set your control.

In A-B testing, the control element of the experiment is A. It refers to the original strategy that you employed, such as a button on a company website or a design that you use for the current advertisements that you send in the mail. Depending on your current strategy, the exact item that you are comparing to the new strategy will vary.

The B in an experimental test is the new strategy, item or element, such as a new design on the mailed advertisement or a different design for a website button to encourage visitors to click on the button. The first item acts as a control because you already know how well it is reaching your target audience. The second item is the strategy or change that you are testing for comparison purposes.

Compare the results of each item in the experiment for a set amount of time, such as one to two weeks. After you see if one color choice, design element or phrase on your website or advertisement is better than the other, you can make changes to ensure that your business is making the most out of the ads, website and tools that help you reach your target audience.

Reasons That A-B Testing is Important

Although it is obvious that testing the variables in your advertisements is essential to getting the results that you want, there are several reasons that split testing is recommended for businesses. A company can benefit from testing even the smallest variables on a website, email or even just an ad that you send in the mail.

A key reason to start adding A-B testing to your marketing strategy is the potential improvements to your website, advertisements or other elements of your business. It is not necessary to make everything perfect on the first try. The tests help you determine different ways that you can improve so that your customers are happy with the services that you offer. Even small improvements can make the user experience better.

Another reason to add A-B testing is the impact on profits. A business that makes changes and identifies the items that customers are looking for in a website, email or ad will see an improvement in the amount of profits that come in. Customers like to see changes, particularly if they make the experience more user-friendly or appeal to a personal aesthetic sense.

Although the impact on profits and the improvements to different marketing elements are essential reasons to use A-B testing, the impact on finding the right headlines and writing style is also important. A-B testing is not only related to the aesthetics and small changes. It can also be applied to finding the right language to communicate your products and services to your potential clients. Even if the headlines are similar, some potential clients may respond differently to minor wording changes than others.

The final reason to use A-B testing as part of a business marketing strategy is the real-time data. Instead of relying on reports about other businesses that have similar products or services, A-B testing gathers information about personal clients, blog readers or other individuals who happen across your company website or advertisement. Your customers might not have the same aesthetic sense or interests as the customers of a competing company. What works for that company might not be the best option for your business because of the variation in clients and client relationships that you develop. A-B testing helps you find the tools that work for your business rather than using the elements that work for a different company.

Making the Testing Easier

Although it is important to test your ads, website and wording, it is difficult if your hosting services are slow. Finding a great host is essential if you want your company to see positive changes during the test.

Take the time to find a host service that allows immediate access to your website and does not have any problems with downtime – this post on has a list of hosting reviews you can read through. You do not want your potential customers to struggle to gain access to your website and it can help speed up your A-B testing process so that you can move forward at a faster rate.

Reaching your target audience is the primary goal of testing different products, services and tools. Among the tests that can help you find the right advertising strategy, wording or tools for your business is A-B testing. By using the original design features, element or idea as the control, you are able to establish if the new idea will work for your business or if it is better to make another change for the best results. The immediate data that you gather from your results allows you to find the right combination of colors, wording and design to reach the customers that are buying your products or services.

Guest Author Cormac Reynolds is a writer and a technology buff who writes about hosting and other areas of the web for  He believes that A/B testing is too overlooked and wishes to showcase the importance of it.

Useful links: Responsive elements, Zeldman on design, web history

Start Up

Responsive elements is a breakthrough idea. Check it out.

You must listen to this interview with Jeffrey Zeldman: Why Designers Need to Craft Words, Not Pixels.

Here’s a wonderful resource for teachers: Web History, a timeline. Thanks to John Allsopp from Web Directions for compiling this and hosting it.

10 Steps on the Path to be a Graphic Designer

design is …

The Internet has undoubtedly changed our world and has become a solid source for research, instant information, and a virtually endless stream of new ideas and thoughts. However, while most people have a basic understanding of how to use the Web as a search tool and to perform basic tasks and many can set up basic websites or blogs, the people who create the means for getting the information to you, provide the graphics, define the search engine protocols, and all the other activities that go on beyond the screen are not as numerous as many may think.

Thus anyone looking for Internet career opportunities that go beyond basic web knowledge has many options available to them. There are a variety of opportunities people can pursue, skills they can learn, and ideas they can explore to become more involved in making today’s Internet even more dynamic.

1. Past Accomplishments—Don’t reinvent the wheel: There are a lot of good ideas for using the web. Some have been implemented, some have not. Take time to learn about trusting instincts, determining what needs to be on the web, and what impact the wealth of information on the web will have on the education process.

2. Graphic Design—Remember a picture can equal a thousand words: The old adage about pictures being worth a thousand words has been somewhat misleading. A picture or a good graphic can convey a considerable amount of information. However, both elements are required in a good design.

3. Design Courses—Teach yourself or earn a degree: Like most professions there are differing opinions over whether a person who is self-taught can provide the same quality of work as those designers who have degrees. Regardless of which view you share, there are a number of free or low-investment graphic design courses online that can enhance design skills. By taking these courses you can bolster up your professional portfolio, whether you’ve obtained a degree or not.

4. Typography—The real foundation: Despite any advanced techniques you may learn, please do not overlook learning the basics. Decisions about typography can make or destroy any design, no matter how good or bad it may be. A free course on typography that was developed by MIT is available on About.Com.

5. Designing Logos—Making it great: An inexpensive course is a great investment. With this course you can explore logo artwork that will help you create unique logos for clients and brand images.

6. Photoshop Basics—Learning the secrets: Photoshop is an outstanding program with countless features, however you don’t need all of them. As a part of the PSD Tuts Plus “Sessions” Series, this course will help you improve your designer skills.

7. Talking Type—Logos influence emotion: A $20 course by Skillshare will explore the role that typography plays in designing logos. The course helps to explain how the designer can learn to select the best logo typography for a particular project.

8. Design School—A MFA alternate: The curriculum of the Graphic Design School covers most aspects of graphic and web design. The fees are higher than the other non-degree options—about $2,000. However, such a fee would be less than the cost of earning a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree.

9. Other Options—Picking and choosing: There are other options that are available that may provide the additional training you need to make your current skills more marketable and make you a better designer. It is important to check out these courses and make certain they will provide training that will be useful to you.

10. Other Courses—Quick overview: There are numerous other courses that can help any person improve their design skills, from basics to mastering such programs as Illustrator and Dreamweaver. The important thing to remember is that you have to find the courses. They are on the Internet, but it is up to you to find and select the courses that will best serve your needs as you move from being just another graphics designer, who does a little design work along with his other work, to a master designer, who creates the concepts that other people will remember.

In other words, you have to design the path you want to take to be a top designer.

Guest Author Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.


Useful links: Relationships, Human Users, Attachments

Anna Debenham has a very concise and clear post about using “rel” to establish relationships between people on her blog. It was a Valentine’s Day post, but the infomation is good any time of the year.

This fantastic post by Pamela Wilson on Copyblogger should be reproduced and used in every beginning web design class. It’s called The Essentials of Human Web Design.

NIcholas Zakas looks at the HTML5 and JavaScript that goes into Gmail’s attachment feature in Dissecting Gmail’s Email Attachments.

Useful links: Full background, Accessible Themes, Student Guide

How Full Page Background Images Affect the User Experience give some interesting points about full page backgrounds that I’d never considered. Plus a link to a how to at CSS Tricks if you want to try out a full page background.

Accessible Joe announced a project to create accessible WordPress themes called Cities. He’s working on one for Los Angeles. Karen Mardahl @kmdk is working on a Copenhagen theme. For Syndey, Australia, there’s Lisa Herrod @scenariogirl. Char James-Tanny @CharJTF is working on one for Boston. Jennison Asuncion @Jennison has one going for Toronto. All these new accessible themes will be available free through @AccessibleJoe asks that you DM him on Twitter if you’d like to participate in this project. You can join one of the existing teams mentioned above, or organize for a new city.

A Student’s Guide to Web Design contacted me on Twitter, so I checked them out. Their purpose is, “equipping students after graduation for the design industry.” Recent grads might find a useful community there.