Archive for November, 2006

CSS-aware graphic designer wanted

Just supposing I needed a designer to help me make a clean, modern, attractive design for a new information-heavy web site, do you know anyone?

I’ve got the layout, content and the branding, but don’t have the skill to make everything look lovely, ensure enough whitespace, and I lack the photoshop nowse to produce bullets, pullquotes, article seperators, table designs etc).

Bonus points if you can also produce the CSS rules for the indefinable loveliness that’s been added, but that’s not a deal-breaker: the client needs a CSS-aware designer rather than a coding god.

Said person should also have a good eye for choosing photography from istockphoto, morguefile etc.

I imagine it’s a couple of days work, and timescales would be short – probably immediately after the Xmas break, or (less likely) earlier than that.

Do you know anyone? Examples of previous work, and rough indication of rates are required.

Book review: ‘Understanding Ajax’ by Joshua Eichorn

Last week, I was down in London to watch a user test of a very basic prototype of a large online application form. In order to be a accessible, I’d designed it with a lot of small pages, letting the server decide on branching, showing optional fields depending on earlier answers. My brief to the consultancy was to make it better, but without Ajax (because of its dependence on JavaScript and accessibility problems).

So, the users hated my prototype Interaction, and the consultants ignored my brief and wireframed an alternative, all based on Ajax. After my initial irritation, I realised they were right to have done so: the Ajax version was much better for the vast majority of the customers. I’d bowdlerized the optimal product. In my drive to be inclusive, I’d accidentally unnovated.

To me, Ajax accessibility is the biggest problem in web development today. For the first time, designers can legitimately claim that we accessibility wonks are holding back the web experience – and I’ve heard Ajax described, highly plausibly, as “what we’d all hoped the Web would be”. (A fellow Web Standards Project love-dwarf also bangs on about Ajax accessibility in Patrick Lauke’s WebAxe interview.)

But I know bugger all about making Ajax accessible. So, what does an ex-publisher do when he wants info? Open a book, that’s what.

‘Understanding Ajax’ by Joshua Eichorn is a technical, developer-oriented tome. It’s not as hardcore as Langridge’s DHTML Utopia, but it does its tour of the Javacript libraries, as well as pimping the author’s own HTML_AJAX library. It’s not all code; there’s a useful chapter on how Ajax development can change the development methodology (largely based on the fact that you’ve another language to learn, and have to test more). There’s also a chapter on common usability problems with Ajax – surely the place to find the latest information on accessibility?

Nothing. Not a mention of accessibility. Not only are no solutions offered, but a newcomer would not even know that a problem existed, if she read only this book.

Another problem with the book is an entirely subjective one. The authorial voice in this book lacks passion, or even enthusiasm. In my opinion, just because it’s a computer book, it doesn’t need to be dull. No-one could accuse Zeldman, Molly, or Eric Meyer of lacking commitment and fire, or Jeremy Keith of lacking wit, and those qualities come out in their books. Personally, I love the Web, and I want to be inspired as well as informed.

Maybe you don’t; maybe web design is a nine to five job that you do to pay the mortgage – nothing more, and you’re told to use Ajax, and you don’t care about accessibility. If that’s you, I can recommend this book.

Man with sapling growing out of his head

It’s breakfast time at the home of Marjorie and Jeffrey, a middle-aged suburban couple.

MarjorieJeffrey, you seem to have a small twig growing out of the top of your head!JeffreyGoodness me, so I have. I must make an appointment to see the Doctor.

The next morning:

MarjorieJeffrey, the small twig has grown into a sapling!JeffreyGoodness me, so it has. I really must make that appointment.

The next morning:

MarjorieJeffrey, that sapling is now a fully-grown willow tree! Please, go to the Doctor.JeffreyGoodness me, I shall. My head looks ridiculous, and I can barely get my golf hat on.

At the doctors surgery:

JeffreyDoctor, my wife is very concerned. It began as a twig, but it’s grown into a woodland copse with a babbling brook running through, in which otters gambol and salmon leap upstream to the waterfall that cascades down the side of the purple-heathered, snow-capped mountains, just behind my hairline.DoctorDon’t worry, Jeffrey. It’s just a beauty spot.

Fucking hell, I’m forty

In Aden, South Yemen, on the 13th November 1966, I entered the world, chubby, smelly and noisy. Forty years later, I remain chubby, smelly and noisy, although fortunately significantly more continent.

To my mum who carried me, to the nurses who vaccinated me, to every pilot and driver who decided not to crash when I was their passenger, to the Russian militia who decided not to shoot me, to the Turkish husband who gave me 24 hours to get out of town rather than immediately stabbing me for shagging his wife, I salute you: you have my deep and abiding gratitude.

Forty years old. Forty. Forty!

Fucking hell.

And don’t forget the joke(r)

Sorry? Say again? Eh? Can’t hear you.

Apologies for that; I went to see Motörhead last night. Fucking marvellous! Completely unsophisticated, unfinessed, no-bullshit rock’n’ roll – purveyors of the greatest rock single of all time. It’s a pity Motörhead fans are the rudest people on the planet, but didn’t detract from a splendid night. Eh? Speak up for God’s sake!

This is great: here’s some Barbie dolls playing Motörhead:

The joke

I’ve had plastic surgery to shape my penis like a rocket.
My wife’s over the moon.

I’m supporting Joe Clark. You should too.

I'm lining Joe's pockets. Are you?On the website for his new Open & Closed Project, Joe Clark writes,

The Open & Closed Project is a research project headquartered in Toronto. Our main goal is to write a set of standards for the four fields of accessible media – captioning, audio description, subtitling, and dubbing. We’ll develop those standards through research and evidence-gathering. Where research or evidence is missing on a certain topic, we’ll carry it out ourselves.

He needs $7million Canadian to fund the project. In order to raise this funding, Joe’s on a micropatronage drive to fund his food, water and central heating while he raises that huge sum:

My donation goal (the amount I am trying to raise) is a convenient $7,777, which, apart from being a lucky number, will keep me afloat at a subsistence level for four months … You’ll keep me afloat for four months while I try to put the money together. You’ll buy time for me to raise the money; you won’t be funding the Project itself.

I’ve promised a small amount to Joe, and urge you to do the same, for three reasons:

  • The research needs doing.
  • It’s my belief that there’s no-one able to do this who’s as tenacious as Joe.
  • At least you know he won’t be blowing the money on booze, fags and Charlie.

French knock-knock joke

Nice things this week: Linda from Graphic Design Basics asked me for an interview (probably because of my very basic graphic design skills) which nicely mixes the personal and professional. The interview is published today.

And Zeldman reviewed the accessibility book:

Vast and practically all-encompassing, this newly updated classic belongs on every web designer’s shelf. (Better still, open it and read.)

So buy it. Unless you hate the Web.

Enough work stuff. Here’s the joke:

Joke

Jean-Pierre:Frappe frappe!Armand:Qui est là?Jean-Pierre:Loste.Armand:Loste qui?Jean-Pierre:Oui, malhereusement.