Update: Apple has fixed the rendering issue shown here, but this is what it looked like at launch. Pretty funny…
Apple’s Safari 5 info page in Safari 4:
Apple’s Safari 5 info page in Firefox:
Apple’s Safari 5 info page in Chrome:
Web comic xkcd is sporting a fresh redesign Monday morning, paying tribute to the free web-hosting service GeoCities. Yahoo, which bought GeoCities in 1999 for $3.5 billion dollars, is shutting down the service today after ten years of stewardship.
GeoCities was a place anyone could start a website for free. The company sold cheap banner advertising against your content, but that didn’t matter — you finally had a place to post that Melissa Joan Hart fanpage or your fully-annotated Art Alexakis discography.
In the web’s early days, you actually had to know how to author a web page in order to publish anything on the internet. You had to have working knowledge of things like HTML, FTP, GIF and DNS. For people with these new-found skills, a GeoCities page was an essential first step into the web, a rite of passage. Next came the easy authoring tools like Dreamweaver and Blogger, then the social networks like Friendster and MySpace, which let anyone establish a web presence with a few clicks of the mouse. GeoCities, along with other free hosting communities like Angelfire, faded into obscurity.
Many of those early pages survived in all their gaudy, glitzy glory — complete with scrolling banners, animated Gifs and blink tags.
Until Monday, October 26, 2009. Rest in peace, GeoCities.
In response to the overwhelming turnout for Day Without Google, the search giant has announced it will withdraw its flagship product, the Google search engine, later in April.
“We will continue to provide our enterprise search solutions and popular hosted applications, but we know when we’re not wanted,” sniffed a Google spokesperson via email this afternoon. “Google plans to concentrate its resources on continuing innovation in areas other than search.”
Google.com‘s reported 200 million hits per day dropped to fewer than two dozen hits today as a result of the 2008 DWG initiative, as web users worldwide avoided the famous search engine and used alternate engines instead. Google’s public-facing search page will be taken down “after a short transition period.” It has not yet been announced what will replace the iconic page.
Jakob Nielsen, a longtime authority on web usability published an interesting piece this morning entitled Bridging the DesignerUser Gap. While Nielsen is more thoughtful and persuasive in his argument, the cartoon above (from It’s Just a Bunch of Stuff that Happens) neatly summarizes the piece: simplify.
Nielsen tackles problems that lead to exactly the sort of failures outlined in the cartoon, including recognizing not just the gap between the designer and the intended audience, but how big that gap is.
Most of the software and tools that we love here at Compiler fall into Nielsen’s first category where the designer is the user – open source tools that power most of website’s we all love (though a considerable number of those sites probably fall in this category as well).
As Nielsen puts it:
More commonly, designers at this level are core members of the larger target audience. Open software often falls into this category: designed by geeks, for geeks. That’s why Linux, Apache, Perl, and many similar products have been so successful – at least as long as the audience remains a group of technology-obsessed users. Of course, these same products don’t stand a chance of growing their user base to include ordinary humans.
At first glance that last line is quite inflammatory, but it’s also true more often than not. And it goes a long way to explaining the popularity of Ubuntu (I would argue the most usable Linux distro) or why newcomers almost always grok Gnome much faster than KDE.