All posts tagged ‘wiki’

File Under: UI/UX

Information Architecture Tutorial – Lesson 4

If you’ve followed the first three lessons, by now you have a good handle on your site’s goals, who the audience will be, and what kinds of content and functionality you’ll need. It is now time to define the site’s structure, which is the foundation on which you build everything else.

Think of the site structure as a skeleton that holds the body together. Without it, your site will be a jumbled up, confusing mess – kind of like an amoeba. Do you want an unorganized, hard-to-use, crappy site? No! You want an evolved, highly structured, and easy-to-use site that can walk upright on its own two legs.

After creating a good site structure, everything else will fall into place. It can’t help but do so! A well-designed structure makes it easy to define a navigation system, and the two together make designing page layouts and templates a snap. This is the last step before you can actually get into building things.

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File Under: Web Standards

Choose and Register a Domain Name

So the time has come for you to name your business. Your consultants and facilitators have assured 110-percent buzzword compliance, and you’re ready to leverage whatever it is that you leverage. All you need now is a name.

Now, the interesting thing about web-based business is that, for the most part, your address IS your name. (“It’s a fascinating problem in information theory,” I keep saying to philosopher friends at parties, but nobody will take the bait.) So the name you choose for your company has to correspond with an available domain. But as of fairly recently, there is no English dictionary word that remains un-registered. (DomainSurfer has a searchable index of domains, where you can spend hours demoralizing yourself by looking at the huge portion of the namespace that’s already colonized.) So where do you turn?

If there’s a particular name that you have your heart set on but that someone else has already registered, there are a few sly ways to sidestep the conflict.

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File Under: JavaScript, Programming

Steal JavaScript

As Stewart Brand famously said, “Information wants to be free.” And while generic human greed generally stands in the way of gratis info, JavaScript is a happy exception. The JavaScript code you covet on other people’s pages is, in most cases, yours for the taking.

The trouble is, you can’t just grab someone else’s code, drop it into your Web page, and have it work. You actually have to learn javascript, even just the basics. Otherwise you may have trouble making that neat rollover or form checker function the way it should on your own page.

That’s where this article comes in. I’ll give you just enough JavaScript know-how (and not one bit more) to effectively steal code and still adhere to the first great virtue of the programmer:laziness. By the time you finish with this lesson, you should be able to take someone else’s code and use it for your own unique purposes.

But lest I get spammed with hate mail, let me make it perfectly clear that “stealing” code is only OK if it’s not really stealing. There’s lots of JavaScript out there that was meant to be shared, and most people will be happy for you to use their code as long as you give them credit and you use it with your own content (i.e., grabbing code to make your own buttons into rollovers is good; stealing someone else’s code and buttons and layout is bad). Finally, if you’re not sure it’s kosher to use a particular bit of JavaScript, then you need to ask the original author first.

Aside from making sure your code is moral, you also need to know how to cut and paste text and view source code. You got all that? OK then, let’s dig in, starting with script tags.

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File Under: JavaScript, Programming, UI/UX

Build Dynamic Breadcrumbs With JavaScript

Once upon a time, a web designer wished to communicate a page’s location within the hierarchy of an entire site. There was only a small space available at the top of the page. The designer thought for a while, and eventually found the answer between the keys of his keyboard:breadcrumbs.

What are breadcrumbs? Well, if you have ever browsed an online store or read posts in a forum, you have likely encountered breadcrumbs. They provide an easy way to see where you are on a site. Sites like Craigslist use breadcrumbs to describe the user’s location. Above the listings on each page is something that looks like this:

 s.f. bayarea craigslist > city of san francisco > bicycles 

Translated to English, that says “I’m looking at bicycles for sale within the city limits of San Francisco, which is located in the San Francisco bay area.” Phrased another way, it says, “If I go to the Craigslist home page, click on the San Francisco location, and then choose bikes for sale, then, with a little luck, I’ll find these listings.”

As far as I can tell, the name “breadcrumb navigation” is derived from the children’s story of “Hansel and Gretel” by the Brothers Grimm:

“Just wait, Gretel, until the moon rises, and then we shall see the crumbs of bread which I have strewn about, they will show us our way home again.”

Smart Hansel! So, that’s the skinny on breadcrumbs. Now let’s look at how they can be used on your site to help your users find their way around.

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File Under: Backend

Set Up Dynamic DNS

Now that everybody* has a home broadband connection, the need for IP addresses is a growing concern. With the rollout of IPv6 still pending, IP addresses are a limited resource. ISPs are understandably reluctant to hand a static IP address to every US$50/month subscriber. Some ISPs do, and some allow you to pay extra for one. For the most part, though, they’re a bit of a pain to get.

* not everybody

This is not a problem for the majority of home broadband users. Their needs — efficient web browsing, quick downloading of large files, “always-on” service, productive hours spent on WoW or AIM — are met admirably by the service provided. Giving them a static IP address, if they even noticed, would just result in increased security headaches as their insecure Windows machines suddenly had fixed addresses, making them easier to break into.

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