Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category
Against my better judgment, I now have my MySpace profile relatively complete. (Yes, thank you, I’ve noticed that I’m not a 15-year-old girl.)
My reasons for setting up the profile are couplefold:
- Most of my friends from Florida are on MySpace, and that seems to be one of the main ways they keep in touch. For example, my insanely talented (and now Cali-ized rather than Florided) friend Steve (he of the Deadly Fists of Kung Fu video I posted here a few weeks back) has an acccount there, and I might actually keep in contact with him a little bit better if I know where I can consistently find him.
- There seems to be some small opportunity to network effectively using the stupid site — there are several comic book writers I like who have accounts there and allow anyone to friend them. I seriously doubt anything will actually come from having, say, Warren Ellis on my MySpace friends list, but hey — it can’t be any less than the absolutely nothing that will likely happen otherwise.
MySpace is, of course, an Internet entreprenuer’s wet dream: the guys who built it launched the site in the summer of ’03 and sold it two years later to News Corp for $580 frickin’ million. The people who programmed the site originally couldn’t possibly have known that their little community application was going to become one of the biggest phenomena on the web and one of the centerpieces of modern teenager culture, but that’s exactly what it is. At the time I’m writing this, MySpace is the fourth-most-visited English-language site in the world according to Alexa.
As a professional web applications developer, however, using MySpace feels like digging tiny barb-covered Mountain Dew-dipped daggers underneath the fingernails of my soul. It really and truly is a wretchedly put-together site. The usability and navigation are abysmal, and we can’t even get started on the entire “ugly design” ethos that MySpace empitomizes lest my frontal lobe catch fire. I can’t look at the site without thinking of all the things I’d have done differently if I’d built it.  But as part of my plan to Get My Name Out There And Network, I decided that I needed to swallow the bile rising in the back of my throat and start using MySpace, at least a little.
So any of you reading this who are willing to admit you have a MySpace page, let me know or just add me as a friend on your profile. I’ll tell Warren Ellis you said hi.
 Of course, who knows — the things I’d've done differently might’ve made for a better application but a less-popular site. It seems that MySpace’s rough-around-the-edges-ness is one of the reasons it’s so popular. My designer mind can’t quite wrap itself around that one, though.
Okay, the idea’s decent enough: What will sports and the sports viewing experience be like ten years from now? That I’m cool with–how we viewers watch sports has changed quite a bit in the last ten years and is sure to change even more in the next ten.
But man, whoever put that project together needs to have their keys to the Internet taken away. Most of the featured “predictions” (quotes necessitated because I can’t imagine most of them were made with any seriousness, especially given that we’re only talking ten years in the future) were laughable and the Flash-based presentation itself was horrible, like the folks at ESPN found an intern in the production department, gave them a copy of the Flash software and some URLs to tutorial sites, slapped ‘em on the ass and told ‘em to let ‘er rip. Awful, awful stuff.
The best part of the presentation was the predictions by Frank Gibeau of EA Sports, who seemed to have the most practical, most considered, most likely–and, honestly, the coolest–ideas for where the sports experience is going. Makes sense to me that the best ideas would be coming from the guy working in the video game industry, since they probably spend more time thinking about exactly how viewers take in sports than anyone else.
The graphic designer in me was all over part one of Typographica‘s Best Fonts of 2005. These are all gorgeous typefaces (I especially liked Proxima Nova, Arrival and Vista Sans) that I wish were available for free, but of course they aren’t–these are professional-grade fonts and, as such, ain’t cheap. But they do make me want to go find some new fonts to use in those occasional design projects I undertake.
All of this reminds me that I’ve been meaning to mention how glad I was to find that I’m not the only typography geek I know. Upon reading that Microsoft was releasing a new batch of fonts that would be shipping with Windows Vista, a friend of mine installed his beta copy of Vista (he’s got an MSDN  subscription and so has a really, really early version of the software) just to get those fonts. That’s right, he installed an entire operating system (a bloated, beta Microsoft operating system, no less) so that he could get six new fonts–mainly, I think, just to get the new fixed-width font so he could use it in code editors.
Of course, I asked him to slip me the fonts, too. Consolas is so, so purty for editing code…
It’s also worth noting, if you’re into this kind of thing, that Windows Vista and the next version of Microsoft Office will also have a new font for its user interface, the first change since Microsoft began using Tahoma back in Office 97.
I feel like I should be working on the book tonight, but I’ve been having trouble getting back into the swing of things after everything going down the last week or so. Fret not–I still intend to be done with the first draft of the book by the end of October, though I most certainly realize that every night I don’t work on the thing is more work I have to put into it later.
As I think I’ve likely mentioned here previously, I’m writing the book in a very seat-of-the-pants manner. No outline, no character sketches, no ending in mind when I started, all strategies gained from my National Novel Writing Month experiences. And honestly, 25% of the way into the first draft, I’m not sure if it’s working well or not. Yeah, OK, I’ve got almost 16,000 words down at this point, and that alone implies some sort of success given my previous efforts, but given that it’s hard to see very far ahead, it’s hard to judge how well I’m doing.
It’s like I’ve decided to drive to Florida, gotten out on the road and pointed myself generally south and hit the gas…now I’m several hours into the trip, but I don’t have a map, so I really have no idea how my route’s working out. I’ve got the sun to guide me some, and I know I’m going pretty much southerly, but I just don’t know if I’m on the best roads for getting me to Florida. Though I guess as long as I end up in Florida and not in Oregon, whichever way I got there was the right way, huh?
So anyway, to keep myself from having to do any writing on the book, I reverted the ol’ blog here back to its original design, but updated with all the new funky stuff I’d put into the sidebar over the last few months. I liked the simplicity of the old design, but I’d also grown pretty damn bored with that simplicity, so we’re back to this, which at the very least looks a bit more distinctive, I think. Hope you like it, ’cause even if you don’t, I ain’t changin’ again for awhile.
Yeah, I know, I know. It seems awfully early for a redesign…I’ve only been doing this blog for a month. (Though those of you who know will appreciate the fact that it took that long for me to mess with it.) But I wanted something a little more readable and even less flashy because the content is entirely the point of the site and I didn’t want to detract from it. And I was inspired by Paul Scrivens’ Simpl(e)y Done to pare the site down and get rid of anything that wasn’t contributing to what I’m trying to do here. (It’s not the first time I’ve been inspired by something Scrivs has done, either…that boy’s motivated.)
Yeah, I liked the llamas, too. But the llamas didn’t mean anything–I had them up only to have a picture at the top of the page, and that wasn’t a good enough reason to keep them. Don’t worry, I’ll find something else to do with them, I promise.