Archive for April 2006

Croftie Does The Django

So May 1st is Reboot Day and I’m sure there are going to be plenty of great redesigns around the web, but without even seeing them all yet, Croftie’s New Hotness gets my 1st place vote and my supreme jealousy as well. In fact, the redesign is so good that I’ve vowed never to make fun of Jeff’s penchant for pink again.

Normally a blog redesign is not something I’d write an entire post on, but the new jeffcroft.com is pretty special. I don’t mean special only in the visual sense, but rather in the paradigm-breaking sense.

Has anyone ever really seen a “live search” that impressed them? Live search, until now, has just been about saving you the trouble of hitting the enter key. But Croftie’s live search is a jaw dropper. Start typing in a term like “SXSW” and down slides a panel which shows you not only blog entries which contain that term, but comments, del.icio.us bookmarks, and Flickr photos as well… all separated nicely into columns. I fully expect to start seeing more of this around the web once more people get wind of it.

Another interesting aspect of the new jeffcroft.com is that it’s written entirely in Django. This really intrigues me, given that there seems to be a growing groundswell of discriminating bloggers looking for a way to break out of the MT/Wordpress/TextPattern mold in as dramatic a fashion possible. MVC frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Django have been getting a lot of love lately and I’m wondering if CroftieCMS might just be the catalyst for this sort of thing to really take off. I’ve yet to even dip a single toe into the MVC waters, but developments like these are hard to ignore. Of course, no sooner do I profess my curiosity in Django that The Wolf tells me he has something cooking as well… and it has nothing to do with either Django or Rails. More details as they become available.

Technology and design aside though, the single most impressive aspect of Croftie’s new site to me is how comprehensive of an expression platform it is. It’s not just about blog entries with all sorts of miscellany decorating the sidebars. It’s about all parts of Jeff’s life. It’s about essays. It’s about link collections. It’s about photos of Jeff with strange women. Just about the only thing that’s not on there yet is his portfolio, and considering how impressive the site itself is, he really doesn’t even need one.

Any other noteworthy redesigns around the web today? Feel free to plug them in the comments…

Great Apple Ads Through the Years

Clip-n-sIFR

Byron's beautiful new sIFR-ized Clip-N-Seal site… now with scary green liquid!

MySpace: Unstoppable Force or Unnecessary Click Factory?

So I just read the big article about MySpace in today’s New York Times and it got me thinking a lot about growth, monetization, and user experience. People always talk so much about how many pages MySpace serves up and how that represents such dramatic growth.

After playing with the thing for a few weeks and writing a hugely ridiculous article on customizing it, one thing has really stuck out to me: there are a tremendous amount of extraneous page views being generated at that place. It’s a factory of unnecessary clicks. And so when one would view MySpace’s current page view trends on Alexa, one would see this:

Here’s a sobering thought: If the operators of MySpace cleaned up the site and followed modern interface and web application principles tomorrow, here’s what the graph would look like:

(Editor’s Note: I originally fat-fingered the first graph above when uploading it and used the Reach graph by mistake. Fixed. Both graphs show the exact same curve, however. Thanks to Owen Thomas of Business 2.0 for the heads-up.)
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CSS Love Child

Cameron Adams' dastardly experiment to fuse the CSS of one onto the HTML of others. Brilliant!

N-Design Mini Pixel Icons

A good set of tiny icons for when you're in need…

Eyetrack Studies for Mock News Sites

Vitaly's CSS Menu Showcase

A nice collection of CSS menus.

Hacking A More Tasteful MySpace

UPDATE: (10/15/07) If you’re noticing jumbled text in Firefox while using this layout, simply change "line-height: 1px" to "line-height: auto" in the body section of the CSS.

A guide to creating a more tasteful MySpace layout. Sample images and CSS are included at the bottom. End product: myspace.com/mikeindustriesThe social phenomenon that is MySpace is one I don’t fully understand, and yet, one I must fully respect. In fact, with over 50 million unique users, it is something everybody must respect. Any website which rolls up that amount of usership is doing something very, very right, and no matter what your thoughts on it as a vehicle for your own expression are, you must give it its full due for what it is to seemingly everyone else.

Several weeks ago, I finally signed up for an account, and within seconds I was instantly put-off by what had been created for me: a hastily-designed “profile page” with uninspired colors, misaligned tables, and a mish-mash of extraneous cruft and design elements which made this feel more like a halfway house than a “home”. Now, granted, I am a designer by trade so my tolerance for this stuff is orders of magnitude lower than most of the population, but clearly, this was not a place I even felt comfortable having my name on.

So with the default home page this underwhelming, what is a MySpacer to do? Customize, of course. One of MySpace’s greatest features is its ability to let you skin your own home page. Unfortunately, 99% of the customizations I’ve seen are chalkboard-screechingly awful, but what could a MySpace home page look like if some actual design thought went into it? That is the question I sought to answer.

But first — as Keith Robinson asked me when I first showed him what I was doing — “Ummm, why?” The answer is twofold. First, I love a design challenge. Second, we’ve been building a lot of new social components into Newsvine over the past several weeks and I wanted a good reference point for what is already done well online and what could be improved.

So without further ado, on with the surgery…
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Fun With Brits

What on earth is going on here? I don’t know, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to create another Brit Pack Vanity Fair cover.

Click for a larger image… suitable for wallpaper in size. Questionable, however, in content.

Shared
Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)
The iPhone and Disruption: Five Years In:

Take your pick of about 20 great quotes from this Daring Fireball article. My personal favorite:

The iPhone is not and never was a phone. It is a pocket-sized computer that obviates the phone. The iPhone is to cell phones what the Mac was to typewriters.