Describing Menswear Brands

Posted November 18th, 2014

Some hilarious descriptions of the styles of various Japanese menswear brands from A Continuous Lean:

  1. Prohibition era prisoner meets down on his luck Gold-rush prospector.
  2. Dip-dyed bike commuter in Thom Browne proportions.
  3. Off season Montauk tourist meets 1960′s Berkeley undergrad.
  4. Boatnecked barista who obsesses over vintage French workwear.
  5. Twin Peaks reruns on LSD

I know nothing about Japanese menswear, so I can’t say if the descriptions are accurate, but they made me laugh.

Axure Widget Library – Social Sharing Tools

Posted May 16th, 2013

Preview of sharing buttons found in this widget libraryThere are plenty of Axure widget libraries offering social media icons, but none (that I’ve found) offering a comprehensive set of sharing tools. I find I need sharing buttons at least as often as I need icons, so I put together this library featuring (just about) all of the “official” share/tweet/add/pin button versions for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

Each button is a separate widget. They’re not editable yet, but I may add that in the future. For now, buttons which show a hashtag or username just say “#hashtag” and “OurBrandName” to keep them as flexible as possible.

UPDATE: Twitter handles, Usernames, and hashtags within buttons are now editable. Just right-click on the widget and select “Edit Image > Edit Text”.

Download them here:

Bad Examples: Sea to Summit

Posted February 8th, 2013

I really like Sea to Summit. I own several of their drybags and a few other pieces of kayak gear. Their regional selector, however, leaves a lot to be desired.

Screen shot of Sea to Summit's regional selector

Click the map, right?

Looking at this screenshot, you’d expect to just click your region, right? Nope. The map is just a background graphic. Instead you have to find the small, zero-contrast dropdown menu in the top right corner. To make things even better, it’s not even a proper dropdown. It’s a link that only opens on click, so you cannot access it without a mouse.

The Microsite is Dead. Long Live the Microsite!

Posted March 6th, 2012

For a couple years now, “microsite” has been a dirty word. Facebook apps and tabs became the de facto home for promos, contests, and interactive apps. Fish where the fish are, right? But as Facebook has shrunk and pages and tabs, and as users access the web from mobile devices in ever-larger numbers, Facebook tabs are no longer the clear-cut choice they once seemed. What’s the solution? The venerable Microsite, of course.

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In Search of a Better Content Editor

Posted November 25th, 2011

Is our reliance on CMS‘s like WordPress holding back the Semantic Web and undercutting our clients’ content?

My company uses WordPress for a lot of client projects. For us, it has many positives: It’s free, flexible, and easy to modify. Its huge library of plugins makes it great for quick-turn projects. Perhaps most importantly, its WYSIWYG editor makes it easy for clients and nontechnical staff to enter and edit content, without the involvement of web developers.

But recently, I’ve been wondering if that last positive isn’t quite so positive after all. While the WYSIWYG editor takes a great deal of effort off the shoulders of the designer/developer, what cost are we enduring by losing so much of the power and flexibility of HTML itself?

Much of the brilliance and power of HTML comes from markup that is difficult or entirely unavailable in today’s WYSIWYG editors. Elements like <abbr>, <time>, and <cite> are very important semantic tools that add meaning and accessibility to our content, but are unavailable without moving into the HTML editor. Microformats like hCard and hCalendar are unsupported. Even something as simple as proper use of rel attributes is difficult within the default editor.

How important is all of this? Do we consider semantics and machine-readability to be acceptable casualties for the ease we get by using a CMS? I don’t think so. With the increasing use of HTML5 and the emerging “app” mentality of web development (not to mention the old pillars of searchability, findability, and SEO), semantics and machine-parsing are more important than ever.

I can guarantee that CMS‘s and blogging platforms aren’t going away, and I wouldn’t want them to. There’s no question that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for most web projects. Development time is always important, and as the web gets more social and conversational it will become increasingly important for writers and content managers to quickly and easily edit content without going through a lengthy content workflow.

So where does that leave us?

Perhaps the answer is simply to better educate the content managers on semantic HTML tags and proper use of the HTML editor. That would certainly be a great start. But in reality, it may be impractical to expect every writer and editor to be able to write properly formatted semantic HTML with microformats. It’s challenging to get web developers to do it right sometimes.

Maybe we need to insist that developers enter all content. From a workflow standpoint, this is hardly ideal, as developers add yet another (often expensive) step to the process, slowing down content deployment and eliminating one of they key reasons for using a platform like WordPress in the first place. Additionally, most developers I know don’t exactly jump at the idea of doing content entry.

Maybe the answer is a smarter WYSIWYG editor. TinyMCE (WordPress’s default editor) has dozens of configuration options. Maybe there are some additional elements buried in there somewhere. There are other editors out there, as well. Perhaps one of them has better support for semantic elements and microformats. Over the next few weeks, I intend to find out.

I don’t know the right answer, but I think the question deserves more thought than it’s currently being given.

Bad Examples: Canon Global

Posted November 9th, 2011
Screenshot of Canon Global Consumer Products page

Canon Consumer Products Page

While attempting to shop for a camera for my wife for Christmas today, I made my way over to I selected “Products & Solutions” from the top global navigation and chose “Consumer” from the dropdown that appeared. I was taken to the page shown  on the right. So far, so good.

Since I was shopping for a point-and-shoot camera, I attempted to click the box labeled “Compact Digital Cameras.” No response.

I tried clicking the photo instead. Again, nothing.
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Targeted Ads: A Public Service

Posted December 6th, 2010

There’s a lot of talk about digital privacy these days, with much of the concern centering around online advertising. “I don’t want marketers building up information about me!” people say. What they fail to realize is that these kinds of marketing profiles don’t produce more ads – Just better ones.

I am a married, childless, 28-year old male who enjoys camping, cycling, and skiing. I currently rent my home. I have no need to see ads for dating sites, feminine hygiene products, or debt consolidation services. If advertisers can use my marketing profile to show me ads for camping products, ski vacations, and design books instead, everyone wins.

Ad-supported websites, apps, and digital services have to sell ads, with or without targeting. Without targeted profiles, these ads become less relevant to the user, which makes them less valuable to the advertiser. Therefore the content provider cannot charge as much for them. Meanwhile, the user is still seeing ads.  They’re just less useful and more annoying.

Advertising is how we get most of the free websites, apps, and services currently out there. Without the revenue that comes from high-value targeted ads, sites and services must respond by having more advertising (of the low-value, non-relevant variety) or by reducing free content.  I don’t want to see either.

Twitter Updates via Facebook

Posted March 25th, 2010

There’s a common practice in social media that absolutely drives me nuts. It’s when someone posts a link to an article on Facebook, then posts a link to the Facebook post on Twitter. I understand that the majority of these posts are generated automatically by Facebook apps and widgets, but that makes it no less irritating. When I click on a link in Twitter, I want to read the article, not your Facebook page.

This is especially irritating when the offender is a major media outlet (and this is almost always the case.) When I see a link posted by Outside Magazine, I should be able to safely assume it is a link to one of their articles. By taking me instead to their Facebook page, where I must click another link and open yet another tab, they are not only irritating me, they are betraying my expectations. They are weakening my trust in their brand.

Perhaps these media brands are trying to turn their Twitter followers into Facebook fans. I follow many more Twitter accounts than I have Facebook friends, and I assume there are others like me. But this feels to me like a cheat. I use Twitter because it’s faster and easier than wading through the comments and other cruft on Facebook.  By auto-posting from Facebook, these brands fail to respect the media preferences of their readers, creating a poor brand experience.

The lesson here? If you’re a media company, or run any sort of publishing or blog site, respect your readers’ media habits.  In addition to your RSS feed, post direct links on both Twitter and Facebook.  Most blogging and web publishing platforms now feature plugins or module that allow you to automatically do both, preventing the kind of cross-linking irritation that will eventually make your readers stop clicking your links altogether.

The iPad: Flash killer?

Posted February 4th, 2010

Farhad Manjoo, one of my favorite tech writers, has an interesting article over on entitled Will Apple’s iPad kill Flash? In it, he discusses the glaring absence of Flash support on the new iPad. The lack of Flash is not a huge surprise, since neither the iPhone or iPod Touch support it. But somehow the idea that a device which aims to be “the ultimate web browsing device” would fail to support such a pervasive technology is a little more jarring.

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Hello world!

Posted January 19th, 2010

So I’m finally starting a blog. I’ve been doing web design and development for over eight years, but have never blogged.
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