Installing Windows 7 Upgrade on a MacBook Air using Parallels

[flickr id=”6007631494″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”medium_640″ group=”” align=”none”]

After reading the rumors of a new MacBook Air being released together with Lion OSX, I patiently waited to get a much needed laptop upgrade. Now that it’s here, I find myself ignoring my Mac Pro! Everything I need from Dreamweaver to Photoshop runs pretty smoothly on the MBA. I even tried Adobe Premiere for a bit and didn’t have any problems. Although, I wouldn’t recommend buying MBA for video editing purposes.

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Visiting Marrakech and Camel Trekking in Sahara

Our journey to Morocco started on the luton airport in the UK. We booked two round trip tickets from London to Marrakech for $170 on Ryan Air. While waiting for our flight we met a couple from Morocco who told us about Harera soup, the riad they operated, Marrakech market and the hassles that sometimes go with it. Ryan air prides itself on being on time and from detailed emails to boarding through planes front and back doors, they do everything they can, to make the boarding as fast as possible. The flight was comfortable and only about 3hrs long.

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My First Half Marathon

I never was a runner. In fact I hated the idea of running. In a gym I would always ride a bike for warmups, and if all bikes were taken it took some effort for me to go on an elliptical. And if those were busy I would rather skip the warmup alltogether than use a treadmill.

I do like cardio training, and had no problems going through all three months of P90X. However, I could never bring myself to do any kind of running.

So what made me start running in April of 2010 and run my first half marathon in October of the same year? It was the stories.

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CSS Box Model Info Graphic in 3D

I’ve never had a need to use any of Photoshop’s 3D features and probably never will, but the other day I decided to play with it a bit. The play resulted in this CSS Box Model info graphic.

CSS is a 2D medium and representing it’s box model in 3D was a little tricky. But I think it turned out pretty well. I am using one PNG graphic as a background image, and some CSS and jQuery for positioning and interactivity.

        Margin – Clears an area around the border. The margin does not have a background color, and it is completely transparent. Border – A border that lies around the padding and content. The border is affected by the background color of the box. Padding – Clears an area around the content. The padding is affected by the background color of the box. Content – The content of the box, where text and images appear.
  • margin: 12px;
  • border: 10px solid red;
  • padding: 8px;
  • width: 100px;
    height: 100px;

Go ahead and hover over some of the CSS property/value pairs above to see details.

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Intro to Web Design for Mobile Devices

It was only 2009 when I started researching and working on web and app design for mobile devices. My first attempt at creating a mobile site was to create a mobile style sheet for already existing HTML markup. It was a “bumpy” experience, but the site worked, previewed well on mobile device simulators and worked as expected on iPhones/iPods. After doing some research and usability testing using “personas,” I realized the site wasn’t mobile optimized and therefore was never published. Instead, I created a site that uses mobile specific HTML/CSS and features mobile friendly content.

Mobile Environment

Let’s say you are out of town and in a hurry walking from a meeting, looking for a place to eat. You are into healthy food so you have some specific search criteria. With a coffee in one hand and your mobile device in the other, you are constantly looking up to avoid obstacles, are limited to using single app at a time, and only have spotty Internet access.

In this case, mobile environment is very different from a desktop environment where you have a keyboard, mouse, generous screen real estate, a comfortable home/office, multiple browser windows and high speed Internet access. As such, simply applying different style sheets to your desktop website to make it mobile will create little value to your costumers. Not only would the site be hard to use, but it would also be painfully slow to load. When using a style sheet specific approach, you are showing and hiding content client-side, which means that all markup, images and other site resources are downloaded even if not displayed.

Instead, create a mobile strategy that begins with an understanding of the target audience, their mobile behavior, motivation to use your mobile site or app, and expected presentation and functionality based on their device.

In our example a perfect app or site would:

  1. Have saved preference for food type
  2. Monitor current location
  3. Use some type of a mash between a content aggregator and map service to come up with desired restaurants
  4. With one tap, provide the user with click-able phone numbers and direction links to near by restaurants

This doesn’t mean that we can’t have brochure style mobile sites that only use contact links or forms as a main call to action. The content should still be optimized for use in mobile environment.

Diving into web design for mobile

Whether you are designing for a desktop or mobile site, always start by following web standards and best practices.

Web standards

Standards are essentially specifications on how a language such as HTML, or CSS should work. The mobile standards are maintained by organizations such as W3C and Open Mobile Alliance (OMA). Their recommendation is to use XHTML Basic or XHTML-MP for structure and CSS Mobile Profile or Wireless CSS for presentation. Most mobile devices have a solid built in support for those standards.

To make it easier for web designers/developers those standards are derived from XHTML and CSS and therefore pretty easy to use.

To validate your documents as XHTML-MP or XHTML Basic, you must include a proper Document Type Declaration, or DOCTYPE.

XHTML Basic DOCTYPE


<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML Basic 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-basic/xhtml-basic11.dtd" />

XHTML-MP DOCTYPE


<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//WAPFORUM//DTD XHTML Mobile 1.2//EN" "http://www.openmobilealliance.org/tech/DTD/xhtml-mobile12.dtd">

Best practices
Best practices are techniques of applying and using web standards. W3C and OMA has put together documents with recommendations for delivering content to mobile devices. At the very least I recommend reading the section five of W3C recommendations titled “Best Practice Statements“.

This section covers:

  • Overall Behavior
  • Navigation and Links
  • Page Layout and Content
  • Page Definition
  • User Input

New technology

HTML5 and CSS3 are getting more popular for a reason. HTML5 is leaner, faster, more semantic and packed with some great new features that users can benefit from. For example, local storage will ensure they don’t loose any data when offline and geolocation serves contextually/geographically relevant content to when they are on the go. If you are primeraly designing for webkit browsers, such as Safari Mobile, it’s encouraged to use HTML5.

Don’t skip a step

  1. Start with the content strategy for mobile devices. Make sure to base it on your business and audience needs. Define what desktop content would work best for your audience in the mobile environment without creating a too big of a disconnect from the desktop version.
  2. Create some layout sketches and define the basic user flow. In many cases it’s faster to test and change sketches vs. digital wireframes.
  3. Design the interface. Use styles for buttons, arrows, tabs and other UI elements that users are most familiar with. The goal is to make it simple and unmistakable (without thinking) for how each of the specific UI elements should work.
  4. Code the site following one of the mobile web standards.
  5. Test the site on emulators and actual devices. Often, emulators behave differently compared to the devices they emulate.

Example

Here is an example based on some assumptions for a mobile version of my blog.

Content

My mobile site audience would be fellow designers/developers that follow me on Twitter and business owners that would hire me for freelance work. Both of these groups most likely use devices such as iPhones, Droids and/or Blackberries.

To mobilize my blog I would format all content for better readability on those devices and feature “Work” and “Contact” info to showcase my portfolio and provide easy access to contact information.

Wireframe

This is a pretty simple wireframe. I only have two templates, one for article listings and one for the article. Each page has a clear defined header, navigation, content and footer. The footer features ‘about’ info and a contact form. The navigation functions as expected except the contact link takes you to the contact form in the footer.

[flickr id=”5799032704″ thumbnail=”large” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”none”]

Design

The design uses pretty standard set of styles for UI controls such as button, icons and links. The navigation, page titles and sections are clear and visible.

[flickr id=”5798484477″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”left”] [flickr id=”5802532702″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” ]

CSS

body {
    font: 62.5%/1.2em Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
    margin: 0px;
    padding: 0px;
}
h1 {
    font-size: 1.2em;
    line-height: normal;
    margin: 0px;
    padding: 5px 0px 5px 10px;
    background: #d8d5d5;
    font-weight: bold;
}
a {
    color: #205e8c;
    text-decoration: none;
}

/* LAYOUT
-----------------------------*/
#header  {
    color: green;
    border-bottom: 1px solid #9b9b9b;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 8px 7px 7px;
    background: #06121B url(images/title-background.jpg) repeat-x left top;
}
.logo {
    display: block;
    margin: 0px auto;
    height: 25px;
    width: 46px;
    border-style: none;
}
.contents {
    background: #FBFBFB url(images/content-bg.gif) repeat-x left top;
    padding: 0px;
    font-size: 1.2em;
    line-height: 1.6em;
    margin: 0px;
    clear: both;
}
#contactform , .section{
    padding-left: 10px;
    padding-right: 10px;
}

/* NAVIGATION
-----------------------------*/
#navigation {
    background: #f94c12;
    font-weight: normal;
    text-transform: uppercase;
    margin: 0px;
    padding: 0px;
    list-style: none;
    overflow: auto;
}
#navigation li {
    float: left;
    background: #f94c12;
    border-right: 1px solid #ccc;
}
#navigation a {
    color: #FFF;
    padding: 0px 9px;
    font-size: 1.2em;
    font-weight: bold;
    line-height: 2.1em;
    margin: 0px;
}
#navigation .noborder{
    border-style: none;
}

/* LIST NAVIGATION
-----------------------------*/
.list-nav {
    list-style: none;
    margin: 0px;
    padding: 0px;
    background: #FFF;
}
.list-nav li {
    border-bottom: 1px solid #CCC;
    padding: 10px;
    background: url(images/arrow.gif) no-repeat right center;
}

/* FOOTER
-----------------------------*/
.footer  {
    background: #021018;
    color: #999;
    border-top: solid 1px green;
    margin: 10px 0 0;
    padding: 10px;
}

/* FORM
-----------------------------*/
input, textarea {
    display: block;
    width: 90%;
    border: 1px solid #D8D5D5;
    padding: 2px;
}
#submit {
    color: #FFF;
    background: #F94C12;
    font-weight: bold;
    padding-top: 5px;
    padding-bottom: 5px;
}

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Oodles of Doodles

Ryan and Peter put together another great art show featuring  some really fun characters they developed for the show. Held at Screen Ink, visitors could pick from three different t-shirt designs and screen print them right there. I used my HF20 to take couple of shots. Here is the video. Enjoy!

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Planning for Successful Website Redesign

Website redesign takes a lot of time—designer and client time—and as such should be undertaken with a great deal of preparation and planning. Well prepared and planned for website redesign will reduce anxiety about budgets, time-lines and make it easier for designers/developers to execute it.

Planning
Execution
  1. Why do a redesign?
  2. Who is involved?
  3. Technical requirements
  4. Design requirements
  5. Take inventory of the current site
  6. ROI metrics
  7. Competitor analysis
  8. Site map
  9. Wireframe
  10. Usability testing
  1. Graphic design
  2. Content development
  3. Front-end development
  4. Back-end development
  5. Testing
  6. Launch

1. Why do a redesign?

[flickr id=”5802281507″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”none”]

The very first thing you want to do is ask your client why redesign. Simply because the website is “old and out of date“, or  “we got new branding so we need a redesignis not enough unless updating, and new branding will result in increased number of prospects and conversions.

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You can never have enough helpers

Here is a peak at my home office and my loyal helper Merki showing me what keys to press.

[flickr id=”5802390321″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”none”]

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Google Browser Size App: a new tool added to my toolbox

“Google Browser Size is a visualization of browser window sizes for people who visit Google. For example, the “90%” contour means that 90% of people visiting Google have their browser window open to at least this size or larger.” Read full description here.

[flickr id=”5802959460″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”none”]

I am excited to use this tool as a part of design presentation. I just wish it had a heat-map option similar to 3M’s Visual Attention Service, so my clients can not only see what’s “above the fold”, but also a heat map of what elements draw get most attention.

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Saab Change Perspective: Amazing Integration of Flash, Video and Photography

I just love the high-quality execution of this Flash website. It shows amazing integration of animation, video, photography and a really cool soundtrack. Kudos to  Lowe Brindfors & ACNE Digital for the design and development.

Here are some screen shots.

[flickr id=”5798482165″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”none”]

[flickr id=”5798482203″ thumbnail=”medium_640″ overlay=”false” size=”medium” group=”” align=”none”]

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