C’est moi

Finally had some free time last night, so I revised the about pages of this site, thereby bringing the redesign more or less to a close.

There’s a little left to do; the search and contact pages could use a goosing, and the archives are still in the old page format, perhaps appropriately so. I’ve also got to get the database URLs out of ?id= format and into straight page identifiers, but that’s another story.

On an unrelated note, the book’s Amazon Sales Rank dipped to 122 this morning from a high of 114 last night (and the publisher is still not positive why). Not bad, but somehow not yet enough for Amazon to put it in its bestseller lists. C’mon, Amazon, show it off some more! Is that too much to ask?

Hot property

“The Site Speaks for Itself” is, as I write this, number 237 146 125 in Amazon’s Sales Rank listings.

That’s one hundred and twenty-five. Out of some two and a half million books. Hoo hah!

If you’ve spotted the book being promoted somewhere, please tell me; I’d love to know about it. If you’re not yet familiar with the book, visit Amazon’s main listing or their excellent Look Inside pages.

[See also: Behold the navel-gazing author, posted June 20]

My blog surf

Been meaning to do this for a while: Here’s a list of all the weblogs I frequent. It covers every site in my trio of blog favorites folders, which I recently revised. I try and visit each site on this list at least once a week, and they all get my recommendation.

And by weblogs, I mean weblogs. This list excludes all commercial (e.g. news.com), metadata (Evolt, Metafilter) and semi-professional (The Morning News) Web sites—many of which I visit, but that’s a list for another day.

This list is gently categorized, and in no particular order within each category (it was supposed to be, but IE’s export feature didn’t cooperate).

General weblogs

37signals: Signal vs. Noise

Anil Dash

Boing Boing






Noise Between Stations Blog


maybe i still am!


february 7





Off On A Tangent

rc3.org Daily


what’s in rebecca’s pocket?

tins Rick Klau’s weblog


Molly.com – Welcome

Nick Finck

Nick Denton


Q Daily News



Acts of Volition

Living Can Kill You

Jerry Kindall

The Study of Design

Not updated regularly

Strange brew



[nicole] NYC

stating the obvious

the nubbin


powazek productions personal log

Mighty Girl



Wrap Me Up in It

whatever, whenever

nothing, and lots of it



Andre Torrez

In Spite of Years of Silence





LILEKS (James) The Bleat

a jaundiced eye – the weblog

eatonweb blog


benbrown.com daily text

Tomato Nation


The War Against Silence



Design and usability


SAP Design Guild


Tasty Bits from the Technology Front


Boxes and Arrows

Elegant Hack blog

In My Experience…

The End of Free




Joel on Software



There was sunshine, and there was relaxation; and there was a six-and-a-half-pound filet mignon, and enough veal parmigiana and pasta to choke an Italian villa; and there was a fine and fun round of golf, and there was a barbecue, and there was wine and cheese and crackers and vegetable chips and corn; and there was kick-boxing, and there was store-bought breakfast, and there was sun and swimming at a beautiful home tucked into the trees; and there was traffic, and there was a lap through Target Greatland; and there was sushi and Tasti D Lite, designed to ease the transition back into Manhattan, winding down a delightful weekend out of town.

Book Excerpt: content design concepts

A dissection: What constitutes a good content-based Web site? An excerpt from my chapter on Economist.com in “The Site Speaks for Itself.”

Concept: Good Site Content

A fundamental issue behind the redesign effort was a deceptively straightforward question: what constitutes a good content-based web site?

My job as design director for Economist.com was to define quality content delivery, and to both embrace and expand that definition for our site.

Our redesign would ultimately share numerous organizational cues with other successful content-driven web sites. We were not interested in cribbing others’ designs, but we did want to reflect upon the successes of other sites and integrate good ideas that had been established elsewhere. What, then, are the marks of a strong content-based site, and specifically, what aspects of content design had to be stressed and maximized by Economist.com?

Identity: The overall design has to reflect the voice and style of the offline component. The site’s logo is prominent and in the same place on every page. Our site in particular represents the brand in a unique design without imitating the print edition.

Navigation: The site should be easy to use regardless of the page, as users can enter the site at random points. The same basic navigational elements should be in set locations at all times.

Page length: While long pages can reduce navigation, and articles on content sites are often cut into multiple pages to increase ad impressions, most pieces are best read in one sitting, and are best displayed on a single screen when possible.

Clean content: Whenever possible, keep navigation and advertisements from getting in the way of reading an article. Ads should be labeled as such to help readers identify page components. Content sources should be labeled so users can easily identify items originating from the print edition.

Strong header: In a site with multiple content areas, the top of the page should signal where the reader has landed, giving context to the article and/or links on the page. This sense of place helps with orientation and navigation.

Consistency: As noted in the items above, the site should use the same elements repeatedly—similar locations for many items, and the same functions on each page, minimizing the user’s need to learn the site more than once.

Frequency: Establish a publishing schedule and convey it to the readership with date stamps and prominent placement of new content.

Balance: When a site has paid content, provide enough free material to give users a complete unpaid experience, and enough value past a pay barrier (separating unregistered visitors from subscriber-only content) to entice users to join.

In addition to this list, the development team had to consider editorial needs, such as a browser-based content management system, and publishing flexibility, like exporting text to both web pages and wireless PDA files. Balancing all these requirements would prove to be a far more challenging and exciting project than I had anticipated.

The Site Speaks for Itself, presenting case studies on Web site usability, is in stores now.

ROI: -99%

June 27, 2000: Media Metrix, Jupiter merge in $414 million deal. “Media Metrix today said it will acquire Jupiter Communications for $414 million in stock. The merged company will be called Jupiter Media Metrix and will have a combined market value of $1 billion, the companies said.”

June 21, 2002: Jupiter Sells Research, Events Business to INT. “Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. said on Friday it would sell its research and events business, essentially the last of its operations, to Internet media company INT Media Group Inc. for $250,000. Earlier this month, the company sold its Media Metrix Internet audience measurement service to ComScore Networks Inc. for $1.5 million. Last month it sold its European measurement service to rival NetRatings Inc. for $2 million.”

Getting to Carnegie Hall

Someday, when I have more time (read if maybe perhaps eventually), I’m going to take the Cooper Interaction Designer Test and see what I can devise.

Projects like these are good for the mind; witness 37signals’ projects, like 37BetterBank and 37BetterFedex, which force the team to think along lines other than the ones they’re assigned. I do this on a micro scale with NetWert, which is still evolving (I’m currently digesting user feedback over whether it’s necessary to have Getting It Right separate from the Ideapad). Ideas evolve from practice that can then be applied in elsewhere.

And I can’t stand Microsoft’s table builders, either. (Cooper link via WebWord)

Behold the navel-gazing author

Interesting revelation about sales of “The Site Speaks for Itself” today.

Found an essay today containing more than you ever wanted to know about Amazon’s Sales Rank system. The author notes that books don’t crack the top 10,000 without a strong initial burst of sales, which means “The Site Speaks for Itself” has done decently well, since it rocketed from 1,157,434 to 16,000 in a matter of days.

Is it gauche of me to discuss this publicly? It probably is. Sort of like saying “Dude, come here and check out the lint I just pulled from my belly-button.” Of course, people do that, too.

I’m just glad the book is finding an audience, and that people are interested in seeing what we had to say. (The copies Amy moved to the “hot new releases” table at the Union Square B&N are back in the Computer section, but that’s OK.) And hey, three five-star reviews so far! I can’t imagine a much better reception.