Recently, I nearly broke my #1 rule for website management - "Don't Overstretch". Well, we all make mistakes from time to time! I must also pay more attention to rule #2, "Don't forget Rule #1"
Blíanta ó shin bhí cuid mhaith de na téarmaí teicneolaíochta Gaeilge faoin idirlíon ar an eolas agam – mar shampla, gréasán, suíomh idirlín, bunachar, nasc, srl. Ach, is léir anois gur thit mé cineal as-data le deanaí. Mar shampla, go dtí an tseachtain seo thart níor chuala me riamh faoi 'bhlagadóireacht' no 'podchraoladh'! Sin samplaí de na focail áisiúla úra a d'fhloglaim mé le gairid ar chúrsa Ghaelchultúr i mBarra an Teampaill. Ach d’aithnigh mé nár thainig an téarma ‘Web 2.0’ chun tosaigh le linn ar ndíospoireachaí. Mar sin cruthóidh mé féin é : 'Gréasán 2.0'. Anois! An chéad focail Gaeilge a chum mé riamh!
Last Friday I spent the day at a Neilsen Norman Group usability workshop in London. The topic for which I subscribed was "Designing Complex Applications and Websites" hosted by Lynn Pausic. The key theme that emerged during the day was the accelerating convergence between websites and web applications. Web 2.0 and Flash are forging a new type of online experience and we are now a long way from the simple brochureware sites of the 1990s. The task for website designers is to ensure such functionality remains both easy to find and easy to use. Quite a challenge, I assure you! So who are the leaders at addressing this complexity? Well, you won't be surprised to learn that sites such as Flickr and Basecamp lead the area. Indeed, I am using one of this new generation of websites as I write. Blogger.com have just released the Beta version of a new interface to which I have upgraded (it is lightning fast compared to the old site). Yet, even though Blogger is reasonably complex, it is childsplay compared to what other sites have to do. Anyone familiar with the volumes of content and functionality contained within a corporate intranet will know the scale of the challenge they face. Indeed, this was a key reason for my attendance. Although Lynn provided a good overview of the challenges of complex design and suggested a structure for addressing such projects, she was light on solutions. I guess I was looking for more specific guidelines. For example, should the language used in complex application change and if so how, what interface features work best in large applications, what should I avoid, etc? There were a few things I can take away but as she said herself solutions depend on the problem, so it is really a case of tailoring the design for your audience.
Some things simply don't make sense. Just look at all the hoopla and razzmatazz that greeted the launch of Internet Explorer v7 and Firefox v2—while the best browser on the market remains virtually ignored. Since I first used Opera back in 2000 (when an Irish language version of it was released), I have kept a close eye on its progress. Although I am obliged to use Internet Explorer for all my work related activity, about 6 months ago I switched to Opera for home browsing. Why? Well, it has a very attractive and intuitive interface, it is lightening fast, it follows W3C style rules, it allows me to easily check rendering on mobile devices and, finally, it is really simple to change configurations. Yet, obviously the market does not feel the same way. Opera remains virtually unknown among the general populace and is similarly ignored by most corporations. Indeed, I have just read some new research from Forrester Inc that suggests less then 0.4% of corporations have any Opera browsers in use! That is truly a shame. But maybe—just maybe—there is cause for hope. Given the rapid growth in handheld devices with web access and the fact that the Opera Mobile browser is just so damn good—perhaps, this excellent Norwegian product can succeed on phones where it is been sidelined on the desktop.
The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (blessed be his name) worries that it could be used to spread "misinformation and undemocratic forces". By the way, the very first web page created by Sir Tim can still be viewed on the website of the W3C.