Friday, January 30, 2009

Planning web site content development is difficult.

I'm working on a large scale website content development project and I'm slowly realizing that my method of cobbled together site-maps and word documents isn't functioning as robustly as I'd like. We're still in the planning phases, fleshing out what content is available currently for us to use and what content we need to develop and in the process I'm getting a really mucky and unusable text document. I really wish there was software to help manage the planning and creation process run more smoothly.

I'd like to see software made for web designers that enables more flexible content strategy development. Here's some initial thoughts:
  • Flexible site map development which can be connected to drafts of content broken down by pages or sectional content/modules. If the site map is restructured, content follows pages/modules associated with site map objects. Granular/modular restructuring is what I'd really like to see.
  • Change tracking in drafts of content in a non-obtrusive way (ie. view most recent draft, view with content changes from specific collaborators, etc.)
  • To dos for researching content that's needed (i.e., product selling points, supportive images and references, resources to link to from content, etc.) including the ability to assign those tasks to particular members of a team
  • Associating drafts of content with other informational assets such as images, tabular data, forms, etc.
I'm sure there are software packages or web applications that provide this functionality out there, so leave them in the comments! I'd also love to hear about your workflow for creating content before a site is launched.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Inauguration from all sorts of angles

Lots of interesting digital photography of the inauguration is popping up all over. Here's two of my favs:

David Bergman shot a 1,474-Megapixel Photo of President Obama's Address. The detail is simply astonishing.

We never have seen an image like the one Chuck Kennedy from the McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service got with a remote camera positioned near the speaker's podium.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life update.

There's been quite a bit going on for me professionally over the past few months:
  • I've been hired as the first and only creative-centric brain at Praeses doing web and graphic design. Mostly I build user-centric, accessible, standards based fancy websites and deploy content manged systems through open source projects like Joomla and Dot Net Nuke. I'm surrounded by very smart developers who I feel right at home with. I'm doing much more design-oriented work than I had when freelancing; however, doing quite a bit of work with Joomla! Most recently I deployed Joomla! along with a hotel booking engine for the Independence Bowl.
  • I'm teaching an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink web design course at Centenary this semester. Information about the course and my students' work is available. I'm trying to infuse an open source mentality in the course, so all the materials except the books for the course will be available through the website. Its an honor to teach at my alma mater for a semester!
Outside that, I just bought my first car, our dog Bowser is growing tall and my husband Chris is becoming a community correspondent with Red River Radio.

UX vs. XD

My colleague Travis Stiles ponders the distinction between UX and XD:
Certainly the practice of UX or XD can vary and anyone calling themselves an “XD” can practice user-centered design, but my goal here is to define the implicit value and meaning in both terms and how that might affect the use and context of each.
Its got my brain turning on something I've been thinking about since I've heard the term "experience design." I've always thought about XD in terms of art making and installation work, which for many artists puts the cart before the horse. There's an idea or aesthetic you'd like to explore and while participation is key in that experience, "getting it" isn't necessarily the primary goal. Definitely a useful distinction that I'm looking forward to hearing more about!