Looking back…

Its the end of the year and I’ve been thinking a bit about the things that shaped me to get where I am today.  By no means is this an exhaustive list of people, books, or events that have influenced or helped me, but more the 5 main points that spring to mind time and time again.

Web sites!

David Siegel’s Creating Killer Web Sites was the first real book I got about building web sites. Thoroughly outdated now, but back in ’96 this was a true eye-opener for me and just made me hungry to learn more.

Floats? What the heck are those for?

I’d been trying to figure out CSS for a while with little to no success.  That was until I plowed through Eric Meyer’s Eric Meyer on CSS.  It give me a real glimpse of the web we have now. Added bonus: I ended up moving to Cleveland and meeting a very cool guy at a web design meet-up, turned out to be Eric.

Staying in touch

Keeping up with the ever changing landscape of the web is a daunting task but  Nick Fink and Digital Web Magazine made it easier. I devoured every article published in it’s 10 year run. It was my “go-to” site and I used to print off many articles to read on the bus ride home. I got to see Nick speak at SXSW as well as share a beer with him. When I think “web professional”, I think Nick Fink.

STANDARDS!

After reading Zeldman‘s Designing with Web Standards (now in its 3rd edition) I  made the next big leap in how I saw the web as a whole.  It was that orange book that shaped my coding and approach to building sites.

South by…

Attending SXSW for the first time kicked me up to 11!  I came back from there completely energized and re-engaged.  Its more than spotting & rubbing shoulders with the “stars” of the web. Its actually talking with them as colleagues and finding out you all share similar problems and goals. Returning the next year with Paul and representing the agency we worked for as a finalist in the Web Awards was a fantastic feeling.  If you ever get to choose a web conference to attend I recommend SXSW.

Here’s to 2010 and all that it will bring.

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One navigation list to rule them all?

I’ve been using unordered lists for navigation for some time now, and I remember my excitement when the I first read about the suckerfish method. But one thing that keeps popping into my head recently is using one list for the main and secondary navigation on a page. I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen anyone talk about this or try it for that matter.

The lists

Say we have a site with four main sections and within each section is four pages.  Normally I would code up the following:

<ul id="navMain">
<li><a href="#" title="">section 1</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">section 2</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">section 3</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">section 4</a></li>
</ul>

Somewhere further down the page, within a section, I’d have:

<ul id="navSection">
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2a</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2b</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2c</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2d</a></li>
</ul>

Another approach

Which normally would be displayed like image 1. Now what was tickling my mind was writing the code out like this:

<ul id="navMain">
<li><a href="#" title="">section 1</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">section 2</a>
<ul id="navSection">
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2a</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2b</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2c</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">page 2d</a></li>
</ul>

</li>
<li><a href="#" title="">section 3</a></li>
<li><a href="#" title="">section 4</a></li>
</ul>

Usual position for secondary navigation
Usual position for secondary navigation

Where the correct sections navigation is inserted as the page is called. It could then be positioned absolutely on the page using CSS.  If you’re using skip links for screen readers, then “skip navigation” would only have to skip the one list, and if read out, then it’ll be read in context.

I know I’m not taking into consideration:

  • drop down navigation (not a big fan now)
  • footer navigation
  • problems with certain layout designs and absolute positioning

but I think these could be overcome fairly easily.

I’m not suggesting that this is a be-all-end-all thing to use, more that I haven’t seen it implemented like this and wondered if anyone had any thoughts on the subject. I would love to hear any feedback.

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Strangers in my Twitter feed

New twitter retweet display

Twitter has been going into overdrive recently, updating their online experience to (I assume) catch up with the plethora of apps that make use of the service.

Since the site has become my only way to interact with the service I’ve liked a lot of the subtle improvements. Having the site update with new tweets has been meant I don’t have to continually hit F5. Lists offer a way to organize and share, similar to Facebook’s feeds.

The latest is re-tweeting on the site, something apps like twirl and tweetdeck have offered for sometime.  Even on those apps I prefer to pass the tweet along with a little tinkering instead of just hitting the re-tweet button – that’s just me.  But the way Twitter is implementing it on the site doesn’t sit great with me (see screenshot). It feels like strangers are popping up in my feed. Names and faces that I don’t know and my initial reaction is “I’m getting SPAM” until I’ve looked a little closer.

I applaud the efforts that developers are doing, and maybe I’ll get used to it, but for now I’d like a way to turn it off.