Field Notes Blog
News and thoughts on UI/UX, web design, and more.
In the aftermath of Facebook's mind boggling privacy breach revelations I've had a few concerned calls about using social media. While it is scary that companies like Cambridge Analytica were able to purchase data and quite possibly influence political elections in several countries, those bad actors should not be allowed to overshadow the positive aspects of social media. Like me, many of my friends use Facebook to keep up with friends and family. Many of my clients use Facebook to help new clients find them, to share valuable resources and connect to colleagues and industry associations. Many nonprofits and popular movements use Facebook - and social media in general - to fundraise and organize. But like all media, it is important to consume it with a critical mind. Who benefits from this or that story? What agenda is being served? So, assuming that we as users can think critically about our usage and that the good outweighs the bad, here are some simple ways to make your use of Facebook more useful and secure.
The face of technology, both past and present, is persistently male from Jobs to Gates to Zuckerberg but behind those leaders are millions of people who contribute critical research advances, put the ideas into production and market, sell and support tech companies and products. To celebrate International Women's Day, I did a bit of research and found a huge list of amazing women from a range of countries and cultures whose work laid the foundation for modern computing, websites and the internet itself. Here's a look at just 10 of my favorite pioneering women in technology.
What is Weebly? A quick look at the fantastic website platform with the funny name
What is Weebly?
Weebly is a simple, easy to use online service where you can log in to build, maintain and manage a website. Your site is created within the Weebly content management system and an array of features and tools come with each plan level. You get forms, photo galleries, social media widgets, unlimited pages and storage and lots more all in a drag-and-drop editor that's a snap to use. Weebly also provides a built-in mobile-friendly, fully-responsive version of your site - at no extra charge. For simple sites Weebly can't be beat.
I love Twitter's new profile template for the same reasons I liked Facebook's graphical overhaul awhile back. As a designer it gives me a gorgeous, HUGE canvas to work with in promoting ideas, products, concepts, calls to action, etc. However, I'm also shocked and amazed that Twitter has so brazenly emulated Facebook. Shocked I say! Really Twitter, you couldn't come up with something better?
In my mind the two services are dramatically different. While both have their pros and cons, Twitter can soundly be equated with democracy, scientific advancements and nothing less than revolution itself. Facebook, on the other hand, has an undeniable association with lots of problematic, unintended social consequences. Both are very valuable for marketing but I just believe that Twitter is superior for one main reason - it is primarily about ideas. Who knows what Facebook is primarily about. I'm not sure it's escaped it's origin as a "Hot or Not" web app. So, why would Twitter be emulating Facebook?
What is Facebook's "Timeline"?
Timeline is a big change that was made in mid-2012 to the way that Facebook displays user generated content. It offers information in a chronologically compact way and gives designers and developers new control over how pages look. While it IS still Facebook, and therefore limited to Facebook's very specific functionality, it does represent a quantum leap forward that's very beneficial for small businesses and nonprofits. For more info about using Facebook for business, see my Facebook for Business page.
Gotta be user-editable
My small web design & development business has recently shifted focus completely and I’m super excited about what this means for my clients, my business and the future. When I began working for myself in 2003 my job was to create great websites and be available (often seven days a week) for edits and updates. Those changes were emailed to me by clients, I then fired up trusty Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Flash and got the updates done as quickly as possible. About 70% of what I provided was ongoing service. It was a challenge to respond to requests as quickly as expected – especially when a lot of requests came in simultaneously – and getting away on vacation was really tough. I did teach many people how to use Flash and Dreamweaver but for most folks, the learning curve on those apps was just too steep. In the same way that we don’t need to know how a car works in order to drive one, I’ve always felt that one shouldn’t have to know xhtml & css to be able to maintain a website. Finally, with a new breed of user-editable website platforms I’m seeing this come to pass and the old 70% service model is (wonderfully!) shifting.
WordPress.com and WordPress.org
I’ve gotten a few questions about the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress is blogging software and it comes in two main flavors. .Org is the place to go to download the free WordPress software to run on your own server. In this flavor you can modify the code (php and modules built using other languages) and install thirdparty plugins, themes, and other goodies.
WordPress.com is where you go to start and run a free online blog. Here you have a bit less customization available but you also avoid the headaches of hosting and maintaining the software on your own server. For beginners, WordPress.com is probably the place to start. Read more at WordPress.com.
Community over mass customization
The concept of mass customization has always been interesting to me. It’s the idea that we want custom products as long as they are not too different from what everyone else has…or more expensive. In my web work I’m often trying to balance the demand for custom work with the need to keep costs under control.
A recent radio interview caught my ear because the guest has just completed a book about the decline of Starbucks…the epitome of mass customization. Starbucks is a great example because people are able to place unique coffee orders (customization) and receive their item immediately within a cost range no different from their peers (mass marketing). Hanging out in a Starbucks or sipping from a branded cup imbues hipness. It communicates that you have $4 a day to spend on coffee, insist on only the best, and know what you want.
But, the value of that image is declining because coffee and coffee houses meant something very different before Starbucks. People are remembering that for hundreds of years coffee houses have been places where people gather to discuss, debate, assemble and find community. The allure of mass customization is giving way to the simple yearning for simple human contact.
About the author
As the owner of Pixel Lava Interactive I've helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits with websites, graphic design and more. I hope you'll find this blog full of useful information.
~ Ame Stanko