Category Archives: CSS and Web Design

Friendster Revamps: Now What?

Friendster just launched a new look and feel that makes it look more like a site that belongs to the new decade. But is it enough?

Friendster’s steady decline decline and getting leapfrogged by competitors MySpace and Facebook are well-documented and this latest move can be seen as a way to increase its value since there are talks that Friendster is about to be acquired by an Asian firm.

Now, what about the redesign?

The new design sports a 3-column template, changed from a 2-column design. From my perspective, this decision was sparked by better advertisement placement. The new design is able to place a large rectangle ad in a more prominent position in the right-side column. This change seems to be a nod to Facebook’s 3-column layout.

Another thing worth noting is the addition of the “Activity Stream,” or the list of updates presented in reverse chronological order. This feature is quite common in major social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) but it feels more like the one in Multiply.

Visiting the other sections of the site, there’s little departure from the original design as the photos, friends, and profile areas looks very much alike the old design. The addition  of an expanded games section may be hint to where Friendster is going.

As the grand-daddy of social networking sites, Friendster is trying to play catch up with Facebook in terms of the look & feel and features. But given Friendster’s prominence is South East Asia, it remains to be seen how the folks from the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia would react to the redesign.

PWDO’s 5th Mini-Web Design Conference


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It’s Mini-Web Design Conference season once again!

The Philippine Web Designers Organization (PWDO) will be having its fifth Mini-Web Design Conference, the first after the major Form Function & Class web design conference. The event will be held at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) in Manila on November 14, 2009.

The event is spearheaded by applicants of incoming members of the PWDO with the help of the Association of Information Management of DLS-CSB.

It was over a year ago when we organized the very first Mini-Web Design Conference and I think it’s a great venue for web folks to network and learn a thing or two. :)

See you all there!

Web Design Vs. Print Design: A Review

Fifteen years ago, there were no web designers. The very first web designers in the early days of the web were “traditional” graphic designers that migrated their skills from print to the new media.  So a lot of web design today is influenced by print design philosophies.

However, it’s easy to take from granted the differences between print and the web for the designer. Here are some of the key differences revisited:

  1. The Web is Dynamic – the key difference between the two media is that designing for the web means designing for content that will change based on the reader’s interaction. Printed content and design, obviously, will stay the same for eternity.
  2. Authoring is different – Making web pages can literally be done on notepad for the HTML, CSS, and Javascript stuff. But there are key tools available from image editors (Adobe Photoshop/Fireworks, Mic), editors (Adobe Dreamweaver), and even rich media (Flash) that give the web its interactivity. Print folks have Adobe InDesign, and even Microsoft Word. Also, designing for print operates better in a WYSIWYG environment.
  3. As far as standards go, the web has a long way to go – From the browsers, to the mark-up standards, and design standards the web is a mish-mash compared to print.  If I ask you what the standard for rich media on the web, you’ll probably say “Flash,” but open web standards advocates will point to something else.

As web design matures and print media finds a way to arrest its steady decline, designers will probably dabble on the media more often. Appreciating the difference between the two media could probably go a long way.

Stepping Down as User Group Manager of the Adobe User Group – Philippines

After five years at the helm, I’m stepping down as the User Group Manager of the Adobe User Group – Philippines.

I’m stepping down knowing that the community I initiated in 2004 will be in the capable leadership of Rey Mendoza, Jr. and Michelle Santos. I’ll still be involved with AUGPhil in a difference capacity, but AUGPhil will move forward with Rey and Michelle leading the way.

I’ve had my share of successes and challenges (mostly challenges :P) in reaching out to the Adobe designer and developer communities here in the Philippines, and I could say that despite the challenges in the last five years, AUGPhil kept afloat and is now primed to take on bigger things with the new leadership.

Keep an eye on AUGPhil in the coming months, there will be good things coming up. :)

Web Fonts & Typography: The Good & The Bad

A few weeks ago, there was some minor buzz about fonts and typography on the web. The story centered on the new updates on Firefox to support the @font-face rule in CSS. This rule can enable fonts from a remote location to be downloaded and rendered by the webpage calling it. (The status quo is that the fonts must reside in the user’s local machine in order to be used.)

To be honest, I’m over the fence over this development.

On one hand, I’m really looking forward to the use of new fonts as a native capability of web designers. The potential is just immense– designers will no longer be captive to the likes of Verdana, Georgia, Arial, and Tahoma, work-arounds such as image replacement techniques will be a thing of the past, and this may even open up new opportunities for font foundries. Accessibility-wise, tons of images as text will give way to properly styled text.

On the other, there are two main issues that keeps me from doing cartwheels all over the place: a) The potential misuse of the fonts, opening a Pandora’s box of new usability problems and even security issues; and b) the DRM of the web fonts. (How will people pay for the fonts & bandwidth?)

These two issues have the potential to be deal breakers but there are possible solutions to them.

For the usability issues, this puts the onus on browser makers to put better font override features to turn-off #font-face rendering. Designers must also anticipate the use of standard fonts as a replacement to the non-standard fonts.

The DRM issue is a little trickier. I seriously doubt that foundries will just give up their fonts– unless there’s a sponsor involved. Perhaps a company like Adobe or Google can sponsor fonts for designers. Another possible model is licensing where the company’s font servers can allow/disallow access to the typefaces based on a registry of licensed websites.

I’m pretty sure that the direction of web fonts & typography will go towards the @font-face direction, and I do hope that the stumbling blocks will be overcome.

I’m honored: Standard Web Standards Recognized as “Disabled-Friendly”

I’m very proud to share that Standard Web Standards was recently recognized by a body comprised of government agencies and non-government organizations for its web accessibility features.

The Philippines’ National Council on Disabiliy Affairs, National Computer Center of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, Vision Office Support Services Ltd. and the Philippine Web Accessibility Group gave several websites commendations during the form function & class Web Conference last July 10, 2009. Plaques were presented to the website owners for including accessibility features, and promoting web standards, usability and accessibility.

The other websites that were recognized as “disabled-friendly” were:

  1. http://www.philcecnet.ph – Official Philippine E-center Community Portal of the National Computer Center represented by Dr. Angelo Juan Ramos (Government)
  2. http://www.blinding-light.com – Personal Website of Ms.Miko Reznor (Anna Monica Esguerra)
  3. http://www.lilianefoundationphil.org – Official Website of Liliane Foundation Philippines represented by Sis. Agnetia Naval, National Coordinator (Non-government Organization)

Disabled-friendly awards winners

Awardees (from left): Regnard Raquedan, Eloisa San Mateo, Sis. Agnetia Naval, Anna Monica Esguerra, Jojo Esposa of PWAG and NCDA Executive Director Geraldine Ruiz (seated)

I’d like to thank the agencies for the honor and recognition of the extra effort I put in to make my blog more accessible. :D

(Photo from Jojo Esposa’s Picasa Web Album)

form function & class Web Design Conference All Set!

After several months of preparation, planning and the occasional frustration, the form function & class Web Design Conference is all set on July 10, 2009 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Just a few more reminders to those who will be attending the event:

  • Payment – Early payment can be done at the AIM Marketing office (3rd floor). Look for Ms. Mel Solomon for the payment of cash or check (payable to the Philippine Web Designers Organization). Online and bankd deposit options are available. Please visit the confirmation site for more information on the payment schemes.
  • Lunch – Many people have been asking, so here’s a clarification: lunch will be served at the event.
  • Adobe CS4 Raffle – Only those who have registered at the Adobe User Group – Philippines Adobe Groups site and present at the event are the ones eligible. The cut-off for membership is at 12nn on July 10, 2009. The final list of entries will be based on the people who are physically present in the event.
  • Google AdWords vouchers – Only the first 100 non-student registrants will get a Google AdWords voucher. We will have different registration tables for those who have reserved & paid/not paid and walk-ins. We have developed a system to give everyone a fair chance to get a Google AdWords voucher, regardless if you have paid or not.
  • Additional Slots – We initially booked the event to have 400 slots, but dur to the demand, we have increased it by 50. Still, folks who would like to come must reserve a slot at the confirmation site.

For more information on the event, feel free to email me or post a comment on this blog post. :)