Book Review: Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?

Neuro Web Design

I’m generally a slow reader, taking my time to finish a book, but Susan Weinschenk’s Neuro Web Design was such an interesting read that I finished it as soon as I could.

I’ve read books with different perspectives on webdesign, from the artist, to the usability engineer, to the manager. Neuro Web Design offers a different, and very convincing view of web design– the psychologist’s.

The main thesis of Neuro Web Design is that all people, as discovered by extensive research throughout the years, are “hard-wired” to behave certain ways. This is because out brain has evolved to have survival instincts, feel emotions, and process information. Given that our brain responds positively and negatively on certain stimuli, the book posits that there are key triggers to elicit positive responses from people. (Am I sounding like Sigmund Freud already?)

Serious web designers and internet marketing guys should definitely take a look at this Neuro Web Design. It explains some of the web usability tenets I’ve encountered and recommends practical use of psychology to web design.

4th Mini Web Design Conference: A Look Back

And the Philippine Web Designers Organization keeps chugging along: The 4th Mini Web Design Conference happened last Wednesday, March 18 2009 at the G2VC Bar at the Orient Square Building in Ortigas, Pasig City.

The event had a pleasant surprise as the folks from G2VC and Elymar Apao treated the event’s participants to dinner and the hearty meal sure made everyone happy (and that includes me). After dinner, the program for the evening commenced and the lovely emcee Sarah kicked-off the talks. Here’s a list of the night’s speakers & topics:

My blunder for the evening: I raffled off a web design/development book, but I left it in the office! (My bad!) But we raffled it off anyway, with me handing the book personally to the winner.

Many thanks to Ia and Mae for tirelessly facilitating the Mini Web Design Conference. The next one will be on June 2009. 🙂

Check this out: more photos of the event: Azrael’s Multiply site.

Facebook’s New Design

Facebook's new design

I opened Facebook this morning and I was greeted by a new user interface. The site owners did send a notice a few days back about an impending change on the layout and interaction design of the social networking site. But for some reason, the design has left me scratchign my head.

On Facebook’s redesign last year, I thought it was a more gradual change and a better transition. When I saw the new interface last year, there more tooltips and helpers that guided users on the new layouts.

As for the user interface itself, it marked the return of the three-column layout in the user’s home page. (3-column layouts are utilized in other sections of the site). This move could have been a response to an insight that user’s monitor resolutions are getting bigger (or it might have been a response to the whole “Facebook copied Multiply’s design” issue that have festered since last year).

Either way, Facebook’s new design could disorient a great deal of users. For one, the site now mashes together the status updates, link sharing, note writing, and photo & video posting into one “Share” box. This could help power users, but the hidden labels could cause some user frustration.

Another is the combination of application events, photo comments, event announcements on the right column and calling it “Highlights.” Again this is another form of a generalizing strategy where Facebook thinks that the main column is better used with more status updates and less “noise” by default.

In my opinion, the most useful feature of the new interaction is the use of the right column to filter the stream appearing on the main column. It takes some getting used to, but it’s powerful, in terms of making the main news stream more relevant.

Over-all, Facebook could have made the transition a little smoother. The generalization philosophy and filtering mechanisms are great, but could be frustrating without the proper introduction.

4th Mini Web Design Conference

The Philippine Web Designer’s Organization (PWDO) will be holding the fourth (yeah, it’s already the fourth!) iteration of the <form> + function() & .class Mini Web Design Conference this coming March 18, 2009, 8pm at the G2VC Bar in the Orient Square, Pasig City. (If you’re not familiar with the place, you can check out the map).

Here’s the list of speakers for that day:

Web Accessibility with Assistive Technology
Rene Orense
Project Officer, Web Developer
http://www.atriev.org.ph

Finding Your Soul Mate!
Luis Buenaventura
Software Architect
http://syndeolabs.com

Top 5 Internet Marketing Mistakes Companies Make
Regnard Raquedan
Consultant
http://www.raquedan.com

Branding and Design
Elymar Apao
USAP Philippines
http://www.jozzua.com

Web Standards (specifics to be announced)
Aja Lorenzo Lapus
Student at University of Santo Tomas
http://www.ajalapus.com/

Leveling Up Your Photoshop Skillz
Marco Palinar
http://site-guy.com

Javascript/AJAX/DOM
Ta Tuy Duc
http://acc.vn

We also have to thank the sponsors for the event:

Ely Apao
http://www.jozzua.com/

Marc Villanueva
Sheero Media Solutions
http://sheeromedia.com/

I’ll also be raffling off a Web Development book,courtesy of AUGPhil.

If you’re interested in attending, you can sign up using the online registration form.

See you there!

Reaching Out

A couple of days ago, I turned 29.

I usually celebrate my birthdays with a simple dinner with family and friends, but this year was different.

Instead of a quaint gathering, I was speaker in a free “Basic Web Design” seminar in my local community last Sunday. The event was an idea of my dad, who is the leader of our local government unit. He said that it would be a good idea to share my talents and knowledge to our community. I initially relented since we were deviating away from what we traditionally did, but I eventually said “Yes” to the idea a couple of weeks ago.

There were around 50 people in attendance, with a mix of out-of-school youths, middle-aged folks and college students who wanted to brush up on their internet knowledge. The seminar was held in a basketball court (yes, a basketball court), but good thing there was a nice sound system and an LCD projector.

We started a bit late, but it was kinda expected. I went straight to discussing the expectations of the three-hour seminar and what we were going to discuss then. The coverage was basically an overview of the internet and how websites work. Since the participants did not have computers with them, I just demonstrated how HTML works and how you can use familiar tools like Microsoft Office to come up with a web page.

The Q & A was very interesting. People were more interested in how the internet works, like how wi-fi works and how e-commerce works. Good thing I was able to enlighten them on a variety of topics (including how a debit card works :P).

I’ve spoken in very nice venues and high brow crowds, but the seminar last Sunday was really a down-to-earth, going-to-your-roots experience. It was a nice birthday activity, for a change. 🙂

Are CSS Frameworks For You?

I got interested with CSS frameworks early this year but it sidetracked because of school work and other things. But I’ve gotten a chance to take a look at it again after grad school is winding down.

CSS frameworks got my attention initially because they presented the benefits as most web application frameworks do– they can make a developer/designer more efficient and productive with ready-made code that (hopefully) have been thought of and thoroughly tested. It’s also a good way to reduce redundant work.

But like most frameworks, they have learning curves, you sometimes get everything but the kitchen sink when all you need is a pushpin, and you now work around parameters set by others.

In my opinion, using CSS frameworks is like dancing. Using frameworks is like the social dance of web design– it’s “high end” and difficult to learn and do, but once you master it, everything will be efficient, deliberate and methodical. Or you can just do freestyle (i.e. no frameworks) and get to the dance floor faster, get the chicks sooner, but most of the time, your freestylin’ will not be the same as the one you did the other night. Another option, of course, is to make your own CSS framework. It’s probably as hard as using someone else’s, but at least your doing it your way. 😀

In conclusion, CSS frameworks are pretty advanced and if you have the time to learn it, go ahead. It may get your groove going. 😛

2nd Mini Web Design Conference

Thanks to the success of the first Mini Web Design Conference, we’re coming up with a follow up! 😀

The second Form, Function & Class will be held tomorrow at the G2VC Tech Bar in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The roster of speakers are:

It’s a longer list of speakers so I’m sure it will be a very enriching evening. 🙂
Check out Ia’s post for more info.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend because I’ll be having my thesis defense on the 27th and the 28th. 🙁
But I’m sure the 2nd Mini Web Design Conference will also be a smashing success.