Microsoft-Yahoo!: Consolidation in the Search Business

The long-delayed partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo! is now a reality and this could mean one thing: it’s now a virtual two-man race in the search business.

This partnership between the two online giants would now have approximately 30% of the search engine market. The Microsoft-Yahoo two-headed monster is now pitting itself against the dominant force in the field– Google.

It’s pretty clear from the deal what both parties are getting: Microsoft is trying its darned best to make a dent in Google’s search business and Yahoo is in need of a big jolt to make up for its recent misfortunes (The company took a beating since rejecting Microsoft’s acquisitionn bid last year). Yahoo! Search will be powered by Bing and the company will be selling ads for the Redmond-based Microsoft.

From the customer point of view, it’s not much of a difference as Yahoo has never been known as a search company but a content-oriented company. Placing “Powered by Microsoft Bing” on the search pages will have little effect on the user experience as both Yahoo and Bing have emulated the look and feel of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs).

If you ask me, Search Engine Optimization folks are probably the most affected by this development. Reducing the Google-Yahoo-Bing trinity into a Google-versus-Bing means less sites to optimize for, and this could result in easier work and fewer projects.

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-centerCommunity Portal of the National Computer Center represented byDr. Angelo Juan Ramos (Government)
  2. http://www.blinding-light.com – Personal Website of Ms.MikoReznor (Anna Monica Esguerra)
  3. http://www.lilianefoundationphil.org – Official Website ofLiliane Foundation Philippines represented by Sis. AgnetiaNaval, 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. 😀

(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. 🙂

Spoke at the 14th Graphic Expo

I was invited to give a couple of talks in behalf of the Philippine Web Designers Organization (PWDO) at the 14th Graphic Expo in Pasay City. The talks I gave centered on two aspects of what I’m very much interested in: Web Standards and Freelancing for the Web. Those two speaking slots were held on two different days, but the weather was just bad (like storm-like bad).

For the Web Standards talk, the audience was primarily non-web designers, but potential clients of web designers. (I initially thought I would be educating designers, but it was OK.)I had to adjust the talk to focus more on the benefits of looking for designers or companies that used Web Standards. I pointed out things like the ease of maintenance, the potential cost-savings on hosting & bandwidth, and the workflow benefits. If Web Standards were a product, I was like a salesman for it. 😛

On the next talk, I gave a talk about working freelance and doing web projects. It was less technical, but equally interesting. Personally, the talk was easy to prepare for because most of the content and stories were from my own personal experiences (Like working with web design clients from hell :P). It also helped that I shared some “serious” business-related stuff I learned from my MBA studies, but I think what resonated was the true-to-life stories of freelancing.

After the talks, I realized that the Graphic Expo is a good venue for PWDO to promote itself and its mission. Since the Graphic Expo is one of the biggest trade shows in the Philippines on print & digital graphics, I seriously believe that this year’s event won’t be the last PWDO will be participating in.

On a side note, thanks to Jonel Uy for the post on the Graphic Expo launch.

function() & .class Web Design Conference

I’m pleased to share the launch of the Philippine Web Designers Organization‘s big event for 2009: the<form> function & .class Web Design Conference.

The event will on July 10, 2009 at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City, Philippines. The conference aims to get every web designer in the Philippines, experienced and beginning, together and spend a day of learning and networking. The event’s program is as follows:

  • 8:00am-8:45am – Registration
  • 8:45am-9:00am – Opening Remarks and Introduction to PWDO bySophia Lucero
  • 9:00am-9:45am – Design 101 byRico Sta. Cruz
  • 10:00am-10:45am – Interaction Design by Nap Lara
  • 11:00am-11:45am – Web Standards, Accessibility and Usability byRegnard Raquedan
  • 12:00nn-12:45pm – Lunch
  • 12:45pm-1:15pm – Disabled Friendly Awards byJojo Esposa
  • 1:15pm-2:00pm – Sponsor Talks
  • 2:00pm-2:45pm – Workflow byMarco Palinar
  • 3:00pm-3:45pm – Industry Tips byGail dela Cruz-Villanueva
  • 4:00pm-4:45pm – State of the Web byLuis Buenaventura II
  • 4:45pm-5:15pm – Panel Q&A

We’re now busy marketing the event and looking for sponsors, and we need all the help we can get. If you know of a company that will benefit from reaching 400 young & tech-savvy folks in one single venue, please direct them to the event website. I guarantee that it will go a long way in helping the Philippine Web Design community. 🙂

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.