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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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 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:
- http://www.philcecnet.ph – Official Philippine E-center Community Portal of the National Computer Center represented by Dr. Angelo Juan Ramos (Government)
- http://www.blinding-light.com – Personal Website of Ms.Miko Reznor (Anna Monica Esguerra)
- http://www.lilianefoundationphil.org – Official Website of Liliane Foundation Philippines represented by Sis. Agnetia Naval, National Coordinator (Non-government Organization)
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. ðŸ˜€
(Photo from Jojo Esposa’s Picasa Web Album)
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.
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. ðŸ˜›
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.
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 by Sophia Lucero
- 9:00am-9:45am – Design 101 by Rico Sta. Cruz
- 10:00am-10:45am – Interaction Design by Nap Lara
- 11:00am-11:45am – Web Standards, Accessibility and Usability by Regnard Raquedan
- 12:00nn-12:45pm – Lunch
- 12:45pm-1:15pm – Disabled Friendly Awards by Jojo Esposa
- 1:15pm-2:00pm – Sponsor Talks
- 2:00pm-2:45pm – Workflow by Marco Palinar
- 3:00pm-3:45pm – Industry Tips by Gail dela Cruz-Villanueva
- 4:00pm-4:45pm – State of the Web by Luis 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.