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Should web designers know how to code?

Colleague Kevin Conboy on why coding skills are important for web design:

Your first instinctual reaction (as mine would be), is of course going to be that learning HTML is not learning web design. And of course – of course – that’s true. Just because you know Flash or HTML does not mean you’re a designer. I would never be brain-dead enough to suggest such a thing. The visual and strategic aspects of design are always more important than the technical ones – it’s just that the technical skills should exist alongside all of that to effectively uphold your decisions. This has been true of design as a discipline for decades.

The full article is on Alternate.org.

Vote for Kevin’s panel proposal for SXSW here.

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Prepare Your Troops for a Surface Attack

Pure CSS3 Animated AT-AT Walker from Star Wars

Awesome.

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What Would Sell You a Pizza Online?

I don’t know what the last time you ordered a pizza online was, but someone in Domino’s Pizza’s marketing and/or web department needs a raise. The site is full of completely awesome copy. For instance: when you choose toppings for a pizza, they are divided into two categories:

  • meats
  • unmeats

This is a distinction I fully support.

When creating a pizza using their ordering interface, there is some fine print under the graphical representation of your pizza. (The graphical representation is also awesome; it is a photograph that reflects as you check on toppings/crusts what your final pizza will resemble.) The text reads:

The Pizza Builder will always show a large pizza. If you choose a different size, the topping amounts will vary. The deliciousness, however, will not.

This is a delightfully snarky way to tell you that they aren’t about to make a whole bunch of different graphics just to show you what will be on your pizza. Creative.

At the bottom of the screen is some text speaking about their 30-minute promise. It says:

Because safety is a priority, “You Got 30 Minutes™” is not a guarantee, but an estimate. You may get more.

Once again, we have what amounts to normally boring copy (legal instead of technical this time), but it’s been given a human flavor and just a little bit of an attitude. There’s personality behind this web copy, something I think is very important and should be rewarded. “You may get more” is funny in a direct way.

When you place your order, you also get to see using a “tracking service” where your pizza is in the creation process, including when it leaves the store to be delivered to your house. It even includes the names of the employees responsible for their parts in the process. It adds an unmistakably personal touch to the process of ordering a pizza on a web site—which by its very nature is an impersonal process.

Hats off.

What about you? Have you ever had an experience with a web site for a store or establishment that goes that extra mile to make things feel more personal and connected? Do you prefer a formal, business-language approach, or something that’s more informal and down-to-earth?

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There’s a Rumor That I Might Know About 80% of What I’m Doing

I don’t normally hawk stuff on my site, but I’ve noticed that there’s a handful of people reading these days and I’d like to make sure I extend the offer for those of you who are paying attention.

I have a desire to pick up some extra work on the evenings and weekends, and this extra work comes in a few flavors. If you or your church—especially in the St. Louis area—have need of any of these services, please get in touch with me and let me know.

  • I can provide technical services for computers, either in churches or in homes, such as networking, software installation, or various other tasks like antivirus or antispyware tools. I’ll also gladly recommend software for you to use that’s inexpensive or even free. (And I specialize in Macs.)
  • I can also provide training for Microsoft Office programs or especially using tools that exist on the Internet, such as blogging or other applications you might have on a web site—or I can introduce you to some online tools that might be useful for your needs.
  • If you have need of a Web site, I can provide inexpensive and reliable hosting, including setting up domain names (a “.com” or a “.org”), and getting various services set up and configured. You can have access to your site if you need it, or you can ask me to assist you with that for a regular rate.
  • If you’re not even that far and you’d like to have a site designed, I would be happy to assist with that process and get you started with a site that you can update yourself with little trouble after the initial setup. I’ll even train you a bit in how to use the site software and how it works. (This is of course a touch more expensive than the other stuff.) If you’d rather a professional update the site instead of yourself, I would be happy to do so for you on a per-item basis.

If I think of any other services I can render, I will add them in the future or say something about them. If you or anyone you know would be interested in these services, please contact me via e-mail at ryan@themarkelfamily.com and we’ll talk.