The Hero Inside: Invisible Customer Support

Jon Swartz Tech Reporter USA Today
Kimarie Matthews VP Social Web Wells Fargo
Toby Richards GM, Community Microsoft Corporation

What does proactive support mean to you?

Companies need to use new technologies to reach out to customers as never before. Build channels for customers to come to YOU. Proactive support is about breaking down the walls of the store and letting you out to help people where they are.

Frontier airlines went out of their way to help a complaint. The customer went from complaining to praising the company.

Social Schizophrenia
Putting another face on social media that is different than the normal face. Comcast helps the high level people to spin their support. They’re not using social media correctly to the core. They’re putting frosting on a really disgusting cake. What do you do to consistently solve problems, not what do you do to appear like you are on social media.

Do some of these companies that get into social media know what they’re getting into? This can easily blow up in their face, and maybe they shouldn’t be there to begin with. In many cases, they don’t have the scale to keep up with it.

An organization shouldn’t depend on heros. Heros don’t scale – you can’t have people breaking rules all the time. It means that the rules aren’t right.

Only about 3.5% mention their experience on Twitter. It is a pretty small segment of people who talk about their experience on Twitter.

You need to make sure you have the resources to escalate the issues to the appropriate places.

Unbelievable eCommerce: Increase Sales By 10000%

Paul Boag, Dir Headscape

Tidbit of information: Brits do not care about the royal wedding!

A Case Study:

Headscape increased ecommerce for a company over 10k% in 5 years – from a reasonable base. Where is the catch?

The company sells frozen meals to elderly people (average age in 80’s). The average cost of a meal is $5-8. Wiltshire Farms

Two Lesson Areas

Business & Design

A successful ecommerce site is based on great business and great design. You have to have a great client and a great designer (you need both). They must work together.

Business (why the client is crucial in the process) @mattycurry

You are unique if you are involved in an ecommerce site. You are NOT Amazon. Even if Amazon is doing it all right, they are doing it right for them and not for you. You can’t just copy other people (even people in your own sector).

Why are you unique in frozen food industry? The age of the audience. What makes your target audience unique? The problem with Wiltshire Farms had was their audience kept dying on them.

New Users: Getting started guide shows up very large on the home page for new users (only the first time they visit the website).

Care Workers: There is a section explaining things to people buying meals for someone else.

A Franchise Model: There was no consistent pricing. You had to put in your postal code to enter the site.

Don’t be seduced by sexy
Don’t test out new stuff on your audience. Sexy isn’t always right for your website. Are you going to generate the return to make it worthwhile?

Visit Users in their Homes:
Usability testing – they realized that their audience never used a mouse before. They found out that everyone used laptops. Go into their homes and find out how they live and get a sense of their character.

Test & Iterate

A small ongoing investment on a regular basis is better than one big investment in many cases. Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug, talks about monthly usability testing.

Multi-variance Testing: You discover things that work and don’t work very quickly. (Google Website Optomizer)

A Right Relationship

You have to have a good relationship with your client. Take them out and get them drunk. You need to be able to argue and be comfortable.

Remove Clutter

Again, you are NOT Amazon. The list of meals to choose from and cut it down (added a "see more options"). If you can remove it, do it. If you can’t remove it, hide it. If you can’t hide it, shrink it. Ask yourself what you can remove, what you can hide and what you can shrink.

Product Shots

Product shots are everything. Add great shots to sell your product.

Make Buttons & Links Obvious

Make links look like links and buttons look like buttons. The links are bright blue with big underlines, and the buttons look like they are buttons. Make it obvious and bold. It’s not about design, it’s about increasing sales. On pop-up dialogs describe what the buttons are going to do.

Always Provide Help

Find out what the major questions are and float them to the top of the help. FAQ’s suck, prioritize the questions.

Handle Errors Gracefully

"Oh dear, we have a problem. Let’s fix it together." Be nice with your error messages. Give them real practical advice.

Communicate the Value Added

Show and demonstrate the added value that you provide over your competitors. A large part of the home page is dedicated to value added. Why are you different? Why are you unique. Take some space on the homepage to add that – not just products, products, products.

Presentation Video:

Cure for the Common Font

Frank Chimero, Office of Frank Chimero
Jason Santa Maria, Creative Dir Mighty LLC
Stephen Coles, Type Dir Typographica/Fonts In Use
Tiffany Wardle, Typegirl

More Information:

There are hundreds of thousands of fonts available and grows every year. It gets difficult to choose types so we many times just rely on the ones we always use.

Typography Basics

Methods for Typography:
How vs. Why, practical execution in addition to theory and rationale.

Arranging the Furniture
Does the furniture fit who it’s for? – don’t put chairy in a modern room
Does the arrangement make sense? – don’t just throw a bunch of pillows in the room
Is there room to get around?

Choose a good typeface:
Good meaning high-quality and proper. Proper for the format, for the content, for the reader. You can set the tone with the word “party” and let the font tell you want type of party it’s going to be. Typopedia

Don’t use too many:
It’s a juggling act. The fewer typefaces one uses the less likely they are to drop the balls. Use faces in the right order – certain typefaces work in body and certain ones work larger.

Have a clear hierarchy:
Make more important things bigger, and less important things smaller. You’re already doing this in markup (H1, H2, H3, etc.).

If in doubt, read it:
Excellent type comes form empathy for the reader. Huffington Post doesn’t pass the read test. It is very hard to read a full article.

How to Evaluate the Quality of a Font

Are there too many choices? Not all fonts are created equal.

Does the font have a minimum character set?
Is it all uppercase? Does it include all punctuation?

Does the font have extended Latin or non-Latin?
Will you need to do anything internationally to support other languages? Find a family that includes all of it.

Does the font have siblings and cousins?
Make sure you’ve got italics and bold in your font. Do you also need condensed or something else?

Is the font well-spaced?
Don’t confuse tracking with kerning. Even well-spaced fonts need some kerning. Look for letters that depend on kerning.

Does the font look good across browsers and platforms?
Look at as many applications of the font as possible. Make sure the fonts are well-hinted.

What makes a good text face?

Pretty much all the web is text. You want people to actually read your content, and connect with it.

When we read:
Take a chunk of text and block out the bottom of it, it’s still legible. If you block the top, it becomes hard to read. Most of the font information is in the top. Find a text face that is easily discernable.

Display Faces:

  • Bauer Bodoni
  • Myriad Condensed
  • Bello

Look for good x-height.
Look for definition in the letter forms (Verdana). Look at #1 Capitol I and lower-case L (1Il).
Don’t hinder reading in any way if you can help it.
Look for workhorse typefaces that can stand up. Bodini looks good large and shrinks down to nothing when small. Meta looks good large and small. When you have a flexible typeface you can use fewer faces.
Get dirty – take a bunch of text from a project and just see what it feels like to read. See how things look at size.

  1. Versatile
  2. Sturdy
  3. Recognizable


It looks good in interface design. It looks good really big. Calvetica calendar lists it as a feature. It’s a versatile font, but not in branding.

Too many people use Helvetica for branding. It doesn’t set you apart. Try and do something different to make yourself stand out. 15 of the top 20 retailers use Helvetica in their campaigns.

There are other fonts that are different (newer). You don’t always have to stick to the tried and true.

Times New Roman
Alternate: Le Monde (more modern for newspapers and better for screen.

Gill Sans
Has very inconsistent width and weight (letter A)

Trade Gothic
It has inconsistent widths and weights

Alternate: FF Dagny – has a cleaner design, less formal
Alternate: Museo Sans

It’s been the serif for the web forever – it was designed for the screen.
Alternate: BentonModernRE – less contrast, a bit wider
Alternate: FF Meta Serif – more contemporary serif, more condensed
Alternate: Minion – bets neutral typeface, like you’d see in a book

Great font for wayfinding – used in London airport and many many others.

Questions & Tools

  • Readability Bookmarklet is a handy tool to put sites into a different style.
  • Books:
    Elements of Typographic Style
    Thinking with Type
    Detailed in Typography
    Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out how Type Works

HTML5? The Web’s Dead, Baby

Branden Hall, CEO Automata Studios Ltd
Emily Lewis, Principal Web Designer Emily Lewis Design
Erik Klimczak, Creative Dir Clarity Consulting
Rick Barraza, Creative Director Cynergy Systems, MS Silverlight
Thomas Lewis, Principal Technical Evangelist Microsoft

Is the web dead? Should people be building apps? Should we be using HTML5? Wired Magazine printed an article, "The Web is Dead,"

Is the web dead or was the story sensationalized?

Rick: It depends on what part of the internet you’re interacting with or what device you’re using and figuring out what is the best technology to do that interaction.

Brandon: You can start with the web as a base layer and determine what to put on top of it. HTML5 provides more interactive experiences (canvas, SVG, etc.). Those will take you a little ways, but not all the way. If fundamentally building an app, maybe web technology isn’t the best place for that.

Erik: Thinking about apps, and what they do, they deliver very specific currated pieces very quickly. You have a toaster in your house to make toast, and a coffee maker to make coffee, but you don’t have a coffee making toaster. Apps have their place and don’t need to be do-all things.

How do you describe HTML5 to customers?

Emily: From the front end, there are more elements to work with the achieve visual and usability pieces. It’s not about calling it HTML5, but it’s about finding out what clients need to achieve their business goals. It’s just a label and doesn’t really matter.

Branden: It’s really just more tags to do more with content.

Rick: CSS to CSS3 was evolutionary. With canvas and SVG, it’s disruptive. It breaks the paradigm of what hypertext markup language is in your head. The best HTML5 experience can now rival the pretty typical plugin experience.

What are scenarios where using HTML5 make sense?

Erik: Jitterbug game in HTML5 that rivals flash is a pretty great thing. Tweetdeck is built in HTML5… better than the version in Adobe Air.

Branden: It didn’t feel right when you had to use flash in the past. It’s great that you can now do this in the web, and it feels right. Canvas has many of the same problems that flash does/did. It’s just a block in the browsers where you put stuff. Things don’t feel native and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

What about the things you don’t have in an app (right-click, copy/paste etc.)? What about the web makes it the web?

Emily: The world of the web exists in information browsing, not in apps. The power of HTML5 is twofold. It lets you create more application-like experiences without the use of plugins. By using more symantic markup, we’re creating the foundation for more search and assistive technologies that can ultimately make the information more useful for us.

What specifically in HTML5 helps to solve these problems?

Branden: A lot of the web is built on hacks, like jquery. Stuff like that shouldn’t exist – it’s tools on top of tools on top of tools. You have a new set of tools in HTML5 to do things without it being a hack. Example: divs – it’s not markup – a box in a box in a box doesn’t really help segment the content. HTML5 codifies and makes a lot of old hacks simple without throwing hacks at it.

Rick: The web is like a big flea market. The plugins are the high end of it. HTML5 brings it more to a walmart and brings up the level of quality. Asking if the web is like telling us that we will only shop at one store for the rest of our lives. It depends on what we want to buy. Some things you want an app – in and out very quickly, and sometimes you want an elegant experience.

Branden: The tools are still very rough… it’s new. Some things haven’t been made clear. Javascript is still javascript. We’re still stuck with that.

Erik: Much of the HTML5 information out there is from Webkit/Google, and you start to assume that Webkit is the best out there when it’s not.

Branden: Every browser does it different. There is stuff that is broken in every browser.

Erik: We’re getting to a place where you can’t tell the difference between a website and an app. Sometime Apple and Microsoft etc. will just integrate javascript into the OS.

Emily: W3C is highly political, and they don’t care what we want. It’s just about the biggest guerilla in the room.

Branden: Flash got as far as it did (and quickly) because the standards are always going to move slow. Where we push the web is where standards go next.

People as Peripherals: The Future of Gesture Interface

Lee Shupp, Exec VP Cheskin Added Value

Futurists aren’t about predicting the future with a crystal ball… it’s about watching/predicting change. Technology changes much faster than people (society) does. Technology changes faster than people are ready for. It’s easy to lose them if you get too far ahead. There is a sweet spot of change that it’s too far out there.

Computer interfaces and sizes have evolved over time. Today there are many more touch interfaces compared to punchcards and keyboard/mouse interfaces from the past. We’re getting closer to gesture and vocal interfaces. The evolution of gesture interfaces started with the clapper. The Kinect has taken a large jump (very popular) in gesture interfaces.


  • Mouse  – mouse is 50 years old (1963). Will we be using a mouse in 50 more years? Positives: very accurate, fast, can use subtle movements, flexible, ubiquitous. Negatives: forces us to sit down, takes space, extra peripheral, takes hand from keyboard, carpal tunnel.
    The mouse has somewhat evolved to the Wii remote – almost a mobile mouse.
  • Touch – the iPad/iPhone has brought touch to a new popularity. Positive: you don’t need to sit down, more natural experience, good for mobile (where no room for keyboard), small devices with no keys, more relaxed computing experience. Negatives: smudging, fingerprints, fingernails, hand covers screen, inaccurate (hands vary in size).
    Right now, touch is very simple. More complicated gestures are still to come. There is no common touch language yet.
  • Gesture – not quite ready for prime time yet. There have been large strides with the MS Kinect. There are a good number of hacks coming out using the Kinect. Negatives: inaccurate/clumsy, delayed computer reaction, small window of space, physical exertion.
    How can we fin-tune gestures? add voice, eye movements, facial expression, subtle movements, body language, multimodal interaction.
  • Bio Signals – thought computing. The star wars force trainer toy already exists. Another product allows you to control an iPhone app with your brain. Doing this type of thing is like learning a new language. The army is working on a "thought helmet" to streamline communications. Intel is working on brain implants to operate computers TV’s and cell phones. BrainGate is a chip implanted in the skull to help paralyzed person communicate. He can control a computer or a robot with only brain activity.
    How far are with from powering computers with thoughts? The brain is very complex, takes very focused concentration, multitasking is hard, the brain does not have an innate connection to machines, if people can’t read people, how will computers?

What happens when computers can process more and faster than humans?

  • Humans stay smarter, computers just become "booksmart"
  • Computers become smarter than humans, become dominant "species"
  • Humans and computing merge to become a "super species"

One Codebase, Endless Possibilities: Real HTML5 Hacking

Joe McCann, Principal Architect subPrint Interactive
Presentation Slides

HTML5 is simply the next revision of HTML.
HTML is the "content" of the app. CSS is the "styling" of the app.
JavaScript is the "business" behind the app.

The value of HTML5 is JUST needs HTML/CSS/JS using the web stack. You can use the web for the majority of applications out there. It doesn’t require multiple designers like it does on multiple platforms. HTML5 is just design for the "web"- native web components… it’s cheaper.

What about maintenance?
If you need to update your logo and your app is written in Java AND Objective-C AND a web app on Ruby. You have to touch/change/deploy each across three different codebases (not to mention distribution mechanisms – app stores).

HTML 5 doesn’t solve all problems, though it does reduce the headache. Maintenance becomes easier, it reduces dev and design costs. A single codebase can be used to do this.

Tools for the Web Stack

  • Phonegap – bridges the gap between phone platforms (javascript bindings to many phones). will automate the process of building out apps
  • Sencha Touch – Mobile JS framework for phones.
  • Appcelerator Titanium – JS bridge allows you to develop for phones AND desktop
  • jQuery Mobile – gracefully degrades very well for less capable phones.
  • YQL – Yahoo Query Language, turns the entire web into an API. It helps you pull in lots of data (screenscrape) by Yahoo into XML.
  • Node.js – server-side javascript by just using javascript.

Example/Demo (all code)

Web Anywhere: Mobile Optimisation with HTML5, CSS3, Javascript

Bruce Lawson, Web Evangelist Opera Software

Opera makes one browser for many devices, so there is some experience in this area.

More people are using mobile to access the web. Many people are abandoning desktops and using only mobile to access the web. Mobile is growing, and is here to stay.

USA top mobile sites:

  1. google
  2. facebook
  3. youtube
  4. wikipedia
  5. yahoo
  7. accuweather
  8. twitter

UK top mobile sites:

  1. google
  2. facebook
  4. youtube
  5. wikipedia

Burma top mobile sites:

  1. google
  2. facebook
  5. nytimes

Most people want the same information, no matter where they are in the world.


There is no mobile web. There is only the web which we view in different ways. There is also no desktop web. or tablet web.

A separate mobile site is not necessary.

Three Methodologies (pick and mix between them)

1. special mobile site

This is almost always not the right way. Sometimes this is the cheapest quickest way (CMS does it?). There are branding difficulties with this – your audience may not even know they are on the same site.

  • Refactor for small screen, but do NOT dumb it down for mobile.
  • Offer the users a choice – desktop or mobile. If you send to a special mobile site, give them a link to send them to the full desktop site (and remember it… cookie). They know what they want… you don’t.
  • Do NOT do browser sniffing! This is not future proof. 37 million new devices come to the market every week. You will never be able to detect those and keep up.

2. do nothing at all

  • Just send the regular site to mobile browsers.
  • Mobile browsers know how to deal with the web (you can now listen for touch evens with js).
  • CSS3 can give you a lot of power (that also degrades well). Make sure you make these things cross-browser and future-proof it (putting it there for when it does support it). Also put it without the prefix for when it is supported everywhere. It is only eye candy by the way.
  • HTML 5 – don’t use canvas for UI.
  • -SVG – supported in 4 modern desktop browsers and IE9. It is not supported in native Android browser, fine in Opera Mobile on Android.
  • -Geolocation
  • -Offline support to in-browser storage
  • -Application cache so it’s available next time.

3. optimize for mobile

  • Make a site that can respond to the differences between browsers and platforms.
  • Make the same information available to users irrespective of the device they are using.
  • "responsive design with CSS cedia queries. Query device capabilities (width, height, orientation, color, resolution, aspect ratio) NOT browser sniffing.
    @media screen max-width: 480px;
  • Viewport metatag – maps physical and virtual pixels.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t use <table) for layout (duh!) – they take 2 passes to render and it’s very heavy on CPU (this matters on mobile).
  • Give dimensions of images in HTML. If you don’t leave dimensions the browser doesn’t know to leave spaces for them and has to re-render.
  • Consider <a href="tel:xxx"> for phone numbers (makes the number clickable and calls the phone).
  • Code accessibly – lots of similarities with accessibility techniques: relationship between mobile web best practices and web content accessibility guidelines.
  • Minimize HTTP requests. Combine JS into one file (same with CSS). Use CSS sprites to combine decorative images. Consider SVG or <canvas> for images.
  • Use ems instead of px for fonts
  • Fluid layouts: remember motion sensors
  • Background-size / SVG background images
  • Turn off fancy shadows transitions with media queries (it’s only eye candy).
  • Data URL’s
  • JS tips: put <script> elements as far down the source as possible. <script defer> <script async>
    If it must be in the head, put it after CSS
    Feature detect – e.g. Modernizr


HTML5 and JS is turning this into apps.
Widgets – applications filled with web standards goodness (it’s just zipped up).

In the future you’ll be able to just build apps on CSS HTML5 standards and have them work everywhere.s

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better

Jane McGonigal, Creative Dir Social Chocolate

“The collective conscience and will of our profession is being tested as never before. Now is the time for us to have the courage for legendary work.”
-Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.

We spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games… is it worth it? Are we leaving a positive legacy for the future?

We’ve convinced ourselves: Games are a waste of time. Games are addicting – and a distraction from what really matters: real life. Am I filling my life with something by playing games or just distracting from reality. Somehow gamers are not good at life, because in game world you can do such bigger things. It’s a way to escape from real life.

Playing games is the single most productive thing we can do with our time. We need to get half the planet playing games by the next decade.

What do you want to produce more of? We’re so busy trying to be productive, we don’t ask ourselves what we want to actually produce.
Jane wants to produce more:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

(spells PERMA, from Dr. Martin Seligman)

*Massively Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling*
(I won my node!)
If you hold someone else’s hand for 6 seconds, you release oxytocin and begin to trust people.

Does 10k hours of playing computer and videogames have side effects?

No correlation between kids and violent video games going out and being violent. Also no correlation between good happy games going out and doing good things.

Music Genre games – a study says that for 67% of gamers who did not know how to play an instrument, they were inspired to pick up an instrument and learn it. 73% went out and played their real instrument more. Games can inspire us to tackle things in real life.

Avatars – if you play with a hot sexy avatar, it will change how you perform in your real life. You’re more confident with a hot avatar, and you would interact (flirt) with more people after 90 seconds playing with sexy avatar in game. Are games changing who we think we really are?

U. S. Army found that playing 3 hours of video games created lower incidents of bad psychological problems (PTSD, etc.).  Are games protecting us from real life harm?

Gamers by far had fewer cases of reported nightmares. There were more lucid dreams from gamers. Gamers can control themselves in dreams (like in a video game). Can games give us real-life superpowers?

The science doesn’t work if:

  • You play games more than 28 hrs a week (this is the place where negative impact in real life starts)
  • You’re an asshole to other players.
  • You’re playing with a bunch of assholes.

The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression.

Games are unnecessary obstacles we volunteer to tackle.
Golf is an absurd way to put a ball into a hole. We make it hard on ourselves.

Positive stress – the kind you get from a game. You volunteer for the stress in a game. We get adrenaline quickened breathing. We still get the good changes as exhilaration and excitement but we choose the stress. I’m feeling this way because I want to tackle this challenge.

When we’re in a state of eustress, we set more and more optimistic goals. We hang in there longer, and are more positive to others. “Work is more fun than fun.”

Games activate 10 powerful positive emotions.

  • Joy
  • Relief
  • Love
  • Surprise
  • Pride
  • Curiosity
  • Excitement
  • Awe & Wonder
  • Contentment
  • Creativity

Being happy makes us successful – and not the other way around.
Better grades in school
More popularity, social support
Higher achievements in personal goals
More raises and promotions at work
Longer more satisfying marriages
(meta study looked at 475 other studies for this)

We can change our lives by achieving “the 3:1 ratio”.
It’s positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion you feel

Emotions are contagious – both positive and negative. Every time you feel an emotion, scientists have discovered it spreads on aver to 6 other people you know.

Positive emotions make us super-resilient
People with positivity ratio of 3:1 or higher not only are happier and more successful – they live 10 years longer.

With great gaming comes great responsibility.

Ordering Disorder: Grid Design for the New World

Khoi Vinh,


A dot on a piece of paper is randomly placed, when you add a 2nd dot, you suggest something hidden. There becomes some sort of order, maybe everything is placed there for a specific reason

Any two marks on a single plane is enough to create a grid, a design, an order.

Man has always tried to find order in nature. Is there a hidden sense of order in the world around you?

The international paper standards are designed off the idea of fractals. You divide in half then half, then half again to get paper standards.

The first grid that mattered to people was the brick. You build a wall. When you put together a lot of walls (city) you start to create a grid for society.

The Power of Grid for Design

Grids add order continuity and humanity to information. They allow an audience to understand  information and predict where to find new information. Grids make it easy to ad new content consistent with existing content. They facilitate collaboration between people.


There is a parallel between engineers and designers in standardizing the way things fit together and function in the world. Try to derive beauty from the machine. Past: printing press, current: web browser.

Designers acting like tyrants

It’s about imposing that order we see in everything on the things around us. You have to push to get that order.

Using Grids on the web

Problem solving before aesthetics. You serve the user experience. The simpler the more effective. When working with grids, you start to stop thinking about the noise and just prioritize the grid.


  1. Research – prioritize and catalog before you jump in.
    -technical constraints
    -business constraints
    -content/editorial constraints
  2. Wireframing
  3. Preparatory design – do the math, sketch, calculations, page sketches
    -Not every sketch ends with a grate design, but every great design starts with a sketch
    -Sketch the way that makes sense for you (pencil/pen/illustrator/HTML
    -Sketch throughout the project (go back and fourth)
  4. Visual design
  5. Code
    (in whatever order works for you)

16 unit grid = 8 columns = 3 regions (2 columns and 3 columns) = 2 fields (horizontal regions)
Units are a base atomic level of the page, columns are containers for text.

Mathmatica Formulae

The golden ratio and fibonacci sequences works, but doesn’t need to be exact. Divide by 1.618.

The rule of thirds is an important rule. Bundle things into a group of three. 3x3x3, where the grid lines intersect is where the eye will go.

The power of constraints

The Ad Unit
It can be very helpful to have an ad unit around which to build your grid. This is something that doesn’t change or move. It helps to make a lot of decisions.

The View Window
How will it be viewed. Browser window 1024×768 (real: 960×950).

Really quick and rough, they don’t necessarily need to hook to the grid.

Grid it up!
Start hacking away at the page and begin moving things around. The anchor (ad) can only fit into certain spots and will give you a starting point.

Sample typesetting
Determine the optimal line measure in the main body that you plan to work with. The human eye can comfortably 60-80 characters on a line. Once you have you sweet spot for text, try putting it into multiple columns as well to see how that works. Font size will also help to determine the line spacing. The heavier the text, or wider the character, the more line spacing you’ll need. The grid is a guide. Overly strict adherence is not necessary.

Establishing Fields (vertical grid)
You have to deal with unknown heights. Golden radio: 960 (height) divided by 1.618 = 593.

Designing the page template

Place the logo, maybe a login on right (by ad)

When placing navigation, put the edge right up to the grid. Sometimes with different states (mouse-over) you can nudge the nav elements over consistently

Fluid Grids

Use the full width of the browser to display content. You still want to use the grid to guide size of elements and consistent placement of elements. It’s new, so best practices are still being developed.

Users crave landmarks. Users want elements that appear the top findable at the top. They want a shared user experience. Designers should not be erratic.

Devices should behave consistently. Behaviors should be consistent with each device. Behavior variations should be virtually unnoticeable.

More than layout changes. – content needs to change to – there needs to be more of it or less of it, accordingly.

Is it worth the expense? The answer might not always be yes. It might make sense to just use a fixed solution for one device or another device. Satisfy what the user expects out of the design experience.


Grids are a balancing act. Design aesthetics can be changed going forward.

The grid is an opportunity to benefit from the past, not to recreate it.

For grid principles to effect a truley positive charge… the esigner must adapt them to new solutions.

Drawing Back the Curtains on CSS Implementation

David Baron
, Mozilla
Elika Etemad, W3C Invited Experts
Molly Holzschlag, Developer Rel, Opera Software
Sylvain Galineau, Microsoft
Tab Atkins, Google Chrome

All members of this panel are part of the CSS working group.

Minutes from the CSS working group go out online every day… so keep up with what we’re doing and provide input.

How do you prioritize at the W3C?
What is the most interesting and fun to work on? Figure out where it is hard to develop websites in CSS, that’s where the time is spent.

Prioritize to specs that are really stable, or exists in other browsers already. IE doesn’t like to prototype in the browser. Also look at what people are asking for.

Specs need to stew a little while. They need to sit for a while on the heat before implementation. There should be time for collecting feedback. If there isn’t a lot of feedback, then it needs to sit a little longer.

You have a lot of opportunities to comment on standards. Tweet, or comment on the minutes. The working group is interested in feedback.

There are new features that make things easier, and new features to do things never done before. Sometimes more feedback comes from the things that you can do easier because they are fixing frustrations developers already have.

What do you think are the most damaging mistakes made by the CSS working group?

Fantasai: Making the width property not including border/padding. The current box model is not the best way.

Tab: Layout: This was short-sitedness, but CSS it was a document language, not for layout. Floats are being used for something they weren’t intended to do (they were meant for images and text).

David: Some of the most damaging mistakes were when the group made things more complicated than necessary. We hid some specs away to deeply in a document, a spec was interpreted in a way that lead to complexity (and browsers interpreting things incorrectly).

Sylvain: Floats are baffling… why not just position it like everything else? They are very fragile in actual use. Z-index is also a bit strange. Missing: at this point we don’t have a CSS substitution mechanism. Instead of adding to a style sheet, find a way to substitute… add more process information as it scales.

How come in 20 years of web we have not come up with a reasonable way for layout?

Tab: Layout managers are bad everywhere. It’s hard to do layout in a way that is easy to use. Flexbox, Grid, Position, Regions are coming soon. Soon these times will be available for CSS layout

Fantasai: Layout is hard to implement. Width and Height took a LONG time to implement. It’s a hard thing to add to webpages incrementally. On the web it’s not as easy as in print where everything is fixed. Websites are fluid, which adds complexity. The systems that people come up with for print don’t necessarily work in CSS.

David: It is important to look at different use cases for layout. Do we want one system for many use cases, or different systems for each use case? What are the use cases we need to solve?

Sylvain: Layout of what? An ad for a magazine are very different than say, UI. You can’t solve everything for everyone.

What’s coming in IE9

Border radius
Multiple backgrounds
Transitions (w/out javascript)
Image values (gradients)

What’s coming in Chrome?

Many types of typography improvements

The Connected Car: Driving Technology

Jessica Steel, Pandora
Joe Berry, Verizon
Nick Pudar, OnStar

The primary task is getting people from point A to point B easily.

Pandora started on just the web, but the vision was larger than that. They wanted to redefine radio. The promise of the the internet for radio is personalization. The Pandora service caters to individual’s taste. This experience should translate everywhere our listeners want to hear radio – and that means in the car.

How do we get data to cars and let them communicate quickly and easily (and cheaply).

What motivated sync technology?
It started at just a hands free device. Why don’t we give it an aux jack, then why don’t we give it a usb jack, then why don’t we hook it to a phone. It became bigger than just hands free. So we changed the way we looked at the problem from that way instead. It started as something fun. Why don’t we find an app that works well on the phone and just for fun bring it to the car.

It was hard because the development cycles in the automotive industry were longer than the typical cycles in electronics.

4G will change the game and open up the bandwidth to be able to do more things. It’s not the speed, but the bandwidth with which data can get to a vehicle. Just like people created apps for smart phones, you will see this type of thing (categories and products and services) for 4G. It changes the payload.

We’ll be seeing a lot more devices delivering internet that didn’t before. It isn’t inconceivable that all of our appliances will have that connection.

What are the things you’ll have to do differently with all this mobile technology?
Safety is important, but they want it to be seamless as possible. Developers need to consider making apps for the vehicle in the most responsible way possible.

Matt Mulenweg Interview: The Future of WordPress

John Battelle, Exec Chairman Federated Media
Matt Mullenweg, Automattic/ WordPress

WordPress has become more than just a blog. There are 13-thousand + themes that make it more than that. Currently about 12% of the web is powered by WordPress.

How many people go to
29-million uniques/month 330-million/month on

It’s invisible when at it’s best and it’s just a tool. It’s all about the people who create it.

Some bloggers said blogging is dead
There are a lot of different mechanisms for publishing on the internet. WordPress adds a blog every 2 seconds. As people grow more comfortable with publishing, the number of bloggers grows as well.

People say blogging is dead because of Tumblr and Twitter.
– It’s a fantastic product and works really well for photos. Tumblr gets about 90 page-views per visitor and currently are ahead of WordPress.
Twitter – They have integrated the reading/writing experience. You are one step away from writing when reading.
What have these services inspired you to do with WordPress?
It has made us pay a lot of attention to mobile. Twitter gives you everything your friends say very very quickly.

Ads on
Ads only show at the bottom of a post for those coming from a search engine direct to a permalink and are not using Firefox. The ads are needed to pay the bills, but they don’t want them to be totally intrusive. In Twitter, ads are tweets. In WordPress they are just another smaller thing on the page. The goal is to show as few ads as possible.

How else do you make money?
Upgrades. Akismet, and video services. It is a user saying, “This is valuable” and they open up their wallets and give money.

A new plugin for wordpress that brings the best stuff into a single plugin for – things that have been in for a while. The goal is to have feature parity between .com and .org

Guided Transfer
For $99 we will help you move off and get you out on your own hosting.

Recent DDOS
A botnet was pointed at filling up the “tubes.” It was possibly politically motivated (Vietnamese sites). It was mainly coming from China. Turns out it was not politically motivated. It was some gaming related site.

Your story is similar to others (own company with lots of venture, young)? What have you learned by being the young tech founder?
It started at SXSX in 2002 when 19yrs old. It started in Houston and was good to be outside Silicone Valley. The more I’ve given away, the more I’ve gotten back. It was built on an existing open source product. They got so much out of that open platform they were building on that it made sense to give back.

Talk a bit about WordCamp
Started about 5 yrs ago in San Francisco, and wanted to do an even like everyone else.  Could we create a free, or cheap conference to help the community to exchange knowledge. Now they are happening all over the world. They are mainly community driven. We’ve created a template to help other people do them.

Twitter Questions:

Can you deflect future attacks?
We always learn something. We now have a better relationship with the Tier 1 providers to make it better next time.

I want to know about the future of WordPress!
3.1 just came out, 3.2 work hasn’t started. Things to come… media! Image handling, video handling, audio handling. Full-screen mode improvements to make it a really great writing experience. First users are authors (bloggers) everything else will follow.

No Child Left Inside: Mobile Tech Meets Education


  • Drew Davidson, Director of Entertainment Technology Center Carnegie Mellon
  • Jared Lamenzo,
  • Juliette Lamontagne,
  • Rebecca Bray, Smithsonian Instituion
  • Richard Scullin,
  • S Craig Watkins, University of Texas Austin

New federal grant opportunities are being provided to get students outside. “No Child Left Inside”

75% of American teens have a cell phone.

What is Citizen Science? How does it connect to a classroom?
There are plenty of things to explore wherever you are. Mobile technology quantifies what kids are learning outside and helps them through the thinking process or naming etc. It helps kids interact with the world around them, and collect data about the things they are learning and seeing.

We want kids to see how they fit into the world and how they can make an impact.

What are the benefits of being outside? It doesn’t always mean that a kid will learn while out there.
It’s about closely observing things that you see every day and getting people to observe a little more closely

What Challenges to you face?
In some big city schools technology is not allowed (can’t have cell phones and use YouTube because it’s blocked. Eventually they’ll start to allow this.

Is the mobile an add-on to traditional learning?
It’s not just about one single location. People have access wherever they go. Sometimes the teacher isn’t the one who provides the knowledge. It gives the learners a bit more space to inquire about something. They might be able to look something up that the teacher doesn’t know.

A recent study was done of students. The control group used brochures and compared it to kids using mobile phones. There was a big difference in the feelings towards the environment and their interest in a scientific field.

What’s exciting in this field?
Augmented reality.
More sensors on the phone.
Bringing this technology into the classroom and allowing it.
Don’t teach for the test, get students to be well-rounded citizens.
Look at everyday apps and think about how they could be used for education.

South by Southwest Interactive 2011

It’s once again that time of year for a trip to Austin, TX for South by Southwest Interactive Conference. I’ll be collecting notes from the various sessions I attend right here on this blog (category sxsw) as well as on my SXSW sub-blog (

SXSW® Interactive features five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, the incredible new SXSW Trade Show and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new digital works, video games and innovative ideas the international community has to offer. Join us for the most energetic, inspiring and creative event of the year, taking place March 11-15, 2011 in Austin, Texas.