Articles written in July, 2008

July 30 2008

Web Design Trends and Inspiration


I am moved to write about design trends by this recent post by Nick La of Web Designer Wall. This well-researched list of 2008’s Design Trends mirrors many of its kind that gather and categorize the types of new styles that we see everyday on the internet. In an ever-changing online world, it is critical for Designers to keep up with the latest technology, news and design trends. Websites become dated in less than five years and we designers must keep pace or be left behind.

But what does that mean to our clients, most of whom do not troll the internet looking for inspiration every day? I do not expect any client to re-design every time a new trend appears, but I think it is crucial in choosing a look and feel to know what you are up against. Knowing where your ideas and tastes lie in the rainbow of website styles will help you gauge whether your new site will fit nicely into what users expect from modern web design, or alienate your users with its antiquation!

This is where a Design trend index comes in handy! The blog poster has scoured the internet, and cataloged their findings. The post is a snapshot of what is happening right now in web design. Whether or not you love every design, you will probably get some great ideas, and see how wide ranging these style trends are! Gathering styles that you like, or can relate to will also help in your re-design; to show your design firm where your tastes lie.

Even if you are not re-designing, you may get some great ideas for some simple updates that will bring your site up to today’s high standards. The least you will get out of researching current design trends will be a pleasurable stroll through beautiful and functional works of modern art!

July 29 2008

CUIL – New Search Engine Launched


While Google still reigns as the king of search, this does not discourage new search engines from trying to take over the kingdom.   The newest challenger to the throne is the recently launched Cuil(   Cuil claims to index three times more pages than Google, and ten times more than Microsoft.   Cuil hopes to deliver better results based on page content, not popularity (or, links).  

The much hyped search engine was launched on Monday, July 28 2008.   In surface comparison, it has a much different look and feel compared to the traditional search engines.   Instead of listing results in a top ten list fashion, Cuil uses two or three columns, based on the user’s preferences, to display results.   While it can be inferred that the number one position would be the listing in the top left corner, it is not clear as to what the other positions mean.   Because of this format, Cuil is able to display longer descriptions and images associated with the listings.   One of the issues we are already seeing is that the image being displayed with the listings often does not appear on the site or is even irrelevant to the key phrase.   An interesting example can be seen below:


Another issue that caught our attention was the fact that the site suffered downtime as a result of the number of inquiries it had to handle on its launch date.   Cuil received so many visitors on Monday that their servers crashed around 3:00 PM EST.   For an Internet search engine, .this is not the best result, but it does demonstrate the amount of interest in their offering (at the moment, they claim that users can search 121,617,892,992 web pages).

Initially Cuil doesn’t seem to be the either “The World’s Biggest Search Engine” (as claimed on their site) or even a so-called “Google Killer”.   Regardless of what Cuil intends to be, it’s important to keep in mind that it is only in its infancy.   Cuilwill be something to monitor over time to see what transpires.   At this stage, the makers are still working out the bugs and trying to produce a relevant and useful search experience.


July 28 2008

Do You Know What a Knol Is?


“Knolling” may not be in our everyday vernacular yet, but if past leaps from web-speak to daily jargon are any indication it just may enter our general lexicon sooner than you might realize. Just as “google” became a verb or the concept of a “wikipedia” thoroughly eradicated the notion of “encyclopedias” from the minds of contemporary teens and tweens, so too may “knolling” be the wave of the future. With its launch last week, Google’s Knol seeks to revolutionize online knowledge management.

Unlike Wikipedia, which serves as the online version of a democratized encyclopedia where anyone can collaborate and contribute to an article or post in order to build a central spot for explaining, defining, and cataloging our world — from the sublime to the mundane – Knol’s chief purpose is simultaneously simpler and more lofty. Cedric Dupont, the product manager for Knol, said “We’re not trying to build an encyclopedia. That’s a very focused product. Wikipedia has a great product, but that’s not what we’re doing. What we’re building is a place for people to store their bits of knowledge, and each of these bits come with the author bios and opinions and clearly that’s very different from an encyclopedia. We hope many of these knols and their authors will be referenced by Wikipedia and encyclopedias and help them.”

The site’s tagline reads: “A knol is an authoritative article about a specific topic.” The intention is that the level of expertise of the knols will be significantly high, and closely peer reviewed, as a result of their non-anonymous authorship; and also that their will be multiple knols on the same topic, as opposed to one centralized wiki post that is added to and amalgamated over time. The result? More open dialogue and discussion straight from experts in one centralized, extremely easy- and powerful-to-search location. As opposed to Wikipedia, authors on Knol must divulge their identity, and knols will be “locked” for editing unless the originating author grants access to a contributor(s). This adds credibility to knols that many wikis notoriously lack. Another sharp difference between the two is that ad revenues can be generated (if an author opts to have ads displayed with his/her knol) and shared between the author and Google.

Ultimately, the goal is to offer a forum for experts to collaborate on a global scale (well, an English-language global scale, until additional language versions roll out) and the likelihood for authors to gain “celebrity” for their contributions, as opposed to their lack of notoriety on Wikipedia, is one of many possible results. This knol-fame could be harnessed as part of online reputation management, could fodder link juice, spur viral/wom marketing, and generally increase exposure for brands, corporations, and individuals.

In addition, Knol has other possible implications that will impact SEO. First, there’s a question of whether knol posts will now usurp the top spots often held by Wikipedia articles in Google’s SERPs. It’s yet to be seen, but definitely a concern in terms of keeping the results “impartial.” Second, as with the introduction of any new online application or channel, many less-than-ethical webmasters and users have probably already devised schemes to “game” the SERPs and have their “knols” rank higher than other pages. Finally, will there be SEO value and weight in links to and from knols? Or will they eventually employ “no follows” in the same manner as Wikipedia in order to prevent abuse and spam? If the channel takes off, it will be interesting to note how its SEO opportunities shrink or multiple based on usage, relevance, and impact.

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