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Archive for the 'General' Category


Web design and colour blindness

Friday, November 30th, 2007

It is estimated that 1 in 10 men worldwide are colour blind, additionally it is thought that 1 in 100 women are colour blind. If you design for the estimated 10% of users who are still on 800 * 600 resolutions well then why not develop with colour blind users in mind too?

There are three main types of colour blindess, and I’ll get to them in a moment but in an overall sense colour blindness relates to how some people cannot distinguish between certain colours. The graphic to the left (credit to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colour_blindness) shows how colour blind people see certain colours.

Colour BlindnessThe three main types of colour blindness are:

Tritanopia is a very rare form of colour blindness. It revolves around the inability of a person to discriminate between blue and yellow hues.

Protanopia is a more common form of colour blindness and effects people who have a defective vision of red and confusion of red with green or bluish green.

Deuteranopia is the most common form of colour blindness. Deuteranopia also relates to the inability of a person to tell certain greens and reds apart.

Remember all colours are made up of certain percentages of the three primary colours, red, blue and yellow. This means despite the fact that Deuteranopia (for example) relates to confusion of greens and reds it will ’show itself’ in many secondary and tertiary colours too as usually they contain some amount of green and red. In this respect classifying types of colour blindess as blue/yellow or red/green can be slightly misleading.

What does this mean?
The fact that some form of colour blindness effects a relatively large proportion of the population means you must factor this in when designing your website. If you make extensive use of colours to differentiate between different elements on a page, the page may become unusable by some visitors. You should therefore follow the advice of all the accessibility gurus and be certain not to use colours alone to convey important information. Practical tips to implement this might include:

Use high contrast colours next to each other in your designs. Black text on white background works best.

Specifically try to avoid using red and green next to each when the colours are significant within?your designs.

If you must use any hues of?red and green next to each other always provide a textual cue too.

Make?important text stand out not only with colour difference but also with bold, italics, underline etc.

Follow the above but also ‘vet’ your designs as outlined in the next paragraph.

Tools to ‘vet’ your designs
Take a screenshot of your site and grayscale it in your favourite graphics program. Does it still look good (and work) without colour?

Run your URL/screenshot through Vischeck. Vischeck is a way of showing you what things look like to someone who is colour blind. The tool is free and is located at http://www.vischeck.com/vischeck/. The URL mode is a bit ‘flaky’ particularly if your site makes extensive use of complex CSS, flash, javascript etc., so if you have the time (make the time if you don’t) I recommend taking an screenshot of your designs and running graphic mode instead.

Run your screenshot through the Etre Colour Blindness Simulator tool. This tool is similar to Vischeck.

Run your URL through the Wickline.org Colour filter tool located at http://colorfilter.wickline.org/. This tool is similar to Vischeck.

How do Irish web design companies fare?
I decided to run a couple of screenshots from some?well known?design houses around Ireland through the Etre colour blindess simulator tool to see how they got on. As Deuteranopia is the most common form of colour blindess, this is the condition I have opted to simulate. I decided to test Continuum, Fusio, Red Sky, Arekibo and Webtrade. I won’t put screenshots for them here as they pretty much all passed with flying colours (pun intended :-)). I don’t know if this means they designed with colour accessibility in mind, my choice of test sites was brutal or they fluked it.

One pair of ‘before’ and ‘after’ screenshots which I will include below is for Continuum. Continuums’ site uses plenty of colours via their primary tab analogy navigation so their site is particularly susceptible to ’shortcommings’ as far as colour blinded users are concerned. It’s good to know however that their site passes with ‘flying colours’ (sorry I couldn’t resist using that one again…). The regular and Deuteranopia simulated screenshots for the Continuum home page are below. Although some colours appear similiar they are not beside each other in the tab navigation.

Continuum Normal Vision ViewContinuum Colour Blind View

How can I tell if I’M colour blind?
There are a couple of online colour blind testing tools available. It should be noted however that due to the hugh variations in screen resolutions and colours that these should not be considered a replacement for proper medical diagnosis. Two tools I’m aware of include the one located at http://colorvisiontesting.com/online%20test.htm and the Ishihara one located at http://colorvisiontesting.com/ishihara.htm

As always your thoughts and comments on my posts are greatly appreciated.


Google not in the top 10 for the term "search engine"

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Typed in ’search engine’ into Google.com today instead of ’search engine optimisation’ by mistake and noticed that Google itself is not in the top 10 results. Google.co.uk currently comes in at 17th. The Google.com homepage has only one occurance of the word ’search’. It does not contain the word ‘engine’ nor does it have a meta description tag with either of these words present, infact it doesn’t have a meta description tag at all. Similarly Google.co.uk does not have the word ‘engine’ or a meta description tag, it does however have an extra occurance of the word ’search’.

Guess it shows that true to their word Google does not manually alter results, additionally it shows that people most likely link to Google with the word ‘Google’ as opposed to ’search engine’ or ‘Google search engine’. Dogpile seems to consistently come in near the top across the major engines.


Blogging as a recruitment tool

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Everyone knows the benefits of using a blog and blogging for marketing reasons. Blogging is simply one of the best ways to get yourself or your company known as an expert in your industry and perhaps more importantly to get in touch with potential clients. Blogging as a recruitment tool though? This is something I’m currently pondering the merits of. I suppose it like other things has pros and cons, I’ve noticed that the iQ Content guys seem to be giving it a bash anyhow. They’re looking for a project manager and have already got some ’press’ from many of Ireland’s leading bloggers. The following URLs show this:

http://www.mneylon.com/blog/archives/2007/08/14/project-manager-required-chez-iq-content/
http://www.mulley.net/2007/08/20/fluffy-links-monday-august-20th-2007/
http://www.redcardinal.ie/general/14-08-2007/iqcontent-project-manager/

I’m going to keep an eye on this to see how they get on but seemingly they already have had applications from people who learnt about the job on other peoples blogs. It’s an interesting approach and sure as hell beats paying sites like Monster & IrishJobs to advertise vacant positions. Good job from iQ Content - pun intended. Your thoughts are as always welcome.


Hanover Quay Apartments - the definition of style

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Has anyone seen shots of (or been in) any of the apartments in the new docklands development? From the ground this whole development looks stunning however it was only when on daft.ie the other day (I’m looking at renting options) that I actually got my first look inside this developments’ apartments. I have to admit that I was just blown away by some of the apartments, most notably though those in Hanover Quay. The contemporary style & decor is right down my street, unfortunately the prices are not. Judge for yourself, here’s some pictures (credit to daft.ie for these shots - I did not take them!). Click on the thumbnails to open fully sized pictures in new windows.

Hanover Quay Apartment Hanover Quay Apartment Balcony View Hanover Quay Apartment Hanover Quay Apartment

As you can see the main living room area has a contempory well lit design and is particularly impressive, as is the very large balcony area, whether or not it ever stops raining to use the balcony is another thing though. Hanover Quay (and the docklands development in general) certainly beats the socks of the new developments down my way (Santry) anyhow.              

If a certain someone up above could arrange for me to win the euromillions on friday I’d definitely snap one of these up straight away. One thing is for sure though, if I ever get to live in a place like that everyone will be leaving their shoes in the hall.


American Idiot

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

First of all the title says idiot (singular) and not idiots (plural), so I’m not ‘after’ the whole American population in this one, believe me. Basically I just had to ‘out’ one guy as being a complete ignorant fool by publishing an email I got from him earlier today. I think it is more evidence that some Americans think that no other world exists outside the States.

I believe the fact that he is American and not just some idiot from the ‘world’ is significant due to the subject matter of the email which offers an ‘insight’ into how to spell a particular word… seemingly without any regards for where in the world a person is from or the market they are targeting. It’s almost as if he’s saying ’if that’s how America spells it then everyone else spelling it different must be wrong’.

It’s difficult enough to filter through all the spam, phish and other bulls*!t emails I get through to my email address without having to put up with this, have a look yourself…

Name  —    Gary Gr*******
Email  —   
*************
URL
    —    *************

Though spelling a word incorrectly in your keyword section of your html might be
fine-having a word for an seo web site spelled incorrectly throughout your site is hardly a confidence builder

Optimisation
\”Optimization\”-Correct spelling

The email is all the text in italics. Well thanks for that Gary I’ll make sure to skip tomorrow’s Sunday dinner and change all occurances of ‘Optimisation’ to ‘Optimization’ on my website just for you or perhaps you could a) stop being so ignorant and become aware of how some things (like spelling for example) are done outside America b) stop wasting my time and finally c) spend more time working on your own website which at the moment looks like something out of 1994 rather than incorrectly slating other peoples websites.

I must admit my face went a bit red in colour… sorry I meant color when I got that mail, anyhow the big question now is should I reply and what should I say? Has anyone got any good URL resources which can open this guys eyes a bit? Richard, Dave, have you ever got an email like that?


When the timing just isn’t right

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Ever get that? When you really want to do something which you feel you would be great at but when the opportunity comes around the timing just ain’t right? What am I waffling on about you may ask? Well during the week I turned down pretty much my dream job which was offered to me on a plate. The chap that offered me the job (over the phone) was the managing director of a small company specialising in SEO and Internet marketing services with an Irish (obviously) and a UK presense. I had meet him before and we had talked over the phone about various issues on a couple of different occasions. I had mentioned to him that I noticed his company was advertising for a vacant position (which he told me had actually been filled), it was definitely more ‘banter’ than a formal application but anyhow he obviously had remembered what I had said when the position became free again.

The job itself was essentially a combined web development and SEO/Internet marketing role, which is basically the perfect job for me as I have a strong passion for both (SEO/Internet marketing more so though). My understanding of the role was that it would have involved developing APIs, tools and applications for use inhouse and on client websites as well as performing organic search engine optimisation, PPC based search engine marketing, conversion improvement etc. for the company itself and for their clients too of course. The direct salary that was on offer was a bit better than what I’m on now I must admit but the overall package wasn’t close. For example my current employer pays an amount equivalent to 8% of my wages into my pension fund every week, I also have a semi defined (I roughly know what I’ll be getting each year) bonus written into my contract, additionally I get approximately 50% of my electricity bill paid all as part of the overall package included by my current employer, none of this (or similar) was on offer for this new job.

I would of course want to be rewarded well to change jobs, but in saying that the ‘package’ wasn’t the main reason I didn’t accept the offer. I probabely would have taken a ‘hit’ (compared to my current job) on any overall package due to the increased job satisfaction I most likely would have gotten from the actual role itself. Additionally I liked the idea of being able to play a big part in helping a small company grow, rather than just being another face in a large company as is the case with my current job setup.

Infact the main reason I turned the offer down was due to bad timing, perhaps if the offer had come 3/4 months later I would have at least furthered my interest and possibly tried to bargin for more benefits (not necessarily monetary) before finally accepting or rejecting, but due to the fact that my yearly XMAS bonus (which you don’t get if your leaving) was on the way, I was due a raise in January and also the fact that I have just rejoined the gym (paying for a year upfront) close to my current job meant that the timing was just not right for such a big change. Some people of course will say that the timing is always right for your dream job. Oh well I’ve made my bed and now I’m lying in it.

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