Page vs Post

I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard WordPress (and other “blogging” CMS’s) dismissed, as they “just do blogs”.   Though there is commercial sense in confusing the consumer 😉 it an also prevent them discovering very good solutions to eb management problems. The crux of the argument is page vs post, and is there actually any difference between a web page and a web post.

Well, yes, as they are generically different templates – and there lies the key – templates. A good CMS has a lot of flexibility in design, and full control of templates is one essential area.   There can be crossovers, so is there any real difference as far as user is concerned. The difference is blurring to point of whats the point? Post/Page, one and the same.

Blog posts are displayed by date and show on the home page of the blog (depending on the date or tag filter defined).  Blog pages support the same options as blog posts but do not show on the home page of the blog; instead, you must link to them directly through a blog post, a link in the sidebar, or via search results.

Telligent

This quote goes some way to illustrate a proves a point – terms of posts/pages are wholly irrelevant when thinking about customisation – there are generic guides to the differences, but a website is essentially based on templates, not page/post style.  Learning to seperate out the technology and the terminology is especially relevant here.

Arrogant Dumb Untelligible Websites

jaffamonkeyHow are we going to move forward in web development and utlising the growing microformats standards, when developers still have memory loss when it comes to adding ALT tag information to an image.  And when it is completed it is usually not useful – what exactly does “adasddsfsdf” mean to the user, if the image cannot be displayed for any reason.  Or to any search engine that uses image ALT tag information, as part of the searching algorithm.

Although there are specific microformats for various data, hcard for address book data, rss for article feeds, apml for user profiling and site ranking, most terms will be familiar to anyone who understands some basic HTML.  Not that I am comapring – microformats are about data, not formatting, but HTML has some built microformat-style tags, inlcuding the image ALT tag example above.   It is logical that if you have a persons address data, then telling the machine that is processing it, what it is actually is, it will save the machine trying to work it out from content.

Part of the problem with speed of adoption is that everyone is a website expert, but few actually spend time understanding was a website, and how it is seen by the rest of the web (users AND computers).  Make your site easier to see, by defining the data within it to semantic standards.  Back it up with quality semantic XHTML and you are a website that has far more reach that you will ever see – but you will notice from your visitors statiustics, and search engine results referrals.

Black is the new Red (from FatDux)

Oh this is just class – and good demonstration of the misuse of “metadata” to cover up data errors.  Scrawling a color name on there was cheaper than forking out for a real red button, but also given it a more convoluted “user experience” 🙂 The author could at least have written it the right way up!  Dont get me started on “Dumb Britain”, I will be posting all day …

To exit the UCLA family pool via the disabled access ramp (the shortest path to the parking lot) one must pass through an electric gate.  There is a sign near the gate that says, “To open gate, push red button”.  The button was replaced recently, and the new button is black, but the sign was not changed.  The button has a new metadata tag though.

Black is the new red | FatDUX | blogging about user experiences

Semantic-butchering corporations

During recent consultancy assignment, I have seen a dangerous misconception of a semantic web technology with taxonomy. Tags are a set of words that can be associated, in single or multiple assignments, to content. Although you can specify a set of tags before you even start generating content, generally tags ressult from evolution of a website, rather than be designed. It is not mandatory to organise tags in a hierarchial structure – that is more for ease for the human brain, which finds it easy to process procedural information. But in order to follow the semantic/microformat principles (data stored for ease of human and machine), it is better general practice to organise tags in groups and sub groups. These can be changed/repositioned at any time, with no impact on exisiting data. Unless ….

OK, so we have our nice taxonomy, and feel confident we are following new web development methodologies. Then we have the site application. One ridiculous peice of content management I have seen recently, is when content tagged with multiple tags, ends up published numerous times. Why? Because the way the site has been designed at folder level, was based on old-fashioned hierarchy. Each tag had it’s own folder, and as a tag could also be duplicated in many sub-folder names, the CMS created duplicates in all the same-named folders.

This is a problem when a CMS simply nod towards semantic web principles. The danger being, there is a part-implementation, and the classic mistake of trying to fit a square peg (outdated CMS) into round hole (semantic web). So we now have a massive inefficiency on the website itself – the web application portal on the www. All he careful tagging work done at content level is now effectively useless. Add a breadcrumb navigation, and be assured it will look nonsensical to the user. They will instinctively recognice the classic hierarchial menu, then get confused why when they click on “Fashion” -> “News”, then click on an article link to end up in “Retail” -> “News”. Modern CMS’s do (to varying degrees) seperate out the data from the design, but this is no good if they do not also understand why that is important.

There are very few corporate level CMS’s that are future-proofed, as they rely on constant support and upgrade contracts. But maybe now is the time to realise that maybe that is not what is needed – with a flexible, content could be provided in all sorts of way. Aggregation is increasing more and more, rss/opml have become standards for feeding news/articles, and other microformats have evolved to cater for other types of information. These can be managed very simply internally, as the UI’s for data entry are simple and structured. This is just the start – once these standards become more and more adopted, the semantic web will come ever closer. If you want to be seen, you have to do the work to get the user’s attention.

Mashup – methodology free?

The approach appears to be inspired by Agile methodology, in the rapid interative process. But the focus is on user interaction and contribution, syndication, and external system integration. Seems too new to assign a methodology tag to it, but it is definitely a valid and effective software development method. The question I am pondering is does it need a structured approach for QA, or is it by its very nature an “organic” process that QA must adapt per project?