Obviously more practice is needed, but we all start somewhere.
It is increasingly difficult to find examples of bad web design, design tools have improved significantly and there is an abundance of talented web designers a company can hire. There are a plethora of ineffective web sites though. Often these sites don’t take into account the user’s intention for visiting the site and facilitating in the easiest way possible for them to perform the tasks that they are there to do. One example of this that received a lot of press is the HealthCare.gov. Although many of the bugs have been fixed, many people did not want to login and create a profile when they were simply perusing the site for informational purposes. I have found that asking people for too much information, too early is a mistake. Navigation issues were also widely reported. In addition, the site was not able to handle the number of visitors, thus pushing back the enrollment date for the health insurance program. Designers and Developers should have anticipated these concerns.
Another example of ineffective web design is The Vanessa Noel Hotel in Nantucket, while I love the hotel, this site is slow to load and when one clicks on the link for information about room options- they only include a picture of one room. All the rooms at the hotel are quite different looking, and this could cause problems with dissatisfied customers. While the press page is a nice idea, it is also slow to load and the articles are not sized properly so that they can be read on the web. That said, the layout is nice, and there is a great use of white space. I also enjoyed the font styling.
The diffusion of Internet Technology in Developing Countries is noticeably slower. This is due to a number of factors including: wealth, education, the infrastructure that allows broadband access, governmental priorities, and governmental policies regarding freedom of expression. One way that many people in developing countries are accessing the internet is through cell phones and smart phones. Companies will be wise to ensure that their company web pages and online stores are well designed for mobile technology. Developing countries offer rich and fertile markets that U.S. companies are eager to access but it is important to consider web access in these countries and the methods for web access that are widely available.
Developing for mobile devices is crucial but so is creating content that is relevant to the population. Teaching coding to students will allow for web content that is relevant and in the language of the intended audience. Language barriers exist and will continue to. If there is a lack of relevant content for those living in developing countries, diffusion is likely to continue at a slow pace. However, if some in those countries learn basic HTML and can create content in that country’s language, the internet’s appeal increases greatly. I found this article from Mashable, Why the Web is Useless in Developing Countries- And How to Fix It, to be particularly enlightening.
Legal and governmental change are slow, the Web moves at a frantic pace and this is the crux of our problem. U.S. copyright laws have been unable to keep pace with the Internet. U.S. copyright law does not specifically address the publication of works created online. This has led to a confusion as to whether web sourced material is copyrighted or not. This ambiguity leads to a lot of legal gray area. Most people on the Web do not intentionally violate copyright law, they are simply uninformed about the specifics and particulars of it. With so much information being publicly available on the web, many people assume that they have the right to use or reproduce this information, when in fact they may not. Most works on the web are self published by well-meaning individuals however they are operating on their own accord with no legal department behind them to help navigate the ins and outs of copyright law and unwitting infringement. One of the best ways to prevent infringing on copyrighted material is to understand the copyright law and keep this in mind as you create new content. Source materials whenever possible. Push politicians for clearer or more concise guidelines for web content.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit group devoted to copyright issues and the Web. They provide user-friendly copyright licenses that allow the public to use your information under the conditions of your choosing, or in their words, “some rights reserved”. I often use their site when I am trying to determine if my web behavior is up to snuff legally. For more information please visit their site, Creative Commons.
The first blog was introduced in 1994 by Swarthmore student, Justin Hall. Blogs really began taking off in 1999, when Blogger offered a free blogging platform to the public. In 2003, Google, a company that rose to prominence by identifying and capitalizing on important Internet trends buys Blogger. Blogging began to really hit its stride in the late 1990′s due in part to the numerous blogging platforms available to users. These platforms are simple to use and opened access to the Web for people without technical expertise or coding knowledge. Most blog’s content focuses on a niche subject area such as food, politics, entertainment, sports, or the goings on in a person’s life. Some have gotten very advanced and many bloggers are able to make a living blogging with endorsements from interested companies hoping to attract new customers and ad revenue from online ads. Here is an example of a well executed professional blog, Coco and Kelly. As you can see, the writer, Cassandra Levalle not only shares things that she finds beautiful and inspiring, but also creates high quality content of her own. NY Magazine created this interesting timeline on the history of blogging.
Blogging has had a profound impact on my own Internet activities. My own blog, The Wasabi Update, is a chronicle of major life changes, achievements and personal goals. I also include recipes that I share easily with friends and family, many of whom reside on the West Coast.
I use the Internet nearly every waking hour of the day. Upon waking, I check the weather, my horoscope, and the day’s headlines from the New York Times app all on my iPhone. While drinking coffee I practice Spanish with an app called Duolingo. After dressing, I login to work on my laptop, check emails, and commence performing research much of which is shared through the Internet or the company’s Intranet. At some point, I’ll login to my gym’s website, or a local yoga studio, or Flywheel to schedule my workout for the evening. Coming home, I’ll usually cook a meal. I enjoy trying new ingredients and frequently research cooking options on the Internet from various blogs and recipe websites. If I decide to watch something that evening I usually stream it through the Apple TV or Netflix. I canceled my Cable long ago. Sometimes, I’ll spend the evening texting friends, researching job opportunities, or checking dating sites. The Internet is involved in nearly every aspect of my day.
My Father came to visit last week from San Francisco. He sent me his flight information over a text. Used the Internet to book both his flight and a car, and mapped out his upcoming visit to Vermont all using the Internet. He spent a lot of time surfing the Web with his Kindle fire and picked a movie for us to see that night after reading reviews and viewing trailers online. My Father is retired so much of his time online is recreational although he does spend a significant amount of time reviewing investments. All, in all, I would say that we both spend equally as much time online. Frankly, neither of us would be able to function very well without the Web.
We’ve officially entered Winter on the East Coast, which makes me crave comfort food. This beef stew recipe is great but time-consuming. While the prep only takes about twenty minutes, the cooking time is a lengthy 3 hours. Make it when you are staying in and have some time on your hands. That said, this reheats beautifully for a weeknight supper once all the hard work has been done. Feel free to double the recipe and add your own spin on it. I usually use the vegetables that I have sitting in the fridge. Great additions are small potatoes, celery, parsnips, mushrooms. I’ve adapted this recipe from “Bistro, Casual French Cooking at Home”, edited by Valerie Lhomme. The original recipe called only for carrots, but I like to add a few vegetables, in this case, a large parsnip, assorted mushrooms, and carrots. I also bumped up the garlic factor, because well, you know… garlic. If you decide to forego the parsnips and mushrooms simply add a pound of carrots, it’s delicious either way. The great thing about beef stew is that it’s so versatile and really hard to screw up! Enjoy with a salad and crusty bread!
- 2 lb. good quality cubed beef for stewing
- 1/2 bunch Italian Parsley stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
- 1 lb. carrots, peeled & sliced into thick rounds
- 8 large-sized button mushrooms, washed & cut into quarters
- 1 package brown beech mushrooms, bottom removed (optional, I just had these lying around)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, well crushed
- 2 large parsnips- peeled, halved, sliced, & cut into thick half rounds (also optional)
- 2 TBS. butter
- 2 TBS. olive oil
- 2 TBS. flour
- 2 cups red wine (optional, you can substitute a cup of beef bouillon if you’d like)
- 2 cups beef broth, I like “Better Than Bouillon” but if you go this route, I recommend using 3/4 tsp. as opposed to the full teaspoon the packaging recommends. This is a great product but a bit on the salty side and I like to control my own seasoning.
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 2 stalks fresh parsley
- In a large French oven with lid, heat butter and olive oil. Add onions and slowly brown.
- Lightly flour beef and sear until browned on all sides in French oven. Add crushed garlic cloves, 2 stalks fresh parsley, large sprig of thyme, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef stock and wine. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.
- Add vegetables and simmer, covered for 1 hour.
4. Remove the bay leaf, parsley, and sprig of thyme. Chop remaining parsley and add.