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Archives instagram-for-expressionengine-coming-soon/2011

EE/CI 2011 – What I Thought

Personally I had an excellent time at the conference. Although coming from a small midwest town – and it being the first time in NYC – I felt like I missed half the conference just because I couldn't navigate through the giant concrete jungle. Unfortuntely as a result of my ignorance and genuine bewidlerment, I missed the morning sessions on both days, but the talks I did see were definitely top notch. One of the things I love about working in technology – particularIy startups and software development – is the ability to break the norms and get outside the box of expectation. In fact, I would be dissappointed if it was any different. And I also appreciate the fact that majority of the folks at tech conferences are open minded people with a good senses of humor. It's these unique traits that create an environment where I can walk around barefoot wearing whatever I want and hair halway down my back. It's these things that allow me to please clients and make great products. It's these things that make me want to come back and feel welcome and invited at conference. I had a hell of a time meeting all of you and I am sorry I didn't get a chance to speak others that I couldn't find. But the the bottom line: I am looking forward to see you all next time. And of course, thanks to Rob for the shoutout – it means a lot.

Heading to the EE/CI conference…

Well, it's time – time for my first EE/CI conference. I just recently got involved with ExpressionEngine community within the last year. I'm still relatively new compared to most people, so this should be a good way to learn some new things about ExpressionEngine. Not really sure what else to expect, other than a great time in New York.

I am back from my summer haitus and anticipate full steam ahead on these projects after the conference. I am really excited about the my current list of add-ons. Google Maps  for ExpressionEngine is getting a major overhaul and gettiing renamed to v3.0. Instagram for ExpressionEngine is still in developement, and I have an unannounced add-on that will be made avaible after the conference. More to come!


Summer Status Update

Since the launch of objectivehtml.com in April, I have received a lot more feedback than I ever thought I would in such a short amount of time. The traffic to the site is what I would expect to see after a year, except it's only been a few months. But what is shocking is 99% percent of the feedback has come from ExpressionEngine users. It's almost a full time job just keeping up with tech support, which is a good thing, but I really see why most people end up charging for their add-ons.

So after so much consideration (and a bit by popular demand), it's time to change gears a little bit. In a nutshell, it's all about ExpressionEngine and add-on development here on Objective HTML.

With so many good add-ons released all the time, each getting better and better, I really had to step back and think about every add-on I release and the level of detail that needs to go into each release. As I have already announced my next project, Instagram for ExpressionEngine is underway. I have decided to take a step back to scale up the project in terms of quality of UI and API design. In other words, no corners will be cut. This is now a full-fledged commercial production. It's time to pull out all the stops and see how good I can make it.

As far as the future of Google Maps for ExpressionEngine... Since it's a free add-on, the feature set is definitely coming to a close. However, if I client or someone wants to hire me to add a feature, then the plugin will naturally get updated and pushed to the public. But overall, the plugin is very stable and reliable does what most people want. Aside from the changes in v2.3, I don't have anything else planned. This project has already gotten a lot bigger than it was ever anticipated.

Again, thanks for all the continued feedback and support.

Google Maps for ExpressionEngine v2.2 - Just Released!

Google Maps for ExpressionEngine v2.2 is now available to download.

New features as of v2.2

  • Create maps with custom marker icons
  • Create maps with custom styles using the Google Maps API Styles Map Wizard
  • 5 all new methods for further extendability including: gmap:marker, gmap:dropdown, gmap:center, gmap:zoom, and gmap:init.
  • Fully compatible with Matrix (with SafeCracker coming before the final release)
  • Display one info window at a time
  • Add control over the default zoom functionality
  • New gmap:dropdown method can be used to auto-populate a dropdown menu with the markers on the map.
  • All new fieldtype with a very simple drag and drop interface to geocode a matrix of coordinates.
  • Limit number of markers that can be added to the fieldtype.
  • Populate custom latitude and longitude fields with the individual degrees.
  • Available in 5 languages: English, French, Dutch, Norwegian, and Spanish
  • NSM Add-on Updater Compatibility
  • SafeCracker Compatibility
  • Also compatible with EE Zoo’s new Visitor add-on

Coming Soon to v2.3

  • Radius search
  • Entire Street View API
  • More options to customize the fieldtype.

If you would like to see any specific features or changes in v2.3, just let me know using the form at the bottom of the page.

Scrolling on a web page is not a feature, it’s a requirement

There are too many times I have heard from a client, "Can you just decrease the font and take out some spacing to the page doesn't scroll?" Or even better, "My friend that is a graphic designer didn't like the design. He (or she) said the page shouldn't scroll." And best yet, "Can you make all the stuff on the page appear above the fold?" And my response is always the same, "WHAT!? What do you mean by fold?"

I simply don't understand why people expect all the content on a page to appear above the bottom of their screen, as if their screen's size and resolution is the same as everyone else. Of course that is the part they or their "graphics designer" friend failed to realize. (I have heard the "graphics designer" plea more than once.) It's 2011 and mainstream consumers have been familiar with the (PC) desktop paradigm for more than a decade, and a scroll wheel comes standard on almost every mouse. Most tracpads even support some sort of touch-to-scroll gesture. On top of that, we have an upsurge of mobile devices that revolve around touching and scrolling through pages of content on comparatively smaller screen.

I think it's a fair expectation to assume that people browsing the web understand the concept of scrolling. And even in the exceptionally rare case that a person doesn't know how to scroll actually managed to navigate to the page, the amount of users would be so rare that it wouldn't be worth talking about. Plus would a person so unfamiliar with the internet actually be using the internet to contact the business owner instead of using a phone? From my experience such people always go for the phone.

And despite all our rational and logical thinking, careful planning, and meticulous design, the client routinely wants us to rework the page so the content fits "above the their fold". They usually follow it by saying we should "dumb it down for the user", as if the correction solution for "dumbing it down for them" is making text smaller and reducing the white space that aids in legibility. First, quality design needs no explanation, thus any user can figure it our regardless of intelligence. And secondly (and most importantly), the content is the driving factor of the length of the page, not the size of the "stuff on the their page".

Screenshot of the homepage of allthingsd.com
  • Screenshot of the homepage of allthingsd.com
  • Screenshot of the top page of the article page
  • Screenshot of the second part of the article page
  • Screenshot of the third part of the article page
  • Screenshot of the bottom part of the article page

Admittedly, content can be arranged in a bad way that may cause scrolling to occur. An example of a terribly designed site that is more focussed on page views that actual content is allthingsd.com. The entire focus of the user is within the middle column that is 380px wide, which is entirely too narrow for the amount of content on each page. In my opinion, the whole thing (and every other standard newspaper webpage template) needs redesigned. Not because scrolling is bad (or good), but because the site is cluttered, overly busy, and hard to read. The two side columns serve very little purpose except for redirection. Plus, there is no need to see an about the author on every single page. Instead, provide a link to the author's profile page or blog. The only thing that would make this site worse is paginating the articles. Pagination is for reading books, and newspapers, not scrolls, and not certainly webpages that are built to scroll. Pagination only helps site owners and advertisers get more pages views and waste their users' time. There is no credible evidence that supports paginating news articles increases reading comprehension, and in fact I believe it does the opposite.

So what is an example of quality design? Fortunately it's getting harder to find sites that needlessly paginate and "avoid the fold". visitphilly.com is a gorgeous site that uses a nice full screen image to initiate warm and enticing feeling for the city. The logo and banner are overlaid and the image is certainly a main focal point, but not the main content. The drop downs are used very effectively and certainly serve more purpose than just "navigation". The navigation is driven from the content itself, not the other way around. The subpages are more focused towards the top, but almost all require some sort of scrolling to reveal the main content. Everything has a place and purpose. They implemented quality user direction and a nice degree of fluidity to the design. Designs like this are what the web is all about.

Another quality site from the same designers is happycoghosting.com. This site features a very fluid design that will change depending on the browser size and an excellent, straight to the point implementation. Again, it matters not that the page scrolls because the intent of the content is very clear and legible. There is no struggling to find the purpose of the site.

And one more quality site (amongst many) worth mentioning, is http://hicksdesign.co.uk. The layout is very flexible and fluid. The design is more than just novel and unique, it's very functional. These all have things that make a quality site, but one thing it's not is keeping the content above a fictional fold.

So to some things up, using the web without scrolling is like driving a car without turning. Sure some people are too afraid to make left turns, but we don't design our transportation system based on those few individuals.