Archive for May, 2008

Redesigned media

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

A couple of Slovenian newspaper sites redesigned recently (today?). I got the news on Twitter. I’ll try to review what they’ve done1.


Newspaper vendor, Paddington, London, February 2005Image via WikipediaFirst notified by had, I was eager to see the new design and code. The design is very very wide — a good link to the newspaper that is probably the widest/biggest in Slovenia. At 1024×768 you see all the content, but the banner on the side is missing — I hope they subtract these users when selling ad space (or they should get ToboAds that actually count only the ones that are seen by the user using advanced JavaScript).

The design is boring with only the RSS icons giving it some color. It gives no feedback on links, the font on the front page is too small (11px) and it doesn’t hold its text–resizing well. The content is a bit hard to read with the font size at 12px, width of 600px (50em) and line–height at normal. There doesn’t seem to be any vertical rhythm applied. It’s also very hard to figure out where you are in the structure since some of the navigational elements seem to vary in color for no apparent reason.

The underlying code is disappointing. It’s really something that you would just delete and start over. It suffers from inline styles, divitis, classitis, inline scripts, validation errors (163 for the front page) and overall ugliness. The front page needs 67 requests and 724kB to load in 3.24 seconds (there are a few banners on the site though). Disappointing but expected is the fact that they don’t use Microformats but I was positively surprised that you can use OpenID to log in — I’ve never left a comment on local news sites because you need to register with each one. And I never do.


Posted by Tomaž Štolfa it’s actually not available yetavailable now through but can be accessed directly through It’s a nice page but with a shift in concept — the magazine is a weekly publication while the online edition will publish daily (or probably all the time). It too is wider than the previous version with a width of 1024 leaning on the left side of the browser.

The design is nice and gives good feedback in use. It’s made on a simple 5—column grid with the 5th column being used only in the head and for the banner. The only thing that is quite annoying is the banner at the top that moves the whole page down another 90px for no good reason (at least not for the users?). The content is much easier to read with a 12px font size, 1.5em line–height at 563px width (~47em). It also makes use of few different typeface which adds to the overall experience of surfing. Vertical rhythm in text is achieved through crappy code with paragraphs being spaced with <br /> elements.

The code is nothing to look at. It has 71 validation error on the front page with the first ones starting in the head element (unclosed meta elements). It too sports inline styles and scripts (which are at least wrapped in CDATA) and it too suffers from a heavy infection of divitis. It even has some <center> tags that I haven’t seen for quite some time now. The front page loads in 2.54 seconds for 58 requests and 582kB with all requests except Google Analytics going to the same domain. Microformats are nonexistent and so is OpenID — no need to have registration if you can’t leave comments2.

  1. No need for a disclaimer anymore — I don’t know who designed or coded these pages and I don’t work at their competitors. back
  2. WHAT? Isn’t this supposed to be the most open and future thinking newspaper? back

Form design

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

While trying to buy Luke Wroblewski’s book at Rosenfeld Media I had to create a new account. I filled out the form and submitted it but it didn’t go through. The message it gave was:

You did not complete all of the required fields before submitting information. Fields missing data are highlighted. Please try again.

The thing is none of the fields were highlighted. This means that after scanning the form I just resubmitted it and of course I got the error message again. After the second try I went through the form field by field and found out that I have to select “Not Applicable” for the “State” field if I’m not in US or Canada. Why is empty different from “Not Applicable”?

By the way — the book I was buying is called Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks :)


Leaving Parsek

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

After quite a few years devoted to growing and developing Parsek I’ve come to the end of this very interesting and challenging project. I decided to continue my career elsewhere.

New challenges lie ahead and I will delve into them with everything I have.

Futura’s 10th party

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Yesterday I was a guest at the Futura’s 10th agency of the year award party. I won’t go into the details of the party, I’ll focus on the gift that I received when leaving. Posting the pictures of unboxing below.

The box
It’s out
More foam
I hope it wasn’t alive
Either it was or it’s a good fake

I really hope this butterfly wasn’t alive one day. I really don’t think it would fit well into the whole “eco” scheme.

Start–up night #2

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

(translates into

A start–up that started as a service for booking tables in restaurants and figured out that Slovenian market isn’t ready for this yet. The problem aren’t the users but the suppliers — the dining industry seems to be governed by older owners and internet and computers are a rarity. This means they need to “relocate” to bookings in other areas.

What fascinated me the most was that they think that ideas are cheap and you need to share them as much as you can — you’ll be getting valuable comments from everybody you share the idea with. I completely agree with this but I don’t entirely agree with another point they made — that you need to have a business plan done to start. I agree that it’s important to think about all this but would put the passion in front of making a well styled document.

All in all an interesting talk about how to start a web service with some really refreshing comments.

The passion for investing in stock, funds and other financial instruments in the Balkan is the basis for this start–up. The team consists of two people that are passionate about this topic and also passionate about web 2.0 services. They spent approximately 16 person–months working until now and expect to invest 8 more until launch in a few months — they’re looking for developers!

The reasons to start a new financial portal seems pretty straight forward — there is no good alternative and all the competition is from web 1.0 or older. It’s a great thing when you find out that you’re passionate about something that is not really present on the market.

(translates to

When asked whether they ever had problems with gift buying almost everybody in the room said yes. A much smaller number bought a gift coupon. This start–up thinks the number is big enough and they started a web service that sells gift coupons for different stores. When looking back they now know that they spent way too much time on stuff that isn’t really all that important — business cards, legal issues, marketing materials,… I’m not saying these aren’t important and neither are they — but they need to be done as quickly as possible so they don’t come between you and the goal. And the goal is building and growing a successful business.

Another problem they mentioned is the huge number of ideas that lead to scope creep. This is usually also my problem but I think I rooted it out successfully — what I do is talk about ideas and write them all down. This means I don’t need to think about them anymore. I heard something similar in an Indiana Jones movie the other day.

(translates to

The most famous start–up today with press coverage on the main Slovenian TV and radio stations. The team consists of two people — one responsible for the technical side and the other for PR. The final design was set on the 8th March 2007 and the page was launched a week later. A lesson they learned the hard way was that you need to buy the domains early on — as Murphy goes you’ll lose it the day you want to buy it.

Communication is key — you can actually get free stuff if you ask. You’ve got nothing to loose anyway. Because they went for a charitable cause they got a lot of free PR. And now people are passing the link on to those that want to give something away which is probably the ultimate goal of every web service. Having a fan club can be very good for your business…

You also need to think about how to handle the peaks that will come when you succeed. If you don’t your service will die when you have the link on the front page of TechCrunch. Or in the case of local service on the local TV station.

Web Typography Sucks

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Elements of Typographic StyleImage via WikipediaThat’s the title of the talk by the first foreign speaker1 at Spletne urice — Richard Rutter from Clearleft, who’s really a great guy and a great speaker.

Web Typography is one of the topics I really care about and I think it’s an issue that iswas a bit overlooked in our local community. After my talk last year about fonts and possible ways to use / embed them I am happy that we got Richard to come to Slovenia to talk about this — who could be better than the author of The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web.

The talk went great2 (Cyberpipe filled up after the first few minutes) and it was followed by a good Q&A session. In the session I mentioned that a font foundry released a font that is free for use on the web and thus free for embeding — the foundry is called FDI — you can read their press release or download Graublau Sans Web and Logotypia Pro for free. After the talk we went for a beer in Metropol (just above Cyberpipe) and then another one later on in the city center.

All in all it was great having Richard here and I guess he liked it too. I hope he’ll put in a good word for us and we’ll get even more foreign speakers to come to Ljubljana and share their in–depth knowledge of specific areas of webdesign and development3.

I would also like to thank our silent sponsor Parsek Interactive that took care of the air fare and the hotel bill and also Zemanta that shared their work space with Richard today4.

  1. Technically Daniel P. Fischer was the first, but he gave his talk as part of the HAIP festival and his stay and talk was organized by the Cyberpipe crew. So what I’m trying to say is that Richard was the first speaker I organized by myself. back
  2. If you missed the talk the slides are here and the video should be online in a couple of weeks. back
  3. Any volunteer speakers? Any suggestions? Sponsors maybe? back
  4. Did you notice that I tried to punctuate with the correct apostophes, en dashes, em dashes, elipses’… It’s not that easy — somebody should create a WordPress plugin for this. back