Web App Expert Interviews – Part 1

Jared Spool

May 8th, 2009

Do you prototype your web app projects? Can Ajax techniques really improve accessibility? Do you wonder how components and patterns stack up to style guides and which is more efficient to use?

The answer to these questions, and many more, are in a series of podcast interviews I did with web app experts. Twitter has been abuzz over these interviews and we want to make sure you get to hear what all the tweets are about.(By the way, if you want be notified about each new podcast, or any UIE news, follow us on Twitter @uie.)

Coincidentally, all these experts presented at UIE’s Web App Summit in late April. We offer a special CD with presentations from these experts. At the end of the post, there are details on this CD offer.

In part 1 of a 2 part series, I focus on the following experts:

  • Derek Featherstone on how Ajax techniques can improve accessibility
  • Nathan Curtis on using patterns and component libraries and the efficiencies you gain from them
  • Luke Wroblewski on frequently asked questions with web form design
  • Molly Holzchlag on web standards for web apps, specifically with HTML5 and CSS3
  • Richard Rutter and James Box on why they use rough interactive prototyping over traditional deliverables 

Sounds intriquing? Here are this week’s 5 podcasts. 

Ajax Aids Accessibility with Derek Featherstone

Does Ajax aid accessibility? Yes, if you do it right, using Ajax techniques can improve accessibility. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Ajax is like most techniques and technologies on the web — they are what you make of them.

In this podcast, Derek Featherstone, principal of Further Ahead, tells us that we first need to know how to think about Ajax as a design tool. Today’s toolkits (such as jQuery) can really help designers build functional prototypes to demonstrate their interaction concepts to developers, who will then integrate theirideas into the production system. Taking advantage of the many available libraries gives you a sandbox for trying out interactions without having to know the best practices for implementing the code.

More detail on Derek’s interview.

Achieving Pattern and Component Reuse with Nathan Curtis

Dealing with real-life web app production isn’t as glamorous as some aspects of design in the digital realm, but it is full of challenges and can honestly make or break a project. There are ways of truly optimizing certain aspects of the production so that you can create a product with consistent quality at a faster pace. To find out how, I turned to Nathan Curtis, principal and co-founder of EightShapes.

Hear how design pattern libraries and component libraries are defined. And how having these libraries can save you tremendous production time.

Using these repositories prevents each team from inventing their own wheels and engineering them from scratch. Nathan than compares pattern and component libraries to style guides, which were the first step toward this idea — one that is too often broken, over restrictive, and simply ignored. 

More detail on Nathan’s interview.

Web Form Design with Luke Wroblewski

How many pages should my complex form be? Are Dynamic Forms a good idea? When I get questions like these and others on web form design,I turn to to Luke Wroblewski, author of Web Form Design: Filling inthe Blanks and Senior Principal of Product Ideation & Design for Yahoo. Luke also has his own shop, LukeW Interface Designs.

In this podcast, you’ll hear the answers to the approve questions. Luke explains why there is no easy answer on the number of pages for complex forms and how the content should shape the form. And he’ll talke about how to use Dynamic Form correctly. In addition to answering some other questions, Luke also points out why he’s particularly interested in the concept of parti.

More detail on Luke’s interview

Web Standards for Web Apps with Molly Holzschlag

There are a number of new standards that have come out recently, HTML5 being perhaps the most notable for web applications, because it was brought forth with applications in mind. New features, like canvas, are designed to improve dynamic interactions between the presentation layer and the behavior layer. JavaScript’s usage has really matured and is almost indispensable with developers.

In this podcast, I reach out to my long time friend, Molly Holzschlag to discuss the impact these and other advancements are having on web application design and development, along with the tremendous benefits building with standards (or even a subset of them) brings to the lifecycle of a product.

Molly is the unsinkable author of a metric ton of web development books, is a noted teacher, and an in-demand consultant in the field. There’s likely no one better to ask about web standards than Molly.

More detail on Molly’s interview.

Roughing it with Interactive Prototypes with Richard Rutter and James Box

Without planning, web apps have no where to go. Planning documents for web app projects are often overlooked, despite their importance in the success of the product. As a designer, no matter how great your research is, or how amazing your programmers are, if your planning documents do not develop well, your project will fail.

James Box and Richard Rutter of Clearleft have been working on ways to plan highly interactive web apps that make the process more efficient.

Instead of using traditional deliverables, they show clients what they call ‘design tools.’ The advantage to these is that they stress design as a process, rather than set in stone. This method aids the flow of dialog between the designers and the client.

More details on Richard and James interview.

Information about Part 2

I think you’ll find great nuggets of information from all of these podcasts. Early next week, I’ll finish this series of podcasts with:

  • Steve Mulder and Riccardo LaRosa on Web 2.0 Strategy & Design
  • Dan Brown on Documenting Design 
  • Robert Hoekman on Interaction Design with Frameworks 
  • Brian Kalma on Company Culture Meets Customer Experience

CD Offer

If you enjoy listening to these podcasts you’ll want to check out the Web App Summit proceedings CD where you can hear the audio presentations from the Summit. For only $185, your CD will include 14 audio recordings and 22 presentation decks. Get more information on pricing and ordering the CD.  

Enjoy the podcasts.

2 Responses to “Web App Expert Interviews – Part 1”

  1. Web App Expert Interviews - Part 1 » UIE Brain Sparks | UserAids.Com Says:

    [...] Go here to read the rest: Web App Expert Interviews – Part 1 » UIE Brain Sparks [...]

  2. UIE Podcasts: Web App Expert Interviews - Part 2 » UIE Brain Sparks Says:

    [...] week in part 1 of our series, I brought you 5 great podcasts covering Ajax and accessibility, patterns and [...]

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