22 11 / 2012
The New, Fixed, Transparent Navigation at SitePoint.com
SitePoint has always been a company, in my mind, that has a hard time defining exactly what it does. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because they do a lot of great stuff - from publishing resources and books to managing forums and marketplace.
Over the years they have made a lot of changes to their main navigation and homepage layout to reflect what was most important for them to share and convey about their company and offerings.
Their current design is very very plain and almost too simple in my opinion because at first glance it looks like it could be any given tech blog.
That said, when you start to scroll down, a fixed position, transparent menu appears at the top of page that’s pretty nice. There must be something about transparency that still looks sexy to me.
When I noticed the menu it drew my attention to the Information Architecture and I appreciated again the effort that goes into organizing large sites with tons of different types of content. What’s a little strange though about this main menu is that a number of the sites link to other domains with completely different navigation that offers no way back to the main site.
I would suggest they look into something like the approach Fuel Brand Network (and others have taken) with a single site navigation and then a global navigation across all their sites.
Just a thought. Otherwise, keep on rocking the great content SitePoint!
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20 11 / 2012
Digging the New ActionMethod Redesign
A while back I responded to @pbuick’s tweet asking if anyone was using ActionMethod.
I said that I had used it in the past but wasn’t anymore. I found it clunky to use and that’s a major turn off for a todo app, which should be super simple to use (at least for me).
In lovely Twitter as support fashion, ActionMethod got into the conversation and asked if I had tried it since the redesign. I had not. Now I have.
This is what it looks like now:
Unfortunately I don’t have a previous screenshot, but it’s definitely slicker and has been cleaned up a bit.
My biggest gripe with the online app before was that picking and assigning a date was cumbersome and involved too many clicks. The date picking functionality on the iPhone app was great, but the online version was not. They improved that process quite a bit and better aligned the online experience with the mobile one.
Unfortunately I can’t show that because I cancelled my account.
With the recent design enhancements I may have actually kept using ActionMethod. My reasons for canceling were purely financial. $99 a year for a todo app is just not worth it to me, especially when I don’t use the group functionality that is one of it’s selling points, and I assume part of why they charge so much.
Overall I have to say well done on the redesign ActionMethod! If you were way cheaper I would still be a customer :)
30 10 / 2012
An HTML Character Encoder I Really Like
Folks who write a lot of tutorials with code appreciate a good and easy to use an encoder that converts HTML into safe characters.
After experimenting with a lot of them I have settled on using the HTML Character EnCoder from All Blog Tools.
There are a few things I really like about it:
- It keeps the line and indent formatting.
- It has a relatively small text field that makes copying very easy
- It has an easy “Clear” button
- It’s colorful and shiny
If you need a good character encoder I recommend this one. Thanks All Blog Tools!
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25 10 / 2012
Mac Bartender Review - Organize your menu bar
If you’re like me your menu bar on your mac can get pretty cluttered. A big thanks to Jason Seifer, my Treehouse buddy, for noticing this and recommending Bartender, a mac app that helps address this exact problem.
Here is what my menu bar looked like before Bartender (19 items):
And here is what my menu bar looks like with Bartender (7 items):
You’re probably thinking that you can accomplish something similar by using the individual settings for each application in the menu, but that’s not always the case, for example, Bartender let’s you hide the following menu icons that I haven’t figured out how to hide natively:
- Spotlight (still accessible via shortcut)
- Volume (I just use the keyboard)
- Adobe’s update notifier (Not sure why this needs to be in the menu bar)
Plus it’s nice to have it all managed from one place.
Now, there are a few menu items that Bartender does not let you turn off from the app and you have to do natively. Here they are as well as how to turn them off:
- Bluetooth (Preferences > Bluetooth > Uncheck “Show Bluetooth status in the menu bar”)
- Fast user switching menu (Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items > Uncheck “Show fast user switching mode”)
A cool feature that Bartender has is the ability to store menu items in a drop down menu bar that appears when you click on the Bartender icon in the menu bar.
I’m not sure how much I’ll use this feature, but it seems like a cool feature.
Finally, you have the option to change or completely customize the icon that Bartender uses.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this app, and would also recommend picking it up for $7.50 while it’s still in beta.
Thanks again to Jason for recommending this app to me and Surtees Studios for building it!
20 9 / 2012
12 Mac Apps I Install Every Time
I find that when I switch computers now a days, I’m needing less and less time to setup a new computer to where I feel comfortable with it and I’m working in my optimal work flow.
On my most recent setup, I made a list of the apps I downloaded:
- Chrome - Currently my default browser
- Alfred - Although I am tending to go back to Spotlight for some things and use Alfred more for advanced power pack stuff
- Dropbox - Basically my entire harddrive lives in Dropbox
- CloudApp - Love the automatically load to cloud for screenshots
- Evernote - I store everything I need to remember in here, it’s so helpful!
- SublimeText 2 - Still like TextMate, but am growing to like Sublime Text
- MAMP Pro - A must have for working locally, especially the hosts feature
- Adobe Cloud Apps - With the cloud subscription there is an app you download that let’s you download any of the other Adobe creative apps.
- Fantastico - This is a great little calendar for the task bar
- BetterTouch Tool - I use this to do things like swipe left to move a window to the left, or swipe three fingers down on the mouse to view desktop
- TweetDeck - My favorite thing about this app is the ability to schedule posts.
- Default X - This gives me shortcuts when saving and opening files that speeds my work up by so much.
11 9 / 2012
My Default Google Chrome Extensions
I find that whenever I setup a new computer I install these four Google Chrome extensions every time:
- Xmarks - Allows me to sync bookmark bars across browsers
- Window Resizer - Let’s me resize the browser to standard as well as custom dimensions
- Screen Capture - This extension from Google let’s you capture a section of the screen, what appears in the fold, as well as whole pages. Unfortunately I have never been able to get the keyboard shortcuts to work on a mac.
- ColorZilla - A really great color picker with all the features you need to grab and select colors
31 7 / 2012
Grooveshark Needs to Improve their Ad Design on Interior Pages
I recently posted about how awesome Grooveshark’s ads are on their homepage.
Because of this I was really disappointed once I started searching for and playing music. The ads go from awesome and creative to annoying and standard banner ads.
I know that the desktop Grooveshark is free so they needs ads, but going from really cool ads to banner ads is a disappointing and rough transition.
26 7 / 2012
Grooveshark Has Creative and Noninvasive Way of Advertising on their Homepage
I haven’t used Grooveshark in a while, but I do like them and was pleasantly surprised when I visited their site recently and saw a really cool landing page. It took me a second to figure out that it was actually an ad I was looking at.
There are a two things I really like about this:
- It looks great! It’s colorful and well designed.
- It doesn’t take away from any of the functionality or features of the site
Way to go Grooveshark for coming up with a way to have cool backgrounds while getting paid for it. Well played.
PS - I will say that Pandora was the first in the online music industry to do creative ads in this way, but I think Grooveshark does it better.
19 7 / 2012
Golly Gee Wistia Makes Slick Landing Pages
Wistia provides high quality video hosting and analytics. Their homepage is constantly evolving to increase engament, but it’s always involved some video intro and then demo of what their stats look like.
The screenshot above is a recent revision that just made me smile, it was so slick. The screenshot doesn’t show the nice interaction of how everything fades or moves into the screen, but it’s really well done.
Go check them out at wistia.com!
12 7 / 2012
EventBrite Makes Customizing the Registration Questions Easy and Pretty
For an ExpressionEngine event I helped organize we wanted to add a few fields onto the registration form, like company and level of experience with EE.
It was a little confusing to find this Manage > Customize Registration Form > Toggle on “Collect Information Below for Each Attendee.” Then the form below slides out.
At the bottom we were able to create a custom question and ask a secondary question if they answered “Other” from the possible options.
Very flexible and pretty straightforward once you get going with it.