Posted in Wired

Changing chapters

After 6 years, 3 months, 3 days, my employment with Wired comes to an end today. What a ride it’s been.

Jumping back in time, I remember picking up an interest in bulletin boards in ’92 while I was still in college. I started at a marketing design firm named Mentus as an intern during my senior year. In my spare time, I spent countless hours exploring the concept of connected computers and online content using the company’s AOL account. Of course, with a 14.4Kbps WinFax modem, the majority of my time was spent waiting for the next screen to load. continued

One change, immediate results

Last week’s redesign of Wired News included significant visual changes to the interface. The push toward XHMTL and CSS is certainly a big deal. But as a designer, I also love delving into visual details, especially as they impact the user experience. In addition to the usability testing we conducted on WN prototypes a month or two ago, there’s another excellent mechanism for measuring and determining the experience our users have with the site. It’s called user feedback, and we get a ton of it for free via a multi-use Contact Form on the site. continued

Futureproofing amps

The high profile Wired News redesign has attracted a lot of attention, primarily because of the Web standards we’re using, and the effort we’re making at keeping our code compliant and error-free. However, daily editorial additions continue to allow XHTML validation errors to sneak into the Wired News markup. The most frequent culprits are the ampersands (&) which separate name/value pairs in URL query strings, or which commonly appear in our English language in company names like AT&T or slang acronyms like R&D. Section C.12. of the XHTML 1.0 specification effectively explains why these symbols need special treatment. continued

Love it or hate it?

In reading some of the feedback pouring in since the Wired News redesign, some of my confidence that we did the right thing initially began to erode away. The launch was somewhat anti-climactic. The press release looked like a misfire because we didn’t get the site launched as scheduled on Wednesday night. Within just an hour of pushing the site live on Thursday evening, (around 10pm pacific time) we had 4 messages from users who were irate and frustrated with the new changes, promising never to return. continued

Valid.

After a day’s worth of “almost there” blog entries and email messages [xhtml validation], I now proudly announce that Wired News is there. Our developers and engineers who hunted through multiple Vignette components to find the errors and destroy them deserve all the credit. Brilliant job comrades!

Eric chimes in

I’ve also been in touch about the redesign and working closely with Eric Meyer for the past few months. He’s been a tremendous source of encouragement and inspiration along the way. He powerfully adds:

“… the really important stuff all happened behind the scenes. Using no tables to lay out the page, but instead applying CSS to XHTML, the site is a stunning example of how standards can be made to work today.”

Wow, even as I write this, an engineer just yelled across the room that that article about the redesign is currently the number one topic on BlogDex, and rapidly climbing on Daypop (both index thousands of weblogs and report back the most popular topics of the day). Hail to the bloggers of the world — they actually get it because they’ve been doing it.

The snowball begins

Just after wrapping up my last post, I started looking around to see if any buzz about the WN launch had hit the Web yet. Ahem… I don’t think this one will sneak under too many radars. Jeffrey Zeldman just dedicated a huge amount of space to the redesign in today’s Daily Report. In a perfect answer to the “what’s the big deal?” questions I just asked, he writes: continued

Finally, we’re live

At long last, the Wired News redesign is visible to the world. We launched the site around 10pm PDT time last night. And what a relief it is. Despite numerous setbacks, delays, bugs, and technical difficulties, we pushed through to the other side and found success. Are all of the bugs and errors fixed? No. But the major problems which were keeping us from launching last night have been solved. And now it’s live for all to see. continued

Coming right up

Since our failed attempt at pushing the Wired redesign live last night, our engineers and developers have been working like crazy to figure out what went wrong. The errors never showed up in our development environment, but only manifested themselves once we started pushing the site to the live front end servers. The press release already went out this morning, and seems to have created more chaos inside the company than any attention or curiosity outside our walls. I can’t express how frustrating this additional delay is, especially when we were orignally supposed to launch 2 weeks ago. But life goes on, and we’ll get the site out eventually. Rumor has it that we may still try to get the new site up sometime today. Fingers crossed

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