(Part 1 of 2)
Let's cut the to chase: The web is a 1960's era IBM mainframe, and it sucks.
Mainframe interfaces are characterized by a query-response mechanism. Your terminal requests a starting point and a screen is sent to your terminal — the terminal being your remote interface to the computer. You read the screen, enter data in a few fields, then send the screen back to the mainframe. The mainframe processes it, then sends you a new screen. Lather, rinse, repeat. It was little more than a paper-based system running at 300 baud.
By the 1970's, the minicomputer, pioneered in the marketplace by DEC, had changed the face of computing by selling computers with interactive terminals. Instead of exchanging screens, the user's terminal was an actual process on the minicomputer. It was still limited to text (for the most part), but you had a realtime access to the computing resources. This turned out to be a profound change. Instead of filling out forms, submitting them to "the office", and waiting for a response, you actually manipulated data directly. The paper-style interface was replaced with fast command/response cycles, enabling users to work more quickly and flexibly. Interactivity at 9600 baud.
By the 1980's, personal computers had appeared on the scene. Like the much more expensive minicomputers, they had interactive text interfaces. Unlike the minicomputers, 100% of their capacity was devoted to one user. You worked directly with the data — a first, outside the halls of academia and obscure corporate research facilities. And for the past two decades, we have worked with data ever more directly and intimately. Personal empowerment as fast as your hard drive can spin.
Then the web came along. You start by opening a terminal — although we call it a "web browser" now. It opens a "home page". You read the screen, maybe type in a few web form fields, then click "submit" or click a link. The request is sent back to the web server. The web server processes it, then sends you a new screen. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's little more than a paper-based system running over a T1.
It's a very fancy mainframe terminal. It has colors and pictures and different typefaces, and sounds, and rollover effects, and Flash geegaws and doodads, and all of that fools us into thinking we're looking at an interactive system. But we're not. We're looking at a forty year old mainframe interface that's been worked over by a graphic designer with an XGA screen.
The web sucks. Down with the web.
(Coming real soon now: Part 2)
We are happy to report that Nick and Cheryl Grant welcomed their second son, Wyatt Edward Grant this morning. Everyone is healthy and doing great, and Nick reported that Cheryl is resting comfortably. Website URL to come.
Edit and update, 1/25. Cheryl is up and at 'em, prowling the halls of Beverly Hospital already and Nick is on Cloud 9. Cheryl says Wyatt got Nick's nose. We're not sure that's a good thing. Wyatt grabbed a hold of the nasal aspirator and started hammering on the basinet, prompting the nurses to dub him Bam Bam. Definitely a chip off the old block. Check the photos:
All kidding aside, congratulations to the proud parents from all of us.
* denotes a required field.
A couple weeks ago, Dave wrote a blog about the importance of project planning, and I still agree that planning is an important part of the process, I now also know something equally as important: communication.
Without communication, all is lost. In fact planning isn't effectively possible without communication. For example, someone on the sales team could plan out a complete site for a client without talking to them, the designers, the devleopers, the project managers, or anyone. While they may come up with what seems to be a great idea that attempts to take everyone into consideration, ultimately details will be missed.
How do you know what the client wants?
A lack of communication undermines the process of planning. Does this make it more important? I originally thought yes, but you can communicate without having a plan and come in equally off base, so it seems not. They appear to be equally important.
Is this possible, is that possible?
Do we have the time and resources for this schedule?
Can the client come close to even affording any of this?
Are there any easier and better ways to do this?
Does this page need content?
Should this be dynamic or static?
There are many ways to increase communication within your team. Depending on the size of the team there are many solutions out there to help you. A lot of people recommend 37Signals' Basecamp for project management. I checked it out this weekend, and while I didn't actually use it with a project, it wasn't anything like I was expecting. I've always heard 37Signals refer to themselves as giving you nice and simple tools, but it wasn't that simple. (In fact, there was so much reading on each page that I quickly grew bored and gave up.) Decent attempt, poor implementation.
Here at iMarc we have a wiki that is great for sharing ideas, keeping a central location for our thoughts, to-do lists, schedules how-to's and plans. There are limitations, however, and while wikis are good because they are open, they're not really geared towards managing multiple projects.
Microsoft Project was a program we had to learn while in school. Again, while this seemed to manage things nicely, it was overly complicated.
I've yet to find a simple, straight-forward solution for this, but I digress.
A lack of communication causes the decay, deterioration or destruction of timelines, and can be considered the root of 90% of the problems one will find in any team project. The flow must be open and honest, with everyone being on the same page at all times. Frequent quick, regular meetings with your teammates are just one of the many ways to ensure that things are getting done on time and on budget (the two more important 'ons' of the business world).
The success of your project depends on it.
If you've been following the iMarc blog (not iMac, mea culpa), you may have noticed that we hate Comic Sans. It couldn't possibly have been meant as a serious, real typeface, could it? It's awful. Who would do that on purpose?
Turns out it was all an accident. Sorta. See Vincent Connare's write-up of why he created Comic Sans, and why it's part of Windows now.
(Credit for spotting this goes to Fred. Thanks, Fred!)
But, contrary to popular opinion, Comic Sans does have a purpose. One of our developers uses it on a hideous green background as his default browser text style. Why? Because it ensures that he'll never, ever forget to apply proper page styling to anything he's working on. The mistake would just be too painful...
A general day at iMarc will consist of me having my headphones on for six or seven hours of the standard nine-hour day. I can't stand listening to all the litle clinks and clacks in the room around me, it drives into my brains like screws, slowly twisting... driving me insane.
Click, clack, the screws tighten...
The remedy is music. Anything that will disconnect me from the perpetual ticking of the world's natural clock: business. Without it I lose focus. I'm lost.
That being said, a friend of mine and I have always thought that A Perfect Circle's Mer de Noms album was one of the ultimate 'creativity inspiring' albums. I still find that to be true today, but I've recently added a bit more to the playlist that fuels complete shifts each day.
What's in the Shuffle (An Incomplete List)
A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders
The Mars Volta, Deloused In the Comatorium/Frances the Mute
System of a Down, Mezmerize/Hypnotize
A Perfect Circle, Thirteenth Step
Martin Denny, The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny
Radiohead, Kid A/OK Computer/The Bends
Puscifer, Both Songs off of the Underworld Soundtracks
Of course, it's different for everyone.
That's why I use my headphones.
What's inspiring you?
iMarc recently completed a web site for Wolf & Company, Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants. With a century-long history of service, it was important to Wolf to show their community heiritage side-by-side with their wide range of expertise. Since staff recruitment and retention is key to a service-based company such as Wolf, the site also showcases career opportunities and growth potential.
Of course, the site has to be easy to maintain and keep fresh. So iMarc built easy-to-use content management tools, that make publishing content fast and easy, and ensures that new content is attractive and complies with the company style guidelines.
"iMarc delivered on our project needs and objectives! And throughout the development process, iMarc was professional and efficient. In addition to the inviting new look and feel and user-friendly navigation, our new site allows us the flexibility to easily administer a variety of content updates ourselves without creating a drain on staff resources or investing in monthly maintenance fees."
— Margery L Piercey, CPA, Principal
Wolf & Company, P.C.
Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants
The site architecture is built on a dynamic, database-driven framework that makes it easy to add, edit and remove pages from the site. At the same time, the architecture preserves branding and navigation across all pages, so contributions to the site contain appropriate branding and formatting. This means the site can grow, without redesign costs, to satisfy Wolf's needs for years to come.
About Wolf & Company
Wolf & Company, P.C. is a certified public accounting and business consulting firm with offices in Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts. As a leading regional firm founded in 1911, Wolf provides its clients with comprehensive audit, tax and risk management services delivering extensive resources, specialized industry expertise and outstanding service.
Visit Wolf's web site at www.wolfandco.com.