Photo of Simon Dickey, Managing Director of Frontend Design Ltd.

Simon Dickey

Creative / Managing Director

simon@frontend.co.nz

+64 9 630 54 50

13 Coles Ave, Mt Eden, Auckland

Near miss for Frontend's Mascot

by Kelly Milligan on Thursday, April 18, 2013

Recovery

It was almost a disastrous day for Frontend’s resident Kingfisher.

You might have seen an animation inspired by him flying around our old website...

Simon found him in the middle of Valley Road, scared and in shock. Simon scooped him up and brought him back to the office.

The Kingfisher sat at the front door in shock. His beak wide open, standing statue like except for some exasperated breathing. He didn't even seem to notice us being so up-close. 

We wrapped him in a teatowel and sat down to keep him company; SPCA on the way.

Slowly he came out of his shocked – survival mode - state.

He closed is beak, slowed his breathing and began looking around curiously. After a few more minutes he was back in action, flying straight out the door up to his common perch on the powerlines.

Redemption

The Frontend Kingfisher lives another day!

Kudos goes to Simon for making the effort to save this beautiful bird.

Responsive web - a light post

by James Ing on Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is responsive web the way to move forward?

Hi everyone, today's post is just going to be some thinking I've been doing around responsive web.

What is responsive web

To keep it simple, responsive web usually refers to a website that changes appearance and sometimes content when viewed on different devices such as a computer or a mobile phone

Smartphones are the most important device in changing our current design / UI / UX thinking. Before we simply had to decide on a layout (fixed versus liquid) and correct cross browser issues, we are now in a situation where we have multiple browsers and screen sizes.

What does this mean?

We now need to make decisions on how we present content across different devices. Before a mobile version of a website essentially just stripped out everything but a simple nav and the text. This ensured it worked across the majority of devices.

Now seeing a stripped down website on a mobile device leaves you feeling shortchanged. On the other hand, not tailoring your website to mobile devices can lead to awkward viewing window where the browser is trying to cram everything into that little space.

What's the answer?

I don't think there is a clear answer right now. Creating a responsive website isn't too difficult but it can mean adding to design and build times on already tight budgets. It can also mean having to rethink copy and whether or not you decided to edit content to suit different devices.

What approach should you take between the stripped down version and not doing anything at all? I would take the nothing at all approach. The reasons being, with this approach you still give put your websites best foot forward, and inbuilt phone browsers allow to you zoom to a point where viewing content is easy enough.

From all this it's still a very interesting time in the responsive web space, and a great time to be an innovator in this space and lead the competition by bring some responsiveness into your current websites

Great Scott Marty What Year Is It?

by James Ing on Friday, September 09, 2011

GREAT SCOT MARTY!

The online space has a weird way of repeating itself. Unlike print, the online space hasn't got hundreds of years of history to look back on.

Instead it has a few decades, each with its own little leaps of technology that push the boundaries of what's possible. With each new leap we often find ourselves repeating the past, mistakes and all.

Early websites were designed for a standard monitor size of 640px by 480px. This was the total screen space- we still had to subtract the size for the top toolbar and footer, leading to an even smaller viewable space. Over time monitors have become larger and with it we've seen an increase in usuable screen space.

Generally we design websites for the initial content to fit within a standardized view port of 960px x 600px (-ish). This vertical height represents the 'fold'. The 'fold' is an old term taken from newspapers, referring to the point where the paper was folded in half. Content above the fold is instantly viewable so would be used for the more important information.

Designers initially avoided putting content below the fold as the user often avoided scrolling. The alternative was to make separate pages, so an article may have been broken up into 4 short pages all appearing above the fold. Over time users learned to love scrolling (you probably don't even notice the sound your mouse wheel makes anymore). This change resulted in webpages becoming longer without the worry about content not being seen below the infamous fold.

Flashy animations and cool effects have always gone hand in hand in web. I myself have been guilty of indulging over the years (including my old Geocities website with twinkling, animated gifs). Flash then took over as the 'go to' program for creating animations and 'cool' effects. This lead to the abuse of effects and transitions. We ended up with full flash websites that were incredibly bulky and hard to update. Flash has largely been replaced with JavaScript libraries like JQuery which help smooth out the regular issues of JavaScript inconsistencies across browsers.

So what do all of this have in common with today's topic?

"With each new leap we often find ourselves repeating the past, mistakes and all."
- James, this very same article.

In the mobile space we've often been limited to much smaller screen sizes. We've had to design pages with tiny dimensions, within a tightly confined space. You end up with lots of little pages with very little content. With the rise of smartphones we now have the chance to design in spaces not too dissimilar to regular websites. Mobile websites are once again trimming down pages and spreading content too thinly. Often it is due to constraints in technology (cost of mobile data, etc), but in my opinion sites should give users the option between a mobile and a regular version. This way it gives the user the power to choose between the full or diluted experience based on their situation.

Smartphones have also given rise to the application marketplace. These apps can range from the light hearted 'band name generator' to more complex apps designed to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle. Apps allow developers to create more complex interactions and animations than mobile websites often can permit. This unfortunately has lead to some developers abusing this system once again.

A few online magazine apps appeared on the release of the Apple iPad that meant that users could subscribe to and download online magazines full of great interactive material, videos and images. This led to extremely large, clumsy apps that looked great. But it also meant these apps have inherited all the problems of old flash websites- large downloads before users can see content, flashy interfaces which make it difficult for users to navigate and have made it hard for developers to update and maintain.

New technologies allow us to push the boundaries of what is possible, often allowing us to refine past ideas. Just remember some old ideas are better left in the past.

J

Go the AB's