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Blog Archives

Week 15 and Finals Week: Wrapping Up the Client Project

The end of the semester is upon us, and this will be my final update to the class website. (Please try to hold your applause until you finish reading this post.) At this point, you should be conducting usability tests

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 14: Making Sense of Usability Data; Content Strategy

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of usability testing and you’ve had the opportunity to watch and participate in a usability test, you should begin recruiting friends, family, and roommates to complete the usability protocol you developed with your teammates

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Week 13: Finishing Tubes, Starting Usability Testing, and Exam #2

I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving break! When we return next week, we will be in the home stretch of the semester, with only six class sessions remaining before finals week. We will need to use our time wisely

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Week 12: Getting Serious about the Client Project

Next week is our last week before Thanksgiving break, and I want to make sure all of you are on track with your client projects before the holiday. Hence, I have rearranged a few of the checkpoint due dates for

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Week 11: Wireframes and More Tubes

When I got back from my conference, I was glad to discover that your initial client meetings had all gone so well. It sounds like everyone has started on the right foot, and I hope your interactions with your clients

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Weeks 9 and 10: Diving in to the Client Project

As I’ve watched you create (and sometimes scrap and re-create) your Print-to-Web projects, I’ve been impressed with how far you’ve come in just a few weeks of working with WordPres. Many of your draft sites looked excellent during our peer

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Week 8: Wrapping Up the Print-to-Web Conversion Project

As we near the end of Unit #2, I want to give you ample time to work out the kinks in your designs and get feedback from your peers to help you put the finishing touches on your WordPress sites.

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Week 7: WordPress Workshop, Plus a Taste of Tables

Now that our first exam is behind us (hooray!), we can shift our focus back to the print-to-web conversion project. At this point, you should have added all of your content for Unit #2 to your WordPress site and you

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Week 6: Information Architecture; WordPress Workshop; Exam #1

This update will be short and sweet, but feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our plans. Here’s a quick overview of how we’ll spend our time in class next week: On Monday we continue our

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Week 5: Unit #2; Introduction to Content Management Systems

We have used Unit #1 as a platform for applying the basic principles of HTML and CSS covered in our textbook. At this point, none of you know everything there is to know about web design (spoiler alert: you probably

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Week 4: Advanced Typography, Navigation Systems, and Wrapping Up Unit #1

As I looked at the drafts of your landing pages and résumés in class yesterday, I was amazed by how far you’ve come in three short weeks. I hope you received some helpful feedback from your classmates, and I hope

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Week 3: CSS Layout; Unit #1 Peer Critique

In class this week I shared some tips for using Twitter, but if Twitter hasn’t “clicked” for you yet, I recommend reviewing the following sites: A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter 10 Tips on Using Twitter Wisely Twitter Basics (the company’s

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 2: HTML and CSS Basics; Résumé Workshop

I think our first two class sessions went really well this week, even taking into account a few minor technical hiccoughs. Some of you who have experience building websites may find the next few class periods moving a little slower

Posted in Weekly Updates

Welcome to Writing for the Web!

Welcome to ENGL 4814: Writing for the Web. This website will function as the online headquarters for our class this semester. Each week, I will post an update to the website with details about coming week, deadline reminders, links to

Posted in Weekly Updates
Where am I?
This is the class website for English 4814: Writing for the Web, taught by Quinn Warnick at Virginia Tech in fall 2012.
Worthwhile Reading
The links below are the most recent additions to my collection of bookmarks that are relevant to this course. You can find a complete list of ENGL 4814 bookmarks on Pinboard.

  • CodePen
    Awesome browser-based tool for experimenting with HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
  • What Constitutes Good and Bad Web Design?
    NY Times: "Shoddy Web site design is a curse of modern life. The more dependent we have become on the Internet for information, the likelier we are to suffer from its design deficiencies. Bad design can be infuriating, inconvenient or damaging in any field. But it is especially frustrating in areas like this where many of us find the technology so inscrutable that we tend to blame ourselves for being baffled, because we feel unable to judge whether the design is at fault."
  • wireframe.cc
    Free, minimalist wireframing tool, with templates for desktop, tablet, and phone.
  • Yes, learn basic programming
    Derek Sivers thinks everyone should learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript: "If you heard someone say, 'I have this idea for a song. But I’m not musical, so I need to find someone who will write, perform, and record it for me.' - you’d probably advise them to just take some time to sit down with a guitar or piano and learn enough to turn their ideas into reality."
  • CSS Floats 101
    Another great article from Noah Stokes in A List Apart. This one focuses specifically on one of the trickiest parts of CSS for beginners to master: the float property.
  • CSS Positioning 101
    Noah Stokes's A List Apart article is a great starting point for getting better at CSS positioning. Complete with several examples.
  • Modular Scale
    Handy tool for improving typography on modern, responsive websites. (The linked articles on this page are important, too.)
  • Interactive Guide to Blog Typography
    Great tutorial for improving typography on any website, not just a blog.
  • The Basement
    Great photo essay by Cabel Sasser: "And eventually, you crawl behind a corner, and discover a bundle of conduit. Conduit for every major internet carrier you’ve ever heard of. Oh, right. You had almost forgotten. This building, this basement, is the major internet hub for the entire region."
  • Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek
    Beautiful interface for this NY Times article. Perfect integration of video, images, and text.
  • Service Learning Survey
    Students: If you worked with a client from the VT Engage program, please take a few minutes to provide the program with some feedback about your experience.
  • SPOT Survey - Fall 2012
    Students: If you haven't completed the SPOT evaluation for this course, please do so during class on Wednesday. I take this feedback very seriously, and I use it to revise my classes each semester, so please be specific about the aspects of the course (and my teaching) that you found successful and unsuccessful.
  • Standards, not Prescriptions
    Nathan C. Ford: "For standardization to truly continue making the web a more stable place, we do not need more anticipatory specifications, we need solutions. Lots of them. Dumb ones, fat ones, smart ones, skinny ones. Let us embrace them all then watch them fight it out in the field. When the strongest emerge, we can adopt them into our specs and wait for the next batch of victors."
  • Into the vault: the operation to rescue Manhattan's drowned internet
    Dante D'Orazio, writing for the Verge: "Hurricane Sandy's storm surge flooded Verizon's downtown office, rendering miles of copper wiring useless."
  • Responsive Design Testing
    Great little tool for seeing what your website looks like at a variety of screen resolutions.
  • Having a Mobile Strategy is Like Having a Laptop Strategy 20 Years Ago
    John Steinberg: "I do not want to download your app. I just want to read the content on the mobile web and possibly share it if I’m engaged. The constant knee-jerk interstitialing of full-screen app download messages every time I load sites is beyond frustrating. Many site owners seems convinced that this frustration, which no doubt dampens the velocity and volume of content sharing, will convert in loyal downloading app users."
  • Google Data Centers
    Photos, video, and history of Google's physical facilities. Obviously one-sided, but interesting nonetheless.
  • Google Throws Open Doors to Its Top-Secret Data Center
    Steven Levy, in Wired: "This is what makes Google Google: its physical network, its thousands of fiber miles, and those many thousands of servers that, in aggregate, add up to the mother of all clouds."
  • Guidelines, Tools and Resources For Web Wireframing
    A nice list of resources about wireframing.
  • Save For Later
    Fascinating report on a Mozilla UX project by Brian Groudan: "All browsers support two functions: searching and revisiting. My research questions whether constructs like bookmarks really are the right model to support revisiting. I worked closely with Mozilla user experience researchers and designers to rethink how Firefox can better offer 'save for later' in the browser."