I agree with pretty much everything in this post at the WPMU DEV blog on “common web design UX errors,” especially in regard to the dysfunctionality from a “UX” (user experience) perspective both of big “Vanity Images” and of “Sliders,” two image treatments often front-paged by “magazine” sites that may impress web design clients more than they impress (or serve) real web users. When the League of Ordinary Gentlemen implemented its re-design last Summer in conjunction with their name change, the slider sparked a near-revolution among commenters. As for the VIs, tho I think the GIGANTIC IMAGE layouts at other sites, notably Medium, may be more justifiable at least from the currently widespread “mobile first” perspective – since what looks relatively gigantic on my desktop screen is still only a couple inches high on a smartphone – I don’t think they wear very well.

On the other hand, I’m not sure that W-P-M-U D-E-V is, namewise, the best UX either. I like a lot about the site and its services, and I know there’s a school of thought in advertising that an unwieldy name is more memorable than one that’s too smooth, but WPMU-DEV has got to be meaningless to most people. I’m a WordPress junkie and a fan of WPMU DEV, but I don’t recall, if I ever knew, what the “MU” stands for. “Multi-Use” would be my first guess, but it’s just a guess. Yet another thing to look into one of these days. (Come to think of it, the acronym “UX” is itself probably bad UX unless U happen to speak web developerese.)

While we’re on the subject of Web Design, I’m planning to keep a regular Web Design journal at this site, but will mostly keep new entries, especially heavily technical ones, off the front page.

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Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

2 comments on “2014.02.20

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  1. One thing I didn’t see addressed there was whether links send you to another window/tab or not. Your links keep you in the same window – personally I prefer another window especially, as is the case frequently here, I want to go back and forth between the original site and the linked site. Any thoughts on this?

    • It’s easy to make links open in a new window, but it’s rare that anyone will set up a web site so that all links do so, since it creates clutter. If you have some kind of sub-routine like picking a shirt size, or if you want to make a definition or tip available, then there are various options including a full-fledged new window (you can also to a large extent control the size and availability of menus and tools). Generally, though, with most browsers these days, users can choose on their own how they want links to open: for instance with a right-mouse click/menu selection, or by setting their browsers to different defaults.

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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