Tuesday 25 November 2008

Finally, Affordable Web Training!

Finally, Web design and development courses that you can do right from the comfort of your own home! After years of traveling the world doing workshops and presentations, I’m getting a little world-weary and would like to focus more on teaching rather than the latest and greatest in best packing techniques!

This is not to say you won’t see me at public venues, because you will. But after years of providing a variety of educational materials I’m finally going to try out something that will make learning fun and affordable, and bring me some income without having to get out of my pajamas (I really like my pajamas).

I’m building a new site dedicated to providing beginning, intermediate, advanced and expert-level courses in HTML, XHTML, CSS, Web Design, Universal (Accessible) Design, Project Management, Content Development and a range of other topics.

Course features include:

  • Live, direct teaching with me via chat (typical courses run 1 hour per week and are based on a day/time agreeable to all students)
  • Small courses: Only six total students per course, plus 1 intern
  • 1/2 hour one-on-one assessment chat at end of course
  • 24/7 moderated forums
  • PDF and HTML-based course material
  • Course slides where appropriate
  • Articles and helpful resource packet for all registered students
  • A certificate of completion (upon completion of course!)
  • Books, software and other awesome schwag as available

Course costs:

Each five week course (described above) costs 125.00 USD. This amount is non-refundable, but if you miss a session or are unable to make a course, you will be re-scheduled as soon as possible. Course payment: Payment is in advance via PayPal. You may also use direct deposit transfers or certified checks if you prefer, just let me know privately. There are other course types in the running, as well as one-on-one courses, full day workshop intensives and courses taught by others.


Each course can accommodate up to one intern. Internships are really scholarships, the intern must come from circumstances that prohibit payment, show strong initiative, and have excellent online skills. Additional internships are available for folks interested in answering questions and monitoring forums. Please respond directly to me mollyatmollydotcom if you want to be considered for an internship.

Inaugural course: HTML 4.01 Foundations

Whether hand-coding or using applications such as Dreamweaver or Expression Web, understanding HTML (and how browsers understand it too!) gives designers and developers the ability to problem solve and innovate.

This course provides students with a comprehensive study of HTML as a language. From DOCTYPEs and DTD’s to syntax and semantics, participants will take from this course a very strong understanding of HTML.

The course is limited to a total of six (6) registered attendees, plus 1 intern. It is taught directly by me and will commence Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at a time agreed upon by all attendees (due to global nature of course).

Students should have some familiarity with HTML and general Web design.

Talk to yer Mols

If you have interest in this course, or are interested in future courses, please post in the comments. 🙂

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 09:09 | Comments (53)

Thursday 6 November 2008

Clarifying a Web Standards Workflow

During a session this week at the fantastic MexicoWeb2.0, an attendee asked me if I had any recommended process for working with Web standards.

Workflow and process has been a particularly difficult area to address, mostly because every company or organization has a different culture. Sometimes you have designers and developers working together, sometimes they exist on opposite ends of an enormous corporate campus. And sometimes it’s just a small shop that has to be agile and responsive to a wide range of client demands.

I had to express my frustration at the fact that after years of trying different workflow options, I still don’t know the magic answer to this question! Working with others in the field, I have promoted a number of ideas, none of which seem to fit broader needs. Clearly, each of these ideas have fabulous merit and insight, and much is to be learned from them.

Existing Process Ideas

Examining the problem early on, Eric Meyer suggested using markup and CSS for the wireframe process. This was an idea that intrigued me and we both promoted it for some time via workshops together and apart (oops, that’s a pun!) Later, when working with Andy Clarke on the inspirational book “Transcending CSS” the idea of an interactive prototype emerged. Essentially, this is a maturing of the workflow process originally described by Eric and others but built to include interaction design.

The big disconnect that I keep finding in these models is the integration of the prototype visual design, the wireframe, and the interaction design. In today’s application-hungry Web environment, interaction plays an enormous role, but is often left until after the design is sliced n’ diced n’ marked n’ styled. And we all know that using graphic prototypes to define interaction can be ridiculously time consuming. This is especially true in large institutions with separation between designers, interaction designers, and front end developers.

Find the Missing Puzzle Piece

So where’s the missing piece? One best practice that has emerged is that we start at the beginning of a project with all the issues: Usability, accessibility, media targeting (screen, print, handheld, etc.), information architecture and so on. This is really the process of discovery, which is well-established in media and graphic design workflows. After that, in the ideal, we move on to actual development: designers design prototypes, this goes to either a graphic or markup-based wireframe, and interaction is added at some point in the process.

The general ideas we toy with in Web Standards workflows of this nature are intriguing, but rarely practical. How many times do we really come into a project in nascent form? Most Web workers are fixing what’s broken or adding to existing infrastructure, although in the area of Web application development we do see some opportunity to begin the beguine, as it were.

Clarifying Workflow Concerns

I’m very interested in how different folks address the workflow issue, and if in fact anyone feels they have developed a process that might be considered a global best practice (even if it’s modified for a given situation). Some specific questions I would like to clarify include:

  • Should graphic prototyping be the first step after discovery?
  • How do we introduce interaction design into a wireframe early and conveniently?
  • How do we cleanly move between graphic design and code requirements (a big question, I think!)
  • Is it even possible to think there’s a meta-process available, or should we create each process based on each situation?

And of course, most importantly, your thoughts and experiences on this topic in general will be very helpful.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 11:15 | Comments (42)

Tuesday 4 November 2008

November 4, 2008: Another Day of Infamy?

Today is one of the most emotional days I have ever had as a citizen of the United States. I believe the very foundations of democracy have already been shaken, and I think today’s voting outcome will prove the citizens of my nation do want cooperation and change. The alternative, as I see it, will simply reveal that my beloved country is not a democracy.

People I meet around the world will sometimes express confusion at the strong patriotism of Americans, even when they disagree with their government. In fact, that is the essence of the civil liberties bestowed upon us in the ideal: We can love something we disagree with openly and actively. If the concept is difficult to understand, just imagine that you have a troubled child in his or her teen years, acting covert, full of rage, perhaps even unnecessary violence. Yet at heart, you know your child is a good child, and you work as hard as you can through the troubled times to save that good heart.

In an email I received from Michael this morning, I found a strong articulation of my feelings. His words, perhaps because he is the son of a preacher man, hit me exactly where my own feelings about today lie. And so I will leave you with them:

“Swat teams are standing by in all major US cities in case the republican party tries to pull some crooked bullshit. Obama has this election. Hands down. If Obama does not win this election I think it’s going to demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that this is not America. If Obama doesn’t win, we don’t have a democracy.

The deck is stacked. The shit is rigged: Old dead wood. If Obama doesn’t win this election all bets are off. America is doomed, and the rift between black America and white America will not be healed in our lifetime. We have the obviously qualified candidate, versus more of the same. It has to happen. It has to.

If it does not I lose all hope in America as a democracy” – Michael William Forkan

If you are a U.S. citizen registered to vote, please vote today. It’s the most important election of our times. Please do what as a citizen you can do to bring change, hope and honor back to this mixed up, beautiful teenaged country of mine.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 06:34 | Comments (16)

Upcoming Travels