Attention to detail and user experience

Great works of art and architecture live through ages and are appreciated, and criticized likewise. While their exuberance and extravagance strike us the most, it is the fine attention to detail that grab the appreciation (and/or criticism) of the finer eye. People spend a good portion of their earnings on holidays, visiting places of historical and architectural marvel each year. Visiting such places is not a profitable act (at least, not in terms of monetary gain), however one does gain an experience out of it. And many studies have indicated that spending on experiences builds a richer and happy life than purchasing the latest gadget that’s out in the market.

Visiting a well-built website designed for accessibility is also an experience. Many websites have realized this and there has been a huge improvement in terms of time and resource dedicated to user experience when building a website. One example that I noticed was the recent change in the dashboard of Tumblr where adding a quote would automatically truncate and create a 140-char twitter message (If enabled). Before this update, I had to manually copy the quote and paste it into the twitter box and truncate the message manually. I was impressed by this little feature that reiterates the wonderful things Tumblr has been doing to improve user experience. On the upside, the new feature would save about 15-20 seconds of my time each time I post.

P.S.: The new feature has not been advertised anywhere on their staff blog or the design blog or the engineering blog. A silent, likable update. 🙂 Try tumbling if you haven’t already. You will be bowled over by its simplicity and ease of use.

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A word about wordpress

For those who have come to wordpress recently (post v2.5 release), I’m sure you found the design, interface, manageability, and the performance of wordpress a satisfying experience. However, for those who have been with wordpress since its early stages, it has been an extraordinary journey (at wordpress.com, also at wordpress.orgWhat’s the difference?) when looked back at it.

I have been associated with wordpress ever since the v1.5 release – which was instantly adopted by thousands of people. I was a n00b at Webdesigning and PHP back then (not much difference now), and was a mute spectator to the exponential increase of the popularity of wordpress. The response to the wordpress ‘blog’ tool was enormous and everyone wanted to be a part of it. And gradually, the wordpress community grew, the number of coders, testers and website managers. The list would never be complete without mentioning the thousands of theme and plugin designers who have made a world of difference to wordpress as it is.

Having said all this, it would be a crime not to mention Matt. Matt is the creator of WordPress, who nurtured it (and continues to do so) as his child. Hats off to you Matt, for giving us such a good blogging software (wordpress.org) and also a blogging platform (wordpress.com).

You can read the wordpress story from the people themselves here.

Secure your browsing with Firefox

If you haven’t read the previous post of this series, I suggest you do. If you have done that, or you are already a Firefox fan, then read on to know more on securing your browsing on firefox.

One of the major aspects of firefox is its extensibility, which is possible by the use of addons. Addons are either themes, plugins, or extensions. While themes enhance the appearance of the browser, plugins enable viewing of certain types of content from within the browser, such as flash and videos. However, extensions improve the functionality of the browser. Choosing the right extensions can effectively improve your online browsing experience.

The top five must have firefox extensions:

1. NoScript

NoScript is the best security extension that firefox has got till date. It works by blocking all scripts from ‘unknown’ websites. Once the page is loaded, you can allow or permanently block scripts on that website. You can also allow scripts to run temporarily for the current firefox session. This extension also blocks Java applets, flash and silverlight objects on the page. With a wide range of options to configure from, this is a must-have extension for all firefox users.

2. Adblock Plus

As the name suggests, this versatile extension blocks all the annoying ads on the webpages. All kinds of ads such as textlinks, banners, rotating images and video ads are blocked. You can also add a subscription list which is updated with all new ad loaders. Thus, once installed, Adbock Plus saves you the distractions arising from the adverts.

*This extension must be taken with a pinch of salt. Though it sounds all pretty and nice, you may lose out on good deals, and links to better websites. I suggest using it selectively for different websites.

3. DownThemAll!

The ultimate download helper extension for firefox. It is the best because, it does all the work of a commercial download manager program and the best part is that it works from within firefox. It splits the files upto 10 chunks and downloads them simultaneously thereby increasing download speeds.

*Did I mention that it works for rapidshare.com links as well? 😉

4. Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer

Are you one among those who browse the internet at several places? Home, Office, Laptop, etc? Imagine having to maintain a separate list of bookmarks at each browser! Foxmarks helps to overcome this problem by synchronizing the bookmarks between the ones on your system with the ones on the server. All you need is sign-up for an account (or you could also use your own FTP server) and foxmarks maintains a global bookmarks list on the server which is updated every time you add a new bookmark. Hence wherever you log on to the internet from, your bookmark list will be intact.

*This extension has saved my bookmarks several times when there were browser crashes, and I have no need to make backups while I’m reinstalling my OS. 🙂

5. StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon is an amazing extension that helps you ‘stumble upon’ webpages based upon your interests. This is one of the long standing extensions in the history of firefox and is awesome fun and very useful when you are searching for something specific.

*I have elaborated upon how to acquire StumbleUpon in one of my previous posts, take a look for complete instructions.

The next part of the series, will contain information on more utility addons which are particulary useful and help you browse the internet with ease.