Skull Jackpot

Various thoughts of minimal interest to others

Process Peek: Community Almanac

June 29, 2009

One of our current projects is a redesign for the Orton Family Foundation’s Community Almanac site (I’ve mentioned it before). The Orton Family Foundation was started by the folks who run the Vermont Country Store, and is particularly interested in preserving the stories and traditions of small-town America – something rapidly disappearing in the crush of homogenized, retail-franchise colonization efforts. I wanted to share a couple of peeks into the process for our upcoming redesign.

Review: The Whuffie Factor

April 26, 2009

Tara’s first book, the Whuffie Factor, was published this past week. It’s focused on social marketing, more participatory and conversational than traditional mass marketing (which by its nature tends more toward monologue than conversation). She was kind enough to send me a copy to review. The short version is: it’s the best business book I’ve read.

Planting carrots

April 1, 2009

I’d mentioned earlier that I was hoping to incorporate the “achievement” reward model from videogames for our Community Almanac project at work. I think I made a good case, but it’s looking likely that the concept of Deeds is on the chopping block (for now).

The discovery this week that Hunch has a variation of this approach (to say nothing of Slashdot’s announcement today) convinced me to go ahead and write down the list I’d pitched, in the event that it’s interesting to anyone else.

Quick and dirty (but useful) jQuery accordion pattern

March 30, 2009

It’s fairly common to want to have multiple panels on a page, only one of which should be visible at any given moment. There are too many jQuery accordion examples to count. I recently knocked together a handy general case, which includes a novel piece of functionality. What makes this one different? You can specify an arbitrary panel to be expanded upon page load, without any server-side code.

All carrot, no stick

March 9, 2009

We’re currently working through speccing out the next round of changes for the Community Almanac, a site we’ve produced in conjunction with the Orton Family Foundation.

One of the challenges we’re working through is how to provide better ways to guide users through the ladder of engagement: to move from passively viewing the site, through providing feedback on content, all the way to being a leading participant and real resource for the Community Almanac.

Right makes (Opera) wrong

January 23, 2009

In the course of redesigning the new TOPP website, I ran into another odd renderbug which I wanted to document.

The design for the new site includes two drop-down menus (for “About Us” and “Our Work”), and we went with an approach based on the classic Suckerfish menus. Pretty easy to implement, and looked great in our initial design passes. When I went to do some regression testing, I found that Opera was was badly misrendering the menus.