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CP+ 2015 Sigma Interview - "small office, big factory"

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 22:46

At this year's CP+ show in Yokohama Japan we made time to sit down with several senior executives from major manufacturers, including Sigma. In this interview with Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma, we spoke about the challenges of making lenses for ever-increasing pixel counts, the company's 'small office, big factory' philosophy and why the company is continuing to make cameras. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

Manfrotto releases XPRO Geared tripod head for precision adjustments with heavy kit

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 22:37

Italian tripod and accessory manufacturer Manfrotto has announced it is introducing a new heavy-weight head to its XPRO range. The XPRO Geared Head is designed for photographers who use weighty equipment and who like to be able to make precise adjustments to their composition. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

Nissin launches radio-controlled Di700A and Commander Air 1 wireless flash system

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 21:17

Independent Japanese flash manufacturer Nissin has announced a new wireless flash system that uses radio transmission. The first gun to be compatible with the company’s Nissin Air System (NAS) will be an adapted version of the Di700 flash unit. The Di700A will have the same specification as the GN48m/157ft current model, but will also feature a 2.4GHz radio transmitter that will be able to communicate with other NAS guns and the Nissin Commander Air 1 command unit from a distance of up to 30m. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

Fujifilm announces new rental program, set to go live in the US on March 16th

Imaging Resource - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 21:15
    Fujifilm has announced a new rental program, set to go live in the United States on March 16th. Aptly called Fujifilm Professional Rental, the upcoming program is for photographers who would like to try out Fujifilm X-Series cameras and Fujinon XF lenses before making the larger investment of purchasing the gear. Additionally, the program will include the Fujifilm Professional Repair Rental, which will loan out cameras and lenses to Fujifilm/Fujinon owners while their current gear is getting...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Chinese maker Xiaomi challenges GoPro with new Yi Action Camera

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 20:05

Chinese company Xiaomi, perhaps best known for its smartphones, has introduced a new GoPro competitor called the Yi Action Camera. This new action camera will only be sold inside of China for the equivalent of approximately $64 USD (399 CNY); the company doesn't, as of now, have plans to sell it elsewhere. This still poses a problem for GoPro, however, which has recently been looking to expand into the Chinese market. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

Sony beefs up FE lens lineup with 4 new optics, including Zeiss 35mm f/1.4, lens converters

Imaging Resource - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 05:00
    One of the big complaints aimed towards Sony's popular A7-series of full-frame mirrorless cameras is the lack of a robust native lens lineup. In an effort to stem that tide, Sony continues to expand their FE lineup with the introduction of four new FE lenses, including their first f/1.4 lens for the FE-mount, a Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 optic. Also joining the full-frame E-mount family is a 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens, a 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS versatile zoom and a compact, budget-friendly 28mm f/2 prime. When the A7 and A7R were first...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Sony releases 28mm, 35mm, and 90mm macro full-frame primes

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 05:00

Three full-frame prime lenses on Sony's lens roadmap officially arrived today which, including the 24-240, brings the total number of FE lenses to eleven. The least expensive of the trio is the 28mm F2 lens, which also supports ultra-wide and fisheye adapters. Next is the long-awaited Zeiss 35mm F1.4 ZA, which is Sony's fastest FE lens to date. Close-up shooters will be interested in the new 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens, which uses a Direct Drive SSM mechanism for ultra-precise focusing. More details here.

Kategorien: Fotografie

Sony brings big zoom power to FE-mount with 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 lens

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 05:00

Another full-frame lens from Sony's roadmap that hit the market today is a consumer-friendly super zoom. This 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 FE lens features optical image stabilization, five aspherical elements and one ED element, and is sealed against dust and moisture. The lens will ship this month for around $1000.

Kategorien: Fotografie

Firmware updates to reduce Sony FE lens startup times on the way

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 05:00

Sony is releasing a pair of firmware updates this month that will reduce startup times when FE lenses are attached to both full-frame and APS-C bodies. The first update, available now, will make your E-mount camera get ready to shoot in less time when using five currently available FE lenses. The second update, due later this month, will do the same for Sony's a7 series, this time for the four new lenses announced today. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

Sony adds wide-angle and fisheye adapters for full-frame and APS-C lenses

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 05:00

Sony has officially announced four new conversion lenses - two for full-frame and two for APS-C - that can be screwed onto a select group of lenses. On the full-frame side there are ultra-wide and fisheye adapters for the new FE 28mm F2, which drop the focal range to 21mm and 16mm, respectively. The adapters for APS-C lenses - the 20mm F2.8 and 16mm F2.8 specifically - and reduce the focal lengths by 0.75X for the ultra-wide adapter and 0.6X for the fisheye. More details.

Kategorien: Fotografie

Kowa announces pricing for three Micro Four Thirds lens

Digital Photography Review - Mi, 04/03/2015 - 01:30

Japanese optical manufacturer Kowa has released pricing for the three Micro Four Thirds lenses it first announced a year ago. The trio, Kowa Prominar MFT 12mm f/1.8, Prominar MFT 8.5mm f/2.8 and Prominar MFT 25mm f/1.8 are available now and will come in a choice of black, silver or green finishes. The lenses are all manual focus, and do not feature electrical contacts for communicating aperture or focus distance data to the camera. The company had them on show at the Broadcast Video Expo in London. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

As Triggertrap pulls plug on Ada kickstarter, CEO Haje Jan Kamps responds to comments from unhappy backers

Digital Photography Review - Di, 03/03/2015 - 23:23

Despite a successful round of funding through Kickstarter, Triggertrap has run into difficulties developing its Ada prototype and has announced that it will not be continuing with the project. As of November last year the company had raised nearly £300,000 in crowdfunding for its latest innovation, Ada - a high-speed shutter and flash trigger. Triggertrap CEO Haje Jan Kamps spoke with us about the response he's heard from disappointed project backers. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

How to make $300 in camera gear with a tiny bee and a DSLR

Imaging Resource - Di, 03/03/2015 - 22:57
Making $300 in Adorama cash with a nice shot of a colorful bee on a flower is a neat feat indeed, but that's just what Bryan Schwertner did by taking the first prize in our January POTD contest. And how about making $200 with a tight shot of a soaring snowy owl as our longtime contributing photographer Jimmy Marz did, or winning $100 with a compelling image of a baby snow monkey taking a dip from another of our longtime contributors, Steve Sampson? Well, all they had to do was (a) capture a great shot and, (b) enter it into our Photo of the Day contest. (Can't be that hard, can it? Click...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Should you clean your lens?

Imaging Resource - Di, 03/03/2015 - 20:13
  One ride in the back of a pickup truck on a dirt road and your lens could end up like this. It’s looks a lot like sandpaper, doesn’t it? And that exactly how that grit will behave if you rub it with cloth. I hesitate to even discuss lens cleaning; I risk turning you into one of those lens cleaning fanatics simply by broaching the subject and that’s the last thing I want to do. I want you to leave your lens alone. But the time will come when the build-up of daily life needs to be removed and you need to do it carefully. What you...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Lowepro launches Echelon, a luxurious lineup of premium camera bags

Imaging Resource - Di, 03/03/2015 - 19:16
    Yesterday, Lowepro announced Echelon, a new, limited-edition lineup of luxury camera bags. Sleek in design and constructed of premium materials, the Echelon lineup marks Lowepro’s first endeavor into the high-end bag market. The Echelon lineup is offered as a three-piece collection and consists of a roller for gear-heavy photographers, an attaché for those carrying less gear and a briefcase for a laptop and accessories. For materials, the Echelon lineup doesn’t skimp on tossing in all the...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

Quantity Queries for CSS

A List Apart - Di, 03/03/2015 - 16:00

Don’t you just hate documentaries that don’t deliver? They have enticing names like In Search of the Giant Squid, and tease you with shots of murky underwater shapes and excited scientists pointing far out to sea. You settle down to watch, eyes narrowed with suspicion, thinking, “I better see some squid or I’m writing an angry letter to the network.”

Sure enough, 90 minutes of interviews with bored-looking fishermen later, the presenter is forced to conclude, “No… no, we didn’t find any big squids. But maybe one day [majestic orchestral flourish].” Great. You wanted Finding Nemo and got Not Finding Nemo instead.

I wouldn’t do that to you, friends. This is your guide to creating style breakpoints for quantities of HTML elements, much as you already do with @media queries for viewport dimensions. I’m not pointing at some blurry specification in the distance or a twinkle in an implementer’s eye. We’re going to do this today, with CSS that’s already available.

Dynamic content

Responsive web design is primarily concerned with one variable: space. In testing responsive layouts, we take an amount of content and see which spaces it will successfully fit into. The content is deemed constant; the space, variable.

The @media query is the darling of responsive web design because it allows us to insert “breakpoints” wherever one layout strategy ceases to be viable and another should succeed it. However, it’s not just viewport dimensions, but the quantity of content that can put pressure on space.

Just as your end users are liable to operate devices with a multitude of different screen sizes, your content editors are liable to add and remove content. That’s what content management systems are for.  This makes Photoshop mockups of web pages doubly obsolete: they are snapshots of just one viewport, with content in just one state.

In this article, I will be outlining a technique to make CSS quantity-aware using specially formed selectors. I will be applying these selectors to one classic problem in particular: how to alter the display of items in a horizontal navigation menu when there are too many to suit the initial layout mode. That is, I will demonstrate how to switch from a display: table-cell to a display: inline-block layout when the number of items in the menu becomes “more than or equal to 6.”

I will not be relying on any JavaScript or template logic, and the menu’s list markup will remain devoid of class attribution. By using CSS only, the technique honors the separation of concerns principle, according to which content (HTML) and presentation (CSS) have clearly defined roles. Layout is CSS’s job and, where possible, CSS’s only.

The demonstration is available on CodePen and will be referred to throughout the article.

To help me illustrate this qualification of quantity, I’ll be employing diagrams of squids in the article to represent HTML elements. Green squids with ticks represent elements that match the CSS selector in question, red squids with crosses are unselected elements, and grayed-out squids denote elements that don’t exist.

Counting

The key to determining the quantity of elements in a given context is to count them. CSS doesn’t provide an explicit “counting API,” but we can solve the same problem with an inventive combination of selectors.

Counting to one

The :only-child selector provides a means to style elements if they appear in isolation. Essentially, it lets us “style all the child elements of a particular element, if counting those children returns 1 as the total.” Aside from its stablemate :only-of-type, it is the only simple selector that can be described as quantity-based.

In the following example, I use :only-of-type to add a special style to any buttons that are the only elements of their element type among sibling elements. I give these lone buttons an increased font-size because singularity suggests importance.

button { font-size: 1.25em; } button:only-of-type { font-size: 2em; }

Here’s the crucial part. If I were to start out with one button, replete with a larger font size, and add buttons before or after it, each button would then adopt a smaller font size. The style of all the elements in the set is dependent on a quantity threshold of two: if there are “fewer than two” elements, the larger font size is honored. Take a look at that code again with the “fewer than two” notion in mind:

button { font-size: 1.25em; } button:only-of-type { font-size: 2em; }

If it feels more natural, you can turn the CSS logic on its head using negation and make the condition “more than one.”

/* "More than one" results in a smaller font size */ button { font-size: 2em; } button:not(:only-of-type) { font-size: 1.25em; } Quantity n

Styling elements based on the “more than one” and “fewer than two” thresholds is a neat trick, but a flexible “quantity query” interface would accept any quantity. That is, I should be able to style “more than or equal to n” for any value of n. Then I can style “more than or equal to 6” in our navigation menu.

With a view to achieving this final goal, what if I were able to style discrete quantities like “exactly 6 in total” or “exactly 745”? How would I go about that? I would need to use a selector that allowed me to traverse sets of elements of any quantity numerically.

Fortunately, the :nth-last-child(n) selector accepts the number “n”, enabling me to count sets of elements from the end of the set toward the beginning. For example, :nth-last-child(6) matches the element that is sixth from last among sibling elements.

Things get interesting when concatenating :nth-last-child(6) with :first-child, introducing a second condition. In this case, I am looking for any element that is both the sixth element from the end and the first element.

li:nth-last-child(6):first-child { /* green squid styling */ }

If this element exists, the set of elements must be exactly six in quantity. Somewhat radically, I have written CSS that tells me how many elements I am looking at.

All that remains is to leverage this key element to style the remaining elements in the set. For this, I employ the general sibling combinator.

If you’re not familiar with the general sibling combinator, the ~ li in li:nth-last-child(6):first-child ~ li means “any li elements that occur after li:nth-last-child(6):first-child.” In the following example, the elements each adopt a green font color if there are precisely six of them in total.

li:nth-last-child(6):first-child, li:nth-last-child(6):first-child ~ li { color: green; } More than or equal to 6

Targeting a discrete quantity—whether it’s 6, 19, or 653—is not especially useful because it pertains to such a specific situation. Using discrete widths rather than min-width or max-width in our @media queries would be similarly unhelpful:

@media screen and (width: 500px) { /* styles for exactly 500px wide viewports */ }

In the navigation menu, I really want to switch layouts at a threshold: a quantity watershed. I want to switch at six or more items—not exactly six items. When I reach that threshold, I would like to change from a distributed table layout to a simpler, wrappable inline-block configuration. Importantly, I would like to retain that switched configuration as the number of items further increases.

The question is, how does one begin to construct such a selector? It’s a question of offsets.

The n+6 argument

Another arithmetical argument adoptable by the :nth-child() selector takes the form “n + [integer]”. For example, :nth-child(n+6) styles all the elements in a set starting from the sixth.

Though this has conceivable applications all its own, it’s not a “quantity-aware” selection method as such: we’re not styling anything because there are six elements or more in total; we’re just styling the ones that happen to enumerate higher than five.

To begin solving the problem properly, what we really need is to create a set of elements that excludes the last five items. Using the opposite of :nth-child(n+6)—:nth-last-child(n+6)—I can apply the switched layout properties to all “last elements” starting from the sixth, counting back toward the beginning of the set.

li:nth-last-child(n+6) { /* properties here */ }

This omits the last five items from a set of any length, meaning that when you reduce the length of the set below six, you cease to see any selected items. It’s a sort of “sliding doors” effect.

If, indeed, the set is greater than or equal to six in total, then all that remains is to style those last five items as well. This is easy: where there are more than six items, one or more items that “return true” (in JavaScript-speak) for the nth-last-child(n+6) condition must exist. Any and all of these extant elements can be combined with “~” to affect all items (including the last five) that follow it.

The surprisingly terse solution to our problem is this:

li:nth-last-child(n+6), li:nth-last-child(n+6) ~ li { /* properties here */ }

Naturally, 6 can be replaced with any positive integer, even 653,279.

Fewer than or equal to n

As in the earlier :only-of-type example, you can turn the logic on its head, switching from “more than or equal to n” to “fewer than or equal to n.” Which brand of logic you use depends on which state you consider the more natural default state. “Fewer than or equal to n” is possible by negating n and reinstating the :first-child condition.

li:nth-last-child(-n+6):first-child, li:nth-last-child(-n+6):first-child ~ li { /* properties here */ }

In effect, the use of “-” switches the direction of the selection: instead of pointing toward the start from the sixth, it points toward the end from the sixth. In each case, the selector is inclusive of the sixth item.

nth-child versus nth-of-type

Note that I am using :nth-child() and :nth-last-child() in the preceding examples, not :nth-of-type() and :nth-last-of-type(). Because I am dealing in <li> elements and <li>s are the only legitimate children of <ul>s, :last-child() and :last-of-type() would both work here.

The :nth-child() and :nth-of-type() families of selectors have different advantages depending on what you are trying to achieve. Because :nth-child() is element agnostic, you could apply the described technique across different element type siblings:

<div class="container"> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> <blockquote>...</blockquote> <figure>...</figure> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> </div> .container > :nth-last-child(n+3), .container > :nth-last-child(n+3) ~ * { /* properties here */ }

(Note how I am using the universal selector to maintain element agnosticism here. :last-child(n+3) ~ * means “any element of any type following :last-child(n+3).”)

The advantage of :nth-last-of-type(), on the other hand, is that you are able to target groups of like elements where other siblings of different types are present. For example, you could target the quantity of paragraphs in the following snippet, despite them being bookended by a <div> and a <blockquote>.

<div class="container"> <div>...</div> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> <p>...</p> <blockquote>...</blockquote> </div> p:nth-last-of-type(n+6), p:nth-last-of-type(n+6) ~ p { /* properties here */ } Selector support

All of the CSS2.1 and CSS3 selectors used in this article are supported in Internet Explorer 9 and above, including all reasonably recent mobile/handheld stock browsers.

Internet Explorer 8 support is good for most selector types, but technically partial, so you might want to consider a JavaScript polyfill. Alternately, you could pair the selectors for the “safer” of the layout strategies with IE9-specific classes. In the case of the navigation menu, the safer option is the one catering to more items, using inline-block. The declaration block would look something like this:

nav li:nth-last-child(n+6), nav li:nth-last-child(n+6) ~ li, .lt-ie9 nav li { display: inline-block; /* etc */ } In the real world

Suppose our navigation menu belongs to a content-managed site. Depending on who is administering the theme, it will be populated with a greater or fewer number of options. Some authors will keep things simple with just “Home” and “About” links provided, while others will cram their menu full of custom page and category options.

By providing alternative layouts depending on the number of menu items present, we increase the elegance with which we tolerate different implementations of the theme: we address variable content as we might variable screen dimensions.

So, there you have it: squid ahoy! You can now add quantity as a styling condition to your repertoire.

Content-independent design

Responsive web design solves an important problem: it makes the same content comfortably digestible between different devices. For folks to receive different content just because they have different devices would be unacceptable. Similarly, it’s unacceptable for a design to dictate the nature of the content. We wouldn’t tell an editor, “Lose that, will you? It makes the design look wrong.”

But what form the content takes, and how much of it there is at any one time, is frequently indeterminate—another unknown. And we can’t always rely on text wrapping and truncation scripts. To get a real handle on content independence, we need to develop new tools and techniques. Quantity queries are just one idea.

Web design is about mutability, difference, uncertainty. It’s about not knowing. Uniquely, it is a mode of visual design not about manifesting a form, but about anticipating the different forms something might take. To some it is unbearably perplexing, but to you and me it is a challenge to relish. Like the elusive giant squid, it is a seriously slippery customer.

Kategorien: Webdesign

Stopping the Infighting About Digital Standards

A List Apart - Di, 03/03/2015 - 16:00

I grew up in Columbia, Maryland, a planned community (see Figure 5.1). And as with the word “governance,” people tend to react to the phrase “planned community” in a not-so-positive way. “Planned” sounds dull and uncreative to people: cookie-cutter homes, on cookie-cutter lots, on cookie-cutter streets—“Little Houses Made of Ticky Tacky,” to invoke Malvina Reynolds’ well-known song. And Columbia was all about that: a city built quickly based on a template. There were street naming conventions, standard model homes, standardized lot sizes, and a standard “village” configuration complete with strategically placed shopping and swimming pools.

Figure 5.1: Columbia, Maryland—a planned community that opened in 1967.

So what do you get when you build a city on a standards-based framework? Those who focus on the standards part like to say “boring,” “all the same,” “not diverse,” because they believe that any standardization leads to a lack of creativity or innovation. But that wasn’t all there was to it. Once you factor in the context and intent of Columbia, the picture becomes different. Columbia was one of the first planned communities intended to be racially and economically integrated. Its founder, James Rouse, had a vision about creating a place for people to live—a place that would make you feel good, a place where everyone would just get along. And there was the timing: Columbia was founded in the mid-sixties and started its initial growth spurt in the 1970s.

In standardized fashion, villages and neighborhoods were often named after literary figures with streets being named after lines in their works. That standard resulted in street names like Evening Wind Lane, Wood Elves Way, and Plaited Reed. No Main Street. No Church Street. No School Street. Sure, there are some boring people in Columbia, but Columbia has spawned some interesting people, too, including the following:

  • The late Randy Pausch: The Carnegie Mellon professor who gave us “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” This one touched home, as his mother was an English teacher at the high school I attended.
  • Michael Chabon: Pulitzer prize-winning author. I like to think that Mike’s rich writing style was informed by the literary tradition of Columbia street names. But that might be a stretch. I think he just has a gift.
  • Dave McClure: Founder of 500 Startups and a rule-breaker if ever there was one.
  • Aaron McGruder: Of The Boondocks comics fame; another iconoclast.
  • Edward Norton: Okay, he’s just the grandson of James Rouse, but cool nonetheless. I mean, Fight Club, right?

All this is to say that, contrary to popular belief from some of my clients, standardization does not have to give way to things boring or flat or uninteresting. It doesn’t mean that the standardized interface can’t be beautiful, or that your customer’s experience of your seamlessly integrated process that takes them from desktop to mobile to call center won’t be sublime. The belief that standardization necessarily leads to the boring and uninteresting is too simple. It’s what’s going on inside the structure that is important. You could have a beautiful, old, organically grown, charming town with nothing creative going on for it except that it looks good. Or you can have tract housing turning out really interesting people, music, and thought. It’s all about the substance and interactivity of the interior. What comes out of a community, planned or unplanned, is really contingent upon the intention and people within it.

So, if you’re going to take the time to establish and implement a standards framework, it had better be around the right intention. And that intention is expressed through your digital strategy. Your standards are the tactical manifestation of your strategy that will bring into existence the intent of your digital strategy. That’s why organizations that have no real digital strategy struggle so much with coming up with a quality online presence and why their digital team spends so much time arguing and debating about standards. In the absence of clear business intent, standards can be left up to a matter of taste and debate. So, if you are undertaking to develop standards without first having defined a digital strategy, you may develop a standards compliant website and have consistently moderated social channels. But your digital target will likely not resonate as well as it could with your customers. Only standards derived from clear vision have the capacity to create a high user experience and deliver on the mission of your organization.

I was lucky. I learned early that standards could enable rapid growth and provide a framework for coherent development, all the while creating a space for real creativity. Standardization can be, and often has been, the platform for creative and important work. But I’ll go further. Standards, in fact, might be an essential ingredient.

Standards frame and limit what you can do so that you can get across a certain message or get a particular piece of work done. And that’s the message you should carry to digital teams who are reluctant to adopt a standards-based framework. Likewise, you can have a World Wide Web operating within the open standards of the W3C with the whole of humanity trying to express itself freely and creatively, or you could have something else, like an Internet and Web controlled by a few businesses and political interests. It’s about clarity of intention and the quality and sustaining quality of your implementation. It’s about having a vision and figuring out how to make it happen and holding true to your aims and your standards.

Why Digital Standards Are Important

Practically speaking, having digital standards enables an organization to put into place details for execution so that digital work can be performed consistently and effectively. From a governance perspective, knowing who has the authority to define standards saves time by minimizing the time that resources spend making decisions about the same factors, over and over again. For instance, it’s good to know which Web browsers your organization’s digital presence supports, what fonts you use for mobile applications, and when and where it’s acceptable to use your organization’s mark. It might also be good to know that your organization operates on a .NET platform, or that when you refer to staff on a public website it’s always “Ms. Welchman” and not “Lisa.”

In an ecommerce environment, standards make sure that the right content gets to the right customer at the right point in the sales cycle. For example, it’s good for customers to know that whatever they are buying on a site, the sales checkout process will be the same. And it makes customers more comfortable knowing that whether they are purchasing a pair of trousers or a jacket, they will still have the same interface for toggling between garment color choices. In addition, it doesn’t just make the user’s task easier to accomplish, it also takes stress off internal digital workers.

Adopting a standards-based framework takes the stress out of development. When you have standards in place, more time can be spent having conversations about the substance and purpose of the work that is to be done instead of arguing about the details of execution or who has the authority to make decisions about application coding standards or a graphical user interface.

An organization’s digital standards steward’s job is to establish and maintain a standards-compliant environment within the organization (see Figure 5.5). Standards compliance exists in an environment where certain activities have occurred:

  • Standards have been defined and documented.
  • Standards have been effectively disseminated to all digital stakeholders.
  • Standards have been implemented.
  • Standards compliance is measured and managed.
Figure 5.5: Creating a standards-compliant environment.

The reason why most organizations have trouble with standards compliance is because they miss or incorrectly address these activities and then are only left with one alternative—to enforce (usually undocumented) standards after the non-compliant content and applications are already posted (or nearly posted) online. This reactive dynamic can lead to a stressful dynamic for digital teams. Too often, the core digital team is perceived as the last-minute bad guy, telling teams that the look and feel isn’t right or that the flow of the application screens is unusable.

The core digital team shouldn’t be in the position of having to ask their colleagues to remove content and applications that might represent weeks or months of effort. In the best of cases, the organizational standards steward is not an enforcer, but someone who is able to create an environment where bad things don’t get online in the first place. Let’s take a look at what the standards steward does to make that happen (see Table 5.1).

Standards Definition and Documentation

If you want your extended digital team to follow your standards, it’s important to write them down. This might seem self-evident, but many organizations, when asked, are unable to produce documentation of the standards that they claim their stakeholders will not comply with. This “I’m an expert, so do what I say” dynamic is hardly fair to digital stakeholders because these stakeholders often have some digital domain expertise and are heavily impacted by the business outcomes of their online efforts (so they are informed and they have a vested interest). Here are a few things to keep in mind when documenting standards.

  • Develop a standard for documenting standards. The first standard you should define is the structure you will use to document your standards. Having a consistent format for standards will allow your digital team to be able to access the information more efficiently and will enable you to consistently cross-reference standards. You also want to consider the platform you will use. A wiki can be a good platform for documentation. It allows for revision and version control and can be accessed by multiple standards authors. Some standards can also be integrated with various digital production systems [like a Web content management system (CMS)] so that the standards appear in the context of a workflow. For instance, there might be ready access to editorial and design standards within the context of a text editor in a CMS.
  • Determine what should be a standard. There is almost an endless list of standards that can be defined. It’s important to figure out which ones are most relevant to your organization. For instance, if your organization is getting ready to ramp up on mobile, standards related to responsive design might be important. Or, if your organization’s aim is multichannel content delivery, component content authoring standards might be a priority. Sometimes organizations will place high priority on documenting standards that have caused a lot of debate, such as graphical user interface or information architecture. Let your own organizational dynamics drive the standards prioritization process.
  • Leverage what you already have. The standards steward will also need to understand what standards your organization has already documented or where a digital standard can be largely informed by an already existing standard. Brand guidelines, style guidelines, applications development protocols, compliance mandates, and records management schedules are examples of information that might help inform or greatly impact the substance of your standards. It’s important to perform an audit and detail what information exists and where it is. That way, when standards authors sit down to write standards, you’ll be able to reference relevant standards easily and consistently.
Standards Dissemination

A common problem in digital teams is that they’ve often forgotten that their internal digital stakeholders are users as well. Typically, the experience of accessing and understanding digital standards for internal users in organizations is very low. For example, if you are a digital stakeholder trying to understand the rules of development for your organization, you are probably not interested in browsing through a beautifully designed PDF of a style guide. You just want to find the information quickly so you know, say, what font color to use for a visited link reference. The digital standards steward can help facilitate that information by being more strategic about standards dissemination.

  • Tell people about the information. If you have established a digital community of practice (CoP) inside your organization, be sure to discuss new standards and standards revisions as they arise. Frequently, resources aren’t told that a standard has changed until the standard is violated. Digital CoPs are effective because they bring together all the people in your organization who work with your digital channels. As you’ll see in Chapter 8, “The Decision To Govern Well,” these communities are ideal for sharing information and for training.
  • Web- or Intranet-enable your standards repository. It is essential to produce standards in Web-ready format. Often, digital standards are authored in word processing applications or published as large PDF files. Instead, organizations should make an effort to leverage the power of the hyperlink, making it easy for stakeholders and developers to click through to corresponding and related digital standards (and policy) to get the whole picture. Sometimes, there may be standards that individuals would not typically seek on their own, but might be relevant to their work at hand.
Standards Implementation

Digital standards stewards usually feel that their job is complete when they have documented the standards and placed them online. In reality, their job has just begun. The real work lies in ensuring that the standards are implemented.

  • Use tools. When possible, an organization should use tools to implement and ensure compliance with digital standards. If content contributors and developers must build through a narrow standards-based gate in order to get their content on the server, it’s less likely that you will end up with “rogue” or non-compliant content and Web pages. You can help support the implementation of standards for visual design page structure by establishing templates in a Web content management system. For example, you can raise the quality of writing by implementing an editorial review process and workflow. If you have certain metadata tagging requirements for an online catalogue, you might implement a sophisticated auto tagging system. This is a straight gate and narrow way, however, and not all outcomes can be achieved via tight constraints. Certain standards, particularly some editorial and design standards, need to be implemented via other means, such as employee training and education.
  • Training and education. Not everything that is a standard can be implemented with a tool. Certain editorial concerns, for instance, might require training from internal or external experts. Many teams have found value in providing education for areas like writing for the Web or graphic design for the Web. You often won’t get 100% standards compliance with training and education. People are unique, and they will interpret standards in different ways. At the end of the day, this means that you need to staff your digital team with the right people and trust them to do their job correctly.
Standards Compliance Measurement

Hopefully, if you have defined, disseminated, and implemented your standards well, compliance will be high. Still, websites and intranets are large, complex environments. Even in the best of circumstances, standards will be misunderstood or ignored in haste. That is why it is import to measure standard compliance in a consistent and automated way. You can monitor standards through spot checks and prepublication reviews, but in a large production environment, this is often a daunting task. Implementing a website auditing tool is often helpful because it allows the core digital team to provide quantified reports on things such as broken links, terminology language use, usability, compliance, and SEO. Reporting back to stakeholders about which standards they are upholding and which they are not, and creating a plan to lead the team to higher rates of compliance, is a more positive method of standards enforcement than threats that content or applications will be removed from the server.

Even after you’ve implemented your standards lifecycle, there will still be exceptions to the rule. There will be times when digital workers will want to break with the standards. And then each organization will have to determine when it’s okay to break the rules and when it’s not. These types of situation can be touchy, particularly if the resources involved in the standards breach are fairly senior in the organization (like a CEO who insists on having the picture on a homepage or wants to write lengthy, dense blog posts). In the end, these types of situations will have to be negotiated by the standards steward, authors, and the “standards breaker.” During the discussion and negotiation, it is important to emphasize how the business is being put at risk due to a standards breach and how the business could benefit if the standards were complied with. At the end of the day, you’ll never have 100% compliance, but hopefully the vast majority of your digital presence will follow the rules as defined by digital standards authors.

Kategorien: Webdesign

Lowepro launches Echelon luxury bag line

Digital Photography Review - Mo, 02/03/2015 - 19:09

Lowepro has announced a line of new photography bags with a high-end design. The Echelon series includes a roller, laptop brief and attache with premium touches like leather handles and each piece includes a removable All Weather cover. We took the attache model for a spin - find out our first impressions of it. Read more

Kategorien: Fotografie

Camera Deals of the Day: $200 off new Nikon D7200, Price Drops on Canon 5D3 ($2499), 6D ($1399), 7D ($849) and more!

Imaging Resource - Mo, 02/03/2015 - 18:25
    If you've been waiting to jump on the Canon train or to upgrade your current Canon DSLR, now's the time, as they have just announced big price drops on some of their most popular DSLRs. Both the Canon 5D Mark III and 6D bodies and kits have dropped in price, as has the older, yet powerful Canon 7D. Retailers are also adding extra discounts to make the deals even sweeter. Also, this just in: While the Nikon D7200 was just announced last night, there is already a $200 instant rebate on pre-orders over at Adorama! Plus a bunch more...
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Kategorien: Fotografie

What is Bounce Flash?

Imaging Resource - Mo, 02/03/2015 - 18:15
  This is a big-time professional studio look and it was done with one little flash pointed at a wall to right. The entire wall becomes a large light source and produces a soft, flattering effect. There are big light sources and there are small light sources. I’m not talking about bright and dim here. I’m talking about size relative to the subject. A cloudy sky is really one big large white light. By comparison, the sun is a small light—it’s a point light source. The cloudy sky makes soft shadows—if any at all. The sun makes...
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Kategorien: Fotografie