Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design Published in: CSS, Layout, User Interface Design, Mobile, Mobile Design, Mobile Development Discuss this article » | Share this article » The control which designers know in the print medium, and often desire in the web medium, is simply a function of the limitation of the printed page. We should embrace the fact that the web doesn’t have the same constraints, and design for this flexibility. But first, we must “accept the ebb and flow of things.” John Allsopp, “A Dao of Web Design” The English architect Christopher Wren once quipped that his chosen field “aims for Eternity,” and there’s something appealing about that formula: Unlike the web, which often feels like aiming for next week, architecture is a discipline very much defined by its permanence. A building’s foundation defines its footprint, which defines its frame, which shapes the facade. Each phase of the architectural process is more immutable, more unchanging than the last. Creative decisions quite literally shape a physical space, defining the way in which people move through its confines for decades or even centuries. Working on the web, however, is a wholly different matter. Our work is defined by its transience, often refined or replaced within a year or two. Inconsistent window widths, screen resolutions, user preferences, and our users’ installed fonts are but a few of the intangibles we negotiate when we publish our work, and over the years, we’ve become incredibly adept at doing so. But the landscape is shifting, perhaps more quickly than we might like. Mobile browsing is expected to outpace desktop-based access within three to five years. Two of the three dominant video game consoles have web browsers (and one of them is quite excellent). We’re designing for mice and keyboards, for T9 keypads, for handheld game controllers, for touch interfaces. In short, we’re faced with a greater number of devices, input modes, and browsers than ever before. In recent years, I’ve been meeting with more companies that request “an iPhone website” as part of their project. It’s an interesting phrase: At face value, of course, it speaks to mobile WebKit’s quality as a browser, as well as a powerful business case for thinking beyond the desktop. But as designers, I think we often take comfort in such explicit requirements, as they allow us to compartmentalize the problems before us. We can quarantine the mobile experience on separate subdomains, spaces distinct and separate from “the non-iPhone website.” But what’s next? An iPad website? An N90 website? Can we really continue to commit to supporting each new user agent with its own bespoke experience? At some point, this starts to feel like a zero sum game. But how can we—and our designs—adapt? A flexible foundation Let’s consider an example design. I’ve built a simple page for a hypothetical magazine; it’s a straightforward two-column layout built on a fluid grid, with not a few flexible images peppered throughout. As a long-time proponent of non-fixed layouts, I’ve long felt they were more “future proof” simply because they were layout agnostic. And to a certain extent, that’s true: flexible designs make no assumptions about a browser window’s width, and adapt beautifully to devices that have portrait and landscape modes. Huge images are huge. Our layout, flexible though it is, doesn’t respond well to changes in resolution or viewport size. But no design, fixed or fluid, scales seamlessly beyond the context for which it was originally intended. The example design scales perfectly well as the browser window resizes, but stress points quickly appear at lower resolutions. When viewed at viewport smaller than 800×600, the illustration behind the logo quickly becomes cropped, navigation text can wrap in an unseemly manner, and the images along the bottom become too compact to appear legible. And it’s not just the lower end of the resolution spectrum that’s affected: when viewing the design on a widescreen display, the images quickly grow to unwieldy sizes, crowding out the surrounding context. In short, our flexible design works well enough in the desktop-centric context for which it was designed, but isn’t optimized to extend far beyond that. Becoming responsive Recently, an emergent discipline called “responsive architecture” has begun asking how physical spaces can respond to the presence of people passing through them. Through a combination of embedded robotics and tensile materials, architects are experimenting with art installations and wall structures that bend, flex, and expand as crowds approach them. Motion sensors can be paired with climate control systems to adjust a room’s temperature and ambient lighting as it fills with people. Companies have already produced “smart glass technology” that can automatically become opaque when a room’s occupants reach a certain density threshold, giving them an additional layer of privacy. In their book Interactive Architecture, Michael Fox and Miles Kemp described this more adaptive approach as “a multiple-loop system in which one enters into a conversation; a continual and constructive information exchange.” Emphasis mine, as I think that’s a subtle yet powerful distinction: rather than creating immutable, unchanging spaces that define a particular experience, they suggest inhabitant and structure can—and should—mutually influence each other. This is our way forward. Rather than tailoring disconnected designs to each of an ever-increasing number of web devices, we can treat them as facets of the same experience. We can design for an optimal viewing experience, but embed standards-based technologies into our designs to make them not only more flexible, but more adaptive to the media that renders them. In short, we need to practice responsive web design. But how? Meet the media query Since the days of CSS 2.1, our style sheets have enjoyed some measure of device awareness through media types. If you’ve ever written a print style sheet, you’re already familiar with the concept: In the hopes that we’d be designing more than neatly formatted page printouts, the CSS specification supplied us with a bevy of acceptable media types, each designed to target a specific class of web-ready device. But most browsers and devices never really embraced the spirit of the specification, leaving many media types implemented imperfectly, or altogether ignored. Thankfully, the W3C created media queries as part of the CSS3 specification, improving upon the promise of media types. A media query allows us to target not only certain device classes, but to actually inspect the physical characteristics of the device rendering our work. For example, following the recent rise of mobile WebKit, media queries became a popular client-side technique for delivering a tailored style sheet to the iPhone, Android phones, and their ilk. To do so, we could incorporate a query into a linked style sheet’s media attribute: The query contains two components: a media type (screen), and the actual query enclosed within parentheses, containing a particular media feature (max-device-width) to inspect, followed by the target value (480px). In plain English, we’re asking the device if its horizontal resolution (max-device-width) is equal to or less than 480px. If the test passes—in other words, if we’re viewing our work on a small-screen device like the iPhone—then the device will load shetland.css. Otherwise, the link is ignored altogether. Designers have experimented with resolution-aware layouts in the past, mostly relying on JS-driven solutions like Cameron Adams’ excellent script. But the media query specification provides a host of media features that extends far beyond screen resolution, vastly widening the scope of what we can test for with our queries. What’s more, you can test multiple property values in a single query by chaining them together with the and keyword: Furthermore, we’re not limited to incorporating media queries in our links. We can include them in our CSS either as part of a @media rule: @media screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .column { float: none; } } Or as part of an @import directive: @import url("shetland.css") screen and (max-device-width: 480px); But in each case, the effect is the same: If the device passes the test put forth by our media query, the relevant CSS is applied to our markup. Media queries are, in short, conditional comments for the rest of us. Rather than targeting a specific version of a specific browser, we can surgically correct issues in our layout as it scales beyond its initial, ideal resolution. Adapt, respond, and overcome Let’s turn our attention to the images at the base of our page. In their default layout, the relevant CSS currently looks like this: .figure { float: left; margin: 0 3.317535545023696682% 1.5em 0; /* 21px / 633px */ width: 31.121642969984202211%; /* 197px / 633px */ } li#f-mycroft, li#f-winter { margin-right: 0; } I’ve omitted a number of typographic properties to focus on the layout: Each .figure element is sized at roughly one third of the containing column, with the right-hand margin zeroed out for the two pictures at the end of each row (li#f-mycroft, li#f-winter). And this works fairly well, until the viewport is either noticeably smaller or wider than our original design. With media queries, we can apply resolution-specific spotfixes, adapting our design to better respond to changes in the display. First of all, let’s linearize our page once the viewport falls below a certain resolution threshold—say, 600px. So at the bottom of our style sheet, let’s create a new @media block, like so: @media screen and (max-width: 600px) { .mast, .intro, .main, .footer { float: none; width: auto; } } If you view our updated page in a modern desktop browser and reduce the size of your window below 600px, the media query will disable the floats on the design’s major elements, stacking each block atop each other in the document flow. So our miniaturized design is shaping up nicely, but the images still don’t scale down that intelligently. If we introduce another media query, we can alter their layout accordingly: @media screen and (max-width: 400px) { .figure, li#f-mycroft { margin-right: 3.317535545023696682%; /* 21px / 633px */ width: 48.341232227488151658%; /* 306px / 633px */ } li#f-watson, li#f-moriarty { margin-right: 0; } } Our figures can responsively change their layout to better suit smaller displays. Don’t mind the unsightly percentages; we’re simply recalculating the widths of the fluid grid to account for the newly linearized layout. In short, we’re moving from a three-column layout to a two-column layout when the viewport’s width falls below 400px, making the images more prominent. We can actually take the same approach for widescreen displays, too. For larger resolutions, we could adopt a six-across treatment for our images, placing them all in the same row: @media screen and (min-width: 1300px) { .figure, li#f-mycroft { margin-right: 3.317535545023696682%; /* 21px / 633px */ width: 13.902053712480252764%; /* 88px / 633px */ } } Now our images are working beautifully at both ends of the resolution spectrum, optimizing their layout to changes in window widths and device resolution alike. By specifying a wider min-width in a new media query, we can shift our images into a single row layout. But this is only the beginning. Working from the media queries we’ve embedded in our CSS, we can alter much more than the placement of a few images: we can introduce new, alternate layouts tuned to each resolution range, perhaps making the navigation more prominent in a widescreen view, or repositioning it above the logo on smaller displays. By designing responsively, we can not only linearize our content on smaller devices, but also optimize its presentation across a range of displays. But a responsive design isn’t limited to layout changes. Media queries allow us to practice some incredibly precise fine-tuning as our pages reshape themselves: we can increase the target area on links for smaller screens, better complying with Fitts’ Law on touch devices; selectively show or hide elements that might enhance a page’s navigation; we can even practice responsive typesetting to gradually alter the size and leading of our text, optimizing the reading experience for the display providing it. A FEW TECHNICAL NOTES It should be noted that media queries enjoy incredibly robust support among modern browsers. Desktop browsers such as Safari 3+, Chrome, Firefox 3.5+, and Opera 7+ all natively parse media queries, as do more recent mobile browsers such as Opera Mobile and mobile WebKit. Of course, older versions of those desktop browsers don’t support media queries. And while Microsoft has committed to media query support in IE9, Internet Explorer currently doesn’t offer a native implementation. However, if you’re interested in implementing legacy browser support for media queries, there’s a JavaScript-tinted silver lining: A jQuery plugin from 2007 offers somewhat limited media query support, implementing only the min-width and max-width media properties when attached to separate link elements. More recently, css3-mediaqueries.js was released, a library that promises “to make IE 5+, Firefox 1+ and Safari 2 transparently parse, test, and apply CSS3 Media Queries” when included via @media blocks. While very much a 1.0 release, I’ve personally found it to be quite robust, and I plan to watch its development. But if using JavaScript doesn’t appeal, that’s perfectly understandable. However, that strengthens the case for building your layout atop a flexible grid, ensuring your design enjoys some measure of flexibility in media query-blind browsers and devices. The way forward Fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries are the three technical ingredients for responsive web design, but it also requires a different way of thinking. Rather than quarantining our content into disparate, device-specific experiences, we can use media queries to progressively enhance our work within different viewing contexts. That’s not to say there isn’t a business case for separate sites geared toward specific devices; for example, if the user goals for your mobile site are more limited in scope than its desktop equivalent, then serving different content to each might be the best approach. But that kind of design thinking doesn’t need to be our default. Now more than ever, we’re designing work meant to be viewed along a gradient of different experiences. Responsive web design offers us a way forward, finally allowing us to “design for the ebb and flow of things.”

Why I Have Been Made to Feel Ashamed of Liking Asian Men

Why I Have Been Made to Feel Ashamed of Liking Asian Men My name is Hadassa Noble and I work as a wing girl for Kezia Noble, the world’s leading female pick-up coach, here in the United Kingdom. In my line of work, I often have to ask my students what their type of woman is (in order to point out possible girls for them to approach). Everybody has ‘their type’ by which I mean, the features and traits they admire in the opposite sex. Some may look for blondes, others brunettes, some like tanned skin, others like pale skin. Many guys I teach and speak to broadly claim that they are attracted to Scandinavians – “tall blondes from Sweden!” Similarly, many women I speak to go ga-ga over Latino men – “their accents and dark features are so sexy!” This is nothing strange, in fact it is very ordinary, nobody complains and everyone either agrees or disagrees politely. However, when I am asked my type, I get a very different reaction. “I like Asian guys,” I say. The most common reaction I see are: People gasp. People take a double take. People laugh. Even many of the Asians I tell react this way! Just as some men like tall Swedish blondes, I like Asian men – I have a preference for the facial features, less body hair, slighter build etc. However, I am not rewarded for this like of Asian men, if anything I am scorned for it by both Asians and other races. Of course the initial reaction from Asian guys, when not shock, is “Awesome! High Five!” or “Wow great! A white girl who likes Asian guys! This makes me so happy!” which is a rather sad reaction as it indicates a lack of self-esteem in many successful, good looking Asian men, who believe they are less appealing due to their race. However, when looking in further into the opinions of Asian men on women of other races favouring them I have found a less than appreciative reaction and in some circumstances I feel I have been personally attacked and accused of ethnic stereotyping and only liking Asian men because they fulfil a part of my so-called obsessions and lifestyle. Let me first elaborate on my situation. As well as working as a wing girl I am a full time university student, who is devoting three years of her life (and £16,000 GBP approx. ) on a Japanese Language degree at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) a leading British University specialising in Asian and African studies. I have, therefore, a great interest in Japanese culture, as well as a whole interest in the East Asian region. I always explain to people that I fell in love with the East when I read a book about China at eight years old. I enjoy Asian cooking, Chinese movies, Japanese dramas, K-POP and J-POP, J-Rock, a select few anime, Japanese literature and language. Yes, there is no denying it, I have a wide and very strong interest in Asian culture, I make no attempts to deny this fact. However, because I like Asian men, myself (and other girls like me) have been generally accused of only liking Asian men as part of our obsession and are more attracted to a racial stereotype than to real Asian men. Strangely enough, people who know me will also know that I am obsessed with Vintage Hollywood (Golden Era circ. 1920-50s) does that mean every American guy I might be attracted to fits into that obsession? I find it funny that no one has ever accused me of that. If I become detailed about what Asian guys I like I dig myself an even deeper grave. “Which famous Asian guys do you like?” someone asks. I reply “Oh my favourite is Arashi’s Matsumoto Jun, X Japan’s YOSHIKI and I also love JYJ’s Kim ‘Hero’ Jaejoong too.” “So only East Asian? Only Korean and Japanese?” they continue. “No….I only really follow Korean and Japanese celebrities, that’s why I picked those three.” “Most Asian guys don’t look like those pretty boys, they don’t represent Asian guys!” comes the mocking retort. “No I know….my ex-boyfriend was Chinese and he never looked like that. And my first (and longest) crush is David Bowie in ‘Labyrinth’, he was very pretty but I don’t think he represents Caucasian men either. I think I just like pretty and very effeminate looking men. Some happen to be Asian too.” But the accusatory tone is there, and I immediately have to defend myself. If a guy said he liked tall blonde Swedes I wouldn’t immediately ask why Swedes and not Norwegians or Danes. Nor would I accuse any female celebrities of those countries of not being a fair representation of the race. Celebrity crushes, have always been, the ultimate, the number 10 of ideal looks in the opposite sex – one who dwells on these celebrities live in a dream-like haze of prolonged adolescence. Perhaps I do like Asian guys who dress a certain way, I like crazy dyed hair and flash clothes, and guys who wear make-up too (I like that on white men too, surprise surprise). I also like men who wear vintage 1930s/40s style clothes, but as that doesn’t fit into my so called stereotype of an Asian male it is ALWAYS ignored. Women who like Asian men are also accused of racial stereotyping personalities. The most common being; Asians are hardworking. My ex-boyfriend used to mention this one a lot. “Asians are hard-working? All except me, I’m lazy.” He’d laugh and we both agreed it wasn’t the worst prejudice to have. It is no worse than meeting any guy and saying “he looks like a nice guy, he dresses well and always says hello to everyone.” But after a few dates turns out to be a bully and a cheat. Positive discrimination will always be altered on getting to know someone, and unlike with negative discrimination you are more likely to take the opportunity to get to know that person. As a Jewish girl I’m always told that Jews are hardworking and good with money, rather than being offended by it, I laugh and wish it were true for me. It is even worse for men. White men I know who proclaim to like Asian girls admit this with a lot of wariness, they are often accused of liking so-called subservient, “geisha-girl”, china-doll like girls, and are recommended to get a mail-order Thai bride. Who is the one doing the racial stereotyping here, I’d like to know. So although, Asian men often praise me and smile when I proclaim to be attracted to them I have come to find that there are underlying accusation and a fear of me simply because I am very interested in Asia, and my celebrity crushes are of representations a certain (perhaps disliked) Asian minority. Because of this, I have now become less vocal about my affection for Asian men, and I’m sad that I am accused of racial stereotyping of a region I have taken the effort to study and learn about in detail at university. I am sure some of these accusations are real for certain women and one should be justly wary of anyone who seems a little too keen but please do not direct at every woman who suffers from a strong case of “Yellow Fever” – surely this is just another stereotype too?

Facebook’s 2012: IPO, a billion users and a shift to mobile

Facebook’s 2012: IPO, a billion users and a shift to mobile By Hayley Tsukayama, Published: December 24 Facebook had what may be the most eventful year in its history in 2012. After months of preparation, the company went public in May -- with some unexpected results. As the site hit a billion users, it also struggled with the pressure to make money without hurting the experience on the site. Finally, the company made several moves to address its self-admitted largest weakness -- the shift to mobile devices. Here are some highlights (and lowlights) of Facebook’s year. Going public: Eight years after it was founded, Facebook hit the public market with a highly anticipated initial public offering. The company originally priced shares at $38 and saw a initial spike to the $40s. But technical glitches and hype brought the company’s shares down -- fast. The stock closed at its opening price after the first day of trading and has never fully recovered. Last week, Morgan Stanley, , the lead underwriter for the IPO, agreed to pay a $5 million fine to Massachusetts’ securities regulators for selectively disclosing revenue figures to certain analysts and not the general public. Facebook shares, meanwhile, are mounting a slow climb to $30 per share. A billion users: The company hit a new milestone this year as growth continued to skyrocket. In October, Facebook announced that it officially recorded its billionth user. The company is seeing its greatest growth in regions such as Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. In its last earnings report, Facebook said its number of daily active users had grown 28 percent from the same period last year. It is a sign of strong growth for the company, which moved to a larger campus in Menlo Park, Calif., last year. Privacy flaps: Facebook has always had a difficult relationship with privacy, having to walk a fine line between pleasing users and pleasing advertisers. Though the company states in its policies that it does not sell personal information to advertisers, many users remain wary of the company’s data collection and use practices. For example, when Facebook announced planned changes to its policies, more than half a million of the site’s users voted against the changes -- which included removing the option to vote on policies. However, Facebook required 30 percent of its users, or 300 million people, to vote to overturn a change, so the company moved forward with its new policies. The company continues to make changes to its policies and has rolled out several initiatives to explain how privacy works on the site -- including redesigning the controls in December. Instagram: In part of an aggressive growth strategy, Facebook moved to acquire several companies in 2012. The most notable was the April acquisition of Instagram, the photo-sharing social network founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Facebook bought the company for $1 billion in cash and stock, though the deal depreciated slightly with Facebook shares. When the deal was announced, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the two companies would maintain a measure of separation. Since the acquisition closed earlier this year, the two companies have faced some growing pains. Instagram announced last week that it intended to change its terms of service. Some of those changes, particularly regarding the language around licensing photos on the site, were not well-received by users and Instagram was forced to revert to the original language. Shift to mobile: Facebook users began visiting the site more through mobile devices than on their computers. In its last earning report, Facebook said it had seen mobile users increase 68 percent over the same period last year. Mobile use gives Facebook the option to reach more aspects of users’ lives more immediately, and the social network has introduced several initiatives to make the most of the fast-growing platform. In the past year, Facebook has remade its main apps and also revamped Facebook Messenger and introduced two new apps -- Facebook Camera and Poke. The company still has work to do in figuring out how to better display advertisements on the smaller, mobile screens and has recently said it will concentrate on making effective ads appear in users’ news feeds. Facebook Gifts, Promoted Posts: Facebook has also been trying to find ways to generate revenue directly from its users. The company has introduced a couple of ways to do that. One is through a gift-buying platform built on top of its network that will remind people of friends’ birthdays and offer the option to send a gift from within Facebook. Users can also increase the visibility of their personal posts by paying a small fee to promote updates within their network of friends.

Why startups shouldn't be afraid of Facebook cloning them

Why startups shouldn't be afraid of Facebook cloning them It takes a lot more than a clone to take out a scrappy startup with dedication to its vision. by Ben Parr December 24, 2012 10:03 AM PST It'll take more than a Poke to knock out Snapchat. (Credit: Screenshot by Ben Parr/CNET) How long does it take a multibillion-dollar technology juggernaut to clone a popular social networking app? The answer: less than two weeks. I am, of course, talking about Poke, Facebook's clone of Snapchat, the app whose messages self-destruct after 1 to 10 seconds. As many people like to point out, it's perfect for sexting, but there are a lot of other fun and innovative uses for this clever type of messaging. For all intents and purposes, Poke is almost identical to Snapchat. Snapchat is focused on photos and videos, while Poke adds self-destructing messages and the classic Facebook poke feature to its arsenal. Poke relies entirely on your Facebook friend network, while Snapchat can dig into your contacts and let you share (sexy) photos with strangers. One key difference: Snapchat already has a loyal user base that sends more than 50 million photos across its network every day, with many of its users teenagers. But Poke is quickly catching up. Within a day of its release, the app rocketed up the iOS charts to become the No. 1 free app in the App Store (it's now at No. 3). Snapchat currently occupies the No. 7 spot. It's an impressive feat to hit No. 1 in the App Store, even for the world's largest social network. Facebook, unlike other giants, has the ability to quickly approve, build, and release products. The fact that it took just 12 days for this app to become a reality is simply mind-boggling. Big players entering your market doesn't equal Armageddon Should entrepreneurs just give up on their app ideas, simply because Facebook could eventually clone them and crush them with a billion users? Of course not, and anybody who thinks that Facebook (or any other big company) cloning a startup's product spells Armageddon for that startup doesn't know what they're talking about. Remember when Facebook tried to make a Foursquare competitor? How about the time it tried to make a Groupon competitor, and it went nowhere? The same is true of its Quora competitor (Facebook Questions) and even its Craigslist competitor (Facebook Marketplace). I could go on and on, but the point is clear: a big company launching a clone can be scary, but it doesn't mean Armageddon. There are two other factors to consider: defensibility and vision. Remember Facebook Questions? It sure didn't stop Quora. (Credit: Facebook) Defensibility As I have previously explained in depth, a product's defensibility comes from either its technology or its traction. Technology startups' products aren't easy to clone because they have proprietary technology that even the big companies don't have. Just imagine AltaVista trying to clone Google -- it wouldn't have succeeded. The other type of startup is the traction startup, whose product is defensible because it has a growing network of engaged users. Why use a new social network or app, even one from a large company, if your friends aren't using it? Instagram is a prime example. There were dozens of photo-sharing apps, but only one with large-scale traction. Facebook knew that Instagram's was so strong that it posed a threat to Facebook itself, so it did the only sensible thing it could: it bought the company. Snapchat's current users aren't going to immediately abandon the app for Facebook's Poke. They've built up friends, messages, and a history on Snapchat, and they will continue to invite their friends to join. Poke's launch could affect user growth as potential users may choose it over Snapchat, but Poke also brings a lot more attention to the market and may end up boosting Snapchat's growth. How both apps perform in the App Store over the next few weeks will give us a better idea of Facebook's impact on Snapchat. Defensibility matters, though it's always better if you have proprietary technology that even Facebook can't clone. Vision The other thing that people seem to be forgetting in the Poke vs. Snapchat debate is the long-term vision and commitment each team has to its respective products. Snapchat's founders have been at this since May 2011. They've had time to think about the road map for their product, and they don't have dozens of other products and projects to distract them. Snapchat's founders reportedly turned down an acquisition offer from Facebook. They wouldn't do that if they didn't have a long-term plan they were confident in. Poke, on the other hand, is essentially a two-week hackathon project led by Zuckerberg and product guru Blake Ross. I doubt they've had time to develop a long-term road map for the product. It's not even clear whether they're going to keep working on the app or simply let it languish in the App Store. Will Zuckerberg divert engineers and resources to developing Poke for the long haul? I doubt he's even thought about it. I don't know what Snapchat's long-term vision is, but I bet it involves more than photo messages that disappear after 5 seconds. You can bet Snapchat will come fighting back with new features soon, though. Will Facebook care enough to respond? Perhaps. Will Facebook continue development on Poke for the next two or three years in order to keep up with Snapchat? I personally doubt it. Final thoughts My point is this: it takes a lot more than a clone to take out a scrappy startup. It also takes a long-term commitment by a juggernaut. For Facebook to take out Snapchat, it will have to constantly add features to Poke and find ways to either contain Snapchat's growth or chip away at its core user base. This is easier said than done, even for a company like Facebook. Don't be afraid of the juggernaut entering your market, entrepreneurs. If you have a long-term vision, focus on defensibility and build faster than the competition, you'll eventually become the juggernaut.

Is Paying to Message Strangers a New Texting Business?

Cellphone carriers are making less money from text messages thanks to free messaging services offered by Facebook, Apple and other tech companies. But now Facebook is running a test to see if it can make some money by charging people to send messages to strangers. Facebook said it started the experiment with a small percentage of users last week. For $1, a message sent to a stranger will show up in the recipient's in-box. Typically, when you send a message to people who aren't connected to you on Facebook, it shows up in a box labeled "Other," which is often ignored. LinkedIn, the social networking service for professionals, offers a similar paid service. When people sign up for premium accounts, they can send a limited number of messages to people they aren't connected with each month. For instance, you can pay $20 a month for a premium account that allows you to send three messages to strangers each month. Who would want to pay to send a message to strangers? Perhaps a job seeker could ask an employer about getting some work. Journalists could benefit from having another alternative to phone calls and e-mails. Facebook says research has shown charging for messaging is the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and get people messages that are more relevant. Now that the cellphone text message is quickly becoming old-fashioned, is this the new premium text message? Sure looks that way.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Google Patents Real-World Image Recognition Algorithm For Video, Photography S

http://hothardware.com/News/Google-Patents-RealWorld-Image-Recognition-Algorithm-For-Video-Photography/ Google Patents Real-World Image Recognition Algorithm For Video, Photography Saturday, September 01, 2012 - by Joel Hruska Google has been granted a patent on a system for real-world object identification scanning that will allow the company to survey and tag images and videos. The abstract for patent 8,254,699 (hereafter referred to as the '699 patent) covers An object recognition system performs a number of rounds of dimensionality reduction and consistency learning on visual content items such as videos and still images, resulting in a set of feature vectors that accurately predict the presence of a visual object represented by a given object name within an visual content item. The feature vectors are stored in association with the object name which they represent and with an indication of the number of rounds of dimensionality reduction and consistency learning that produced them. The feature vectors and the indication can be used for various purposes, such as quickly determining a visual content item containing a visual representation of a given object name. Translation: Famous objects, landmarks, and commonly photographed views all have common characteristics that can be recognized by automatic programs rather than needing puny humans to perform the same task. Or, as Google notes: Currently, automated recognition within a digital video of images of real-world objects of interest to a user, such as people, animals, automobiles, consumer products, buildings, and the like, is a difficult problem. Conventional systems, to the extent that they allow for such recognition at all, typically use supervised learning which requires training sets of images that have been manually labeled as representing particular objects... However, such human input is expensive, time-consuming, and cannot scale up to handle very large data sets comprising hundreds of thousands of objects and millions of images. This is particularly a problem in the context of video hosting systems, such as Google Video or YouTube, in which users submit millions of videos, each containing numerous distinct visual objects over the length of the video. The use of unsupervised learning techniques, in which the explicit input of human operators is not required to learn to recognize objects, has not yet been achieved for large-scale image recognition systems." The privacy implications of such an automated system or enormous. Facebook's own automatic facial recognition software was highly controversial when it debuted, and what Google has now patented puts Facebook to shame. The larger question, unaddressed in this patent, is whether we want our individual personal data to be tagged, filed, and logged without permission or choice. To a potential advertiser, this sort of information is gold. The implications reach far beyond what Google states here. This type of data could be used for logo identification (for better advertising) and as a form of citizen tracking. If that last seems like a reach, remember that Google's own vision for the future of computing is a Chromebook/Chromebox that's completely dependent on their own services for everything. Content is tied to Google servers at every step, which would give them an extremely convenient way to gain access to such details. Users have the right to decide whether or not they want to use cloud services or turn data over to Google, but we're deeply uneasy about the idea of data mining user videos for this sort of content. It could be an important step forward towards the creation of semantic search databases -- but questions of user privacy and data ownership must be answered first.

It's Becoming Clear That No One Actually Read Facebook's IPO Prospectus Or Mark Zuckerberg's Letter To Shareholders

It's Becoming Clear That No One Actually Read Facebook's IPO Prospectus Or Mark Zuckerberg's Letter To Shareholders As Facebook's stock continues to collapse, the volume of whining is increasing. Four months ago, you will recall, Facebook was viewed as "the next Google." Now, with no major change in the fundamentals, it's viewed as an over-hyped disaster. Meanwhile, there is ever-louder grumbling that 26-year-old Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in over his head and should be relieved of command. As I listen to all this whining, I have a simple question: Didn't anyone even read Facebook's IPO prospectus? The answer, I can only assume, is "no." Because if anyone had read the Facebook IPO prospectus, they would have learned, among other things, the following: Facebook's growth rate was decelerating rapidly. Facebook's user-base was rapidly transitioning to mobile devices, which produce much less revenue. Facebook's operating profit margin was already an astounding 50%, which suggested it had nowhere to go but down. Facebook's CEO had a nearly unprecedented amount of control over the company. Facebook's CEO had set up this astounding level of control intentionally. Mark Zuckerberg knew all about how impatient public-market shareholders are. And he set up the whole company so he would never have to pay attention to their whining. In the 9 months following the IPO, insiders would be free to sell more than 2 billion shares of Facebook that they had been holding for years. Facebook was going public at an astoundingly high price for a company with these characteristics—about 60-times the following year's projected earnings, in a market in which other hot tech companies like Apple and Google were trading at less than 15-times. Even more importantly, if anyone had read the IPO prospectus, they also would have learned the following, all of which was expressed in a letter written directly to prospective shareholders by CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook's social mission is more important to Mark Zuckerberg than Facebook's business. Facebook's business exists to support Facebook's product development, not the other way around. Facebook's CEO is an extremely patient man who does not flinch under criticism. Facebook will never care as much about clients and shareholders as it does about its service and users. Facebook cares about the long term, not the short term (read: decades, not months). Facebook shareholders may be annoyed by those facts, especially now that the value of their stakes are getting demolished. But they can't say that they weren't warned. And they also can't say that the stock has been unduly punished: At $18, using the correct share count (2.7 billion), Facebook is still valued at almost $50 billion. And it's still trading at ~28-times next year's projected earnings of $0.65, an estimate that looks just as likely to be too high as it is to be too low. Meanwhile, Apple is still trading at less than 15-times projected earnings. So you can't argue that Facebook is now "too cheap." Lastly, if Facebook shareholders really think Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg is going to cave to their whining and step down now, all of four months after he told them that he only cared about the long term (which, again, is measured in decades, not months), they don't know Mark Zuckerberg. Again, Mark Zuckerberg set up the entire structure of the company so he wouldn't be forced to make dumb short-term decisions by whining public-market shareholders. And he TOLD them that he wasn't going to make those decisions. They just didn't listen. In the interests of "better late than never," I've attached an annotated version of Mark Zuckerberg's letter below. If you've already read it, here's what else you should know about Facebook's stock—especially Facebook employees. Mark Zuckerberg's letter is in black below. The translation and annotations are in blue. LETTER FROM MARK ZUCKERBERG Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us, how we make decisions and why we do the things we do. I will try to outline our approach in this letter. Before I begin, let me remind you that I own 57% of the voting stock of Facebook, which means I have complete control over it. I organized the company this way many years ago, with the very deliberate intention of maintaining complete control over it. I did this so I wouldn't get overruled and canned by venture capitalists, a fate that unfortunately befalls many entrepreneurs. I also did it so in the event that we ever had to go public—which we unfortunately have to do now—I would never have to pay attention to whiny short-term public shareholders. Those whiny short-term public shareholders have destroyed many great companies by making management obsess about absurd near-term financial targets. I have made sure that that's never going to happen to Facebook. If there ever comes a day when you and I disagree about the future direction of the company, rest assured: Your choice will be my way or the highway. At Facebook, we’re inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information. We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television — by simply making communication more efficient, they led to a complete transformation of many important parts of society. They gave more people a voice. They encouraged progress. They changed the way society was organized. They brought us closer together. Today, our society has reached another tipping point. We live at a moment when the majority of people in the world have access to the internet or mobile phones — the raw tools necessary to start sharing what they’re thinking, feeling and doing with whomever they want. Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries. There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future. The scale of the technology and infrastructure that must be built is unprecedented, and we believe this is the most important problem we can focus on. We hope to strengthen how people relate to each other. Even if our mission sounds big, it starts small — with the relationship between two people. Personal relationships are the fundamental unit of our society. Relationships are how we discover new ideas, understand our world and ultimately derive long-term happiness. At Facebook, we build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this we are extending people’s capacity to build and maintain relationships. People sharing more — even if just with their close friends or families — creates a more open culture and leads to a better understanding of the lives and perspectives of others. We believe that this creates a greater number of stronger relationships between people, and that it helps people get exposed to a greater number of diverse perspectives. By helping people form these connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information. We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date. We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring. We have already helped more than 800 million people map out more than 100 billion connections so far, and our goal is to help this rewiring accelerate. We hope to improve how people connect to businesses and the economy. We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services. As people share more, they have access to more opinions from the people they trust about the products and services they use. This makes it easier to discover the best products and improve the quality and efficiency of their lives. One result of making it easier to find better products is that businesses will be rewarded for building better products — ones that are personalized and designed around people. We have found that products that are “social by design” tend to be more engaging than their traditional counterparts, and we look forward to seeing more of the world’s products move in this direction. Our developer platform has already enabled hundreds of thousands of businesses to build higher-quality and more social products. We have seen disruptive new approaches in industries like games, music and news, and we expect to see similar disruption in more industries by new approaches that are social by design. In addition to building better products, a more open world will also encourage businesses to engage with their customers directly and authentically. More than four million businesses have Pages on Facebook that they use to have a dialogue with their customers. We expect this trend to grow as well. We hope to change how people relate to their governments and social institutions. We believe building tools to help people share can bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time. By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume. They cannot be ignored. Over time, we expect governments will become more responsive to issues and concerns raised directly by all their people rather than through intermediaries controlled by a select few. Through this process, we believe that leaders will emerge across all countries who are pro-internet and fight for the rights of their people, including the right to share what they want and the right to access all information that people want to share with them. Finally, as more of the economy moves towards higher-quality products that are personalized, we also expect to see the emergence of new services that are social by design to address the large worldwide problems we face in job creation, education and health care. We look forward to doing what we can to help this progress. TRANSLATION: What I care about most is Facebook's product and service and "social mission." The business is secondary. Our Mission and Our Business As I said above, Facebook was not originally founded to be a company. We’ve always cared primarily about our social mission, the services we’re building and the people who use them. This is a different approach for a public company to take, so I want to explain why I think it works. TRANSLATION: For those of you who missed it the first two times I said it, I'm going to say it again. Facebook's social mission is what I care about most. The business is secondary. If you don't like that, there's always the highway. I started off by writing the first version of Facebook myself because it was something I wanted to exist. Since then, most of the ideas and code that have gone into Facebook have come from the great people we’ve attracted to our team. Most great people care primarily about building and being a part of great things, but they also want to make money. Through the process of building a team — and also building a developer community, advertising market and investor base — I’ve developed a deep appreciation for how building a strong company with a strong economic engine and strong growth can be the best way to align many people to solve important problems. Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services. And we think this is a good way to build something. [ANNOTATION: This is the most important sentence in the whole letter. Unlike most companies, Facebook views its "business" as a way to fund its product. This is profound and important, especially for investors who believe that products are just tools with which to build businesses and generate cash for shareholders. I, personally—Henry Blodget—completely agree with Mark Zuckerberg here. I think most companies should be run the way Facebook is run, with the product being center stage and then equal consideration given to customers, shareholders, and employees. I think America and Americans would be much better off if companies were run this way, and I think we'd have companies with stronger, more defensible competitive positions. A lot of public-market shareholders do NOT think that way, however. They think management should always "maximize profits." Those investors obviously shouldn't buy Facebook.] These days I think more and more people want to use services from companies that believe in something beyond simply maximizing profits. [ANNOTATION: Agreed. And if not, simply "maximizing profits" leads to modestly lower share prices, so be it. The tradeoff will be worth it.] By focusing on our mission and building great services, we believe we will create the most value for our shareholders and partners over the long term — and this in turn will enable us to keep attracting the best people and building more great services. [ANNOTATION: Also critically important. And, most likely, true. "Maximizing near-term profits" often means under-investing in future innovation, customers, and employees. And although it sometimes temporarily boosts stock prices, it often guts companies and clobbers their value over the long haul. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has never paid the slightest attention to appeasing Wall Street's demand for near-term financial performance. Instead, he has always focused on Amazon's products and customers. And it's no accident that Amazon has built the single most successful and valuable long-term franchise of all the 1990s Internet companies.] We don’t wake up in the morning with the primary goal of making money, but we understand that the best way to achieve our mission is to build a strong and valuable company. This is how we think about our IPO as well. [ANNOTATION: There it is again, just in case you missed it the first five times.] We’re going public for our employees and our investors. We made a commitment to them when we gave them equity that we’d work hard to make it worth a lot and make it liquid, and this IPO is fulfilling our commitment. As we become a public company, we’re making a similar commitment to our new investors and we will work just as hard to fulfill it. TRANSLATION: We don't want to go public. We're only going public because we have to. I understand that, by taking your money, I do owe you something. But I want to be very clear with you about what I think my obligation is. The Hacker Way As part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way. The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world. The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo. Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping. Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.” Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people. To encourage this approach, every few months we have a hackathon, where everyone builds prototypes for new ideas they have. At the end, the whole team gets together and looks at everything that has been built. Many of our most successful products came out of hackathons, including Timeline, chat, video, our mobile development framework and some of our most important infrastructure like the HipHop compiler. To make sure all our engineers share this approach, we require all new engineers — even managers whose primary job will not be to write code — to go through a program called Bootcamp where they learn our codebase, our tools and our approach. There are a lot of folks in the industry who manage engineers and don’t want to code themselves, but the type of hands-on people we’re looking for are willing and able to go through Bootcamp. The examples above all relate to engineering, but we have distilled these principles into five core values for how we run Facebook: Focus on Impact If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on. Move Fast Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough. Be Bold Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time. Be Open We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact. Build Social Value Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do. TRANSLATION: We're going to stay aggressive. Sometimes we'll screw up. Then we'll iterate, learn, and move on. If you can't stand that heat, stay out of the kitchen. Thanks for taking the time to read this letter. We believe that we have an opportunity to have an important impact on the world and build a lasting company in the process. I look forward to building something great together.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

wordpress + django on same account - advisable or not?

I know this guy who asked the question. We've been members of a small pinax-based users group -- discussing spawning an e-commerce project. He is a serious guy and I know his situation. So, when he asks a question and gets an answer, I look very closely and learn from THE QUESTION.

bobhaugen Member Registered: 2008-02-25 Posts: 34
wordpress + django on same account - advisable or not? I have a client that wants to host a wordpress blog and a django app on the same account.

I understand from a bunch of forum posts that this is doable, for example: http://forum.webfaction.com/viewtopic.php?id=4656

But I have a few questions about the best way to do it, and if it is a good idea.

1. The examples say to put them on the same domain with django at the root, and wordpress on e.g. /blog. The client would prefer to have wordpress at a root, and django maybe at a subdomain. Is this possible? (The two apps will only be connected by hyperlinks.)

2. The two apps do not need to be on the same website, and the django app could remain at something.webfactional.com while the wordpress site is at a registered domain, e.g. somethingelse.com. So would it be cleaner to create two websites under the same WebFaction account?

3. Is this a good idea (running wordpress and django apps on the same account), or would be better to get 2 different accounts? The django app will be more mission-critical than the wordpress app, and go through more software changes. I assume they will both be running on the same apache server. Will the 2 apps interfere with each other? Is there a clean way to restart django without stopping wordpress?

4. Another complication might be that the people administering the wordpress and django apps will be different. By that I mean, the people logging onto webfactional via ssh and tinkering with the software and configuration. What should we watch out for there?

5. Assuming it is at least an ok idea, what size plan would be advisable? Neither app will have large number of users or hits, but the django app will be fairly complex and process a large amount of data. Moreover, the django app will use postgresql while wordpress will use mysql.

#2 2010-09-20 12:05:13 David L Administrator Registered: 2009-04-13 Posts: 578 Re: wordpress + django on same account - advisable or not?

1. The examples say to put them on the same domain with django at the root, and wordpress on e.g. /blog. The client would prefer to have wordpress at a root, and django maybe at a subdomain. Is this possible? (The two apps will only be connected by hyperlinks.)

This *is* possible, but Django really doesn't enjoy being anywhere but the root of a site. With some finagling, you can usually make it run with minimal issues. It's possible that this has been fixed in one of the more recent releases, though.

2. The two apps do not need to be on the same website, and the django app could remain at something.webfactional.com while the wordpress site is at a registered domain, e.g. somethingelse.com. So would it be cleaner to create two websites under the same WebFaction account?

That solves the above problem quite nicely

This is really up to you. We don't count PHP-based applications against your memory limit so if your Django application happens to chew through some memory your WordPress site won't be affected.

3. Is this a good idea (running wordpress and django apps on the same account), or would be better to get 2 different accounts? The django app will be more mission-critical than the wordpress app, and go through more software changes. I assume they will both be running on the same apache server. Will the 2 apps interfere with each other?

As I said above, they shouldn't interfere with each other.

Is there a clean way to restart django without stopping wordpress?

These run as entirely separate processes, so restarting Django has absolutely no impact on Wordpress.

4. Another complication might be that the people administering the wordpress and django apps will be different. By that I mean, the people logging onto webfactional via ssh and tinkering with the software and configuration. What should we watch out for there?

Naturally, if you're giving someone SSH access to your account it's possible that they can do damage. Other than malicious users, there really shouldn't be anything else to worry about.

5. Assuming it is at least an ok idea, what size plan would be advisable? Neither app will have large number of users or hits, but the django app will be fairly complex and process a large amount of data. Moreover, the django app will use postgresql while wordpress will use mysql.

We always recommend starting with our lowest plan and upgrading if/when necessary.

From what you've described, it's like you won't need much more than a Shared 1.

[Editorial: this post came from the webfaction forum so they are answering how much resources would be necessary.]

Monday, July 9, 2012

Speed up WordPress, and clean it up too!

- no title specified

Speed up WordPress, and clean it up too!

by Joost de Valk on 21 January, 2008 at 15:17 110 comments

Every once in a while people will ask me to fix their blog, because it's either slow, or broken. When it's not something to do with their WordPress hosting, (some hosts are just plain bad and slow), most of the time this is caused by either broken plugins, or broken themes. There are a few things I tend to do when I get to clean up stuff, and I though I'd list them for you.

Clean up your theme

First of all, what I do is make the header.php file do a lot less queries. Because themes have to be easy to spread, they have to get almost all the blog specific info from the database. That results in a lot of queries for stuff that you could just hardcode into the theme. Some examples, taken from the default kubrick theme:


<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" <?php language_attributes(); ?>>


<head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">


<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="


  <?php bloginfo('html_type'); ?>;


  charset=<?php bloginfo('charset'); ?>" />

Could just as well be:


<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" dir="ltr">


<head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">


<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />

You can also:

Doing all that, you can remove 11 queries to the database, and this can highly speed up your theme.

The default theme also has some of these calls to the database in the footer which you can make static, or remove altogether:

You can also remove all comments that aren't necessary, like "If you'd like to support WordPress, having the "powered by" link somewhere on your blog is the best way; it's our only promotion or advertising." I can tell you that that line is in a LOT of footers, and it's a waist of bandwidth once you have decided to leave the link for WordPress in or not.

Check your coding habits

You will have added code to your themes for your plugins. Let's say you have a line of code like the one below, for a plugin that thanks people coming from search engines:


<?php refer_thanks(); ?>

This creates a problem, as soon as you, by accident or another cause, disable the plugin that holds therefer_thanks function. When the function doesn't exist, the code errors out, and your page doesn't continue to load, thereby breaking your blog. To fix this, PHP offers a special function calledfunction_exists, and using it, the code would look like this:


<?php if (function_exists('refer_thanks')) { refer_thanks(); } ?>

Now, if the function doesn't exist, your theme, and thus your blog, won't break. It's probably a good idea to do this for every line of code you added for a plugin.

Install a caching plugin

Lastly, you should really consider installing either WP-Cache, or WP-Super-Cache. They make your blog so much faster, that you won't know what happened to you once you've got them running.

All of this makes sure your blog remains maintainable, and fast.

The heading structure for your blog

- no title specified

The heading structure for your blog

by Joost de Valk on 2 September, 2010 at 16:00 45 comments

The heading structure of your pages is one of the very important aspects of on-page SEO. It defines which parts of your content are important, and how they're interconnected. Because they have different goals, a single post needs another heading structure than your blog's homepage or your category archives. This post intends to give you the basic pointers to get your heading structure right for those three different cases.

If you've ever heard of this new kid on the block called HTML5, or maybe even consider yourself an expert on it, please note that this post still treats headings in the HTML4 / XHTML1 way of using headings. I'll briefly talk about headings in HTML5 in the end, it's a whole 'nother ball game!

This post will cover:

  1. 1.5 basic principles about HTML headings 

  2. 2.The headings for your homepage 

    1. 1.The issue of full posts on archive pages 

  3. 3.Heading structure for your single posts / single pages 

  4. 4.Structure of headings for your category / tag / taxonomy pages 

  5. 5.Headings and HTML5 

  6. 6.Conclusion: re-think your blog's headers 

5 basic principles about HTML headings

Let's get these things straight before we do anything about our heading structure:

  1. 1.The most important heading on the page should be the H1. 

  2. 2.There is usually only one H1 on any page. 

  3. 3.Sub-headings should be H2's, sub-sub-headings should be H3's, etc. 

  4. 4.Each heading should contain valuable keywords, if not, it's a wasted heading. 

  5. 5.In longer pieces of content, a heading is what helps a reader skip to the parts that they find interesting. 

Based on headings, there are tools out there that can, and will, make an outline for your content. If you were to make an outline for this article, it would look like this:

The most widely known, and probably also the easiest, tool capable of doing this is the W3 Validator.

The headings for your homepage

So while we can (and will) discuss some specifics in the comments, your homepage should probably have a structure that looks like this:

As you can see, I differentiate between "related" widgets and unrelated widgets. It's no use at all to have an H3 heading saying "Our Sponsors". An H4 HTML heading saying "About this SEO blog" could be useful though, if "SEO blog" is what you want to rank for.

The issue of full posts on archive pages

Maybe you've seen it, maybe you didn't yet, but this sort of heading structure creates a problem. If you're displaying full posts on your front page, your sub headings would be H2's, just like your post titles. That's wrong, of course, and a good example of why we should be separating our content and markup a bit more then we're doing now, but that's not an easy fix. Basically, if you're displaying a post on an archive, category, tag or home page, each H2 should become an H3, H3 should become H4, etc.

No code samples yet, but my mind is working on this now, so it might come soon.

Heading structure for your single posts / single pages

This one is simple:

Makes sense right? The most important line on the page is the post or page title, second come the subheadings. Your blog title still has some value because, if the post is good, people will search later on for "Yoast WordPress SEO", for instance.

Structure of headings for your category / tag / taxonomy pages

If you actually want your category and tag pages to rank, meaning you've given them some unique content and are making them interesting for people, the heading structure should basically be the same as the homepage, with this difference:

Headings and HTML5

In HTML5 the entire method of dealing with HTML headings changes, and while it's a bit harder to grasp for people at first, the new system makes a lot more sense for content management systems. In short: headings and heading structures are section specific there, where section could be any part of a page. It would take too long to explain here, but if you're interested, read the header section of Mark Pilgrims excellent Dive into html5.

Truth be told, Mark doesn't talk about how search engines deal with HTML5 headers yet. In all honesty: I couldn't tell you yet. Simply a case of "not enough data to tell".

Conclusion: re-think your blog's headers

Now it's time for you to take some action. Go and use the W3 Validator now to check your blog's outline. If you've read an understood all the above, you should now be able to determine whether your theme is doing a good job. If you're using a premium theme or a theme that you downloaded from WordPress.org, I'd love for you to share your results in the comments!