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Matt Kaludi

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Web typography refers to the use of fonts on the World Wide Web. When HTML was first created, font faces and styles were controlled exclusively by the settings of each Web browser. There was no mechanism for individual Web pages to control font display until Netscape introduced the <font> tag in 1995, which was then standardized in the HTML 2 specification. However, the font specified by the tag had to be installed on the user’s computer or a fallback font, such as a browser’s default sans-serif ormonospace font, would be used. The first Cascading Style Sheets specification was published in 1996 and provided the same capabilities.

typography

The CSS2 specification was released in 1998 and attempted to improve the font selection process by adding font matching, synthesis and download. These techniques did not gain much use, and were removed in the CSS2.1 specification. However,Internet Explorer added support for the font downloading feature in version 4.0, released in 1997. Font downloading was later included in the CSS3 fonts module, and has since been implemented in Safari 3.1, Opera 10 and Mozilla Firefox 3.5. This has subsequently increased interest in Web typography, as well as the usage of font downloading.

To ensure that all Web users had a basic set of fonts, Microsoft started the Core fonts for the Web initiative in 1996 (terminated in 2002). Released fonts include Arial, Courier New, Times New Roman, Comic Sans, Impact, Georgia, Trebuchet, Webdings andVerdana—under an EULA that made them freely distributable but also limited some usage rights. Their high penetration rate has made them a staple for Web designers. However, some operating systems don’t include these fonts by default.

CSS2 attempted to increase the tools available to Web developers by adding font synthesis, improved font matching and the ability to download remote fonts.

Some CSS2 font properties were removed from CSS2.1 and later included in CSS3.

Web-safe fonts are fonts likely to be present on a wide range of computer systems, and used by Web content authors to increase the likelihood that content displayes in their chosen font. If a visitor to a Web site does not have the specified font, their browser tries to select a similar alternative, based on the author-specified fallback fonts and generic families or it uses font substitution defined in the visitor’s operating system.

In the past months I’ve spent a lot of time talking to beta users and beta customers. One of my conclusions is that our product is just not cool enough, not fun enough.

I remembered this video by Dave McClure on how to pitch to a VC your problem and the importance of solving a problem that people can relate to on an emotional level. I’m sure some of you think that being a cool startup is not important but to be the next really big thing you have to be cool! To those of you who are skeptical just think of Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google and even Dropbox and Foursquare. It doesn’t matter if they’re investors, employees or customers – people want to be a part of something cool.

“A 1 million dollar company is not cool, you know what’s cool, a 1 billion dollar company, that’s cool.”

The Idea

As an entrepreneur, seeing the massive amount of new startups emerging is truly amazing. However, as Paul Graham said to these two young entrepreneurs in Y Combinator office hours, there are bigger problems to solve (speed up to min 20). [ Continue Reading… ]

sass_and_lessWhat Are CSS Preprocessors?

The answer is in the name. If you understand how php or asp or any other server side programming language works it amounts to the same thing. In fact the first preprocessed css I encountered were css files ending in .php in order to use variables.

CSS preprocessors take code written in the preprocessed language and then convert that code into the same old css we’ve been writing for years. 3 of the more popular css preprocessors are Sass, LESS, and Stylus

Because they aren’t css, they aren’t bound by the limitations of css.The preprocessed language can give you more functionality than css as long as it eventually makes sure everything is output as css and works in a browser like we expect. [ Continue Reading… ]

 

Today saw the Silicon Valley Comes To Tech City event take place in London. As part of a wider initiative called Silicon Valley Comes To The UK, organized by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and angel investor Sherry Coutu, it was designed to give existing and future entrepreneurs advice to help them build Britain’s next generation of tech businesses.

Among the discussions and interviews in the program was the session on product design, featuring IDEO‘s Tom Hulme, Adam Nash and DJ Patil of VC firm Greylock Partners, and Last.fm‘s Matthew Hawn. The panel had some fascinating insights into the importance of design to a product’s success.

The bar has risen – users expect great design

Adam Nash talked about how there’s been a resurgence in appreciation of design in consumer products. This is a challenge for designers because the bar has risen fast on the quality of design that is expected.

While the general public may not understand how to create a great design, they’re developing a taste for what works. As Matthew Hawn added, delighting people with design can be crucial to a product’s success.

Data and emotion is key to understanding your users

So, how do you make sure that you delight your users? Nash discussed how analysing data was vital – peruse all the data you can in order to understand how your product is being used. DJ Patil and Tom Hulme sang the praises of  ’Narrative Design’. This process involves imagining the story of how a user discovers a product and learns to use it. Mapping out a user’s journey through the product, and discussing his or her emotions as they use it is another technique, used often in the US but not so much in the UK, which can also help identify the best design decisions.

Hawn discussed how Last.fm, traditionally engineering led, is becoming more design focused, and sending engineers and designers out to meet end users to really understand first-hand how they use the service, what they need and how that can be best achieved. While it may be tempting to send product managers or others at the company out to research users, today’s panel was agreed that those actually developing the product need to do it if they are to have a true sense of who they’re building for.

 

This morning, during breakfast, I spilled my coffee.

I reached for something at the end of the table and kicked over my cup. The coffee spilled over the table and went straight for my crotch. I was wearing white pants, I’m in a hotel in LA, it is the only pair of pants I have with me, in 30 minutes I have to do a super important presentation.

My reflexes are pretty good so I managed to stop the coffee from reaching my pants with my handkerchief just in time. I was saved.

Then I started thinking what would’ve happened if I had spilt the coffee on my pants. Well, I would’ve looked ridiculous with a large brown spot in the crotch area, that’s for sure. But how would it have affected my presentation?

They say it is always good to start a presentation off with a joke. That can lead to painful situations with people who don’t have a sense of humor trying to tell a joke which leads nowhere and only makes the presentation worse. But I do get the point. A small joke, a funny anecdote or a personal story releases tension, and makes the rest of your story easier to digest.

So why would it be so awful to look ridiculous when you start? If you can turn your “coffee in the crotch” story into a funny anecdote, one that everybody can relate too, one that will get you sympathy from the audience, then you are not losing face but winning over the audience.

It seems that sometimes when we do business we try to be as impersonal, perfect and inhuman as possible. We make sure we don’t smell, don’t have hairs sticking out and certainly don’t have any coffee spots anywhere. But what is the point? We ARE humans? We DO spill coffee now and then. It is our little imperfections that make us stand out from everybody else, give us our edge, makes us great entrepreneurs.

 

Nobody likes to fail, do they? But failure is a key facet of the entrepreneurial process. Richard Branson has succeeded with music, telecommunications, travel and even carbonated cola drinks – he’s probably one of the most well-known entrepreneurs in the world. But he too has failed – before he launched Virgin Records as a youth, he’d started a bird-breeding enterprise and also a Christmas-tree growing business, neither of which flourished.

Whilst Branson’s estimated current net worth of £3bn certainly softens the blow of any minor failures early in his career, it’s worth looking at how failure can be a good thing, as long as it’s managed correctly. It’s the act of trial and error that leads many entrepreneurs to success – so, if someone fails, at the very least it means they are trying. Failure only becomes a bad thing if they don’t learn from the experience.

At The Next Web, we mingle with a lot of startups and entrepreneurs, and we often hear about ‘pivots’ – where an initial seed of an idea evolves over time, as the startup better understands what’s needed by the public.

In an interview with serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis a few weeks back, we asked him if there was any way of cutting out the ‘pivoting’ part of a startup’s evolution, and Jason said:

“The best practice today is to get a product in the market and learn. You can’t do it any other way in my mind, at least not for Internet companies.”

 

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