Web design fail: Northlanders

Its amazing to still come across web design failures like this one. The image above is a screen cap from the Northlanders, a site about a series of graphic novels about Vikings. The main purpose of this site is to sell the books, either physical or digital copies.

The designer, who is undoubtedly from a print background, realized this and used the large white circles and large text to draw the visitors eye to those element. But they failed massively by only making the small text below the “Buy…” headers the clickable links, as I highlighted above. Anyone who actually wants to purchase the books has to be lucky enough to mouse over just the right area to find the link.

This is a multi-level fail. We’ll ignore the fact that the underlying markup is table-soup from 1999. At least the large text should be a link, most users will hover over that first, not the smaller text below. What’s worse, the links aren’t simple link elements, it uses an image map to define the clickable regions, since all 3 circles are part of a single image. And, if you decide go and use an imagemap, why do you not make the whole circle clickable using the circle shape allowed in imagemaps?

You might think that such design decisions don’t matter, but this design makes it harder for users to buy what you are selling. Its costing you sales, and it doesn’t need to.


George R.R. Martin Q&A

If you pre-ordered a Dance with Dragons like me, you might also be waiting for it to be delivered. While you internally debate the value of thriftiness in pre-ordering it (48% off!) versus more immediate gratification, you can instead read this spolier-free Q&A interview with George R.R. Martin about the book and the rest his series, A Song of Ice & Fire.

The aspects of Martin’s work that have endeared him to fans are abundant here—rich world building, narrative twists and turns, and gritty depictions of the human struggle for power. Characters who were sorely missed in Feast—Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow—make up more than a third of the novel, and Martin is wise enough to give us at least a chapter from (almost) everyone else.

George R.R. Martin on Sex, Fantasy, and ‘A Dance With Dragons’ – Rachael Brown – Entertainment – The Atlantic


Books for Sale

I’m cleaning out some book shelves and looking to re-sell some old books, a smattering of fantasy and random hard-cover books I’d acquired.  You can check out my listing on Amazon.  I’m a bit of a bookphile, Patty can tell confirm this, I used to absolutely hate when she would highlight her books or dog-ear a page.


Airplane reading

I used the time on the airplane to devour Freakonomics and the Tipping Point. I found Freakonomics a much more informative book, and although the authors claimed that there was no unifying theme for it, all the stories reinforced quite well their notion that looking at datasets in new, unexpected ways can reveal some startling conclusions.  On the other hand, the Tipping Point was much more structured and presented a coherent framework for describing all kinds of epidemics.  However, I don’t think I got as much out of it.  It didn’t quite present a framework for understanding and diagnosing epidemics (not just medical!) and it didn’t have enough practical advice for controlling one.  Maybe I expected to have too much of it spelled out, clearly it was all contained in the chapters but it’d require some work to put into practice.


More on Ender’s Game books

Ginger and I had an interesting conversation about it, figured it was worth sharing here.

Ginger: It would be neat to see how they visualize that no gravity room
Oscar: totally
Ginger: it’s funny, the shower room where ender kills that boy, I always visualize my freshman year of college shower room
Oscar: i think everyone who reads it knows it could be made into a really cool movie
Ginger: how long ago did those books come out anyway?
Oscar: enders game was 1985
Ginger: geez it’s taking them long enough
Ginger: they’re already working on making the Da Vinci Code into a movie and that came out less than a year ago
Ginger: I suppose this one is harder to make into movie form though
Oscar: i know OS Card (the author) has been pretty picky in who and how the movie gets adapted
Ginger: good for him, so it won’t be drivel
Ginger: sorry to keep harrassing you, but did you say speaker for the dead was any good?
Oscar: its pretty good
Ginger: I might have to check it out
Oscar: i like the newer trilogy better than the first , enders shadow, hegemon, and some fourth book
Oscar: the original trilogy is ok
Oscar: but i’m also a series whore- once I start a series I tend to read it all the way through regardless of quality
Ginger: ha – so did you see Matrix Revolutions then?
Oscar: well, that really only applies to books
Ginger: well I’ll check them out, because I really liked the two I read