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Issue № 312

In this issue: Designing iPhone apps—what you need to know. And converting frustrated users to loyal customers by creating and maintaining good help content.

Good Help is Hard to Find

by Lyle Mullican22 Comments

Help content gets no respect. For one thing, it is content, and our horse-before-cart industry is only now beginning to seriously tackle content strategy. For another, we assume that our site is so usable, nobody will ever need the help content anyway. Typically, no one is in charge of the help content and no strategy exists to keep it up to date. On most sites, help content is hard to find, poorly written, blames the user, and turns a mildly frustrating experience into a lousy one. It's time to rethink how we approach this part of our site. Done well, help content offers tremendous potential to earn customer loyalty. By learning to plan for and create useful help content, we can turn frustrated users into our company's biggest fans.

Apps vs. the Web

by Craig Hockenberry31 Comments

There's an app for that, and you're the folks who are creating it. But should you design a web-based application, or an iPhone app? Each approach has pluses and minuses—not to mention legions of religiously rabid supporters. Apple promotes both approaches (they even gave the web a year-long head start before beginning to sell apps in the store), and the iPhone's Safari browser supports HTML5 and CSS3 and brags a fast JavaScript engine. Yet many companies and individuals with deep web expertise choose to create iPhone apps instead of web apps that can do the same thing. Explore both approaches and learn just about everything you'll need to know if you choose to create an iPhone app, from the lingo, to the development process, to the tricks that can smooth the path of doing business with Apple.

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Was that conference worth it? There were smart tips and awesome people. Should you buy a ticket this year? For a freelancer or small business, it can be a significant expense. Wouldn’t it be great to know if the investment in time and money is likely to move the business forward?

From the Blog

10 Years Ago in ALA: Pocket Sized Design

The web doesn’t do “age” especially well. Any blog post or design article more than a few years old gets a raised eyebrow—heck, most people I meet haven’t read John Allsopp’s “A Dao of Web Design” or Jeffrey Zeldman’s “To Hell With Bad Browsers,” both as relevant to the web today as when they were first written. Meanwhile, I’ve got books on my shelves older than I am; most of my favorite films came out before I was born; and my iTunes library is riddled with music that’s decades, if not centuries, old.

Valediction

When I first met Kevin Cornell in the early 2000s, he was employing his illustration talent mainly to draw caricatures of his fellow designers at a small Philadelphia design studio. Even in that rough, dashed-off state, his work floored me. It was as if Charles Addams and my favorite Mad Magazine illustrators from the 1960s had blended their DNA to spawn the perfect artist.