“Like”-able Content: Spread Your Message with Third-Party Metadata

Woman does not share by links alone. Although formatting our content via structural markup makes it accessible across a multitude of platforms, standard HTML by itself offers no means to control how our message will come across when shared on popular social networks. Enter third-party metadata schemas. Facebook’s Open Graph protocol (OG) and Twitter’s Cards are metadata protocols designed to provide a better user experience around content shared on these social platforms. Clinton Forry explains how to use these tools for good.

The Flirty Medium

Our brave new digital world allows us the freedom to flirt safely, but that’s both good and bad. In this special Valentine’s Day edition of Fertile Medium, we explore online flirting from two different perspectives.

Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River

Welcome to Fertile Medium, an advice column for people who live online. Each edition, I’ll take a question from you about living and building social spaces online, and do my best to answer. Want to ask a question? Tweet to @fertilemedium or call (415) 286-5446 and leave a message.

What We Learned in 2012

A new A List Apart means a new design, new features, and renewed excitement about the future. But before plowing full-steam into tomorrow-land, we asked some of our friendly authors and readers to share lessons they learned last year, and how those lessons can help all of us work smarter in 2013.

Say No to SOPA

A List Apart strongly opposes United States H.R.3261 AKA the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), an ill-conceived lobbyist-driven piece of legislation that is technically impossible to enforce, cripplingly burdensome to support, and would, without hyperbole, destroy the internet as we know it. SOPA approaches the problem of content piracy with a broad brush, lights that brush on fire, and soaks the whole web in gasoline. If passed, SOPA will allow corporations to block the domains of websites that are “capable of” or “seem to encourage” copyright infringement. Once a domain is blocked, nobody can access it, unless they’ve memorized the I.P. address. Under SOPA, everything from your grandma’s knitting blog to mighty Google is guilty until proven innocent. Learn why SOPA must not pass, and find out what you can do to help stop it.

Findings from the Web Design Survey, 2009

The findings are in from the survey for people who make websites. Once again, we have crunched the data this way and that, figured out what the numbers were telling us, and assembled the sliced and diced data-bytes into nifty charts and graphs for your edification and pleasure. As in years past, what emerges is the first true picture of the profession of web design as it is practiced by men and women of all ages, across all continents, in corporations, agencies, non-profits, and freelance configurations.

The Wisdom of Community

The Wisdom of Crowds (WOC) theory does not mean that people are smart in groups , they’re not. Anyone who’s seen an angry mob knows it. But crowds, presented with the right challenge and the right interface, can be wise. When it works, the crowd is wiser, in fact, than any single participant.

Coaching a Community

A key to running successful “social networking sites” is to remember that they’re just communities. All communities, online or off, have one thing in common: members want to belong, to feel like part of something larger than themselves. Communicating effectively, setting clear and specific expectations, mentoring contributors, playing with trends, offering rewards, and praising liberally (but not excessively) can harness your members’ innate desires, and nurture great content in the process.

In Defense of Readers

As web designers, we concern ourselves with how users move from page to page, but forget the needs of those whose purpose is to be still. Learn the design techniques that create a mental space for reading. Use typographic signals to help users shift from looking to reading, from skimming along to concentrating. Limit distractions; pay attention to the details that make text readable; and consider chronology by providing transitions for each of the three phases of the online reading experience.