<TFM>

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In 2001 and 2002 I wrote a monthly “column” called <TFM>*. My goal was to explore issues in web design, specifically usability.

Even back then, some of my friends (and students) wondered if I had ever met a Web site that I liked. (I still get this question!) Unfortunately, as I write this in 2008, finding examples to illustrate poor interface design and limited usability is much easier than finding exemplary sites. See blog posts categorized as design, for example.

One of my goals in republishing [see the converted columns] these old columns is to kick-start a regular (ok, semi-regular) return to public website analysis. I have screenshots up the kazoo … whether I can remember why I took the screenshot, well, that’s another story! But we’ll see.

Frequency/Purpose

From The Archived <TFM> Index/About Page: <TFM> is published once each month, on or about the 20th.

NOTE: The year 2001 was one of personal trial, health-wise, and if it hadn’t been my life, I’m not sure I would have believed so many things could have happened to one person.

<TFM> explores anything that affects how a Web site (or software or appliance) communicates with its readers/visitors. Emphasis is on usability and accessibility and may include site reviews, book reviews and technology reviews. The point of view is not “how did they do that?” but “WHY did they do that?”

There are plenty of sites and columnists that explore the “how to write code that does XYZ.” This ain’t one of them!

Context

In 1996, I began publishing a regular critique of Web sites in the natural resources and environment sector; the publication was called eNetDigest**. In the process, I learned a lot about effective web design and communicating “legitimacy.”

For three years, I wrote about agriculture (and agricultural web sites) for About.com. During that time, I hung up the hat called “eNetDigest.”

But I still “talked” about web site design and effective communications. I just did it “on-list” on various listservs instead of in a more structured environment. I also found myself doing it “for pay” — my web consulting contains as much strategic thinking as it does coding.

<TFM> moves those thoughts back to a structured and more public environment.

* TFM is a reference to the geek directive, RTFM; the title was the suggestion of some geek buddies. The domain name under which these columns were first published was cyberwriter.com, a domain that I “lost” several years ago. It’s now (May 2008 June 2009 March 2010 ) owned by one of those squatters-that-sells-names companies.

** note – I plan to republish eNetDigest articles, too. One day. :-)

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