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The Best Format for Phone Numbers (206) 555-1212

In the past several years many designers have take to present phone numbers in a format with dots. For example: 206.555.1212. But I have no idea why they do this. It is difficult to recognize as a phone number. This dotted format – at quick glance – looks more like an IP address than a telephone number. So I ask, which group of numbers below is more easily recognized as a phone number to you?

(206) 850-9798
206-850-9798
206.850.9798

I’d argue day and night that (206) 555-1212 is the easiest to recognize format.

Aside from human recognition, some applications (like Microsoft Outlook 2003) won’t recognize 206.555.1212 as a phone number. This led me to check in with the Microformats folks to see if they had a specification or a standard format for phone numbers. Unfortunately, their list of Microformats doesn’t turn up anything for phone numbers. vCards are as close as they get.

Looking past function for a moment consider the aesthetics of the three options above. The (206) 555-1212 format is much more beautiful and elegant. It has subtle curves in the parenthesis, more white space overall and a clear call to locality (that is, separating the area code from the local number).

Do you feel as strongly about using 206.850.9798 as I do about using (206) 555-1212? Tell me why in the comments below. If we end up getting any comments on this (especially from non-American viewers who have different phone number formats) then we’ll have to expand the discussion to include international telephone number formats.

Two Great New (and free) Apps – Yugma and LogMeIn

The first is called Yumga. Forget the paid services; Yugma works great and is free. I’ve been using it now for several months and have now become an affiliate to help spread the word. In Yugma’s own words:

Yugma is a free web collaboration service that enables people to instantly connect over the internet to communicate and share content and ideas using any application or software. Whether you using a Windows, Mac or Linux computer, you can connect on-demand and real-time with co-workers, clients, friends and family — regardless of whether they are across the city, nation or even the globe.

Popular uses include hosting study groups or tutoring sessions, hosting virtual clubs or social events, presenting proposals or creative work, product demonstrations, conducting training, customer service, team reviews, remote support and troubleshooting, and collaboration by artists, writers, and design professionals.

The second great new free app is call LogMeIn. LogMeIn has been around for a while but I just started using it when I travel. Rather than worry if I transfered my latest design files to my laptop when I travel, I know that with LogMeIn I can access all my computers at home from anywhere, for free! Sure, some versions of Windows have this kind of functionality built in, but LogMeIn makes it plain-Jane easy to use. There are many upgraded paid products from LogMeIn, but the free product works quite well for me. Here’s a snippet from them:

ogMeIn, Inc. (formerly 3am Labs, Inc.) offers a suite of remote access and support solutions that provide instant, secure connections between remote PCs over the web. Powered by the LogMeIn Gateway, the service has applications for desktop remote control, data backup, file sharing, remote system administration, and on-demand customer support.

LogMeIn offers the industry’s fastest, easiest remote access and support solutions – and has been recognized with eight Editors’ Choice Awards and “Best of the Year” honors.

A List Apart, Web Design Survey

“Designers, developers, project managers. Writers and editors. Information architects and usability specialists. People who make websites have been at it for more than a dozen years, yet almost nothing is known, statistically, about our profession. Who are we? Where do we live? What are our titles, our skills, our educational backgrounds? Where and with whom do we work? What do we earn? What do we value?

It’s time we learned the answers to these and other questions about web design.”

Fill out the A List Apart 2007 Web Design Survey.

Arrow Glyphs, What’s Best for Semantics and Screen Readers? ( « » « » )

It is common these days to you use the » character on web page bread crumb trails and to call attention to certain links on the page. As a designer the » symbol looks much better than the > symbol.

However, if you use these characters in your pages be sure to use the « character for « and the » character for ». Do not use the « for « and » for ». Why? JAWS and other screen readers will read « as “left angle quote” and » as “right angle quote”.

Just to make sure this isn’t confusing, unless you’re specifically wanting to put your content in left and right angle quotes be sure to use these characters:

« for «
» for »

PS. Dreamweaver by default creates the right and left angle quotes when inserting these characters form the INSERT » HTML » SPECIAL CHARACTERS menu.

Updated below with some more. And note, that I can not find the non left/right angle quote version of these characters…

‹ for ‹
› for ›

CSS Rendering Differences Between Firefox 1.5 and Firefox 2

I recently had some projects where the client wanted the page layouts and CSS tested in Firefox 1.5 and Firefox 2. I can’t seem to find any difference in the way Firefox 1.5 or Firefox 2 renders CSS. I haven’t found other blogs, forums or Mozilla help docs that talk about it either (though I’m still looking). Please reply to this post if you have any light to shed on the issue. For now I consider them to be the same when it comes to CSS.

In the process of my search I came across Mozilla’s CSS Developer CENTER. It has some essential links and good introduction to CSS. It also has some good info on CSS3 (which may someday be part of the day-to-day real world).

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