Web - Post archive

Choose a Web CMS (WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla!)

Published by | Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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Can’t decide which content management system (CMS) suits your needs? It’s not an easy task. But by clearly defining what you want it to do—and being aware of your technical skill limits—you can identify the best CMS for your purpose.

Let’s start with the basics. A CMS is a software program that makes it easy for you to create and publish digital content on a digital device. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are the most popular and used worldwide. They’re in open-source format—which means they’re regularly updated by a massive global community to ensure they can support developing online technology. You can download them immediately for free but you have the option to pay for additional premium features.

Six tips to manage your web design business

Published by | Sunday, April 20th, 2014

6 tips for running your web design business

Running your web design agency demands more than excellent design and technical skills. Until you can hire professionals, you need to manage the marketing, accounting, HR, sales negotiating and peacekeeping—for those rocky moments with unhappy clients or disgruntled staff. You can learn more about the responsibilities of being “the boss” in the Defining realities and roles tutorial from the lynda.com course Running a Design Business: Starting Small.

Meanwhile, here are six tips for running your agency:

1. FINANCE
Keep up to date with your accounting and invoicing procedures. Cash flow is the lifeblood of a small business and lack of management in this key area is often why a business fails.

It’s especially important that everyone working on a client’s web project, including freelancers, log their time. Include time spent by admin staff chasing clients for digital content or payment.

Invoice clients as soon as a project has ended, according to the payment terms you agreed on. Hiring a bookkeeper, even part time, is a worthwhile investment for any web design agency and can mean the difference between getting paid and losing money. Bookkeepers can monitor invoices, chase late payments with reminders, and alert you to any defaulters. Clients can be late making payment for many reasons, so by offering creative financing options most situations can be resolved amicably, keeping your business relationship intact. Good financial practices contribute to good client management.

2. ESTIMATING & PRICING
Establish a clear fee rate table for estimating and pricing web design projects. Make sure it includes a percentage of all your overhead costs and has a profit margin built into it.

Your rate table gives a starting point for pricing a client’s web project and fees can be modified depending on the volume of work. For more advice, watch the lynda.com course Running a Design Business.

3. MARKETING
Your web design business needs a steady flow of work to keep it in good health. Creating a marketing strategy helps you identify your target market and plan how you’re going to connect with and win clients. It should include the budget you’re allocating to marketing activities and you should review your strategy regularly.

Make it a rule that you ask every happy client for a referral when your project ends. This simple request can generate a lot of business.

One source of potential business is your list of previous (hopefully satisfied) clients. This list is often overlooked, but well-planned client management can generate repeat business and referrals to new clients. Make time to stay in touch with your list and keep those business relationships active.

4. CLIENT CONTRACTS
Once your client agrees to give you a project, a contract should be created covering all essential points discussed during initial meetings. You can have an attorney create a contract template suitable for a web design business. You then customize it by adding the client’s unique project details plus any contingency clauses you need. It often needs several revisions until everyone agrees to the content and the client signs on the dotted line.

This contract can be very detailed, depending on the size of the project, and should be used as a working document that describes each party’s obligations and responsibilities throughout the web project. It can be amended at any time if the scope of the project changes.

5. MENTOR
Having a mentor can prove to be a valuable asset because it allows you to
• See a situation through more experienced eyes
• Learn a lot
• Become better at managing your web design business and your staff, too
• Expand your support network and business contacts
• Your mentor may suggest routes and ideas you haven’t considered
• You become accountable to your mentor
• A mentor can often see bigger pictures (or problems) that you can’t because you’re too involved in the business

6. NEVER STOP LEARNING.
Technology changes all the time, as does the software used in web design, so nurture your creative team and encourage them to take advanced learning courses to become certified professionals in web design techniques or programming.

Managing a web design business takes a lot of time, but with the help of several online courses, you, too, can work on your professional development at your own pace.

What’s new in WordPress 3.9

Published by | Thursday, April 17th, 2014

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WordPress 3.9 “Smith,” named after James Oscar “Jimmy” Smith, was released yesterday. This new version of the popular web publishing app introduces several highly anticipated new features that make managing your WordPress site and its contents easier. Let’s break down the key new features of WordPress 3.9:

A more powerful Customizer
The Customizer makes managing the appearance of your WordPress site easier by allowing you to see your edits as you make them and preview your theme configurations before you take them live. With the 3.9 update, two of the WordPress community’s most anxiously awaited feature requests have been added to the customizer to make it “complete”:

How to install Google Analytics to WordPress in 5 minutes

Published by | Monday, April 14th, 2014

Install Google Analytics into WordPress in 5 minutes

If you can copy and paste text, you can install Google Analytics to WordPress. All you need is an established self-hosted WordPress.org website or blog, a Google Analytics account, and five minutes or less.

Note: You can only install Google Analytics on self-hosted WordPress.org sites and blogs. WordPress-hosted WordPress.com blogs won’t let you alter your header file or otherwise make low-level changes to your website infrastructure.

Use jQuery Ajax to load remote web content

Published by | Monday, March 24th, 2014

Use jQuery Ajax to load remote web content

What is Ajax?
Ajax stands for “Asynchronous JavaScript and XML,” a friendly term for when a webpage or application asks a server for new content, then displays it in the current page without having to reload. Although the X in Ajax originally stood for XML, the content being delivered often comes in a variety of forms today, including XML, HTML, JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), or just plain old text. Ajax content has become commonplace in modern web experiences, but writing the JavaScript required to actually load and display Ajax content by hand can still be a tedious process. And that’s where jQuery Ajax can step in to make your job easier.

How can jQuery help with Ajax content?
jQuery is a JavaScript library, which simplifies many tasks in JavaScript. It’s very popular with web designers and developers for dynamically updating a webpage’s Document Object Model (DOM), and changing its structure and content as needed.
Let’s dig into the basics of using jQuery to load Ajax content using a very simple example.

Using high-definition (retina) graphics with CSS

Published by | Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Responsive web design techniques aren’t just for changing the layout and composition of your web designs; they can also optimize your project’s imagery for high-resolution screens. CSS3 media queries include properties for detecting the pixel ratio of a device’s screen—and when the pixel density value is two or greater, we know the device has a high-density display, and can use high-definition graphics.

Standard definition graphics can appear soft or blurry

Standard definition graphics can appear soft or blurry when viewed on a high-density display.

Creating a Responsive Web Experience

Published by | Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Simply rearranging your web design across screen sizes isn’t enough to assure a smooth, natural experience for all the devices that will view it. In order to truly optimize the user experience, we must alter the content and behavior as well. This means loading alternate HTML content, suppressing animations, and collapsing navigation for small screens.

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Navigation on small screens is collapsed into a single button, which expands into the global navigation when clicked or tapped, providing an optimal experience for small screens.

In this course, we’ll explore altering the user experience based on screen size. This approach will allow us to increase the user experience and download speed for larger screens, while delivering smaller-sized files and targeted experiences for smaller screens. Learn how to combine jQuery with your HTML and CSS to alter experiences across screen sizes.