About Me

I am a web developer with a background in graphic design and marketing. When not writing code, my interests turn to the old west, chili and trains. I do see a slight connection between coding HTML, PHP and combining just the right blend of spices and peppers when making a pot of chili, and I guess chili is connected to the old west…and there you go — trains.

If you’ve never had to write code, feel fortunate, but if you’ve never had the chance to drive down through Oklahoma or across Texas, Arizona or New Mexico, there’s something about the West that you won’t find anywhere else. There’s deep rooted history in each state and a hard to explain feeling when visiting the land of the Dineh.

And then there’s the chili… a state without definitive borders. Will Rogers called it a “bowl of blessedness”, I just call mine “good”. Chili is much like web development — it’s got it’s own language, there’s at least two factions and [trains] of thought. With chili you have the International Chili Society [ICS] and the Chili Appreciation Society International [CASI]. Basically the anti bean and the pro-bean sides. With web development, we now have the Flash and Non-Flash [trains] of thought, although the separation has been created by delivery of content on devices such as iPhones, tablets and an increase in mobile technologies.

The train interest — not quite sure. All I can say is if you ever get the chance to take the mountain ride up in the Dandenongs outside of Melbourne, or the Durango and Silverton you’ll join me. But even if it’s not an old steam train, there’s something about watching a Union Pacific pulling 75 cars. Maybe a curse word or two as the guard rails begin to come down before you made it across and now you’ve got no choice but to watch the train go by. It’s amazing how little has actually changes over more than a century. Passenger rail has seen changes in both it’s role as well as technological advancements, but freight trains operate very similar to how they’ve done it for years. Of course, no one is shoveling coal or wood into the boiler, but electric and diesel locomotives have been around since the early 1900’s. So, if this hasn’t sparked an interest in hoping aboard an Amtrak, as I don’t recommend the Boxcar Willie approach trying to hop a freight, then the next time you visit San Francisco, New Orleans, Memphis or a host of other cities across the U.S. and overseas — take a ride on a street car and you’ll understand.

Web Development Predictions for 2017

Tim Hooper – equimedia

Less Intrusive Pop-ups

Intrusive popups that appear when you first load a page provide a poor user experience and can cause real issues on mobiles & tablets, with the device sometime unable to allow the user to close them and see the actual content.

Google is now cracking down on these, by introducing a new ranking signal that will take a dim view of websites that use these techniques.

Expect to see a dramatic decrease in the number Newsletter sign-up popups, and a big reduction in the size that popups occupy on the screen.
Native Mobile apps being replaced with HTML

There are increasingly less reasons to choose a mobile app over a webpage, even for highly functional purposes. HTML is now able to do many things that traditionally only an app downloaded in an app store could do. There are now standard APIs in mobile web browsers for accessing camera, speakers, vibration, battery and much more (with user’s permission).

Alongside functionality, HTML apps can be cheaper, and your product is much more likely to be discovered via Google than in a closed app store. Analytics is also easier to manage with a traditional website.

This means that many apps that would have been created as a native app are now being created as web-hosted HTML, and many existing apps are also being replaced with this technology.
Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is all about making the information on the web less ambiguous for machines & AI to understand.

By classifying knowledge into a data schema, rather than attempting to understand subjective human language, a machine can provide a much more accurate answer to a query.

This has been a long term project which is starting to yield mainstream results with devices like this year’s Amazon Echo & Google Home. Other maturing examples of this technology in action include Facebook Search, SIRI and Google’s knowledge graph.

From a practical viewpoint, website owners need to ensure that their website is machine readable by adding schema and open graph tags to their website if their content is appropriate. They also need to ensure their content is in the relevant databases where needed, a basic example being having accurate map listing for location searches.
More JS powered single page experiences

Javascript frameworks such as Angular , Ember & handlebars are now well established among web developers and are helping push a new type of web experience driven primarily by Javascript. The advantages are much faster load times and a better overall experience.

The practical reality of this is that highly functional parts of websites (such as shopping funnels, social experiences, customer areas) are increasingly being built as single page web applications – appearing much more like an iPad app than a traditional multi-page website.

7 Reasons You Should Redesign Your Small Business Website in WordPress

Dan Scalco
Founder and director of growth at Digitalux

June 15, 2016

Your website serves as the digital storefront for your business. If it doesn’t look appealing, load quickly or even have a mobile version, customers are going to keep walking. Many small business owners rely on their website to bring in a steady stream of leads and educate potential customers on what they offer.

However, when it comes to designing and developing a website, most of those same small business owners think they can’t have all the bells and whistles that larger businesses have. But that’s not true. Why? Meet WordPress.

WordPress is a free platform that powers the back end of your website. It’s commonly referred to as a “content management system” because of its ability to let you easily create and organize all of the pages and media you upload to your site.

1. You’ll be able to start using your website as a blog.

If you’re using a separate website to host your blog or, worse, have no blog at all (at least yet), switching your site over to WordPress will quickly solve that problem. Not only is the software incredibly easy to operate (adding new pages/posts literally takes seconds), but it’s the perfect platform for blogging about your small business.

Simply set up a page on your site dedicated to your blog (just call it “blog” or some catchy name that plays off your brand). Then you can start adding posts to that page. A blog is your easiest and most effective way to continuously add new content to your site and keep customers up-to-date with your business.

2. WordPress constantly updates itself for safety and security.

Instant updates mean you can be confident your website’s security is always up to date and aligned with the best, most current policies. While some other content management systems might require you to manually check for updates or may be slack on performing maintenance, WordPress does the work for you.

You can sleep soundly knowing that your site will automatically update, and knowing, too, that WordPress will keep working to better its system and make things more secure for users and visitors.

3. WordPress is open source.

“Open source” simply means that developers are able to contribute to WordPress’ software in the form of plugins, themes and updates. How does that benefit you? The system is constantly improving and getting better, and a new addition doesn’t cost you a cent. You can reap all the benefits of these improvements without paying for them.

4. WordPress is SEO friendly.

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the idea of making your website more searchable by engines like Google and Yahoo. While mastering SEO can take some investment of time WordPress offers ways for business owners to optimize their site in the easiest ways possible. Check out the free Yoast SEO plugin, which shows you step-by-step how your content ranks and where there’s room to improve.

5. WordPress is no newbie.

This CMS is swimming in familiar water. It’s been around for more than ten years so it’s safe to say it’s a sure thing. While WordPress (like any CMS) isn’t perfect, it’s pretty much problem-free. Over the years, its engineers have had time to work out those little kinks and improve, aging the system into a timeless CMS that all levels of web developers have come to love.

6. Coding for WordPress is standard for any web developer.

A lot of small business owners hire a web developer who then builds a complicated website that no one else can manage. That’s all well and good if you never need to change your website again — but that’s rare.

One of the reasons WordPress is so great is that it’s become such a popular choice any web developer knows how to code for it. Whenever a problem pops up that you can’t fix, or you decide to redesign your website’s look, any developer will be able to get the job done.

7. Having a WordPress website puts you in good company.

Yes, WordPress is “every guy’s CMS.” That being said, its capabilities extend far beyond the basic ones; and some of the biggest companies in the world use WordPress to power their sites. How big is “big”? The New York Times, Mashable, TechCrunch, and Inc. (to name a few).

WordPress is great for small businesses because it has everything you need to create a visually pleasing, fully functional, scalable website, and it also offers endless possibilities if your business or budget grows down the road.

Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur or your small business is growing like a weed, you want a website that grows as you do. WordPress gives you that option.

10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Webmaster

Kim Lachance Shandrow
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com.

Webmasters for small businesses often do it all, from designing the website to search engine optimization (SEO) to daily maintenance. So, you need an adept, creative multitasker whom you can trust with the keys to your website — the online gateway to your brand.

How can you find someone who’s up to that tall task? Here are 10 important questions to ask potential webmasters to try to ensure you’re hiring the right one:

1. Where can I find current and past examples of your work? Experienced candidates should readily share links to examples of their work that clearly demonstrate their capabilities, says Jason Hong, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science and chief technical officer of Wombat Security Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based cyber security training company. “Carefully examining their portfolio and work samples can help you assess their overall style and skills,” he says. Their work samples also can be a jumping off point to discuss their more technical skills, including HTML5, UNIX, JavaScript and database management.

2. May I have a list of your current and past clients? Candidates should readily provide contact information for existing and past clients, says Chris Turzo, managing director of Goodwyn, Powell & Turzo, an executive recruiting firm that specializes in IT and clean technology. “Directly speaking with people a candidate has worked for is an essential step in the hiring process because it helps you establish how reliable and results-driven” he or she is. Many contract webmasters work independently on their own time schedules, he adds, so ask if they work well without a lot of structure and still deliver desired results on time.

3. What’s your favorite website and why do you like it? The answer can reveal a lot about a webmaster’s sense of branding, design, user interaction and more, Turzo says.

4. Which publishing, design and content technologies would you use to build and maintain my website? Webmasters should be able to describe the major publishing, design and content scheduling tools, give the pros and cons of each, and explain which they would suggest for you based on your budget and scope of work. “For instance, if they incorporate a blog within your website, would they use WordPress or Drupal, or would they code one from scratch?” says Malcolm Ong, co-founder and chief technical officer at Skillshare, an online education community based in New York City, and a mentor at 500 Startups, a Mountain View, Calif. internet seed fund and startup accelerator. “If you’re not tech-savvy, you may not fully understand all of the technologies he or she proposes, but they should at least be able to present you with clear options that you can generally understand.”

5. How will you optimize my website for search engines? Lisa Lopuck, author of Web Design for Dummies (Wiley, 3rd edition, 2012), suggests asking candidates how knowledgeable they are about SEO tools and techniques. “Ask them to explain which strategies and methods they’ll use to boost your rankings in all of the major search engines,” she says. They should also be experienced with Google Analytics to track website traffic and user behavior statistics and gauge the effectiveness of their SEO campaigns.

6. What kind of special features can you integrate into my site? A static website simply won’t do. Customers have come to expect extras features like video, social media feeds and banner ads. Be sure the candidate has the skills and resources to provide them. Can they easily add a contact form, blog, Flash animation, and Facebook and Twitter feeds to your site? If so, what is the expected delivery time for each special feature?

7. What is your approach to security issues and other potential website problems? It’s essential to know how your webmaster would respond should your site crash or get hacked — and how quickly. Find out how often they would back up the site and all of its content and how they would protect your site against phishing, data theft and malicious file execution.

Other security-related questions: If your website will require users to log in, how will the personal data be verified and protected? If the webmaster creates a shopping cart for you, how will your customers be protected against identity and credit card information theft?

8. How well versed are you in copyright issues? It’s critical for webmasters to be up-to-date on web-related copyright concerns. They will likely be charged with copyrighting all of the text, images and other media on your website. Asking them where they’ll obtain the photos and graphics they’ll use on your site could help you avert potential legal woes. For example, will they use free Creative Commons attribution licensed images or paid commercial stock photo licensed images?

9. Who will own the website? You might think that you would automatically own a site you paid someone to design for you. But if the designer is an independent contractor and not a company employee, you won’t own the site without a “work made for hire” or a “copyright assignment” agreement specifically stating that you own the complete design and all the content.

10. What are your fees and payment terms? It’s crucial to establish from the outset all of the fees for designing, publishing and maintaining your website. You’ll also want to know if the webmaster prefers to be paid by the hour or on a monthly retainer. If the webmaster is designing a new site for you, find out whether you’ll have to pay for hosting and domain name registration charges.

Other important payment questions: Are there overtime charges for working after regular business hours and on weekends or holidays? How often are invoice payments due — every 30, 60 or 90 days? And is there an interest fee for late payments?

6 Common Image Formats

The following post covers 6 common image formats. While it may be noticed that .eps isn’t listed, there are other file formats, (.svg) that could be also added to the list. But as the title indicates — this is a list of ‘six’. He does clearly explain the differences as I have had to do quite often when provided or requesting an image (and get sent a Word doc).What about PDF? you may ask. Good question, but that falls under the category of a file format and these six are ‘image’ formats. That is a post for another time, but if you want to jump to another level, we could discuss 3D and stereoscopic image formats.

Originally Posted by: John Shaver on http://www.designpanoply.com

As a designer, developer, or photographer, it’s necessary to know the differences between image file formats. Depending on the work you do, one file type might be the clear choice, while other times, the difference isn’t quite as noticeable.

1. JPEG (.jpg)

The term “JPEG” is an acronym for the Joint Photographic Experts Group, which created the standard. The file type is JPEG, but you’ll typically find these files ending in .jpg.

The JPG file format produces very small file sizes and works best for photographs.

This is the only format in the list where the compression is “lossy”, meaning it removes image information to reduce file size. This permanently reduces the image quality every time it is opened and resaved (how much so depends on the compression level that you set).

It’s not well suited as a “working format” for images that are going to be edited multiple times, but is the perfect fit for photos on the web due to the small file sizes and relatively unnoticable compression.

JPEG is not the best format for “illustrated” looking graphics like text and logos. When you’re working with images that have solid colors, smooth gradients, and sharp edges, the compression artifacts become more visible.

JPEG does not support transparency (but it can contain clipping paths).

Tip: Use Photoshop’s “Save for Web” feature when saving low resolution JPEG images for online use. It will give you smaller file sizes by removing metadata.

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2. PNG (.png)

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics, and is becoming more and more popular.

PNG makes use of lossless compression that is well suited for “illustrated” style graphics like text and logos. For flat graphics, PNG will usually give you better file sizes than JPEG as well.

It’s not a great format for print production because compressing high resolution photos can be slow, so PNG is mostly used for low resolution images on the web.

Photoshop comes with two default variants of the format in the “Save for Web” dialog: PNG-24 and PNG-8.

PNG-24 is full (24-bit) color and supports full transparency, while PNG-8 is limited to 256 colors (8-bit) and 1-bit transparency (either 100% opaque or 100% transparent pixels).

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3. GIF (.gif)

Some people consider GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) to be outdated, but it is still the only common file format that supports animation. If you don’t need the animation, consider using an 8-bit PNG instead.

Like PNG-8, it’s limited to a maximum of 256 colors, 1-bit transparency, and uses lossless compression. It is well suited for “illustrated” graphics because it will reduce the amount of total colors to a minimum to save every possible bit of space.

Saving photographic images in the GIF format results in color banding due to the limited color palette (which you can see in the sky of the example provided).

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4. TIFF (.tif)

A TIFF file, or Tagged Image File Format, is great for working documents when you don’t need layers and/or when you want to conserve space without any loss in quality.

TIFF is suitable for all types of image content and supports full transparency, but is not meant for use on the web.

It’s usually the preferred file format for print documents because it has support for different color modes, paths, transparency, and alpha channels.

TIFF files can (and should) be compressed with “LZW” compression. This compression is lossless and will roughly half the file size while slightly increasing the time it takes to open files.

Tip: Photoshop allows you to save layers and other information in a TIFF file (giving TIFF files many of the same abilities as a PSD).

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5. PSD (.psd)

This is a format you should already be familiar with as it is Photoshop’s native image format.

This format should be used for original files and working documents as it keeps layers and all other Photoshop information intact. As a best practice, you should keep your working files in PSD format, then save flattened copies as TIFF or JPEG files for sharing with others.

Lack of proper compression makes the files large, but you can be sure that all information is retained, including transparency, layers, paths, channels, and more.

Not many third-party programs support PSD files, so it’s not well suited for use outside the Adobe workflow.

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6. RAW (.dng, .cr2, .nef)

“RAW” is a shared term for image formats that contain the raw image data that is captured by a digital camera, and each manufacturer typically has their own RAW file format extension.

  • Canon: CR2 (Canon RAW)
  • Nikon: NEF (Nikon Electronic Format)
  • Universal: DNG (Digital Negative)

RAW files are superior when working with digital photographs because all the extra image data gives you a lot more room for adjustments after shooting when compared to a JPEG.

Special software is required to process RAW images, like Adobe Camera RAW, Lightroom, etc. The adjustments you make will never alter the original RAW file, but are saved as metadata that you can re-edit each setting at any time.

Tip: RAW files are your originals (think of them like digital negatives) and you should avoid deleting them.

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Common File Format Cheat Sheet

Here’s a short summary of each file type with some basic recommendations of when to use each one.

  • JPEG: Best for photographs, small file sizes, and slight, permanent loss in quality.
  • PNG: Best for Illustration/logo graphics, small file sizes.
  • GIF: Best for basic animations on the web.
  • TIFF: Best for print and when quality matters, not for web, medium file sizes.
  • PSD: Original documents with layers, transparency, and more. Large file sizes.
  • RAW: Original files from digital cameras (digital negative).

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Compliance with EU cookie law

25 May 12
Wired.co.uk

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From 26 May, UK websites are required by law to comply with the EU “Cookie Law” which means that companies must gain the consent of web users before serving them web cookies. The problem is, most people don’t really understand what cookies are and how they are being used already.

According to a study by PWC from 2011, just 13 percent of people fully understand how web cookies work and 45 percent had “some understanding” of them. Meanwhile a KPMG study reveals that 95 percent of websites aren’t yet compliant with the EU’s new law. While we are confident that Wired.co.uk readers are highly likely to understand how cookies generally work, we recognise that most of us have friends, family members and associates who may not. As such, we’ve created a simple guide to cookies, the EU “Cookie Law” and how to comply with it.

What is a cookie?
A cookie is a very simple text file that gets downloaded onto your PC when you visit a website. They generally contain two bits of information: a site name and a unique user ID. Once the cookie is on your computer, the site “knows” that you have been there before and can then use that knowledge to tailor the experience that you have. The vast majority of commercial websites — be they major online publishers, banks or ecommerce sites — will use them.

What are they used for?
Cookies are used for many different functions including auto-filling forms, counting visitors, storing shopping basket items, personalising content, targeting advertising, recording user preferences and for authentication and security.

How many cookies do sites drop?
According to a UK study by Trust-e, the average website has 14 cookies per page. Roughly 32 percent of these come from the website owner and 68 percent come from third party companies, which could be analytics companies or companies that deliver advertising.

What is the so-called “Cookie Law”?
The “Cookie Law” stems from a modification to the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, which took place in November 2009. It aims to safeguard privacy online and protect web users from unwanted marketing. Cookies can be used to build up a profile of where you have been and how you have behaved online. The law aims to make sure that any company seeking to collect information about a web user must ask for their consent first. Prior to this modification, websites had to allow people to opt out of cookies. Now they have to opt in to all “non-essential” cookies. The law was imported into UK law in May 2011, but UK companies were given one year to comply. The deadline for compliance is 26 May, 2012.

Who needs to comply with it?
The law applies to all member states of the European Union. Websites outside of the EU must comply with the law if they are targeting people within member states. So a website based in the USA that sells to people in the UK will also have to comply.

So what is an “essential” cookie?
The wording in the directive is broad, but the regulations specify that if cookies are necessary for carrying out or facilitating the transmission of a communication or is “strictly necessary” for providing an “information society service” requested by the user. Cookies likely to be deemed essential are those used for the shopping basket and checkout, those that provide security for online banking services and those that help ensure that your page loads quickly by distributing the workload.

What is a non-essential cookie?
Any cookies used for analytical purposes to count the number of visitors to a website, any cookies used by first party or third party advertisers, including affiliates, and cookies used to recognise the user when they return to a website so they receive a tailored greeting or optimised landing page. These are the cookies being targeted by the new EU legislation.

Is this just about cookies?
The wording of the law talks about “local browser storage” and applies not just to cookies but to technologies that behave in a similar way, such as local shared objects (referred to as “flash cookies”), web beacons or web bugs.

How do I know if the website I operate uses cookies?
If you have any advertising or analytics tools you are likely to be serving cookies. However, if you want to find out exactly what cookies your site serves, there are a number of cookie audit tools that allow you to do this. Firefox has an extension called View Cookies, but there are other tools including the Attacat Chrome extension, Trust-e’s cookie tracker and Tagcert. It’s worth clearing your browser cookies before you do this. Remember that not all cookies are bad cookies — some of them may be “strictly necessary” (see above).

How do sites comply with the Cookie Law from 26 May?
Technically, from 26 May, sites must gain the consent of their web users for placing non-essential cookies on their computers. The definition of consent is open to interpretation, but must involve some form of communication where the individual knowingly indicates their acceptance. This may involve clicking an icon, dismissing a banner, sending an email or subscribing to a service.

What happens if sites don’t comply?
Technically, the maximum penalty for not complying is £500,000 for cases where there is a deliberate breach of the law that causes substantial distress. There are also smaller penalties such as being sent an information notice or an enforcement notice. However, this will be an incredibly difficult law to police and enforce as it affects so many sites.

How can I find out more about cookies?
If you have your own business, you should read the International Chamber of Commerce’s guide to the cookie law. If you are a web user, visit All About Cookies.

Handicapping Web Trends in 2012

With so many unknowns and battlefronts raging; mobile market-share, native applications threatening open web, paywalls now blocking previously open available information — the world of web development is just as turbulent as the economic issues facing nations across the globe.

Impossible to predict what’s ahead, but there are a few trends that I’d place bets on — at least across-the-board bets just to cover myself. (For those who don’t gamble on the ponies — an ATB bet covers a horse for a Win-Place-Show).

Win — definitely a 1st place consideration — HTML5 and CSS3.

Place/Show – Mobile Display. There are simply just too many devices in the marketplace today, with too great a difference in what each can display and how it’s displayed. A ‘standards’ need to be set but as it never came to fruition on a desktop level, I don’t foresee any hope for a mobile version anytime soon. It will be continually addressed and be in the running, but I have doubts on a strong finish.

Show – Flash. It will make a push after falling way back in 2011. As a Flash developer I have not recommended it as a platform for building a web presence and have pushed the web standards alternatives. There is a place for Flash as it still is the best tool for interactive video, animation and 3D online. I think that Flash will simply be the front runner in selected races. I won’t be an entry in every race, just those where there’s a match. This is no different than thoroughbreds — a horse isn’t entered in 6 furlong races and a mile and a quarter races. There’s a match and it may be that one is a front runner, a speed horse that runs best on the shorter track. Others may prefer the distance race. Flash will continue to be the favorite — but only when entered in selected races.

Place (Exacta) — Development for more plugins and features for use in HTML5 and web browser capabilities. This may come in the form of interaction directly with a file, or via an app. This will happen without a doubt and will probably emerge on both levels. Developing an app for use across all platforms can be time-consuming and costly, but it can be a boost to the industry; consumer and developer alike.

As with many Exacta bets, my two horse often is a hard choice as there are others that I like to combine in the mix. In this Exacta bet, my two horse is definitely the ‘App’. Apps will come in second to plugins only because of ‘App wars’, not fighting amongst each other as we’ve seen with rival software companies — but one App replacing another, only to be replaced by yet another, and maybe specify to a browser. Already there is some indication towards this with Chrome-only apps.

Win — This is a no-brainer. If it says mobile, it’s something to at least consider. There are some who simply handicap based on progeny. It has been proven to be a definite factor based on Equiline stats, but there are many other factors to consider as well. Mobile technologies will no doubt be the focus (a win bet), but that said, there are many aspects of Mobile Technology to consider; networks, applications, content, design…

Win (or get scratched) — Collaboration between designer and developer. Although this has always been a factor to consider in my approach, I think it will come to the forefront much more in time ahead. If not a skill-set that one has (design and development), then collaborate with someone that offers what you lack. There will be a much greater respect for style, content and behavior, and it will be an expectation from the client, whether they are aware of it or not.

Place/Show — Social Media. This is a race within itself and quite easily may become it’s own Triple Crown. Start-ups may be pushed to the side or be engulfed by the larger sites. The most recent example being Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. I don’t see a winning bet in this race at all. Of course, Twitter and Facebook will continue to hold their positions, with Pinterest rapidly gaining ground. What I do believe in is that each one (social app) provides it’s own unique set of tools. Twitter and Facebook are not alike and a better understanding of how to integrate and educate a client in how or which ones to use is the approach I take. I read a quote that to me summed it up quite well as my main struggle with client’s using social media is the separation between personal and professional: “Twitter is used for the people you want to meet, whereas Facebook is used for those you already know.”

Win — Distributed workforce or as I call it “working from home”. I believe the nature of the work in the future will provide for increased opportunities along these lines. Not only a benefit to the designers and developers, but to the companies as well. Talented employees may now come from beyond the daily commute distance, and collaboration between project personnel can take advantage of the many online tools that in the long run speed up project tasks at a fraction of the cost.

Win – A stronger ‘customer service’ approach. This will occur on every level, but the greatest impact will be from the independent, the smaller design houses and/or the freelancer. The idea that a designer just builds the website will get pushed aside to allow for the issues related to understanding the client’s business needs and exceeding client expectations. It’s an approach I’ve believed in since the start, but I’ve also seen the opposite practiced by some far too often.

Win-Place-Show (ATB) bets need to be placed on internet freedoms. Pick Six, Exactas, Trifectas, Quinellas, Daily Doubles — all are types of multi-horse, intra-race or exotic betting. Internet Freedoms, currently in review by Congress also come in just as many types. There are issues related to protection of intellectual property, economic interests, security concerns and social morals just to name a few. It’s a discussion currently ongoing in Congress and one that certainly requires activism and involvement from each one of us, no matter what view one holds. This is certainly the Derby of all Derby races and is the racing form that we all should be studying in advance of the gate opening. We may not play a factor in the outcome, but at least we’d participate in selecting the horses that are running.

Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash

Apple CEO Steve Jobs stepped up Apple’s criticism of Adobe’s Flash technology in a stinging posted in April entitled simply “Thoughts on Flash.”

As for me… I have primarily used Apple products ever since I was introduced to computers and currently use an iPhone. I was extremely disappointed that the iPhone and now iPad doesn’t support Flash, and initially thought about waiting to purchase an iPhone until it did. As a developer I was amazed with the web sites created in Flash, but now must determine whether a site should be geared to a ‘mobile’ audience, which I am finding is usually the case, and use non-Flash code to achieve similar results. It doesn’t appear that the Apple devices will ever support Flash and as unfortunate as it might be, I can live with that and work around that.

What is ridiculous is Jobs’ post as to Apple’s reasoning, Jobs’ idea on how Flash is used in web development, and Jobs’ explanation of ‘closed’ technologies. It’s his company, if he doesn’t want the iP’s to support Flash, that’s his [Apple’s] decision. I’m not taking sides on Apple vs Adobe, but will say that Steve Jobs’ post makes me think it was written more by ego than sense. I don’t know the history between the two companies, but the nature of my work, whether on the PC or the Mac, relies heavily on Adode applications; InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, Photoshop and Dreamweaver, the list goes on, but I rely more on the applications I use regardless of the platform I’m using them on. I’m hoping that the line in the sand remains fairly small and doesn’t spread across support for other applications.

Soon after reading Job’s post I unfortunately came across a [iPhone, iPad] non supported Acrobat feature. It appears that ‘custom stamps’ are not supported in the mobile version of Safari. They appear when using a desktop/laptop, Mac or PC and they are supported on Blackberry, but not on Apple’s mobile version of Safari. That’s not good. For the sake of comic relief, I’ll later post the suggested workarounds that were presented to me by a manager at a local Apple Store when I demonstrated this.

Accessible Web Design

Accessibility is an often overlooked aspect within the web design process, but it actually should be at the core of your design process right from the start. Legal requirements for accessible design have been in place for years but have been limited to sites that receive Federal funding, government sites, educational, etc. Lawsuits have been made against Target.com and other retailers with sites that aren’t compliant, especially when a product or feature is only available online and a user with an impairment is unable to access that information. Even though there are no legal obligations to design ‘universally’, it is not a difficult process and one that has far more benefits than drawbacks.

Here are twelve tips when designing for accessibility –

  1. WAI-ARIA – published by the Worldwide Web Consortium, these documents set out the ways in which developers should add metadata to HTML for improved accessibility.
  2. Progressive Enhancement – means designing in a layered fashion so that everyone can access the most basic functions and users with better bandwidth or advanced browsers can see an enhanced version. In the past this might have related more to broadband versus dial up, or Flash content versus non-Flash, but in today’s world one could easily substitute desktop or laptop versus mobile device.
  3. Alternate Content – provide a text equivalent for non-text content.Links need relevant title tags, images need alt tags and videos should be captioned for screen readers.
  4. Captions – audio and video need captions for visually impaired viewers. Videos and podcasts should be accompanied by text which summarizes the content, or if available a full transcript.
  5. Screen Reading Software – if available, test drive the design using screen reading software. At least understand how screen readers work and whether the content posted is in the correct tab order.
  6. Audit – if available or more likely affordable, run an accessibility audit. There are a number of individuals and companies who provide this service.
  7. Usability Testing – using a group of people with a range of different needs to identify potential problems.
  8. Stylesheets – make sure your stylesheets permit variable font sizes and never use fixed fonts.
  9. Font Controls – even though Firefox and Internet Explorer can enlarge fonts, many users are unaware of how to use the feature. Consider including a script with font resizing controls.
  10. Consistency – a consistent page design assists those using screen readers as well as sighted users.
  11. Text for Navigation – use text for navigation.
  12. Colors – although visual impact is key, make sure that the use of color doesn’t drive function.

CSS element:hover vs Javascript onmouseover

Which approach is best practice? This question has raised good points for going either direction. Although the obvious answer would probably be to use CSS, IE6 only supports :hover on links. IE7 seems to also have limited CSS2 support. I’ve been using jQuery to handle scripting needs and it may be the answer until IE12 is released.