Web Development

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Name the tool that has given you the biggest productivity gain in the last 1.5 years

Okay, one of the reasons why posting has been light on this blog is because we have been busy. My wife and I have also had our first child (well, two years ago) and to be honest, our work has become less innovative in terms of doing cool new things and more iterative, as in we have been applying a lot... Read more »

Axosoft OnTime 2007 Beta

Note: This is a sponsored post, of Axosoft OnTime 2007 Beta via ReviewMe. Comments relevant to sponsorship can be submitted via the contact page. Axosoft OnTime 2007 is billed as a product for software development teams, including project managers, developers, testers, and support staff. With a... Read more »

A DRY link and some site notes

I've recently finished a new iteration - version - of our CMS. It was a fun experience because I wrote it after returning from a two week vacation, which meant that I had some time to let ideas percolate in my head, and that I was quite motivated when I sat down to code. One thing that I have done... Read more »

Informal reader survey: Light text on a dark background, love it or hate it?

Now, I don't have a fancy polling widget like Mike Davidson, nor to I have the time to whip one up, so please respond in the comments: Light text on a dark background, love it, or hate it? In my opinion this trend, although initially attractive, is not a good thing to keep up. Thankfully, a quick... Read more »

Dealing with the Digg Effect - A First Hand Story and Advice on Keeping Your Site Up

digg_url = "http://digg.com/design/Dealing_with_the_Digg_Effect"; Note: So this article made it to the Digg homepage and the site survived without trouble. Check out the redux at the bottom. So the question is, how can you be sure that your site won't be brought down after it's... Read more »

The Essence of Getting Real?

But quite possibly the most important thing that I am going to get from Campfire is this blog post: It just doesn’t matter. That really hits the idea home for me. Let me preface - maybe it's a little late for that - well, let me just say that I haven't been to any of their conferences nor have... Read more »

Random Web Design Advice and Good Practices

So here, in no particular order of importance, is a list of dos, donts and best practises that I would pass on to others if they were to ask (a.k.a. brain and link dump). Feel free to add yours on in the comments: Do your IE Homework: Always check your websites in each version of Internet Explorer... Read more »

The Future of Web Apps

This post will be a bit of a rambler, tying together some thoughts that have been bouncing through my head, thoughts that fall nicely under the title of Carson Systems' conference in London on the 8th of February, 2006. The conference 8 Guys (hmm), big names, one day, 75 pounds. I can see this being... Read more »

Tagyu Now Allows Registration

The code has been updated with a spot for your Tagyu username and password, and now it sleeps for one second no matter if you are hitting Yahoo! or Tagyu. I figured that it's better to be polite. Anyways, if you were holding back because you didn't feel like waiting 14000 seconds for the script to... Read more »

The New Feedburner

In a teaser post, they announced the following: We are going to be rolling out an expanded suite of services for publishers this fall. In anticipation of these new features, we have overhauled the FeedBurner user interface in order to make it easier to see and manage all aspects of a feed from a single... Read more »

Communicating Effectively with Users - Part One

"Ach, I've heard this before" I know that this is a tired topic, it's been written about on blogs before and even books have been published about the subject. However, in a sense this is a little like how we have to keep hammering home the idea of proper semantic markup, because the abuse just keeps... Read more »

Skype Wishlist

Changing the way people work I've been noticing it more and more lately, clients asking me what my Skype user name is and making use of this wonderful tool. These are people who weren't into text messaging, but who now realize the benefits of using Skype - both from the cost cutting point of view, and... Read more »

I Surf Everyday with Internet Explorer

A while back I had the pleasure of meeting a very prominent web design/ development blogger. We sat around over a coffee (my third on the day... Zap!) and discussed many issues, but one thing that was discussed was the issue of Quartz and Cleartype. This designer confessed to me that indeed, they didn't... Read more »

Thinking About Design Matters

Thinking about design This last week I've had the pleasure of working on some simple mock-ups for a series of information heavy sites. Just to get my head out of 'loops and arrays', I went back and re-read some of those 'design matters' blog posts that do the rounds every once in a while. Andrei... Read more »

Delivering and Redirecting RSS Feeds + a Little Experiment

It's all about the headers When I first noticed how many hits were coming through for this sites feeds, I figured that I would simply use a service like Feedburner and any bandwidth issues would be solved. However, after some searching I realized that I should deal with the real problem, and take care... Read more »

Web Design 2004 - Your take

Well, the posting has been thin here of late (and the web design blog-o-sphero has been quiet too, no?), so I thought perhaps an attempt at something interactive would be fun. To that end, I invite all you folks out there who still subscribe or visit (if(stillexists($readers)), that is) to post the... Read more »

Looking for an app

Wanted: an ftp client that will upload a set of files from one source to multiple ftp locations (i.e. something that will update a script that runs in many locations). I'll admit that I haven't had much time to dig around and look for a solution to this. Heck, maybe one of the ftp proggys on... Read more »

Navigation, Control Panels and Interfaces

Nodes... Recent projects have proven challenging in the area of interface design. While poking around the web there are a few sites that have stuck in my head for one reason or another, and these are offered below. For me these sites are some nodes of inspiration, and some of these concepts will likely... Read more »

imagettftext: Could not find open font

In a 'zig when they zag' sort of way, I enabled image style post headings on this blog a while ago, back when siFR was catching on. Rather than use 'siffer', I went with the GD library, PHP and imagettftext. I may write a bit more about implementation at a later date, but for now this... Read more »

Linking to Your Home Page

Julian and his beautifully blue blog asks "Why link to index.php?". He also goes on to talk about to use or not to use www, which was discussed here not too long ago. He concludes that you need not bother linking to index.whatever, and I would agree. I have a feeling that many people simply aren't... Read more »

Google Desktop

Stickin' it to the big M$ Not much to say about this, except that I'm off to check it out. Google is really making it happen: first the search engine (remember that? ;-), then adwords and adsense, then gmail, and now desktop search. When is that browser coming out? Anyway, the new Google desktop... Read more »

My Favorite Javascripts... at Blakems.com

Blake Scarbrough shares some useful javascript solutions including an 'expand and collapse' and a 'timer layer'. He asks his readers to add their favorites to the list. I've found this super-useful already. This is totally why I need a link blog on this site.... Read more »

Simple Cloaking Tricks

Here's a little trick that we've been using lately for certain things, cloaking! Disclaimer: we've used this trick in the situations descibed below and it has worked well. It is not super secure, so use caution when applying! What can't Firefox do? Tied together with the User Agent... Read more »

Design Criticism Extended

Intro This is an example of something that I will, in the future, be putting in another section of this site. A smaller, more often updated area that I am supposed to be programming while on hiatus. And on with it already Derek Featherstone has taken a specific quote and make it generalizable by substituting... Read more »

CSS Software - What program do you use to code your CSS?

Okay, we're still on haitus, however I'm chiming in with a quick reader survey. Users who do comment, and keep a cookie from this site, will not be subjected (once the reworking is launched) to the Adsense ads that are here now (thanks Simon for the help). So lets have it, what's helping... Read more »

CSS + PHP: Organized and Optimized?

Updated on 01/09/2004. While working the CSS for a design today, something occurred to me. Since we've been looking at using php with our css, many possibilities open up. These of course assume that you are passing your CSS to the PHP script handler... Note that I am using PHP and Apache here. Comments I'd... Read more »

Monday, 23rd of August

Mail getting thru So perhaps I over-simplified, however I still think that something should be done to make this stuff work better. It seems that on-site e-mail forms are the way to go - I wonder why we don't all use them. Diggin deeper Moving forward, Maximizing Ham by Craig Cook of the Focul... Read more »

The Bottom Line Website

The latest post over at Asterisk, Real World Web Design, is, as usual, a great read. One thing that stuck with me (and that I commented on) was this bit (sutured together here for clarity): A quality "real world" Web design is what it needs to be. Quality on the web Taking this bit in my own direction,... Read more »

Consistency, index.html and www

Updated on 19/08/2004 The following are two (of the many) little things that I've learnt over the years trolling the bounty of information that is WebmasterWorld. They're useful, and I've noticed that not everyone seems to apply them... Keep it clean an consistent Search engines sometimes... Read more »

Back in the Groove

Just a note to say hello, we're back, and hopefully regular posting will follow! The crew here have been hard at work on a few sites set to launch by the middle of next month, and I took some offline time (gasp!) to put the hammer down and get some designs and other IA related stuff sorted out.... Read more »

A little 404 Error Document Magic

While monkeying around with an error document for a clients site, I accidentally discovered a neat solution to a problem we were having. While rather specific to the situation, I thought I'd post it up here as maybe someone could extend it in other directions, or maybe there are other ways to solve... Read more »

Caching: Work the Server and Client Side, and Everyone Benefits

The progression The beginning When I first started designing sites, they were static, table based brochure sites consisting of 'not-very-many' pages. These sites tended to cache quite well on the client side once downloaded, and as such, client-side caching was never a problem. As time past... Read more »

Yet Another Post About Headings

Headings It seems to be a hot topic these days. I wrote about my views in March, and they haven't changed, however I think I can explain them better, and have a better understanding of how I feel. Notice how many times "I" is used in that first paragraph. Make no mistake, this isn't a straight... Read more »

Trailing Slashes Best Practice

I originally became aware of the issues surrounding trailing slashes in article #138 of Alistapart, "Slash Forward (Some URLs are Better Than Others)". Kyler Laird provides some additional information about trailing slashes. Inconsistencies amongst the ranks Having read those and put them to work (over... Read more »

User Experience - A Navigation Question

In his blog post "Hoverless Current Links", Mike Rundle proposes a method where by using a little CSS you can trick a user into thinking that the navigation element for the current page is not a link. What the? I've often wondered what to do about this situation. For simplicity, lets think about... Read more »

Forms Link Dump

There has been a lot of posts and other information published about forms lately. Having not paid too much attention, we've assembled a small link dump so that we can get up to speed and perhaps come up with a 'forms best practices' here in house. No one likes forms (I think), but hopefully... Read more »

Marketing, Content Writing and Keyword Research

In Its all about marketing your widget, it was dicussed how knowing your market and more specifically your user base, you could create a better website by not only using vocabulary that the users are familiar with, but your site will become all the more visible in search engines because it contains keywords... Read more »

Your Comment Has Been Posted

Over at Asterisk, Keith is chatting about comments. An interesting little idea was brought up in the, er, comments about this post on comments. A reader named SM mentions the following (comment #3): ‘Course there’s also that strange MT behavior that usually fails to confirm that your comment... Read more »

Its all about marketing your widget

Via Simon Willison, Against Search Engine Optimisers is worth a read. The rant, to a degree, showcases a common misconception of what good SEO really is: good marketing, not smoke and mirrors. John Gruber's article, Writing for Google, is a good example of the point I would like to make here. In... Read more »

Contingency Design - More Ideas for mySQL Failures

Life's sense of humour A mere 24 hours after my original post on contingency design and your mySQL server, life served up a case of lemon flavored twisted irony. I was going to apply the ideas to a clients site when I had a spare moment, but I was too late when the client suddenly calls and asks... Read more »

Contingency Design - Leveraging Google when your database server takes a holiday

Background For those who aren't quite sure what contingency design is, the following definition is provided from a 37signals whitepaper entitled "Contingency Design: Maximizing Online Profitability By Helping People When Things Go Wrong": Contingency designContingency design is design for when things... Read more »

Quick Poll - Can headings be links?

Throwing down the gauntlet Semantics - fun stuff, but can be controversial. Sematically inclined Anne van Kesteren has thrown down the Gauntlet, proclaiming that 'A header should not be a link, stupid!' (visit his site with a modern browser and hover over a heading).So, what do you think? Yes... Read more »

Search Engine Optimization - On page factors

Getting started There is a lot of quality information on the web dealing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While serious full time SEO is something that requires a lot of hard work and research, there are basics that we can all adhere to in order to help our sites do better in the Googles and... Read more »

Innovative markup on the new Blogger, as seen by a <dl> junkie

Well, if you haven't seen it yet (somehow I doubt you'll have heard it here first), Blogger has been redesigned by StopDesign and Adaptive Path. At first glance the site looks great, easy to use and very well organized. In it, they use a <dl> (definition list) in a rather clever way, and... Read more »

Should we use lists instead of divs?

Via Tanketism in Anne Van Kesteren's weblog, I found Absolute Lists: Alternatives to Divs. In summary, the author suggests replacing your <div>s for lists, and then taming your lists with CSS, and states This article discusses how to get rid of div elements altogether, and step into a world... Read more »

True separation of style from content?

Some great conversations going on over at Alex King's website and spun off to Anne van Kesteren's blog about Alex's post, The Myth of CSS. Alex basically points out how true separation of style from content is not acheived in a lot of websites, as extranoues div's and span's are... Read more »

Document Structure and Semantics Re-examined

What's the story here? While chatting back and forth in a post on Webmasterworld yesterday, something interesting came up that I have never thought about before. In short, should heading tags be used to mark up sections of a website like 'navigation' or 'site search'? Normally,... Read more »

Standards and Semantics in Web Design

Standards and Semantics Is the idea of semantics getting lost in all of the talk about web standards and validating code? Those little html tags we use to markup our pages have meaning, and therein lies the matter of this post. The topic of semantics crops up here and there and in many other places,... Read more »

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SiteUptime Web Site Monitoring Service

Sitepoint's web devlopment books have helped me out on many occasions both for finding a quick solution to a problem but also to level out my knowlegde in weaker areas (JavaScript, I'm looking at you!). I am recommending the following titles from my bookshelf:

The Principles Of Successful Freelancing

I started freelancing by diving in head first and getting on with it. Many years and a lot of experience later I was still able to take away some gems from this book, and there are plenty I wish I had thought of beforehand. If you are new to freelancing and have a lot of questions (or maybe don't know what questions to ask!) do yourself a favor and at least check out the sample chapters.

The Art & Science Of JavaScript

The author line-up for this book says it all. 7 excellent developers show you how to get your JavaScript coding up to speed with 7 chapters of great theory, code and examples. Metaprogramming with JavaScript (chapter 5 from Dan Webb) really helped me iron out some things I was missing about JavaScript. That said each chapter really helped me to develop my JavaScript skills beyond simple Ajax calls and html insertion with libs like JQuery.

The PHP Anthology: 101 Essential Tips, Tricks & Hacks

Like the other books listed here, this provides a great reference for the PHP developer looking to have the right answers from the right people at their fingertips. I tend to pull this off the shelf when I need to delve into new territory and usually find a workable solution to keep development moving. This only needs to happen once and you recoup the price of the book in time saved from having to develop the solution or find the right pattern for getting the job done..