Corporate Identity

Corporate Identity Done Well | Top Design Magazine – Web Design and Digital Content. Fine examples of how Corporate identity works best when it’s backed up by a well thought out branding.

Posted in Design | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Saving time with your Web Design

The Internet has made the world a smaller place and accelerated communication technology to futuristic levels. You can buy anything from anywhere in the world without leaving your home.

But we complain that we have less time now then ever which is why this list of time saving features for web designers from Smashing Magazine is a welcome read.

50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Posted in Design, Web design | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Picasa perfect for pictures

Since I switched to Mac a few years ago I’ve never felt the need to venture too far in to other photo library managers as iPhoto from Apple, which comes with every new Mac, seemed to be all I need. It even has intigration with Googles Picasa online which is my prefered online photo manager.

But with iPhoto you are tied to the Mac and upgrades cost. Picasa is cross platform and free but the main feature that cought my eye was the face recognition.

Nothing new with face recognition but they way Picasa dose it makes it a joy and fun expieience to work with. Such is the ease of this feature that I was able to tag over 5,000 faces from around 2,000 pictures in a matter of hours.

Posted in Software | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The power of Regular Expressions, Find and Replace

Such is the power of regular expressions combined with find and replace means that with a simple statement like this <img?.{1,999}?> will locate every image in your HTML code in site wide search. It’s also the quickest and easiest way for a web designer to destroy a web site so back up and double check before you get stuck in.

screen shot showing find and replace pop up window

Regular expressions enhance standard find and replace

For a recent assignment this is exactly what I needed to do. Working with an archive of over 200 HTML pages from an old news section that needed the copyright expired images removing. The pages had all been hard coded with no template in sight.

Daunted by the thought of opening each page and manually locating and removing each image I put my mind to finding a quicker way.

I considered a handful of bespoke advanced find and replaced applications that promised to quickly solve my problem and if money was no object I may well have gone down this root. At the back of my mind though was the nagging thought that the correct way to approach this is to learn some regular expression.

So I ended up with <img?.{1,999}?> but what does this mean? The breakdown (when used with Dreamweaver) works like this:

  • <img locks on to the start of the image tage
  • ? is a ‘Quantifier’ meaning it will match no more than once
  • .matches any single character, except a newline
  • {1,999} match at least once, but no more than 999 times
  • > locks on to the end of the image tag

So there you have it. Use the above regular expression to find and replace with nothing to remove all images from your source code in one move.

Posted in code, HTML | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

HTML5 set to sex up forms

OK, so there is little arousing about filling out a contact form online but with HTML5 you might just get a cheap thrill, well, if your a web designer that is.

With the next leap in the mark up language comes a whole host of features to make form creation much more user and web designer friendly. Many of the JavaScript / jquery tricks you currently use to make your online forms slippery and easy to fill out come bundled in HTML5.

A typical online contact form

Contact forms set to get make over with HTML5

Look out for…

  • Place Holder Text
  • AutoFocus Fields
  • 13 New Input Types
  • Web Addresses
  • Number validation
  • Numbers as a Slider
  • Date Pickers
  • Search
  • Colour
  • Form Validation
  • Required Fields

For further information Web Design Ledger as a great article detailing the new HTML5 form features above.

Posted in HTML, pages | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Picking up search engine points in headings and body text

Using SEO techniques to score points with the search engines is the name of the game if you want to pull your site up the results page. Search engines like Google award each page on your site points for a large variety of reasons. These points are logged against the keyword phases on your page.

Some of the simple point scoring to be won is in headings and body text.

showing search engine results form bing

Search engine results

Headings
The headings, by their nature, are important and search engines give good weight to these words. They should tell the user what the page is about. You will score search engine points for words in your heading. Headings are scored higher then paragraph text. So the keyword ‘photography’ may score 2 points in a heading and 1 point in a paragraph.

It can be common for sites to have a heading of ‘Welcome’ which may score 2 points for the keyword ‘welcome’. We are telling the search engines that this word is important. If we use ‘Welcome to Prestige Norfolk Photography’ we are scoring more points on relevant keywords i.e. ‘Photography’ and the brand ‘Prestige Norfolk’. By dropping the ‘Welcome’ you focus the search engines just on the keywords that are relevant ‘Prestige Norfolk Photography’. Next you can look at the order of the words. ‘Photography by Prestige Norfolk’ scores better because ‘Photography’ comes first.

The fun doesn’t stop their. Turning your attention to the search phrases people might use to try and find your site and you can consider ‘Photography service by Prestige Norfolk’ or ‘Photography agency by Prestige Norfolk ‘ with ‘Photography service / agency’ being the search phase visitors might use.

Finally to tighten things right up you don’t actually need the brand in the heading. The brand is usually represented on each page with the logo. Brands tend to be unique and easy to feature high in the search results.

Paragraph text
OK, so the same principles apply here as with the heading. Consider what search phases might use to try and find this page and weave them in to the copy.

e.g.

Our photography sessions specialise in photographing people at all stages of life.

Keyword phases that are in bold or are links look more important to the visitor and as you might guess gain more weight (points) with the search engines.

e.g.

Our photography sessions specialise in photographing people at all stages of life.

The balance
It’s easy to get carried away with SEO and add links in bold left, right in centre and stuff keyword phases in all over the place but the page soon becomes a mess. Imagine what you would do if you came to a page were every other word was a link and was hard to read because of awkward sentences. Search engines are smart and can detect this. The golden rule is to write for the visitor not the search engines. Clear, useful, naturally written copy is often naturally search engine friendly.

Posted in Norfolk, Search engines, SEO | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Google+ Project – a guide for dummies

It’s been a couple weeks since the pilot launch of Google + Project (or Google Plus as some are calling it) and early noises from those who received and invite to participate in the social networking service are encouraging.

The Google+ Project logos

The Google+ Project

This is not Google’s first attempt to get personal with us. Wave, Buzz and Friend Connect are just a few products the search giant has rolled out to try and capture a slice of the Facebook pie.

No one would argue that Google is not a successful company with many strings to their bow so why are they even bothering to dabble in the social networking world? Google strives to be the king of search. They have no problem finding you the population of Egypt or the lead singer of an obscure 90’s French pop band but they can’t tell me what my sister did for her last holiday – but Facebook can. And that’s the big hole in Google’s database.

So enter Google+. This is a mighty effort to pull all Google’s key existing platforms, Gmail, Picasa, Calendar, Buzz, Profiles and others together in to a neatly designed, cohesive family under one umbrella.

This time they’ve learned an important lesson from their previous attempts and that is to take things slowly. Rather than launch all in a fanfare they are carefully rolling out bit by bit, testing and collecting feedback.

So on to the features. At present, those who have an invite can explore:

Circles
Could be the Facebook killer. This allows you to organize your friends in to groups e.g. family, work, school… and this means you can choose what you share with who.

Hangouts
Casual online video meet ups. Log in, hang out and see which of your friends join you  – not something for me as I prefer to socialize online without having to talk  – maybe one for the younger users.

Instant upload
Integrated uploading of photos and video making it quick and easy to share to your friends. Nothing new here but a necessary feature to compete with Twitter.

Sparks
Using the search mussel here combined with your new outpouring of your personality Google attempts to present to you tailed offerings from the world wide web.

Huddle
Basically a private chat room for you and select friends to arrange meet ups or organise events. This rehash of the old chat rooms but on mobile devices this could be a killer app. I can image this being used on a night out with a group of friends trying to keep in touch – could save a lot of texting.

I’m sure there will be more features to follow and time will tell as to where this will sit Google in the social networking world.

Posted in Mobile, social networking | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Toughest online challenge? Making HTML email look good

It’s the challenge designers love to hate. OK, honestly, it’s the challenge designers hate. HTML posses many technical challenges largely down to the limitations and range of email clients – Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird… then there is mobile.

Just when you think you’ve cracked the desktop mail clients you test on a mobile device and it’s back to the drawing board.

Once you have overcome the technical challenge then there is the user experience and the fact that your email has to compete with constant bombardment of emails our inbox’s suffer each day.

Don’t panic.

The answer is a little bit of research, a bit of testing and sticking to a few simple rules. Once you’ve built your bomb proof template save it somewhere safe.

HTML Email

Make Your HTML Email 5½ Times More Mobile Friendly

Posted in Email, HTML, Mobile | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How the Norfolk Show can bring the agricultural and online world together

The 2011 Royal Norfolk Show will soon be upon us. The 2 day event kicks off on 29th June and will host the usual mix of agricultural exhibits, shows and displays.

Although there will be little in the way of web design featuring it’s still a great opportunity for inspiration and to gauge the local agricultural business industry.

The agricultural industry is traditionally under catered for online as the two worlds can often seem at polar opposites. By attending events such as these and talking to the exhibitors and the visitors is a great way to get the virtual ball rolling.

2011 Norfolk Show logo

2011 Norfolk Show

Posted in Norfolk | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Minimalist Websites – a little less is best

Minimalist Websites often come as a refreshing relief after being bombarded by over crammed pages with multiple navigations, flashing call to actions, PPC ads, features, news includes, search boxes… and on and on.

Sometimes simple, clear and cut back content is all you need. Minimalist Websites will not suite the majority of a companies needs which in a way helps make them special.

http://mmminimal.com/

http://mmminimal.com/

25 Beautiful Minimalist Websites

Posted in Design | Tagged , , | Leave a comment