Business is Business

contract

I was scrolling through one of my favorite webdev  forums  & came across a very good article that every new freelancer should consider.

It talks about the one thing that is always tricky when taking on a freelance job. Giving clients a contract to sign at the beginning for your services  & getting paid.
These are tricky things when you are in business for yourself. But Andy Howells breaks it down into a very simple but efficient system.

A very good article to bookmark if you are looking to freelance in web design.

Invoices, Contracts, Paperwork–Where to Begin?

Grid Based Web Design Tools

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If you are looking to work with Grid Based Web Design, here is a link with a lot of choices for you to try out.

Dreamweaver currently uses the Golden Grid System in its Responsive Design Boilerplate.

My actual favorite “du jour” , but not listed here,  is Gridulator.com.

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Wireframe.cc

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There’s a new online wireframing app called wireframe.cc. It’s a bare bones wireframing app that allows you to create a website wireframe ad hoc and actually saves it to the internet with an address for you to refer back to. Interesting tool if you wanna throw an idea at someone quickly.

Two Indespensable Apps

I could not have made it through the semester without these two easy to use,  free apps.

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TRELLO is an app that is like a to do post it list. You make a board, like a white board for your projects and you can list to-dos as well as who is woking on what, whether it’s done or not, due dates etc. It’s very user friendly. While working on two websites at the same time I was able to notate what I needed to do or check on or change on each site and keep my workflow smooth.

I use EVERNOTE to remember absolutely everything. I take notes on it at school. I write little snippets of code I want to reuse. I save articles for inspiration. I save links I want to remember for later reference. I do literally EVERYTHING. And the best part about this app is that you can make your notes online or off and they sync. So you can refer to your evernote notes whether there is wi-fi or not. You still can open the app locally on your ipad, phone or computer and use it to remeber EVERYTHING.

Minimalist web design…is less really more?

I was tweeted an interesting article about minimalist design and how it is not appropriate for every website. I am a huge fan of minimalist, clean design but I do agree with the article that it is only good where appropriate. I just myself have been working on two different web sites. On one website there is a lot of visual stimulation through photos and color etc. On the other site, it does have the stimulation of color but it is purposely quite minimalist. The customer for this site is there for a reason. You aren’t trying to do a hard sell or trying to get them to click a button and buy anything. In the second site it’s about instilling trust and demonstrating a capability of the service for which you are visiting the site.
I do agree though that sometimes more is more. It’s a case by case scenario. And it depends on what your ultimate goal of the site is and what you need your customer’s experience to be and most of all what your client desires.
Read the article and see what you think:
Sometimes More is More by Justin Hubbard

“Front End Web Developer” has a whole new definition

I’ve believed that being a serious Web Developer today has a lot more requirements than it did 10 years ago. I’ve been looking for an article like the one I read recently for a long time to support my theory.
Paul Irish from google mentioned this subject in a recent interview by Nick Petit from Team Treehouse and confirmed my belief.
And then I came across an article, A Baseline for Front End Developers which really broke down the skills a Developer today needs.

Once upon a time front end web development was about marking up some files with HTML later on with CSS as well and uploading them to a host and boom you were a web designer. Those days are over! Now, due to the increase of devices and app creation and the desire for browser control, plus the fact the front end web development is now being taken seriously and viewed in a different light, the expectations are becoming much higher. HTML, CSS & Jquery/Javascript will no longer suffice as credentials of a front end web developer.

Blogger Rebecca Murphey says in her article (April 2012),  A Baseline for Front End Developers:

Maybe it’s the result of people starting to take front-end dev seriously, maybe it’s browser vendors mostly getting their shit together, or maybe it’s front-end devs – again, myself included – coming to see some well-established light about the process of software development. Whatever it is, I think we’re seeing the emphasis shift from valuing trivia to valuing tools. There’s a new set of baseline skills required in order to be successful as a front-end developer, and developers who don’t meet this baseline are going to start feeling more and more left behind…….

She goes on to say in much more detail than I will go into here, that a front end web developer today is expected to be familiar with:
1) Git (github)
2) Modularity, dependency management and production builds
3) In Browser Development Tools ( I love Mozilla Firebug but most popular now is probably Chrome’s Developer tools)
4) Command Line use (definitely much more practical to do on a mac than on a pc)
5) Client side templating
6) CSS Preprocessors (SASS, LESS, etc.)
7) Testing
8) Process automation
9) Code quality

and I would probably add
10) Knowing another language (Java, PHP, C, C++  to name a few)
11) and being able to use software like photoshop, illustrator, or indesign
12) having, at least, basic graphic design skills
13)  Search Engine Optimization  (SEO)
14) Social Media Tools (on a developer level not just a user level)

This is just the basics of being a front end web developer today.
Yes it is intimidating.
But that’s the direction in which this whole developer category is going.
We can either choose to hop on the train or watch the train go by.
Today I still choose to hop on the train & go for the ride.

meta tag keywords are “fossils”!

I was working on several websites this week and suddenly remembered that I had been told once upon a time to put in meta tag keywords in the head of your website pages to make your website more searchable and to make it rise on Google and other search engines. So I looked online for best practices for meta tags keywords. I found a popular website called Search Engine Watch. On the website I came across an article called How to Use HTML Meta Tags (dated May 1st, 2012) by Kristine Schachinger .  She basically lets us know that not only is the meta tag keyword a “fossil”  in the in terms of search engine optimization. The only company that actually searches these keywords is Microsoft Bing. And they search it only to detect spam.

So no longer do I need to start thinking of appropriate keywords for my meta tags.

Schachinger also refers to creating title tags which although they have nothing to do with meta tags are still used for search engine optimization. Her article, How To Write Title Tags For Search Engine Optimization is also a very useful article if you are developing websites.