Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Link Dump

Creative's Zen Vision:M - snappy new product
Awesome looking, very expensive, kilts
Coca Cola Zero - I am teaching Jamie webdesign and this is his first effort. He has done this with table less CSS and HTML and no web site creation software.
Underworld Evolution
Keeping Mum
Toma Web Free Button Generator
Kolabora - internet communication and collaboration ezine by Robin Good
Rob Galbraith - Digital Photography Insights
TopherTell - blog about theology - good
solid thinking stuff
Noah's Ark Kitsets

Friday, January 20, 2006

Why I Blog

(This is a repost from my personal blog.)


First off, I want to say that blogging is stupid. Most bloggers, such as myself, have no journalism training. We are not professionals, are prone to errors, tempted to propagate rumor, and are busily creating a permanent record of non-retractible statements. We paint targets on ourselves and encourage friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers to make comments which, depending on our mood, may hurt our feelings or cause us to make a flippant remark in jest or anger that changes our relationship with those commenters. It is dangerous waters.

Employers or prospective employers can use your blog as a reason to fire or not hire you. I know if I was considering an person for a job the first thing I would do is search for them on the Internet. Of course, if it was me, I'd give more weight to bloggers than to people who only gave me a resume and some scripted references. I encourage my employers and clients to read further.

A blog is a chance for people to get to know you you better [than your shrink]. I was raised to "not air my dirty laundry." I took it to extremes and, until college, I was a very closed person; now I hide far less than I should. A blog creates an opportunity for your views on contraversial issues to slip out. While this sounds like truth, you may not want certain people in your life such as your parents, church patrons, employers, children, or those social climbers for whom you put on a facade, to know the whole truth.

The Reasons:

What we do not practice, we lose. Blogging provides a creative outlet for writing, research, technology, presentation, marketing, and social networking. Regular publishing improves vocabulary and grammar. With each entry I publish, I find myself making multiple visits to which in turn has improved my spelling and assured the correct usage of words.

Blogging provides history. As with all journaling, records are kept of good and bad allowing those thoughts to leave our head and be enjoyed or relived at our leisure rather than burdening our minds. Children's remarkable words and fantastic pictures can be shared and kept for prosperity. Precious moments with loved ones can be memorialized.

A blog is simply a regularly updated website with dated content. For better search engine placement and browser compatibility, a blog should have compliant and valid code adhering to current standards such as valid CSS. Professional websites are often developed under high pressure deadlines and tight budgets which do not allow for experimentation outside the programmer's known skillset. A personal blog allows for trial and error with lessor used html tags, css designs, and web technologies, growing the programmer's toolset and professionalism.

Mentorship is important to me. I enjoy teaching and sharing knowledge. Blogging provides an opportunity to give to others.

Community develops around a blog. Blogs are often interactive soliticing commentary from readers. As strangers peer into the lives of a blogger, a connection develops. The reader gets to know the presenter perhaps even better than persons known in real life. As readers comment on posts, dialog forms creating a tighter bond between reader and publisher. Friendships develop between people that may never see each other. Business relationships can form. Support networks can form. Blogging can even be therapeutic!

I caution people never to believe anything read on the Internet; at least, not without checking several sources. Blogs can be totally fictitious. For me, blogging is truth. To a degree, blogging is exhibitionism with a sprinkle of ego boosting. I love to talk and love to share stories, but working independently, and as time goes on, I find myself exposed to fewer people outside of my immediate family. Blogging has become an outlet for me to share my adventures!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

De-Lurking Week

Belatedly I am writing a post to let you know that it is International De-Lurking Week
So if you read this site, regularly or not, then come on - comment!

Say who you are, why you read or what colour the sky is? I don't really care what.

Just comment.

I know theres 4000 unique readers a month hitting the website so someone must have something to say.
At the very least tell the other readers who you would choose out of Kylie or Gwen.

Image courtesy of Paper Napkins

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Web Page Optimization - by Warren Baker

Reproduced with permission.

We all want to have the most attractive website that leaves a visitor wide-eyed and completely dazzled. Usually an extremely attractive website design involves lots of graphical elements, increasing the overall page size which causes the page to download slowly to the browser. This article will provide some useful tips on how to keep your website design attractive but still downloads quickly.

As the average internet bandwidth rate
per computer is raising, more and more webmasters allow themselves to develop complex websites laden with heavy graphic elements. In extreme cases you can find websites that take as much as a few minutes to load their content in your browser. Of course the user will never wait that long for a website to load, and will move on to the next website in his search results.

So why are webmasters still developing slow loading bloated websites? Primarily due to a lack of knowledge of simple graphic optimization techniques that will allow them to maintain an attractive website while keeping the page size smaller.

How many of you are aware of the fact
that a box with rounded corners can be achieved using CSS code only, without the need for any graphic image. Well it is possible! Before those of you familiar with CSS say that it cannot be done for every type of browser and a relatively high level of programming is required, I say that dealing with the most common mistakes web designers make regarding optimization can have simple solutions.

Never limit the web designer by placing any restrictions that impact the final outcome. You might make the claim that what a web designer can do with graphic software is impossible to implement by code. I disagree. When the design is finished and you are ready to slice it into small images to be used in the html code, your creativity is been tested. Everything you do at this stage will affect the total page size. If your design contains rounded shapes that overlap each other or areas with color gradients, then you must slice it carefully so the outcome is a small file size.

Let's look at what efficient slicing means:

1. Do not make large slices that contain lots of different colors. Use a small number of slices where each slice contains a limited number of colors.

2. Do not make a large slice that contains the same graphic structure. Slice a small portion of it and duplicate it in your code. This is a very common mistake that webmasters/programmers make when dealing with gradient color background.

3. Do not use JPEG file format all the time. In some cases a GIF format will be much smaller in size. A rule of thumb - a slice with high number of colors will be smaller in size using the JPEG format rather than the GIF format, and the opposite is also true. Check each option separately. Every 1KB that you reduce from the image file size will eventually add up to a significant reduction in page size.

4. If you have text on a solid color background, do not slice it at all. Use code to create the background instead. Remember that you can define both the font style and background color of the area using CSS.

Advanced Techniques

Graphically optimizing a website is more than just knowing how to do image optimizations. There are some advanced techniques that required a high level of programming. CSS2 has much more to offer then CSS does. Although not all browsers have adopted this standard yet you should be ready for when they do. JavaScript also gives you a set of options to create some cool effects without needing to overload the page with Flash. Using limited tools like JavaScript compared to an advanced application like Flash to create the desired effects can be difficult. However think about the outcome. For a onetime effort you can differentiate your website from others. You will have an attractive professional looking website that loads quickly.

Back to the Future

As PDAs, smart mobile phones and mini laptops
are used with wireless internet connections for internet browsing, publishing fast loading web pages will enhance the browsing experience not only for those using wide bandwidth connections but also will make the browsing experience user friendly (or may I say, bandwidth friendly) to the wireless clients.

For those who insist that web design optimization
is not necessary because everyone will have high bandwidth connections eventually, I agree up to a point. However, the software companies are creating applications that use more bandwidth because they know it is available for them to use. Get used to writing well optimized web pages because this cat and mouse game will never end, and it is better to learn the rules of the game then it is to be bitten.

About the Author: Warren Baker is an Internet business consultant for WebDesigners123.
WebDesigners123 connects the Freelance Web Designer with Webmasters who need their services. If you would like to read more of Warren Baker's writings, visit our Website Design Articles page.