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It’s All Come Down to This!

Some of the New Stuff

After having to learn how Content Management Systems work (well, kinda), I’m honestly happy that I did. These things are all the rage right now, and as further research shows, for good reason.  And you know what? If I want to get a job in this field, then I’m gonna have to keep up with what’s new.

Personally, I’m the kind of person to learn about a lot of things, rather than specializing in one thing. Doing so helps me stay open to a lot more work, as well as constantly learning about a lot of things.

… And Now the Important Stuff

I think the most important thing I learned about was WordPress. This gave me an insight on how the major CMS’s work. Of course, this doesn’t mean that learning others like Joomla and Drupal will come easy, but I feel that my experience in WordPress made my life a bit easier.

I do have to give some credit to WebsiteBaker, as this helped solidify why I love to use CMS’s, and just how convenient they are. Further working with it showed me however, that it does have its limitations that WordPress does not. What this showed me was that each CMS really does have its ups and downs.

Going Back to the Structure

… of this course.  I honestly really enjoyed it. I know some people aren’t huge fans of the blogging, but I liked it. Using the examples of the course, it helped me choose on what CMS to learn, and what plug-ins to choose. Having to explain my reasoning on my choices helped solidify them. Also, the timeframe of learning the CMS’s I think worked very nicely. Using the simpler ones, then later to the more complex ones was nicely done.

In Conclusion

Learning all these CMS’s really makes me want to do a Jack-of-all-trades kind of thing, just to keep myself available as much as possible. Learning the CMS’s was very insightful, and will further look forward to what becomes the “hip” thing I have to pull my hair out in order to understand how it works.

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Taking the Easy Way Out… Or Maybe Not?

WordPress Themes

Alright, so I mentioned in my previous blog that templating for WordPress is a bit on the complicated side. In my opinion, if you ever want to be taken seriously as a web designer, then learning how to do this can be a good start.

Now, when it comes to templating, how do you start on such an endeavor? I would recommend a good start is to start Googling (I will post some more specific resources on the basics later on in the blog). Another good way to get started is to take a look at other templates. Taking a look at the code and all the files will be overwhelming, but it’ll help you with my next point: taking a template and modifying it.

Taking a pre-existing theme and modifying can help greatly, and fiddling around with them can help you realize how the template system for WordPress works. If anything however, I should use this as a training exercise. If you were to use a template for  anyone else, or for yourself (maybe), then I would say creating your own would be better.

Why is Designing Your Own in the End Better?

Well, for starters, it gives you more credibility. If you were looking for a job, and your only method of dealing with WordPress templates is modifying pre-existing ones, it wouldn’t look as good as making your own. Plus, it’s a good learning experience, as it’s kind of like the next step above modifying templates. Much like everything else, the only way to get good at it is to actually do it.

Once you have successfully made your own, that means you’re also able to help others as well! For example, you can be helping others with your resources, and your own methods and shortcuts for creating the theme. I mean, you never know, you might end up teaching a group of your very own students one day the basics of templating for WordPress!

Good Resources

As I mentioned earlier, here are some good resources to use:

This is from the main WordPress website. This is a good place to read up on the different parts of making a theme from whom better than the creators themselves?

This place I found to be pretty good for an actual in depth look into making a theme, rather than discussing it.

This place is a collaboration of tutorials, with the first couple really catching my eye. Those talk about making a bare bones template, which is a really good place to start for building a theme.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, WordPress theme creation can be on the complicated side. With how big the community is, there’s tons of places to look out there for tutorials and resources to look at. For starting however, I would recommend also taking a look at and modifying pre-existing templates; if only just familiarize yourself with the templating structure. The most important thing about being a templating beginner?

Keep It Simple. If there’s one thing to keep in mind when starting out, is making a bare bones template. So out of all my resources, I’d say take a gander at that last link there. Starting simple will help you not feel overwhelmed when making a template, and from then you can expand your knowledge, and therefore, template making capabilities.

The 3 Best CSS Resources Every Designer Should Know

1. W3Schools

http://www.w3schools.com/css/

It is a website that everyone should know. It shows all the basics (as well as the advanced) of CSS via various tutorials and references. It’s really a website that everyone who wants to get into web developing should bookmark, and not just the CSS section. Because of this high standard it holds in the web design field, it is up to date on the large web developing languages.

2. CSS Cheat Sheet: Inheritance, Cascade, Specificity

http://www.communitymx.com/content/article.cfm?page=1&cid=2795D

This is a printable cheat sheet that is a reference as to what properties can be inherited, what properties can’t, etc. Not only that, but it also goes in depth on how cascading and specificity works. It is a really good website to use for future reference whenever you need it, whether you are new or a veteran to CSS.

3. CSS3 Click Chart

http://www.impressivewebs.com/css3-click-chart/

A chart that displays a lot of the newer properties for CSS3 supported for all the major browsers. You can easily scroll through and click on the name of the property, which will spit out the code you need to create the look you want. Really handy to have if you want to add some flare on a website.

The Media is Changing, and How Agents are Responsible

When involved in the industry of digital media, things change. Heck, things change so frequently, they might be doing so right now! New software or hardware is always made that takes the industry by storm. The latest crazy for example, is smart phones. If CNet is reviewing the best smart phones for a business, then clearly there’s some sort of job market for them.

 

Change Agent

What is a change agent? Putting it simply, it’s someone a business by changing certain things for the better of the company. Now, why would someone want to change the way they do things? It helps the business keep up to date. Using a more primitive and direct example, if a company still used snail mail instead of email, it would look bad for the company. Looking at it more currently, what’s the newest big thing right now?

 

The Big Bang

That’s right, as I previously mentioned; smart phones. These things are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. They’re like mini computers, and therefore let’s people keep up with their business on the fly without the constant need to open and start up their laptop. That is just one example, however. With applications being designed for them constantly, their uses increase very quickly.

 

Why Become a Change Agent

Now, I’m not necessarily saying dedicating your entire career to this, but here’s where I’m coming from. Take blogging for instance. A designer gets hired by a company to make a website. Of course, the designer may try to convince the company to also make a blog, stating the reasons why and so forth. This is the designer becoming a change agent.

 

In Conclusion

Looking past just a single industry, everything in the world changes. People, such as Change Agents, make sure that business keep up with these changes for the better. This is where you can take advantage of learning all the new software or hardware that becomes the new standard. By becoming a change agent, you can convince your client why going in this new direction with say, their website can help them expand, and therefore help you.

So… What’s So Great about Blogging, Anyway?

You may have asked yourself such a question such a question at one point, and the short answer is that it possesses such a large community, there’s no reason to ignore it.

 

Stats

According to WordPress.com stats, there are over 16 million blogs hosted, as well as over 200 million people worldwide who read them. Taking an example of how much of a grasp the blogging world as in popular media, a blog is partly responsible for Sarah Palin’s Vice President nomination. You can’t ignore that kind of influence.

 

Company Blogging

Blogging isn’t just a personal thing, it can also be used to benefit a company as well. The main reason would be how search engines are attracted to blogs. This could help bring attention to your blog, and in tandem? That’s right, your business. Another big reason is how it can help “humanize” your company. Blogs are seen as a very personal form of communication, and blogging can eliminate that “corporate” feel you might want to steer away from. Keeping an active blog can help you keep in touch with your clients. Such an easy access to your clients lets you receive feedback at a much quicker rate.

 

As a Designer, What Should I Blog About?

Taking a designer as an example, there are some things you can blog about, which can lure in potential clients for your business. As a designer with a business, you must project yourself as an authority, and I would recommend discussing design in the media, which direction its headed, and your opinions on it. This can show your people that you have an idea what you’re talking about.

Another idea I would recommend is showing various progress pictures of portfolio pieces. Showing the process of how you get to your finished product can intrigue clients, as well as them getting an example of what you’re capable of.

 

How to Improve Your Blog

Let’s say you already have your own business blog. No one’s perfect, and should always be seeking improvements. Here are some common mistakes, and how to fix that.

  • Just like any business, it’s all about the client. Talking about yourself can make people loose interests because, honestly? They couldn’t care less. Talking about things that pertains to them helps maintain interests, and attract others.
  • With an increasing amount of company blogs, making yours different helps wonders. With the right writing style, it can help give your company a voice. Tossing around jargon will make your blog boring and uninteresting.
  • Something as simple as posting regularly! If a customer saw the last blog post was two weeks ago, it would be disheartening.
  • Make the clients feel like they are a part of the company. As stated above, pictures of projects in progress, maybe even posting videos of the employees at work havin’ fun. It would help give a very homely feel to your company.
  • Lastly, toss a little humor here and there! Constantly being serious will degrade your clients’ interests. No one wants that.

In Conclusion

Blogging is the newest social craze, with many benefits besides publicizing your thoughts and ideas. A blog can be used to do a whole lot more than that, such as building a community, or better client/business relationship. Regardless of your profession, blogging can better introduce yourself to the community that pertains to your business interests, and can further improve your skills and/or business. Further looking at it from the perspective of a company, blogging has become a huge thing recently, and passing up such an opportunity can potentially hurt your company. The way I see it, company blogging should be a standard amongst business websites, being just as important as say, an online store or contact information.

WordPress, and why it is my blog tool of choice

After looking through many blogging tools (such as Blogspot), I’ve come to my choice of WordPress. Just looking at WordPress by itself, its popularity is increasing rapidly. Because of this, many clients now want to have a WordPress site, whether it be to blog, or its increasing use as a CMS (Content Management System).

When I was looking through blogging tools, I wanted to find something that was simple and easy to set up. Blogspot was my first choice to check out. I’ve had previous experience with it, but I later figured that there are some issues with it. There are some positives that come with it, like how customizable the layout is in comparison to signing up for a WordPress.com blog. The issues lie in the blogging itself. There are some issues with the code and can become a headache, so I went and looked for another.

WordPress is limited (in terms of signing up for free on the website) in terms of layout customization, but the blogging has less issues. The popularity (as noted above) also comes as a perk as it has more options for plug-ins. If WordPress had a coding issue for blogging for example, and no fix has been made, then someone somewhere would have made a plug in fix for it.

The main reason why I chose WordPress is its ease of use. You don’t have to know a lot about coding to create your blog. With such a large community, there are plenty of themes out there to choose from for a look for your blog. All you have to do is find atheme, click “Activate”, and you’re done.

Another thing is how Search Engine friendly it is. The use of categories, and headers, helps Google look through blogs much, much easier.

blogging itself. There are some issues with the code and can become a headache, so I went and looked for another.

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