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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.

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Social Media and YOU!

Social Media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are huge. No question about that. But, how about adding some of those features onto your website? I’m not talking about imitating; I’m talking about incorporating those websites themselves onto yours. If you wanted users to log into your website for example, having them log into Facebook would be much easier and simpler. How would you accomplish this? Well, that’s easy. The use of APIs.

 

What is an API?

API stands for Application Program Interface. Basically it lets programmers easily create programs that interact with it, and then adds and modifies data to the host of the API (Facebook of Twitter, plus many others) being examples. However, interacting with the API is done through the HTTP protocol, just like your web browser. So, if you can’t access the internet, or if the website’s down, then the program would lose some of its features.

 

Brief History

Coincidentally enough, APIs from a few of the major websites were released in 2006 (such as Facebook and Twitter, both of which were long awaited). However, eBay released an API in 2000, along with Amazon in 2002. It allowed other websites to interact with these other major websites, for example having a website show off their product, that’s linked back to eBay or Amazon.

eBay, one of the first to create these kinds of APIs, ended up setting the standards to what they are today.

 

Using Facebook

Facebook Connect is the Facebook API that allows visitors of other websites to log into their Facebook account. One recent use of this is Jumo.  It allows others to log in to Facebook and able to donate to organizations causes, as well as keeping track of what these organizations are doing.

There is more that you can do with Facebook Connect, however. Joost can update their website straight from Facebook. You can also add comments on the website, and “Like” the streams they play by logging in from their website.

Workstir uses Facebook Connect to look for jobs. It will see where your location is based on your Facebook account information, and will notify you when there are job offerings in your area.

 

Then, There’s Twitter

With Twitter, there are multiple third party applications that have been made using the Twitter API (some of these are WordPress plug-ins, too). One really good WordPress plug-in is called TwitterTools. Here are just a few features straight from the website:

  • Archive your Twitter tweets (downloaded every 15 minutes)
  • Create a blog post from each of your tweets
  • Create a daily digest post of your tweets
  • Create a tweet on Twitter whenever you post in your blog, with a link to the blog post

source: http://net.tutsplus.com/articles/10-awesome-ways-to-integrate-twitter-with-your-website/

 

TweetThis is another WordPress plug-in that allows people with Twitter to tweet blog posts to show what they are reading, as well as providing a shorthand URL link back to the page. It’s a really handy promotional tool that is very easy to install.

Then, there’s IntenseDebate. It is a very powerful and sophisticated commenting system with a rating system, which allows you to log in through Twitter to comment. You can also have Twitter notify you when you comment, which can direct some attention back to the website.

 

In Conclusion

There are more ways to integrate Facebook and Twitter onto a website than just adding a “Like” or “Follow” button. Creating a log in system through the use of Facebook Connect, creating blog entries from Twitter, or using Google Maps can better the user interactivity on the website. Of course, there are some issues, such as having to connect via HTTP (even though it’s not that big of a deal as these large websites don’t go down that often), but such tools can make for a really unique experience that I would never overlook.

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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